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Make your next hire a journalist

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We're in the middle of a dramatic shift for many areas of business; marketing, PR, customer service, HR, sales, web content, training, the list goes on and on. Where just five years ago these areas were completely separate, the fast growth of social media has caused them to converge in a meaningful way. Instead of the traditional ways of marketing, sales & PR - carefully crafted collateral, pitches, emails and press releases - social media necessitates an ongoing conversational dialogue.

Most Americans are now online at Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc. This means that a company can use these channels to reach a variety of audiences; current customers, potential customers, potential employees, the press, business partners. A strategy can be made for engaging and keeping up to date audiences across multiple channels. For small startups this is easy - they live online and perform many of these functions on social networks out of necessity - they don't have the staff or money to do otherwise. But for companies with established processes it can be a large cultural change to loosen the grip on the traditional ways of recruiting, marketing, customer service, and PR.

One possible way of handling these new functions is to have a traffic controller/content creator who can monitor social media channels and create content that will be appropriate. It could make sense to have someone with a journalism background in this position. They are used to sorting through large amounts of information and quickly distilling what's important, helpful for drinking from the firehose of social media content. They create content on a deadline, to respond quickly to blog posts, tweets, forum posts, etc. And since they know how to interview they can work with employees across functions to respond to a multitude of requests - everything from customer complaints to interview requests.

John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing agrees, and talking to David Meerman Scott author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR had this to say;

Most every business these days is really a publishing business of some sort, whether they think that way or not. The need to produce lots and lots of educational content has become standard operating fare in today’s Internet search driven marketing world. But, publishing content in blog posts, ebooks and articles, while considered compulsory, is not the easiest thing to do for some. ... If you think of your business as a publishing business, the need for journalists becomes obvious.

* An experienced journalist will usually look at content in the objective, source driven, and factual way they’ve been trained – precisely the way that marketing content must be viewed and communicated these days.

* An experienced journalist knows how to start with the kernel of an idea and develop an entire story quickly.

* An experienced journalist, particularly one that’s worked in your industry, may possess key contacts throughout your industry and with publications that cover your industry.


John goes onto to point out that with all the downsizing in traditional publishing experienced journalists are more available at a lower cost than before. Even if they aren't full-time they can make a valuable contribution. But these social media journalists will need buy-in from all the departments they will be supporting. Access must be given to key executives across functions to ensure there isn't turf wars. And businesses must be agile enough to follow-on and add resources where the most traction is achieved.

If companies can truly buy-in and add this position as a key member of the team then it can do much to accelerate many areas of a business.