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Why former journalists make great content marketers

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Finding good employees is never easy.

That’s especially true when it comes to marketing. You need people with a varied but also very particular set of skills: the ability to write clearly and concisely on a range of topics; the ability to render often-complex ideas intelligible for a variety of audiences; the willingness and ability to take feedback and use it to revise content for different channels and consumers … The list goes on.

For Emma Dunstone, VP of Marketing at Airbase, one group of people who possess those skills in abundance are former journalists.

For example, a good journalist knows how to keep the audience front and center.

“It’s horribly easy for marketing teams to look inside their own four walls for what they think is interesting,” Dunstone says. “Forgetting that it might not be of interest to the people you really want to reach. One of the secret advantages of having a journalist on your team is that it gives you that critical voice and somebody whose job it is to say, ‘Wait … why are we wasting time here when we should be writing about what’s more interesting [for our audience]?”

Journalists are also skilled at following a subject over time, known as covering a beat, which, for Dunstone, can add great value to marketing teams. One of the best product marketers Dunstone has worked with, she says, was a former journalist who use her skills to monitor a competitor and use the information she gathered to better assess their company’s strengths and weaknesses and to better enable the sales team.

And, of course, journalists are trained in the art of storytelling, which is a key skill in marketing.

“If you’re not telling stories [in marketing], what are you doing?” Dunstone says. “I love that a journalist can naturally ensure that what they are creating has a start, a middle, and an end. And that start has to work super hard to encourage you to read the next part.”

Not all marketing content serves the same purpose, of course. Dunstone believes that former journalists are best equipped to produce top-of-funnel content to draw in prospects with storytelling that engages people enough to get them started on the buying journey. Content expressly designed to close the deal, i.e. bottom-of-funnel content, may not map as well onto the skills and experience that journalists bring to the table.

Nevertheless, if you value storytelling, clarity, and content calibrated to speak to a specific audience, former journalists typically make strong additions to any marketing team.