“Journalism taught me how to write a sentence that would make someone want to read the next one.” (Amy Hempel)
When I worked as an editor at alternative weekly newspapers, I had a lot of responsibilities, but one of the greatest was approving the cover. Every week, the goal was to come up with an image and a few words that would entice busy, distracted people — with lots of other news options — to pick up a copy. Sometimes the cover came together quickly; other times we agonized over the details. And every week I checked with the circulation manager on the pickup rate; anything less than 95 percent felt like a failure.
At the time I never thought of this as “branding,” but it was. Non-mainstream media succeed by establishing and maintaining an identity, and the cover was the most widely seen part of the paper — its “face,” as one publisher I worked with often put it. But of course grabbing attention was not enough. Bait and switch is a terrible strategy for longterm success, so the cover story had to live up to expectations. And so did everything else in the paper. There are a lot of moving parts in newspaper publishing, an endless series of decisions about how best to both meet readers’ expectations and to surprise them in every issue. My judgment was grounded in years of experience as a reporter, gathering, distilling and presenting information for discerning audiences. (Alt weeklies are more closely related to magazines than to daily newspapers, and aim for an educated and engaged readership.)
All of this experience has proven to be a perfect fit for content marketing. Just about anyone can build a web site, send emails and use social media, but these tools are useless without a custom-built strategy built on a clear identity, a consistent voice and solid writing. That’s what I can deliver. Don’t take my word for it — read the endorsements on my LinkedIn page. You should also read what the Content Marketing Institute has to say about hiring former journalists.