- Serious brand publishers should consider B2B journalists, reporters and editors for their editorial endeavors.
- B2B journalists and editors develop a level of nuance and understanding of specific fields and industries that most journalists and writers cannot, or will not.
- While higher salaries are certainly attractive, brands must also make sure that their publishing roles don’t feel rote, or are merely dressed-up marketing.
As brand publishers get more serious about their content and publishing operations, they’re becoming more discerning about the editorial talent that they hire to power and grow their efforts.
There’s one group that’s increasingly in their crosshairs: Editors and reporters at “trade publications” and other business-focused media companies.
Business-to-business (B2B) publications and trade publishers generally cater to specific industries and the professionals that work in them. They are marked, generally, by a laser focus on those specific industries, and the trends and news within those industries or markets.
They can be ideal hunting grounds for brand publishers looking to kickstart or bolster their editorial efforts. Business media often equips editors, reporters and writers with unique mindsets and skills that often translate extremely well to brand publishing operations, whether their content is aimed at a business-related audience or not.
For brand publishers, B2B reporters, editors and writers can bring a lot to the table.
Successful B2B reporters and editors typically learn the dynamics of specific industries, sectors and disciplines to an extent that most journalists and writers do not, or cannot.
They are able to, over the course of their careers, generate a nuanced and balanced understanding of the topics they cover, often informed by exposure to a wide range of sources including practitioners, analysts, academics, executives and more, each with their own viewpoints, priorities and inherent biases. Trade journalists are often one of the few players within specific industry verticals with the ability to step back, place events and trends in context, and effectively separate signal from noise. For example, a finance brand that creates content for institutional investors or investment managers could benefit from a reporter that understands sovereign wealth funds, or knows trends in emerging markets and how they’re shifting.
Translation and accessible packaging
As an extension of the domain expertise outlined above, a key skill for any effective business journalist is the ability to parse jargon, read between the lines of corporate-speak, and generally translate and package information in a way that’s accessible, engaging and useful for audiences of different natures and knowledge levels. That skill set is not easy to come by and can prove invaluable for brand publishers looking to communicate with audiences around often complex and nuanced ideas and concepts.
B2B journalists often serve audiences in specific fields, such as advertising and media, healthcare, accounting, law or specific types of manufacturing. For brands who operate in and around similar industries, this type of deep experience often comes with relationships with sources and key industry players, executives and other key personnel. This is often useful for informing editorial strategies, specific story ideas, and to help add credibility to a brand publishing operation. Many business journalists also come with an element of built-in distribution, via Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, personal newsletters and other channels.
Ability to cater to highly specific audiences
B2B journalists are experts at finding “angles” and points of interests relevant to highly specific audiences. They often have to take broad trends or events and examine them through the eyes of their specific audiences or readerships. The ability to creatively and consistently find ways to cater to highly specific audiences is a hugely valuable trait for most brand publishing endeavors. For example, a B2B journalist covering plastics manufacturing may have to cover the massive economic story of supply chain issues with a specific angle on how this affects plastics factories and report this accordingly. This can be extremely useful for brand publishing, which relies on being able to create content that isn’t necessarily useful or interesting to a wide, scaled audience, but to specific targets or groups of people.
A true understanding of business dynamics
B2B journalists also have an advantage in that they have a close relationship with the businesses they cover, and the motivations of the people who work in that business. B2B reporters and editors must have a deep and layered understanding of the inner workings and dynamics that underpin the industries they cover, and can put that knowledge to work for the companies they work for. They may be inherently more aware of the impact that content can play in driving business outcomes that ultimately help drive the bottom lines.
Competition heats up
Increased interest in their talent pool is potentially bad news for B2B publishers and niche media companies. For them, finding editorial talent with the right expertise and mindsets – and at the right price points – was hard enough without increased competition from brand publishers.
Brand publishers may be poised to snap up journalistic B2B talent that is well suited to their needs, and comes equipped with deep relationships, domain expertise and an ability to speak to specific audiences. One advantage brands have is money. Many brand publishers are in a position to offer editorial talent more attractive salaries and packages than media companies can. In our experience, brands generally pay 1.5-2x what the same roles can command inside news orgs, and roles often come with equity or other perks.
But if brands do expect to attract B2B journalist talent, they must ensure that the roles they are offering are attractive, challenging and interesting. Brand publishing roles that feel rote, or end up being dressed-up marketing endeavors, will remain more challenging to fill and may have issues with talent retention. Meanwhile, companies that ensure their brand publishing roles offer some editorial independence and empower editorial teams to do their best possible work will also have a better chance of retaining editorial staffers long-term.