Bad content hurts. I don’t just mean it’s painful — in some figurative sense — to look at a tweet or an email riddled with grammatical errors. I mean, lousy content literally hurts your business.
The Harvard Business Review has gone so far as to say that vague and ineffective writing wastes time and dilutes trust and leadership. What does that come out to in cold hard cash? By some estimates, poor writing costs American businesses up to $400 billion annually.
And it’s not like you can just stop creating content. Good, consistent content is increasingly important to a successful digital marketing strategy. A full 90% of organizations use content in their marketing efforts, and 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing. Take blogs, for example:
- Businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than businesses that don’t. (HubSpot)
- Marketers who prioritize blogging received 13X more ROI than companies that do not. (HubSpot)
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more monthly leads than those that do not. (Upland)
- 59% of B2B marketers consider blogs their most valuable channel. (DemandMetric)
To recap: A successful digital marketing strategy relies heavily on well-written, compelling content produced consistently. This sounds like a job for a journalist.
Keep reading for six reasons you should have a journalist writing content for your business.
1. Journalists Are Nerds (in All the Best Ways)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a trained journalist who doesn’t have a favorite punctuation mark (em dash is the correct answer, BTW) or disturbingly strong feelings about the Oxford comma. That’s because journalists truly nerd out on the minutiae of grammar, syntax and style. When journalists take on a content marketing role, they don’t ditch that commitment to getting it right.
Our resident word nerd, Wendy Angel, has this to say: “It’s vital that you ensure your words are conveying your intended message — misplaced punctuation can totally change the meaning of a sentence. (Think: ‘man eating cow’ versus ‘man-eating cow’ or ‘Let’s eat, grammy!’ versus ‘Let’s eat grammy!’ Yikes.) It personally thrills me to pore (not pour) over a draft to find and correct any minute errors. Clear, concise, informative copy is a thing of beauty.”
Bad grammar and sloppy writing make you look bad, and errors can also cost you business.
- 97% of people say grammar mistakes negatively influence their perceptions of companies. (MarketingProfs)
- 85% of millennials are less likely to buy products advertised with grammar and spelling errors. (LinkedIn)
- Google ads with typos result in 70% fewer clicks than the same ad with correct spelling. (WebsitePlanet)
With their training, journalists bring unmatched attention to detail to their content creation. They understand that every word, punctuation mark and line break contributes to the overall effectiveness of your content. This level of attention ensures that your message is clear and concise and that your content is free from errors that could detract from your brand’s image.
2. Journalists Live to Tell Stories
Journalists who have worked for news outlets or magazines innately understand how to craft a narrative, build tension and engage an audience. Good writers know how to cut to the core of what’s valuable, meaningful and captivating, even when the subject seems mundane. This is an invaluable skill for a brand — particularly in B2B spaces.
- Stories engage. B2B decision-makers are busy and tend to have a healthy dose of skepticism regarding being “sold to.” Stories have the power to grab attention, evoke emotions and build connections.
- Stories explain. If you’re marketing something technical, complex or niche, getting your value across to potential customers can be challenging. Stories allow you to highlight your unique selling points and bring products or services to life.
- Stories connect. According to Forbes Communications Council member Marie Hattar, storytelling in marketing “increases engagement between a brand and its audience, which helps drive conversions and, ultimately, revenue growth.”
- Stories sell. A study by Headstream found 55% of people are more likely to buy from a company in the future if they connect with the brand’s story; 44% will share the story, and 15% will buy the product right away.
By tapping into a journalist’s ability to tell stories, you can create content that informs, inspires, entertains and leaves a lasting impression on your audience. By recruiting a journalist to tell your business’ story, you’ll help potential customers understand what makes you unique and valuable.
3. Journalists Are Endlessly Resourceful
Journalists can gather information and find the answers to complex questions, even in the face of tight deadlines and limited resources. Instead of a cursory Google search, a journalist will seek out a subject matter expert, conduct an interview and come up with an angle that hasn’t been regurgitated dozens of times across the web.
