Title Illustrated by Fahren Feingold
Until recently, “newspaper reporter” was ranked as the worst career path you could possibly choose. This year, it’s just the second-worst.
Rankings like these are based on survey data that include salary, stress, office atmosphere, industry growth, physical requirements, and more. This year, reporter actually moved up one spot to edge out “lumberjack,” but has otherwise plummeted during the past decade.
What else can you expect when your industry has a website devoted to it that includes the phrase “death watch”?
Still, the skills it takes to be a good reporter will always be valuable, regardless of public perception. Intellectual curiosity, street smarts, social graces, accountability, thoroughness, and clarity – to name just a few – transcend bylines and the “state of journalism as we know it”: They prove crucial across the communications spectrum.
Put another way: Can you imagine establishing a successful company without the capacity to make connections, ask as well as listen, research trends, and write well? If so, you’re probably in organized crime, which doesn’t count for our purposes.
If not, then you know how important a reporter’s sensibilities, broadened and reshaped to apply to business practices, can be. Even – and perhaps especially – in a digital age.
What – and Who – Makes a Good Reporter?
A reporter, by definition, writes for publication – and therefore an audience. The very idea of this strikes terror into the hearts of some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs, innovators, and industry leaders the world has ever seen. A lot of people are just plain afraid to put their writing out there, usually out of insecurity.
But the humble reporter just keeps churning out the content, head down, mind open, suffering the slings and arrows of a readership ready to jump on the slightest mistake. After all, if it’s worth its salt, hers isn’t just any content that’s being slapped together and thrown up on a page (be it actual or virtual) overnight: It’s rigorously crafted and responsibly vetted – well-sourced, well-written, and well-edited.
While it’s true that your demand for such content isn’t as high as, say, a newspaper’s, it’s also true that interacting with your audience is more important than ever – and the information exchanged needs to be current, helpful, and trustworthy.
So, are bloggers journalists? The best ones have always been journalists, yes – and more and more are fitting the job description every day.
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The typical scenario for a start-up sees executives drawing on the talents – and, more to the point, time – of either themselves or several of their employees to accomplish even the most basic of outreach efforts, simply because there is so much else to do. When you then layer on a blog that attempts to monitor trends, relay industry news, foster engagement and loyalty, as well as respond to the needs of consumers, you’re starting to exceed your office’s staff-power bandwidth … if you even have an office yet.
[Tweet “Original content sacrificed on the cost-of-doing-business altar will end up hurting your company.”]
That’s why we so often see blogs and other original content sacrificed on the cost-of-doing-business altar. With all of the phone calls and emails that need to be answered, the orders that need to be filled, the apps to maintain, the meetings to attend, the hirings to make, the payrolls to be managed, and the infrastructure to build, it’s understandable that websites fall by the wayside.
How many times have you checked out a company’s blog only to feel like you’re visiting a ghost town? How many dents to their fledgling reputation have start-ups endured by falling behind with out-of-date market information? How many consumers have unsubscribed from email lists with infrequent, poorly put together, or tone-deaf updates?
The answer to all three of those questions is “many.” But we don’t want to dwell on the negatives here. Let’s look at the positive statistics:
- At BuzzFarmers, we’ve found that 70% of our clients’ leads are generated through our living, breathing blogs.
- Companies that blog faithfully with fresh content see 55% more website traffic. (source)
- 57% of companies report acquiring a client through their blogs. (source)
- Companies that blog see 97% more leads than those that don’t. (source)
At BuzzFarmers, where we focus all of our effort on creating content that converts site traffic into leads, we can tell you that when we begin blogging for our clients, those numbers are multiplied by thousands:
- A mobile technology company who published short blog posts 3x per day increased website traffic 14,900% in the first three months.
- Another, a software company for small businesses who published 5x per week increased website traffic 6,900% in the first six months.
- On average, our clients who begin publish 3x per week will increase their traffic by 3,100% in the first six months.
- All of our clients get 70% or more of their leads through their blogs.
- 97% of our clients have acquired a client through their blog in the first month.
- Our clients increase leads through their blog by 1,900% on average, as opposed to before they began blogging.
Consumers crave good, strong content. In the age of analytics, content is often overlooked – when it’s not being underestimated – but if you can weave it into your business plan, the upside is tremendous. There’s a ton of reward for very little risk, and the only question is how to execute it given the time and personnel constraints you already face. The last thing you want to do, for instance, is rely on newsjacking Facebook feeds as a primary strategy. You also don’t want to find yourself in the position of waiting until the last minute every week when it comes time to post a story, study, or update. Doing so means needless stress for you, and your content will suffer for it.
During the coming weeks, this series will center on producing the best possible owned media to enhance your company’s web presence by incorporating a reporter’s approach. More specifically, it will demystify the process.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Finding Your Angle
- Knowing Your Audience
- Identifying and Developing Your Sources
- Research Methodologies
- Building an Outline
- Writing – and Crafting – Copy
- Headlines: There’s a Reason They Come First!
- The Editing Process
- Publishing With Airtight Confidence
Are bloggers journalists at your company?
You might not be a born writer, but you can create clear, compelling content that resonates with your customers and within your industry.
You just have to know how, and it’s not rocket science. Should your business happen to be rocket science – and, if it is, let me be the first to congratulate you on a far more promising career than newspaper journalism – you can still benefit from “taking a reporter’s approach to business blogging.
Are you a reporter turned blogger? Tell us about your experience in the comments!