The latest round of layoffs at your local newspaper unleashed a pool of talent that Memphis-area marketing and public relations firms – or any business looking to grow its presence online, for that matter – would be wise to exploit. Why? Because journalists make incredible content marketing writers. They have had to evolve with the business of journalism and add value to their work by embracing and incorporating SEO best practices, learning new skills such as shooting and editing video, or creating a brand for themselves by blogging and engaging followers across multiple social media platforms.

But we are burying the lede here, which is that journalists are professional writers. They are wordsmiths who use words like wordsmith but then wonder if contentsmith is a thing yet so they Google it and discover that it is, indeed, a thing and are kind of bummed somebody already coined the term. But I digress …

So what is content marketing, why does it matter and what does a journalist bring to the table? 

Well, are you still reading this? Are you still reading this blog item on a business’ website? Because if so, right this very second you are engaging with deliberate content marketing. We are a marketing firm utilizing a blog to reach and teach potential customers about the importance of content marketing.

Everyone knows that the more eyes on your website, the better. One way to drive the numbers up is to shape the content on your website so that it gets more search engine hits. Google wants a website full of good information – information that can take the form of articles, videos, blogs, etc. – in which you teach your audience about your product or service. And the more you have on your website that Google likes – keywords, links, relevant content – the higher you’ll rank in search results when a potential customer searches for information about a topic, product or service. A website loaded with quality content is key to a successful marketing strategy.

At their very core, journalists are driven to create meaningful, relevant material and possess an editorial sensibility that translates perfectly to content marketing. They are storytellers, experienced researchers and interviewers, and sticklers for detail. Some may have strong opinions about the Oxford comma. These word nerds will labor over the perfect turn of phrase for their lead paragraph or for a headline, but also are mindful of the importance of search engine optimization. Bylines have held them accountable because careless reporting undermines credibility and destroys reputations; accuracy and attribution are imperative. Journalists are accustomed to working under deadline pressures so are experts at prioritizing. The necessity to communicate information in an unbiased fashion means their voice is neutral and their audience won’t feel like they’re getting some disingenuous sales pitch. Heck, some might even have a fan base and bring along a built-in audience. 

 BeeTeeDubs: You might have noticed some egregious errors in The Commercial Appeal lately. That’s what happens when you don’t have copy editors. So remember: copy editors are journalists/people, too. They just never get any glory. With a copy editor you’ll get many of the same qualities found in reporters but, in being the voice of your brand, probably a little less ego and even more attention to detail but also perhaps some passive-aggressive behavior. There – I said it. My name is Holly and I am a recovering copy editor. I have been a marketing content writer for more than two years now. 

Google is a fickle beast, but this is what we know to be true right now: every business needs to be executing content marketing, whether internally or by outsourcing freelancers. It is critical to note that Google wants quality content, and this is where capitalizing on the talent set loose in Memphis by The CA and their Gannett overlord comes in to play. It’s a mutually beneficial deal: you’ve got professional writers who need work and businesses whose online presence must have quality content. Remember, you get what you pay for. And Google knows when you’ve been cheap.