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Commercial awareness trumps writing ability for marketers hiring brand journalists, reveals NewsCred report

by on May 19, 2015 in Latest News, Lead Article, Nuggets, Rock 'n Roll

  • Just 12% of both brand journalists and marketers surveyed in NewsCred’s ‘Rise of the UK Brand Journalist’ report say writing is the most important skill a brand journalist should have
  • Finding journalists with strong commercial awareness and understanding of the brand is the most difficult part of recruiting brand journalists
  • But 42% of marketers surveyed say they will put more into hiring brand journalists in the next year


The full NewsCred report, ‘Rise of the UK Brand Journalist’, is available to download here.

Commercial awareness outweighs writing ability when it comes to the most important skills a brand journalist should have. This is according to both the marketers and brand journalists surveyed as part of content marketing platform NewsCred’s latest report, ‘Rise of the UK Brand Journalist’.

When asked what is the single most important skill or asset a brand journalist should have, 20% of the marketers NewsCred surveyed picked commercial awareness, against other abilities such as analysis, social media, writing, and leadership. Just 12% chose writing.

Creativity should be the number one asset

The brand journalists polled were in line with the marketers, with 18% opting for commercial awareness. Again, just 12% chose writing as the most important skill for a brand journalist. However, both marketers and journalists were also united in thinking that creativity should be the number one asset or skill for a brand journalist – according to 32% of marketers polled and 41% of brand journalists.

‘Rise of the UK Brand Journalist’ reveals that finding people with the right blend of editorial and commercial skills is the main issue when hiring brand journalists. 63% of brand journalists NewsCred surveyed find it difficult to hire content team members, with 33% reporting that finding people with the right marketing and commercial skills is the most difficult part, followed by 29% who say unearthing people with the right editorial skills is the most pressing recruitment element. For marketers though, a key struggle is finding journalists who understand the brand well enough, which is the main recruitment bugbear for 32% of marketers.

Recruitment aside, securing budget to invest in new staff is ranked as the single biggest challenge by 24% of brand journalists, followed by 22% who say securing the budget necessary to execute their ideas is a top problem, and 20% who say showing ROI from their content efforts is their number one issue. For marketers on the other hand, the biggest issues are coming up with new creative ideas (36%), securing budget to execute content ideas (16%) and securing budget to invest in new staff (14%).

Despite such potential obstacles, NewsCred’s research reveals that 42% of marketers surveyed say they will put more into hiring brand journalists in the next year. 48% of marketers are planning to invest further overall in content marketing over the next year. This may go some way towards addressing the 38% of marketers surveyed who feel their current content marketing efforts are very effective. 12% in fact believe their content marketing strategy is not effective.

In terms of looking ahead, 66% of marketers surveyed believe the majority of brands will have in-house content teams by 2020. 84% of marketers agree with the statement that the marketing industry will have developed clear standards of measurement for evaluating the ROI of content marketing by 2020.

Mainstream professional choice

While the number of career opportunities in brand journalism will grow exponentially, the jury is still out when it comes to journalists’ mindsets. Views from NewsCred’s survey are fairly evenly split on whether brand journalism offers as much career satisfaction as traditional journalism, as well as on whether the discipline can be taken as seriously as a traditional editorial career today.  Yet 73% feel that in five years’ time, brand journalism will be considered a more mainstream professional choice.

Shafqat Islam, NewsCred CEO and co-founder, comments: “Audiences today demand nothing less than insightful, relevant, creative content, whether that’s from brands or the media. That’s why it’s so crucial organisations hire the right brand journalists, with the experience to dig deep into their brand’s story and produce the copy that will tie all their marketing together.

“In the years to come, I know the brand journalist will play an integral role not just for the marketing department but for businesses as a whole, especially as the brands as publishers evolution is already here. The challenge now is how brand journalists make their mark with editorial and commercial prowess that will see the bar lifted for both professions of marketing and journalism.”

The full NewsCred report, ‘Rise of the UK Brand Journalist’, is available to download here.



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