Public Relations: The Journalist’s New Frontier (Part 1)

Today we bring you the first post in a two-part story by Orbit Media Studios founder and content marketing specialist Andy Crestodina (find him on Twitter and Google+). 

It’s inevitable. Every time I speak about content marketing around the city of Chicago, I’ll be approached by a journalist-in-transition who was sitting in the audience. With each passing month, they make up a larger percentage of the crowd.

Honestly, it’s a bit sad. These are, after all, people who chose to pursue a career in news, a noble profession that requires long hours and has never paid all that well. But at least until the last decade, it was one that provided some job security.

Not anymore, reports Holly Regan of Software AdviceSince 2000, newsrooms have laid off 25 percent of their workers, and many have closed entirely. Regan cites some depressing numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts a further drop of 6 percent between 2010 and 2020. That actually sounds optimistic.

According to the American Society of News Editors, there were 40,600 print journalists in 2012, with the number expected to dip below 40,000 this year for the first time since 1978. But there’s hope for erstwhile journalists because, as Regan says, “there is still a large and growing demand for journalism skills.”

After the jump: The Content Marketing Career Explosion

Those journalism skills are coveted by one field going in the opposite direction – public relations, which will tout nearly 80,000 jobs this year. Among those is the “content marketer,” a phrase all journalists should learn to love. That sounds much more valuable than “copywriter.”

Moz’s Rand Fishkin pointed out in June taht the term “blog/blogging/blogger” has exploded in people’s Linkedin profiles, tripling from early 2012 to June 2013. But, “content marketing” has even more mentions than the blog terms.

Fishkin found that 30,145 U.S. workers used the term “content marketing” in their bios, while another 74,839 used “content strategy.” That’s astounding growth for a term that didn’t exist just a few years ago, and my hunch is many, if not most of them are former journalists. There’s room for more as Google places more and more importance on high-quality original content in search rankings.

Companies now realize that content has to have value. The result is that companies need great writers more than ever before. They need website copy, blogs, but also social media. Those companies that do well on social media are actually those that have invested in great writers and editors. Many journalists cringe at the mere suggestion that PR is a viable alternative career path, but smart ones will recognize it as a tremendous opportunity, for three clear reasons.

1. It pays significantly better

2. It values all the skills they’ve honed for years

3. It’s not as soulless as it once was (at least when done well)

Let’s hone in on that last point, because it’s the most important.

Today, a great public relations strategy involves a large dose of content marketing, and content marketing is no longer just press releases and product shilling—it’s teaching.

Check back next week for the next post on the value of teaching and getting started as a content marketer.