“We don’t hire journalists.” That’s what one agency told me several years ago, when I was transitioning from magazine journalism into marketing communications. What a difference a few years—and the digital content revolution—makes.

Now we’re hearing a lot about brand journalism and journalists being hired as content creators. With the newspaper industry struggling to remain afloat, more and more journalists are making the jump to marketing communications or public relations.

The question is, are they any good? A lot of them certainly are. Journalists have many skills that can bring marketing communications writing to life.

They’re natural interviewers. Journalists like to talk to people. They know how to put interviewees at ease and get good quotes from their sources. Businesses benefit when real people are part of their marketing stories—whether in web articles, blog posts or social-media updates.

They’re thorough researchers. Journalists are trained to look at a subject from different angles and come up with an approach that draws in the reader. Then they dig in and gather the background material, sources and facts required to write their story. These skills are in demand for many marketing projects, such as case studies or white papers.

They understand their audience. A good journalist always puts him or herself in the readers’ shoes, using language that is clear, concise and engaging. Marketing communications is most effective when content speaks to the audience’s wants, needs and interests.

They know how to translate ideas into words. Journalists can translate complex ideas into language their audience understands. They know a good story has a beginning, middle and end, covering the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of it all. They’re also good at writing short and to the point, which is crucial for marketing to info-overloaded audiences.

They work well under pressure and on deadline. Journalists know how to juggle, multitask and stick with the job until it’s done. They were born with caffeine in their veins.

That’s not to say all journalists are natural marketing writers. Some have difficulty writing from a marketing perspective (hence the “we don’t hire journalists” comment mentioned above). Journalists are trained to be objective, while marketing writing is about being persuasive. Marketing writing must tell a convincing story and then compel the reader to take action.

At the same time, many marketing writers share skills and traits with journalists—curiosity, love of writing, connection with audience and flair for storytelling. Wordsmithie works with seasoned writers from varied backgrounds, with the goal of finding the very best writer for your project.

Heidi LaFleche

Heidi launched her writing career as a newspaper and magazine journalist—most notably as a Boston correspondent for People magazine. She transitioned into marketing communications for business, helping clients find the right words to engage their audiences. Heidi is a Senior Editor for Wordsmithie, and also runs her own freelance writing business on the side. She writes within a range of industries including technology, healthcare, financial services, legal services, education and nonprofits. Her slogan: “Every business has a story. Let’s tell yours together.”
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