2 Extra Pressures Experienced by Brand Journalists

woman carrying giant bag of pumpkins
Oct 22, 2015
Content Copywriting

Do you ever feel like your head will explode for all the expert advice floating around about content marketing? When I say ‘expert’, I mean people who have made it big and are now dispensing easy ways any marketer can achieve the same thing. If you’re bogged down looking for advice in listicle land and wondering why you’re not experiencing the same success, there might be a good reason for it.

The problem is not you

Let’s take a step back. Most brands are relatively new to content marketing. Many of us are still working to get buy-in from executive management to adopt a full-blown content marketing initiative. You probably haven’t built much of an audience; it’s the exact reason you’re devouring all the free advice available.

It’s the advice you’re getting

Here’s something to consider. Many of the people doling out advice have had it easy. Their experience isn’t relevant to you no matter how hard you try or how much evidence they offer to support their conclusions.

And who you’re getting it from

This is true of celebrities who, thankfully, don’t offer a lot of advice on content marketing and social media. The group to be wary of are the ones coming from mainstream media. This group enjoys two advantages brand journalists don’t have, putting additional pressure for those trying to achieve the same success.

1) Built-in audiences

If you work in traditional media, someone has already built an audience for you. Yes, you may be responsible for bringing in a bigger audience share or rewarded heavily for increasing listeners/viewers/readers, but you don’t start from zero. Most brands start a content program with a miniscule database. Brand journalists almost always have to build their audience as they go.

Take the Chat 10 Looks 3 podcast for example. Co-hosts Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb are hardnosed journalists working for the ABC. The show is extremely entertaining fluff focused on show tunes, cooking, politics and reading.  It has 23 episodes dropped in an extremely sporadic manner over the past 12 months. The production qualities are shocking, something they joke about on the show. They often ramble, go over time and have no intro or closing. They openly lament about how terrible they are at promoting the show. Compare it to any advice on how to run a successful podcast and it’s a shambles.

The podcast is wildly successful. I’m a massive fan of Chat 10 Looks 3. The show has 735 ratings on iTunes with a 5-star average. What makes it work? Crabb and Sales are entertaining but not enough to warrant that kind of result. The podcast is a hit because they brought a ready-made audience with them – probably more than one. They leveraged dedicated fans of their news programs, cooking shows, books, and social media on opening day. Thankfully, neither of the women gives advice on how to run a podcast because it would be impossible for a brand to recreate the same results.

2) Established distribution network

When you work in TV, radio or newspaper, you never have to figure out how your work is going to get into the hands of your audience. Amplification is not your concern; there’s a whole department worried about distribution, delivery, circulation and broadcasting. Content producers and creatives immerse themselves in their craft and never give one iota’s thought to how the end product ends up in front of the right people. Distribution and amplification are high on the list of ongoing conundrums brand journalists and content marketers have to deal with every day.

Imagine if you were working in an environment where you had a ready-made audience and someone else worried about distribution. Your content brand is clearly established, quite possibly longer than you’ve been alive. You’re expected to create great content in a timely manner but that’s about it. How easy would that be?

Advice with a grain of salt

Content marketing is hard and it takes a long time to see results.  Most people have no appreciation for what it’s like to do it well over a long period of time. Make sure when you’re looking for help the advice is coming from someone who understands what it’s like to build an audience from scratch. Listen to people who had to figure out a distribution model on their own.

Celebrities and media personalities are not operating from the same playbook. You shouldn’t avoid their advice but make sure to absorb it through the filter of a brand marketer. Next time you’re wondering why you can’t figure out how to be an overnight success, remember nearly all successful brand journalists started out slow and spent a substantial amount of time building an audience. Listen to Todd Wheatland’s The Pivot podcast to hear how long it really takes for most people to gain influence using content marketing. Perseverance is essential.

If you want realistic advice on how to build an audience or distribute your content, why not give Lush a call? We can help you set up a fully functioning brand newsroom.