The new breed of data journalists

April 15, 2015Uncategorized

Some of Australia’s most senior journalists are moving into the content marketing space.


Cameron Upshall, Commercial Director

Up until now, most brands dabbling in the content marketing space have only shaved off a small portion of their marketing time and budgets to trial content marketing. It’s a shame, because with a decent investment, creating great content can warm the hearts and open the wallets of consumers.

 Suddenly, our most talented newsroom journalists are highly sought-after assets for well-known brands still trying to get a handle on the content marketing space.

But change is here, and brands are starting to understand that content marketing is a powerful tool for creating an owned media asset. But they need journalists to make that work. So suddenly, our most talented newsroom journalists are highly sought-after assets for well-known brands still trying to get a handle on the content marketing space.

These brands are scouring Australian newsrooms in the hunt for talent. We’ve watched on as a growing number of renowned editorial scribes pack their bags and walk out the door after being appointed to newly created positions heading up digital newsrooms for brands.

Publishing entrepreneur Amanda Gome is a case in point. She’s best known for founding and spin-off publications StartupSmart, LeadingCompany and Women’s Agenda before moving back into publishing roles at Fairfax Media.

But these days you’ll find her at ANZ after she was appointed to head up the digital and social media functions of its digital newsroom, BlueNotes. And in a crucial sign that management now understands just how powerful content marketing can be, I’ve heard that Gome reports directly to the CEO of ANZ, Mike Smith. ANZ also hired highly respected Fairfax financial journalist Andrew Cornell as the managing editor of BlueNotes, bolstering their talent pool significantly.

Flight Centre is another prime example. This iconic Australian brand hired News Limited’s travel editor Brian Crisp as editor-in-chief in August last year in the hope it could draw on his experience to build the brand’s reputation through content marketing. Crisp says the move into brand journalism is appealing because it’s about matching what your customer wants with what you deliver to them. You can read more about his interview here.

And former Channel 10 journalist Rakhal Ebeli is also trying to carve out a niche in this space. Ebeli founded Newsmodo, which is now trying to straddle the line between the traditional editorial and content marketing spaces.

Fairfax Media is also contributing greater efforts to the content marketing space, recently announcing the creation of a content studio called MADE. It marks the publisher’s third attempt at penetrating this space. First, the publisher began ‘allowing’ sponsored editorial posts to some brands, then came the Brand Discover offering (which still appears to be operating, according to its website).

There are plenty of other examples of perhaps less-high-profile media journalists leaving their traditional newsroom posts for roles with brands.

But as these journalists move into positions to help brands give their spin on the news, they need to realise they have very different masters now. They’re no longer employed to serve the reader. Now they’re being paid to bring their journalistic flair to tell the brand’s story in a way that many brands have so far found challenging to achieve in a compelling and authentic way.

They’ve been hired for their storytelling prowess, but will need to conform – no doubt working within a very tailored content strategy to help their new employer create an owned and trusted media asset that attracts and grows readership.

It’s not easy to achieve, particularly when you’ve got to allow the company’s marketing strategy to dictate what you write.

It’s going to be interesting to see what other major hires come out of Australian newsrooms throughout the rest of the year. More importantly, I’ll be watching closely to see if these brands are hitting the marketing goals they’re trying to achieve.