Resourcefulness is an especially useful skill in the age of artificial intelligence and tools like ChatGPT. Good journalists know how to leverage the power of these tools while relying on primary sourcing, expertise and experience for the bulk of their storytelling.
Not only does this mean more in-depth, valuable content for your readers, but it also helps you rank. In December 2022, Google announced its latest guideline updates for search. The latest version introduces the concept of E-E-A-T, which stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
According to Search Engine Land, “The addition of ‘experience’ indicates that content quality can also be evaluated through the lens of understanding the extent to which the content creator has first-hand experience in the topic. … Google also states that ‘trust’ is at the center of this concept and is the ‘most important member of the E-E-A-T family.”
In short, Google is learning to reward content that includes a depth of experience and knowledge from human sources who know what they’re talking about.
4. Journalists Are Obsessed with Deadlines
Have you ever seen an old movie where a big news event is taking place? The frazzled and rumpled reporter is on the scene, and then he dashes to the nearest payphone (remember those?) to call the editorial desk, reading his notes over the phone just in time to get his copy in the paper’s morning edition.
Though we don’t have to worry about holding up the literal presses in online publishing, that sense of urgency drives trained journalists. Journalists know that to break news, they need to be first to the story and quick to report it.
In content marketing, deadlines are no different. They’re crucial for ensuring that content is published on time and aligns with the overall marketing plan.
You can rely on a journalist to be organized, efficient and always on top of deadlines. They know the importance of staying on schedule and will work diligently to ensure your content is delivered on time, every time; no missed opportunities or delays.
5. Journalists Fact Check
This is No. 5 on our list, but in my mind, it’s the most valuable part of having a journalist write your marketing content.
Publishing false information can harm your reputation, credibility and even your search rankings. According to Search Engine Journal (SEJ), “Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does. Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.”
More egregious than the harm to your SERPs is the damage false information does to your reputation. With the prevalence of “fake news” and the public’s general skepticism towards online content, SEJ says that “fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before. One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.”
Fact-checking is built into a journalist’s DNA. Most trained journalists are voracious about verifying stats, quotes, spellings and anything else that can be double-checked. The Content Marketing Institute created a checklist for marketers that mimics much of what is taught in journalism programs. It’s a helpful guide for anyone looking to wade through the sea of misinformation online to create more accurate content.
6. Journalists Know How To Write
This brings us to the “well, duh!” portion of the post. Yes, journalists know how to write. That’s their job. But lots of people know how to write. The true benefit comes from the type of writing journalists are trained to do.
One of the staples of news writing is known as the inverted pyramid, so called because you’re starting with the most important information up top.
The Inverted Pyramid
Some historians contend the style is a holdover from an era when journalists would file their stories via telegraph. Obviously, the most vital info had to be sent first just in case the connection was lost. While we’ve come a long way since communication via telegraph, the inverted pyramid persists as an excellent tactic to engage readers and draw them into the world of the story — whether it’s a news item or a marketing blog post.
The inverted pyramid has a few tangible benefits for digital marketers, too:
- Putting the juicy bits up top engages readers and invites them to keep reading.
- It allows skimmers (about 73% of blog readers) to catch the gist before moving on.
- It’s great for SEO. According to SEJ, the inverted pyramid can have “positive implications for your website’s SEO and engagement metrics, as readers are more likely to be hooked on your content than to venture elsewhere.”
The inverted pyramid is just one example of how a trained journalist can structure a story — there are many others. And the best journos know when to break out of the box (er, pyramid) and do something surprising, refreshing and unexpected. It’s like Picasso is often quoted as saying: “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
Good journalists are both.
How To Hire A Journalist
If you don’t happen to be lucky enough to have a journalist in-house, your best bet is to find a content-driven digital marketing agency that populates its staff with former journos. Not only will you benefit from everything a journalist brings to the table, but you’ll also have a team of marketers who understand how to leverage journalistic content for your specific marketing needs. It’s the best of both worlds.