Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

What journalism skills can be used directly in content marketing?

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Some journalism skills can be transferred directly to the content marketing world. Let’s take them one by one.

Meeting deadlines 

Journalists are constantly faced with deadlines in a near 24/7 news cycle. A deadline is a deadline. If it’s missed, the TV newscast might be short a story or the newspaper article didn’t get edited. Deadlines mean something and are met. When they aren’t, chances are the journalism career won’t last long. In content marketing, deadlines are also important and when they are met it can set teams apart from those who see deadlines as suggestions.

Great interview questions 

As much as I say that it’s nearly impossible to report without any kind of bias, great journalists do try hard to check their bias at the door – as hard  as that is. Either way, great journalists ask questions that look for details to share the story correctly.

Not so great journalists, by the way, ask questions like this:

They make a statement. (Correct, that’s not even a question. Ha.)

Then ask a question. 

Even worse are the ones that make a statement and then ask an unrelated question, but later report the answer like it was related to the statement. That’s not the kind of questioning or interviewing I’m talking about.

They get to the point 

Great journalists – even in the age of unlimited digital space – get to the point with their stories. They don’t waste our time with unneeded facts.

They care about the story

I’m not saying that others don’t care about the story, but journalists often care about it more. They don’t ask:

What’s our message

or

What are we marketing 

They ask:

Tell me what happened.

That’s how you get authentic stories.

Storytelling production skills

Writing, video editing and other story production skills learned and done in journalism can all be used in the content marketing field.

Writing for a sixth grader 

Online, and even offline anymore, written stories should be written to the reading level of a sixth grader. If sixth grader doesn’t give you the visual – think 12-year-old nephew. That way everyone can understand what is being talked about. And many highly educated people are reading casually online. Writing simply will make sure the story is understood.

But, what skills do not transfer?

Certainly some things are different in different industries, but being great in these areas, will give journalists a leg up when they make the jump from more traditional journalism to content marketing journalism.

They may have to make an effort to change from the traditional third-person style of news writing to more first person (even though it’s it’s not their first-person voice).

Some news writing can be conversational but content marketing writing should always be truly conversational.

Others might include having to deal with more organizational politics and processes from approval hell. My hope is that organizations move through these stages at some point here and more and more great journalists make the jump to content marketing.


Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy, Americas, at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph ctrappe@christophtrappe.com 319-389-9853

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