I was reading a nice article the other day about the idea of a brand journalist and I think it’s a good approach to creating content for your promotional activities. Many companies will use a freelance technical writer or an editorially-focused “PR company” to create articles for them, but most are used on an ad-hoc basis and given specific tasks. This is a missed opportunity.
The idea of a “brand journalist” is to treat the subcontract writers as part of the team, and to give them a regular target (such as a monthly article, or a twice-weekly blog update, or whatever), but not to limit them to specific writing tasks which you come up with. Many of the freelance writers out there are former magazine editors, who have been trained to start with a blank sheet every month and to go and find the most interesting stuff out there to fill it. They’re very good at that.
I’ve worked for companies in both capacities, and I can tell you that you’ll get much better results if you get the freelance writers on board properly. Sure, I like to think I did a decent job if a company rang me up and said: “can you write up a case study on a major client of ours?” But I did a much better job for the company which said to me: “can you write a fortnightly article for our website and customer magazine, which will give a nice balance over the course of a year between product promotions, case studies, technical backgrounders and the like?” This let me immerse myself in the market, ensuring that I kept up with developments and their impact on the client, so I was always ready to come up with topical ideas.
You might say: “Well, I employ a PR agency, and this is exactly the sort of thing they’re supposed to do”, and indeed it is. But do they? Is the person who writes content for you really embedded in your market (including legislation, your competition, etc)? I hope so, but it’s a question you need to ask. Moving from an editorial position on a magazine to freelance writing or a PR agency is a commonly-taken path, and I’d recommend taking advantage of the talent out there. As a magazine editor I always loved getting material written by one of my predecessors in our magazine sector, because it was inevitably exactly what I wanted. If any reader needs any introductions, just ask.
Seven Reasons Your Content Marketing Needs a Brand Journalist on Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog