Some anniversaries are worth celebrating more than others. For this one, I eagerly pop open the Champagne!
I am celebrating the one-year anniversary of a very special employee, Jesse Noyes, our corporate reporter. Jesse is the real deal – a card-carrying journalist with credentials that include The Boston Herald and Boston Business Journal. One year ago, we hired Jesse and I want to celebrate by sharing with you what we’ve learned.
The idea to hire a journalist came from my friend, David Meerman Scott. The first time I heard the idea was 2007. David ran a short post on his blog explaining the unconventional idea. But it took a lunch with David last year to jolt me into action. I had a simple problem I needed to fix – to produce more and better content. Our blog was not particularly well read or indexed. The frequency of our postings was too low. Many of the postings were too Eloqua-centric. David’s idea did not require lots of process changes, or giant budget approvals. I just needed to discuss it with my extraordinary VP of Content, Joe Chernov. As it happened, Joe was thinking the same thing and, in fact, had a candidate in mind – Jesse Noyes.
The results have been fantastic, including thousands of new followers to our blog It’s All About Revenue, a Stevie Award for the blog, a doubling of unique visitors between Q2 and Q3 of this year, and thousands of new, valuable links. It has become the hub of our content marketing strategy.
I know that many marketers are waking up to the wisdom of hiring a journalist, so I wanted share with you some things that we’ve learned.
- Integrate the journalist onto the team - The journalist needs to understand the company’s strategy, partner ecosystem, and goals if they are to be successful. Some companies don’t see the journalist as a “marketer”. That’s a big mistake. Writing timely, engaging content is at the heart of great marketing. The more your reporter knows about your company, the more valuable he will become.
- Give the journalist room to breathe and, for goodness sake, don’t ask the reporter to shill - As my friends Ann Handley and CC Chapman say in Content Rules: “share or solve – don’t shill!” We give Jesse plenty of freedom to find the stories that he thinks our readers care most about. We do not overly scrutinize his choices of topics. We try to create a frictionless environment to get content up fast.
- Teach your journalist new, complementary skills - The two most valuable skills are video production and organic search. A short video course, a camera and some editing software and Jesse was transforming into the Ken Burns of demand generation. He goes to an event, capture 10 videos in a day, surround them with some context, and – viola – 10 great posts. We also brought in some specialists to teach Jesse (and everyone who creates content) about linking strategies, keywords, linkbaiting, great titles (tip: find out what people are searching for – exactly – on Google, and solve for those terms) and all other forms of search marketing.
- Measure - We measure everything. Actually, when it comes to the blog, Jesse does it. He uses a dashboard to measure our progress and shares the results with the Marketing Team. Why was this post tweeted 10,000 times and this other one only 100 times? Why did this one get 20 comments and this other one only two? How is blog-referred traffic trending month over month, quarter over quarter?
Jesse has had an amazing impact on our company. He has made us more curious about the world around us, more transparent, and less self-serving. We are not just better marketers because of Jesse, we are a better company.
Over the past year, I have echoed David’s advice to many of our clients. You should take his advice too – go hire yourself a journalist!