I recently made a shift from working as an editor with traditional editorial content to working with native content. As expected, it’s a pretty different world with some new and unexpected challenges, but I do also experience that I actually have a lot of advantages because of my journalistic background.
As I see it, my editorial toolbox enables me to find some unique sweet spots where editorial journalism meets the commercial content in the native campaign.
This, I think, is knowledge that some marketers are not always aware of. Because yes, journalists can write and bring stories to life, but we also have a lot of skills and insights that can bring branded content to a whole new level.
Therefore, I would like to point out some journalistic skills, that can be useful when combining it with branded content.
In classical marketing, we mistakenly might just start with the product features or popularity of the product, but this alone is not relevant for the reader.
1. Journalists know their media and put their readers need first
How do the message and brand fit into the editorial line of the media? What is the relevance for the reader and how do we make the reader identify and engage with the story? These are some of the first things I think of as a journalist.
I strive to make the content both unique and trustworthy and tell a story that my reader will actually learn from or be entertained by. In classical marketing, we mistakenly might just start with the product features or popularity of the product, but this alone is not relevant for the reader.
I recently worked on a campaign about a product against iron deficiency, and instead of just writing about the product itself, I founded the campaign in an interview with an expert in iron deficiency and the everyday challenges that could be a result of it.
Hereby I was concentrating on the readers’ needs because if I don’t consider my readers’ needs, I can be sure, that they will lack engagement and that has no value for either the brand, media or the reader.
2. Journalists do their research
Journalists are raised to be curious and critical. Sure that can seem a bit annoying to some, but it can also be an advantage.
Because I fact-check, ask questions and I do my research and sometimes I find patterns or trends, that marketing managers never considered or knew existed.
Being able to see possibilities, trends or new possibilities is a huge advantage because you are able to put your own original spin on it and still make trustworthy content.
Today’s readers are no longer just readers – they are also viewers and listeners.
3. Journalists can unfold variations of the story on different platforms
Today’s readers are no longer just readers – they are also viewers and listeners. And as a journalist, you are able to unfold the story in more ways than one – whether it be from a magazine to a site or on several digital platforms.
As a journalist, I have to be able to write different texts and unfold a story in different ways and maybe edit the same video in one way for Facebook, another for Instagram, and a third for the newsletter.
This too is very relevant in a native campaign, because you are able to tell the same story in more than one way and with new tools. Hereby you create more value for the advertiser.
Finding the perfect hook for a campaign is very important, and I combine both my experience from planning editorial content and my research skills to do so.
4. Journalists find the hook
Developing content so it fits into an already existing or current topic and trend in society is another trade that can make journalists excel in advertising.
Finding the perfect hook for a campaign is very important, and I combine both my experience from planning editorial content and my research skills to do so. This can be as simple as tapping in on annual events or seasons but also keeping a close eye on current or future trends or new research.
By being focused on the hook, I can create content that is more relevant and valuable for both the readers and the advertiser. Both in regards to the specific production, but also when establishing a timeline for the campaign.
5. Journalists know how to simplify the story
Even though the topic or product is interesting, complex issues and complicated content are turn-offs for most readers. It is also a journalistic value to simplify the complex whether it’s using a lighter language, infographics or video.
I know that if I am able to simplify, I am much more likely to get the reader’s attention and tell the story of the brand.
When you are able to combine the different skills and understandings, you will be able to make great and trustworthy native content that is valuable for both the brands and readers.
Integrating a journalistic workflow
All these skills are great assets in working with branded content as a journalist, but it, of course, relies on your ability to combine it with the understanding for working with brands and the commercial strategy.
In the same way, it can be very useful for marketers who are used to focus on the clients to integrate a more journalistic workflow in the traditional process of marketing, because it can give you and your team new perspectives that you may never have considered.
Maybe you will be able to be more proactive with clients and pitch ideas based on new tendencies in society, maybe you are able to come up with your findings that your client didn’t know off and maybe you will end up competing with the larger networks and media because you are using the same approach as they are.
But these skills should not be seen as exclusive. It is also important to have the insights and understanding for working with brands, the commercial strategy and purpose. This is what can challenge the journalist. But when you are able to combine the different skills and understandings, you will be able to make great and trustworthy native content that is valuable for both the brands and readers.