Monday, March 30, 2009

Journalism by any other word would smell as sweet

March is academia month for me.
Each year at this time I visit with college journalists and their teachers. And each year it is both a rewarding and frustrating experience.
This year was somewhat unusual in that I did less college-focused stuff than usual. I had too much work to do much travel. And some academic events were canceled. But I did get to spend a few days at the annual College Media Advisers convention in New York.

I saw many of the same disheartening things this year that I've written about before -- journalism departments that have not converged; students just weeks from graduating with nothing to show for it but a working knowledge of Quark; teachers and students with no understanding of how the media business operates; etc.
On the other hand, I saw less of some of the stuff that upsets me. This year, for example, I was pleased to find that only one person in a room full of journalism advisers didn't own a cell phone or PDA.

As you'd expect, much of the conversation at this year's convention focused on the troubles of the media industry. No one seems to be landing a job. The kids are frightened.
So I spent a lot of my time talking about where I see opportunities.
And the place where I see the most opportunity for the next few years is in content marketing.

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, I didn't meet a single teacher, adviser or student who was familiar with content marketing.
And so, repeatedly, I found myself giving a brief overview: Content marketing is about removing the middleman. Companies that once spent their marketing budget on advertising are now spending it on creating content themselves. Content marketers are free of the greatest pressure that the rest of media faces, i.e., content marketers don't need to make a profit from their content. I talked about some of the content-marketing sites that I've written about earlier such as Security Focus as well as Kraft, WeightWatchers and the sites of Waterfront Media.
And, of course, I talked about Joe Pulizzi's Junta42, which is ground zero for the content-marketing movement.
But what I found was that the folks I talked to seemed to have tremendous difficulty with the word "marketing." No matter how much I talked about content marketing as a new form of journalism, they seemed to think it could be nothing more than a new form of marcom.

So it was with great pleasure and gratitude that I stumbled upon a recent post by David Meerman Scott.
In David's "Open letter to journalists," he talks about the opportunities for "open-minded" journalists in the new world of content marketing.
But most importantly, David introduces a new (or at least new to me) term to describe the content-marketing industry.
So you can expect that in March 2010 I'll be telling students and teachers about the opportunities in "brand journalism."

To read my four-part series on college journalism from last year, click here and follow the links.

tags: , , , , , , , journalism education, content marketing, brand journalism

3 comments:

  1. As a person who has worked on the "dark side" for a couple of years, I've seen this trend grow. There is a rising demand for this type of content. In my two years in a pr function both an integrated marcom agency and a pr-only agency, I've spent more time producing this type of content than what, I suppose, is thought of as classic pr work--press releases and media relations. It's different than working strictly in the traditional journalistic function. But Paul is correct. The opportunities exist.

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  2. It's great advice all around, Paul -- I was laid off from a great B2B journalism job and feel very fortunate that I was hired into a content marketing position not long after my layoff. There is a lot of opportunity in this field for anyone with a journalistic streak; it's amazing how transferable my journalism training and skills are in this field.

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  3. Maria,
    I hadn't heard you been laid off.
    I'm glad to hear you've bounced back. And I'm thrilled to hear that you've landed in the content-marketing part of the business.
    Congratulations!

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