Checklist: How to pick a brand journalist


By now, you fully understand the concept of Inbound Marketing and you’re ready to get started and show your boss that this is the strategy your marketing team has been missing all along. You know Inbound and content go hand in hand, you know that in order to succeed with your Inbound tactics you need a solid content plan, you know how to build this, you have all the technical necessities in place, you even got your hands on a shiny new marketing automation system – yes, the IT team finally gave in.

You’re on top of this, you know what you need and you’re ready to get started. Then you realise you’re missing something ...content.  Not just any content, good solid, well-written content. You probably have some talented individuals in your team who can write and help you get started, but everyone’s busy with other tasks and you need to ensure your content production is an ongoing thing, so what do you do? You need to look for support. A full-time content person isn’t always an option, so why not hire a freelancer? Maybe even an experienced brand journalist?

What are brand journalists?

Brand journalists, are journalists who have realised that a story is a story, no matter the incentive to write it.  Brand journalists often come from a newspaper or magazine background and have realised that there is a solid place for them in this commercially orientated, content heavy, marketing reality. They are more likely to create engaging, non-salesy and educational stories for your product than those coming from a PR or marketing background.


How do I recognise who’s right for me? 

1. Do they know your industry?

The first step is to clearly define your industry and your product. Make sure the journalist you pick has not only a solid writing background, but has also worked in your field. Writers who don’t have to rely on research but can draw on their own experiences and knowledge will be able to deliver much better content than those who have to familiarise themselves with your industry first. 


2. How much do they know about blogging and marketing?

Preferably you’d be looking for a journalist who knows about blogging. Blog writing is very different to newspaper or magazine writing, for example blogs tend to feature more summary-like sub headers to allow time-strapped readers to jump around and get exactly the information they need. Some traditional journalists struggle grasping the difference. You can teach them over time and get them to a point where they deliver exactly what you want, but to make things easy from the get-go a blogging or marketing background is of advantage.


3. Are they receptive to feedback?

It is normal, that when you start working with someone, you need some time to get used to each other. A writer might not hit the nail on the head straight away and this doesn’t necessarily mean they are not the right person or good at what they do. Don’t be afraid to push back and ask your chosen wordsmith to rewrite and edit their submitted piece according to your feedback. Their response and enthusiasm to do so will give you much more ground to judge on than a first writing attempt. If someone is receptive to feedback, can make a note of it and apply it to future work so the process keeps evolving, then that’s a great basis for a good relationship.


4. Can they work towards a deadline?

One of my biggest pet peeves is when writers create their own deadlines. Of course sometimes there will be circumstances where a journalist needs an extension and as long as this is communicated that is absolutely fine, but delivering late without warning, is something that shouldn’t happen more than once or twice. I, personally, really appreciate writers sending work on time. It lets you plan your day and allows you to spend more time editing, reviewing and delivering constructive feedback.


Finding the right journalist is a bit like dating. You will come across a few foul eggs, but don’t give up too quickly; there are some great ones out there who you can have a long-lasting relationship with. At the end of the day, it’s a two-way street, if you know what you want and can provide your writers with good briefs and feedback then they, if they are the right person for you, will be able to match your vision and deliver what you need when it's needed. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start looking for your brand journalist. 


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Topics: content marketing brand journalist