Lessons Inbound Marketers Can Learn From Journalists

‘Marketalism’: with the lines between PR and online marketing blurring we look at the lessons inbound marketeers can learn from journalism.

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Earlier this week I stumbled across the term ‘Marketalsim’. (urgh!) Yes, a horrible horrible word but it got me thinking about something we have spoken about before on the Browser blog and discussed regularly in the office.

The way in which the phrase formalises the online marketing and PR debate is this…

Marketing + Journalism = Marketalism

…yes, a dreadful equation but there is some truth behind it. More and more people are starting to put their marketing heads above the parapet and start the discussion about the unlikely but very real symbiosis between online marketing geekery and ‘old school’ PR ways.

We’ve seen a merge between the rudimentals of traditional journalism and using good quality content for our online marketing campaigns. Here are a handful of lessons I’ve learnt when approaching an inbound marketing project with a PR hat on.

1) Content is King

We’ve written about ‘winning over the blogging sceptics’ and the importance of creating relevant fresh content as inbound marketers. Blogging will and does generate traffic for businesses whether it be B2C or B2B. Good content creation is at the core of what we, as marketers, do. Not every online marketing agency can say this with a clear conscience, but this is absolutely always in our minds when we start a new content piece or campaign.

In journalism, content is constantly updated, read the papers and magazines and you’ll see just about all of the information is targeted to its audience. The online marketer should adopt a similar strategy by way of publishing content that is timely, fun, helpful and informative (see image i).

Instead of waiting for other articles (things that have already been written about) to inspire you about a particular product or service. Instead, become an expert in your field and be the first to review, comment and share what you have learnt.

image i: The tone of voice triangle: fun, helpful and informative. Three tones of voice to use and combine when writing content.

Are you always reading articles with titles like ‘how this has affected the industry’? Well these are great pieces to write if you are a little late to the party. Observe the reaction of the general market, read reviews or write from your own experience and how it is affecting the market as a whole.

2) Give the answers

Like journalists, marketers should be publishing content that teaches the reader something or even better, gives them the answer. A blog piece should provide information that the reader will find valuable, learn from, use and hopefully share. A great way to do this is:

a) write about something you know using anecdotal evidence
b) analyse data and share insights – this can be really beneficial to so many people as it will add to their knowledge bank

3) Understand your audience

Just like the local news, which covers events in your area, marketeers should cover blog topics which really taps into the minds of their target audience. It is important to publish content which readers will find interesting and shows you understand what your readers enjoy the most.

This may be as simple as a quick review of your blog analytics to see which blog posts get the most clicks or the highest time on page. Looking at your audience’s responsiveness to posts means you can be more reactive when stories do break and become a voice of authority in the industry.

4) Build relationships

For a long time online marketing has been seen as a typically isolated discipline – those who worked in the digital arena were seen as coding geeks, working on their own or their clients websites independently of other sites or the industry in which they are based. But now the game has changed and the quality of links is the main indicator of a website’s authority and credibility within its industry, so it pays to have a PR hat on.

One of the foundation blocks of PR is to build relationships with key journalists and editors of publications that are highly relevant your clients’ business. And it’s the same now with online marketing, having a good relationship with an owner or editor of a site which carries high credibility to your client will inevitably help create links through a mutually beneficial relationship of having content well received and in return requested. This keeps you ahead of competitors and seen as a trusted source of information.

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