Hire a brand journalist to get the right tone

image of reportersA great post by Jeannette de Beauvoir on the MarketingProf’s website discussed two key roles in content marketing: marketing content director and brand journalist.

Her point was to underscore the importance of these two titles/positions — and also to offer a slight dig at those companies that think hiring a copywriter is enough for a content strategy. (As a long-time B2B marketing project manager, I can vouch for the fact that her point is spot on: hiring a writer is a good start to a content campaign — but only a start).

What I really loved about her post, though, was that she emphasized the role of a “brand journalist.” She gives credit to Larry Light, former interim CMO for McDonald’s, with inventing the term.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the idea is to hire someone who is well-versed in the art of reportage and who views “markety” language as pure poison. Usually this means a journalist — or someone with a healthy journalism background. The main point is to get someone who can weave a story together; who can weave a narrative together and make it sing.

I think the trends in content marketing — and all marketing in general — are paving the way for more -integrated storytelling across all types of marketing. I also think that setting the proper “tone” of corporate communications has never been more important. The right tone matters more than ever, and “traditional” business communications are in more danger of alienating readers than ever before.

Here’s why:

Social media has reset the expectations of the proper “tone” for marketing messaging. Impersonal and jargon filled communications simply don’t resonate well in the echo  chamber of modern content marketing. More people are acculturated (big fancy word there) to the personal, almost intimate tone of social media than ever before.

This means that when brands want to relate to consumers and customers, the impersonal tone of traditional communications will come off as … flat, or flatter than usual. It’s an uphill trend that marketing professionals will struggle with for a long time.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: How is someone who writes like a journalist (which implies an impersonal tone) supposed to solve this problem? The answer is this: a “brand journalist” is more akin to the “feature” writer of newspapers, or a magazine writer who brings the reader in to a more intimate-setting. It’s not hard to do if you have a good feature-writing background, as many journalists do.

The important thing is, tone matters, and a more informal/personal tone + storytelling is what will resonate in content marketing copy.

[Photo Credit: John Picken via Compfight cc]

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