A marketing student’s strategy to a journalist’s success

The world of journalism is changing every day, making it more difficult for the traditional newspaper journalist to find a job. As a result, journalists should specialize in different areas, like marketing, in order to be more appealing to hiring managers.

According to IBISworld, the newspaper publishing industry in Canada is shrinking with a growth rate of minus 1.4 per cent by 2020, due to the rapid technological change that has altered media consumption. Traditional newspaper journalists are now being left without a home because big companies like Domino’s Pizza, Dove and Nike are now turning to social media influencers, online advertising and other digital platforms to share information to reach their desired target markets.

So how can we create more opportunities in this field? Well, maybe the solution begins with blending journalism with different areas of expertise.

This past spring, I graduated with a bachelors in marketing and a dream to work in advertising. While surfing through job posts, I noticed many advertising jobs were asking for journalism or communications graduates. I was amazed to find employers in the field I was planning to enter were looking for different skill-sets.

I soon realized that I needed to change my mindset. I had to blend my marketing knowledge with something else. With the increased demand in niche journalism, the multi-skilled journalist is high in demand. In Mark Stencel and Kim Perry’s newsroom study, where they randomly surveyed media leaders on their hiring tendencies, it was discovered that nontraditional skill-sets were more sought after — coding, digital design, social media distribution and data metrics were at the top of the list. Proving that journalists need to be more than journalists to successfully navigate through the new changes in this field.

Blending marketing and journalism is one way to stand out. Two of the more popular combinations of journalism and marketing are brand journalism and content marketing. Brand journalism is a hybrid of traditional journalism, marketing and public relations. In Andy Bull’s book titled Brand Journalism, he states that brand journalism incorporates the storytelling aspect of journalism, core elements from strategic public relations and marketing principles like visionary planning, research, a defined purpose and incisive messages. 

On Business2Community, a website where business professionals share and receive thoughts that can further their business and gain network opportunities, Sarah Skerik explained that brand journalism looks to build awareness, earn media exposure  and build brand credibility while setting context for directional brand messaging. So in other words, brand journalism is the telling of stories to create a comprehensive image of the brand.

For example, both McDonalds and Ronald McDonald House Charities benefit from positive stories written about the charity. In 2017, McDonald’s McHappy Day raised almost $3.5 million across Canada to help Ronald McDonald House of Charities. By promoting the charity, they also promoted their products.

In comparison, The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a “marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” Their goal is to capture interest, educate and introduce essential benefits of something short yet memorable, like words, catch phrases, and images that stimulates strong emotions that stay in the mind. According to eMarketer, in 2019, 84.5 per cent of companies in the US with more than 100 employees utilized digital content marketing strategies. 

Content marketing usually involves a campaign. Newsletters, daily emails and interactives come to mind. Therefore, brand journalism is a subset of content marketing because it can be looked at as a campaign. An example of successful content marketing would be when you are offered 10 per cent off your next purchase just for signing up for a newsletter. Another example is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign where you are able to customize your own bottle of Coke.

Whether you pick brand journalism or content marketing, I think marketing is one of the best skills one can add to their list of abilities as a journalist. Traditional journalism is changing. By adding marketing to your skillset, your employer would know you have the ability to write a great piece geared appropriately to the targeted market, making it easier to reach your goal. With journalism taking on more and more marketing characteristics everyday, this seems like the most logical choice.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


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