Journalists Increasingly Turning to Marketing

The one thing that may save journalistic work may be the one thing old-school journalists have always been hesitant about approaching – marketing.

The media industry has been actively sticking to outdated distribution models and modes of thinking to keep their businesses going despite tremendous changes in the marketplace. They’ve seen the results in shrinking budgets and shrinking audiences. Between 2013 and 2014, the newspaper industry alone lost 10.4% of its reporters. At the same time, digital marketing initiatives have seen content marketing budgets blossom over the last five years as marketers continue to see increasing returns from written content. As trends continue, many of those looking for journalism jobs will turn to marketing to find a place where their talents are still needed.

Most journalists, however, are not entirely equipped to jump into the marketing industry. Marketing requires a different background and thought process, and experience needs to be gained before marketing jobs start paying the bills full time. The conversion doesn’t take four years of schooling, but it does require some practice. Before sending out resumes, here are some techniques for former journalists as they acclimate themselves to the content marketing industry.

Start with Freelance

Most journalists are familiar with freelance. Many have worked for one publication or several as purely a freelance writer. Those that have can testify to shrinking pay rates across the board and the lack of journalism jobs that actually pay a working wage.

Content marketing, however, is starting to reinvigorate freelancing as an option once more for many informative writers. In fact, many journalists are writing much of the same kind of content for businesses – how-tos, trend pieces, profiles – at much higher rates and with much less revision than writing for journalistic publications.

While a beginning freelancer won’t be seeing extraordinary returns, they will be able to get their foot in the door, get some clips and secure a better understanding of how content marketing works.

Critical Thinking on Advertorials

It’s not new to see businesses sponsoring content in many newspapers and magazines. Known as advertorials, these content pieces often blur the line between actual journalistic writing and business advertising to the point that many publications feel the need to point out which pieces are actually paid.

A great example is The digital giant often allows companies to sponsor content around particular topics, which is then distributed throughout the Forbes platform. This way, Forbes gets content, and a business gets advertising. Although these content pieces aren’t actual journalistic work, they can be interpreted as such by readers even though Forbes (and other publications) will work to make the difference as apparent as possible.

Journalists looking into marketing jobs can read these content pieces and start educating themselves on what might comprise a good advertorial. Discerning eyes should be able to identify at least one contrast – journalistic work looks for objectivity while advertorials push a specific viewpoint. Being able to identify that viewpoint and how it affects writing is one skill that will serve former reporters when they start writing their own advertorial content.

Research Marketing Trends

Understanding the basics of marketing will help any journalist looking to write marketing content, and it may even help differentiate a writer in a saturated freelance market. Every content piece is just one part of a larger marketing strategy, and being able to discern where content fits helps a journalist become more than just another content writer. To do so, journalists should be actively reading marketing books, perusing marketing blogs and getting marketing tips from the best resources. Some websites that offer good marketing resources include the Content Marketing Institute, AdAge, MarketingLand and Market. Eat. Sleep.

As journalism and marketing continue to employ the same people, freelancers and job seekers may be able to jump between fields, gain the benefits of both and find gainful employment especially as journalism jobs keep disappearing. For a listing of both journalism and marketing jobs, check out the job board at

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