Brands are increasingly looking to hire journalists. And yet, traditional journalists still show some trepidation about working for brands even if communicators don’t share the same concerns.
Our research shows 36% of companies already use journalists for storytelling and PR. And that ratio is considerably higher in English-speaking countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Ireland), where 43% use journalists.
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Combining those who either already use journalists or are willing to do so, we see more than two-thirds are amenable to the idea. And it’s not surprising because journalists bring with them a level of professionalism and discipline, and extensive networks, to their roles inside companies.
Skills in need
For brands, journalists offer skills and a mindset that can’t be easily found. For example, journalists are:
- Savvy about using research, interviewing sources and writing under tight time constraints.
- Adept at telling stories rather than merely reciting facts. They know how to capture attention quickly.
- Knowledgeable in certain fields, making their voices more credible to a niche audience.
- Networkers and have good access to subject-matter experts.
As Cameron Conaway, the 2015 Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Fellowship winner and now director of content at Reflektion, explained in CCO magazine:
Good journalists realize the importance of pursuing meaningful, authentic relationships. They work hard, beyond just creating content, to create strategic win-win relationships with sources and, more broadly, with readers and writers in their field.
Journalists need more info to make the transition
However, given that 68% of brand-side communicators are either already using journalists or are willing to do so, how does this compare to the journalist perspective?
Journalists still feel some sort of trepidation. Just 8% globally report they currently work on behalf of brands. And roughly 1 in 4 are “open” or “enthusiastic” about the idea. And older journalists seem to be more likely to view the idea with suspicion.
What we also find fascinating is the difference in attitudes across countries. For example, just 11% of journalists in Norway are “enthusiastic” or “open to working with brands,” while 31% of those in the UK say the same. Overall, journalists in English-speaking countries are more open to the idea than those in Nordic or DACH countries.
Why the lower interest from journalists in Nordic countries?
The answer is likely related to greater degrees of digital innovation in those countries. Traditional media outlets in Nordic countries have done a much better job of propping up digital subscription rates—as high as 15% in Norway, 12% in Sweden, 10% in Denmark and 7% in Finland. Greater success with traditional media in these countries may mean journalists don’t feel the same pressures they do in other regions.
While there is some degree of distrust among journalists across the globe about transitioning to brands, there are plenty of reasons to believe that more journalists will consider jobs inside non-media companies. Our report Make brand journalism more attractive identifies some of these trends:
- Lack of stable work from media companies
- Pressures from advertisers
- Questions about quality
- Job pressures
Brands offer a good alternative
Journalists inside traditional media face increasing pressures. Increasingly, journalists will consider making the transition. Brands offer well-remunerated, stable work inside the marketing and communications organizations—whether as employees or freelancers.
And while it may not be true across the board, there is a sizable number of brands publishing high-quality content. From well-researched and investigated research studies to print magazines of the highest editorial quality, brands are increasingly publishing excellent content. With this perspective, journalists today do have good options.