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Some people can function with a bigger workload while others cannot. Some people might even thrive under more work and in a faster-paced environment. Some like to take their time.
One person’s workload might signal a crisis to one person. To another person, they wouldn’t want to change a thing. The same is true when we compare journalists and other authentic storytellers.
When I worked as a newspaper reporter there were days when I would write two or three 420-word articles. In an eight-hour or so shift that’s a lot and quite a challenge. I wouldn’t recommend making that a daily occurrence. But occasionally it was a thrill.
First, I would have to identify potential topics, then do some reporting to get the content. That could include calling people, doing research by looking at public records and other fact-finding techniques. I would then write the story and send it over to the copy desk. This was mostly before the never-stopping online news cycle where I would also have to stop and send tweets and file online updates throughout the process.
On days when I would file three stories (which was rare but happened) I would basically have two and a half hours for one. That’s pretty quick considering that some 420-articles could take eight hours and sometimes even more to complete.
I kind of enjoyed the always-urgent deadlines and I know a lot of journalists who enjoy the rush as well.
Brand journalists/content marketers
When traditional journalists make the move to brand journalists (aka content marketers) the deadlines will likely not be as imminent all the time. Blog posts don’t need to be written as quickly as articles were. Whether or not the post publishes tomorrow or not isn’t that important in some people’s minds. As long as tomorrow doesn’t get pushed out weeks, it’s probably OK.
So that 420-word article might take a few days.
It’s a common occurrence actually and for some journalists who strived on that faster pace it might feel like a vacation for a bit, but can turn into things moving too slowly.
It’s easy to adjust to the new expectations. Oh yea, I can take my time with this post. It’s not needed today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. What’s the deadline? Oh, when I can get to it. Which is when?
I once talked to a former TV videographer who said he could edit a four-minute piece for the TV newscast in an afternoon. Once he made the switch to training video production, a four-minute piece took a couple of days. Certainly, both were produced at a high quality, but the expectation of when something was needed changed. We adjust with our expectations.
Deadlines in content marketing
Quick deadlines – like in traditional journalism – can be very stressful. For some journalists they might not be sustainable for a career in a 24-hour news cycle. It’s easy to get burned out.
Now, content marketing journalism isn’t as slow as marketing once was when we were working in the once-a-year brochure and billboard production cycle. And while it doesn’t always have to include daily deadlines, making use of traditional journalism skills to turn stories quickly is definitely something to tap into. We don’t have to do that daily, but with the continued growth of social media engagement, quick-turn blog posts and other timely publishing by brands this is a skill that’s more and more important.
It’s another reason why traditional journalists can make the jump to content marketing. Their speed (even when it’s slowed down from their true media journalism days) can be a differentiator.