- For B2B publishers and media companies, editorial talent with deep subject matter knowledge and expertise is hard to find. It’s one area where brands may have an upper hand.
I worked inside B2B newsrooms for the better part of my reporting and editing career and, as I’ve written about previously, finding great reporting talent was always a challenge. It’s one that continues for many; in workshops and consulting sessions Toolkits holds with publishers we’re regularly asked how to hire, train and retain editorial talent.
For B2B specifically, one of the more unique challenges is that reporting for professionals in a specific industry requires deep expertise and specialist knowledge. If a reporter is writing about advertising technology, they have to understand the ins and outs of technologies, business incentives, and the broader advertising ecosystem in a relatively deep and nuanced way. If they’re covering the business of fashion, they have to understand logistics, supply chains and how factories work.
As Aging Media co-founder John Yedinak tweeted recently, finding editorial talent with expertise in specific verticals is hard, yet it’s critical for B2B and trade publications. It’s a challenge particularly relevant as interest in “niche” media explodes — if publishers truly want to own a complicated set of topics, they need people who can cover them in a knowledgeable and engaging way.
It’s yet another reason why brand publishers provide stiff competition to media companies for talent. As we’ve worked with companies to help them build editorially-led branded publications, one thing that’s become apparent is that they’re not in short supply of expertise. A VC firm knows the ins and outs of the industries it’s investing in. A fintech company understands finance — and has deep benches of expertise across public markets, investing, or cryptocurrencies. A political consulting firm has the inside scoop on Capitol Hill and how that may play out. Every company comes equipped, in fact, with a built in knowledge base that is just waiting to be leveraged.
Expertise alone isn’t enough, of course. These companies still need to understand how to channel what they know into an editorial and audience strategy, and build teams that can effectively communicate and distribute that information in an engaging and valuable way.
But the fact remains that for traditional media companies, finding people who either already know the business, or are willing to roll up their sleeves and learn it (which even for the most hardworking of reporters can take months of learning on the job) is critical. While some have found success in hiring former industry staffers as reporters or editors, it remains a long shot due to salary differences between those sectors and journalism, and the obvious issue that teaching someone to be a journalist is difficult.
Two coverage areas I’m watching closely are the future of the workplace and crypto, which are subject matters in which many brands currently have access to deep knowledge, expertise and experience that journalists and media companies simply don’t.