What's the Difference Between Journalism and Content Marketing?


The lines between journalism and content marketing are becoming increasingly blurred. As the demand for quality online content grows, so does the demand for professionals who can create it. But what exactly are the differences between these two fields? And how do the approaches, methodologies, focus, and framework play a part in the output?

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On the surface, journalism and content marketing may appear to be very similar. After all, both involve creating original content designed to inform or entertain an audience. However, some critical differences between the two disciplines are significant to distinguish. Let’s discuss some of the most critical differentiators.

1. Approach

Journalism: Objective Reporting of Facts

Journalism is one of the cornerstones of a free society. It is based on the objective reporting of facts without fear or favor. This requires journalists to maintain their independence and impartiality. It also encourages professionals to avoid conflicts of interest. By abiding by these guidelines, they play an essential role in holding the government and other institutions accountable.

Content Marketing: Creating Engaging & Informative Resources

When you think about it, content marketing is a lot like telling stories around a campfire. You need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it while gradually weaving in your company’s message. And just as with any good storyteller, the key is to engage and entertain your audience along the way. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to creating successful content marketing campaigns that nurture a lead throughout the buyer’s journey.

2. Research

Journalism: Interviews, Eyewitness Accounts, & First-Hand Stories

No matter how talented a journalist may be, they cannot produce quality content without dependable sources. Good journalism requires reliable information, whether interviewing experts, gathering eyewitness accounts, or simply getting the scoop from the first person to experience something. Unfortunately, obtaining accurate data is complex, and journalists must work tirelessly to find trustworthy sources.

Content Marketing: Data & Market Research

Every story needs a grounded foundation to support its claims. In content marketing, writers use their market research and consumer data to create compelling stories. Marketers need to know their audience inside and out to deliver the right content through the right channel at the right time. Content marketers use market research, personas, consumer data, and competitive intelligence to create data-driven strategies that produce quality content for customers looking for a solution.

3. Focus

Journalism: Impartiality & Accuracy

Journalism has always been a critical part of democratic societies, and the need for accurate and impartial reporting is more critical than ever. Despite increasing pressure in the current political climate, journalists must strive to maintain their independence and ensure that the public has access to reliable information. Good journalists remain gatekeepers of information, only reporting on the facts and not hearsay. Increasingly, it is up to journalists to help the public make sense of complex issues and get unbiased information about world events.

To do this effectively, journalists must maintain their impartiality and accuracy above all else. This can be difficult in an era when so many people seek to discredit the media, but it is essential for a functioning democracy. Journalists must also be aware of their own biases and work to correct them where necessary. By doing so, they can provide vital checks and balances on our government and help the public make informed decisions.

Content Marketing: Creating a Positive Relationship with the Audience

Content is the cornerstone of marketing. But content marketing isn’t just about creating and pushing out content. It’s about creating a positive relationship with the market and resonating with specific personas.

Content can engage and inform readers about market challenges, leading solutions, and industry trends. Content marketers create content that engages readers at all stages of the lead funnel, from awareness to consideration through purchase and loyalty. By creating consistent quality content, readers learn to trust companies as reliable sources of industry information. These loyal readers and customers become advocates of the brand. So how can you go about creating engaging content?

1. Know your audience

Before creating content that resonates with your readers, you need to know who they are. What are their interests? What do they care about? How do they align with your buyer personas? Once you have a good understanding of your target audience, you can start tailoring your content accordingly.

2. Be relevant

It’s essential to stay relevant to your audience. Create content that provides unique information and insights useful for the industry and the target’s pain points. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on delivering valuable content that meets the needs of your specific target market.

3. Be original

Make sure your content stands out from the rest. Find new ways to present information or tackle topics in fresh and unique ways. If you can pique your readers’ interest right from the get-go, chances are they’ll stick around for the long haul. Creating engaging content isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

4. Other Critical Differences

One of the critical differences between journalism and content marketing is the narrative framework. In journalism, the narrative framework is typically inverted, with the most important information appearing at the beginning of the article. In content marketing, on the other hand, the narrative framework is often more flexible and can be used to create a more engaging story.

Another critical difference between journalism and content marketing is the process. Journalism is typically linear, with each step of the process happening in sequence. Conversely, content marketing is often more iterative, with ideas developed and refined through multiple drafts.

Finally, the formatting of journalism and content marketing can also be quite different. Journalism articles are typically shorter and to the point, while content marketing pieces can be longer and more detailed, optimizing for topic clusters to appease search engines. Content marketing pieces also use more visuals, such as images, videos, and infographics, to break up the text and intrigue readers.

Should companies use journalism or content marketing?

It depends on the business goals. As the demand for quality online content grows, companies must understand the difference between journalism and content marketing. With this knowledge, companies can effectively target their audiences and produce content that aligns with their goals. And while there may be a rare case when you’d want to use both (ex: when you publish an eMag but also prioritize content marketing for a product), the distinction for each use case is clear.

Content marketing is very different from journalistic reporting when it comes to a narrative framework, process, and formatting. So which one is right for your business? If your business has a publication that seeks ethical reporting on current issues and trends and requires unique opinions, detailed interviews, or investigative fact-checking, journalists have a better skill set for your needs. If you’re looking to create content that increases the size of your lead funnel, optimizes topics for SEO ranking, generates more engagement from prospects and customers, and nurtures leads through a buyer’s journey, content marketers have a better skill set for your needs.

While there are some similarities between journalism and content marketing, don’t make the mistake of thinking all writing is the same. Both journalism and content marketing have unique benefits and drawbacks. Understand the difference between the two before deciding which specialization is right for your business.


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