Blog post

Content Marketers Should Adopt Newsroom Habits

By Jake Sorofman | November 11, 2014 | 3 Comments

digital marketing

A lot of marketers have asked me how to organize to meet the accelerated demands of their content marketing efforts. I generally point to the newsroom masthead for inspiration.

Here, roles are organized to address roughly three factors of complexity:

  1. A portfolio of diverse subject matter—or “beats,”—which range from general to specialized, from broad to narrow in orientation;
  2. A daily reporting and publishing cycle that lives or dies by the almighty deadline; and,
  3. A geographic orientation that requires something of a fractal repeat of these same roles at the local level (think “news bureaus,” for example).

Of course, I’m hardly suggesting a direct copy/paste of the New York Times newsroom to drive your content marketing efforts—that would be, in a word, madness.

But I am suggesting, for content marketers, there’s useful inspiration in hewing to newsroom habits

(Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients see “Content Marketing Pushes Digital Marketers to Adopt Newsroom Habits”).

For example:

  • The editor in chief—otherwise known as chief content officer or director of editorial marketing, etc., this person is responsible for leading overall brand publishing efforts. Based on the essential truth that when everybody’s in charge, nobody’s in charge, this role disambiguates lines of authority and keeps a close watch on the quality, cadence, compliance and performance of your content marketing efforts. Perhaps above all else, appointing this role ensures that someone wakes up and goes to sleep thinking about the content supply chain. Without leadership, your efforts are bound to whither on the vine.
  • The corporate journalist—every content marketing effort requires a great utility writer who knows how to tell stories on human terms. This journeyman writer generally comes from a traditional reporting role and knows how to crank crackling copy on deadline.
  • The visual storyteller—don’t flame me when I remind you that a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words. Yes, my eyes actually rolled, too. But hackneyed cliché aside, it’s generally true that audiences prefer visual over textual renderings. Both media matters, of course, which is why having a graphic designer paired with your writer is usually the right combination. Look for a designer with data visualization skills.
  • The beat reporter—brand storytelling is both general and specialized, which is why you also need contributors who have more than a journeyman’s knowledge of specific subject matter. How do you build up a bench of specialists without breaking the bank? Look to freelance communities like Contently, and Skyword. Better yet, look within your four walls: find and deputize the natural evangelists hiding in plain sight.
  • The bureau chief—for global companies, brand storytelling often happens at a local level. How do you scale your efforts globally without building a perfect repeat of this organizational structure? Appoint the equivalent of a bureau chief to curate, time and tailor corporate content to meet local requirements. In addition, the bureau chief should source their own content, contributing it back to the supply chain.
  • The community editor—otherwise known as the social marketing manager, this person is responsible for content syndication and engagement across social communities. While this role may sit outside of your content marketing organization, ensure there are tight linkages back and forth.

Finally, as I’ve said before, feeding the content marketing beast is more than creation alone. Follow the three Cs—creation, curation and cultivation—to tell your brand’s stories at scale.

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  • David Butler says:

    As you have stated so clearly to us: “Creation—is the collaborative, often distributed process of generating original ideas and creative output in the form of text, images, video, infographics and the like.” With a Newsroom culture and a cloud app to make it super simple I can see this really working! Thanks Jake

  • Perry Kamel says:

    Terrific article. Solid analogy and source of inspiration. Note also the symbiotic relationship between Content Marketing and Marketing Content. Contextually relevant stories, messaging, positioning resonate more powerfully when wrapped in relevant packaging. The relevant packaging can be delivered at scale via automated democratization of brand assets, imagery, etc. Makes for a powerful one-two punch!

  • Joe Bloggs says:

    What an informative post, thanks! Joe Bloggs