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Hiring the Write Person

2330323726 61b725b577 Hiring the Write Person

Post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney

More than ever before, PR is being chartered with generating our own content and not just shaping media content. As Fleishman-Hillard SVP Brad Mays says, “You are the Media.”  This emphasis on content has created a need for more content generators, and in some cases, the hiring of “corporate reporters.”

I asked Lindsay if this was indeed a hot trend. She says that although her firm hasn’t received searches that are specifically for corporate reporters, she has heard of many PR departments that are hiring writers and many of the communications directors searches she has going on are very focused on finding someone with strong content creation skills. HooJobs has had several content focused positions recently, including a content manager position.

Writing has always been a big part of the PR role and reporters have long been scaling the wall and joining the PR ranks. But I’m not talking about bringing journalistic skill sets to the PR field…I’m curious about whether the notion of hiring your own corporate reporter will take off.

I’ve found several interesting examples:

  • Last Spring, Eloqua hired Jesse Noyes, a former reporter for the Boston Herald and Boston Business Journal, as a corporate reporter. Eloqua intends Noyes to create content that will inform, educate and entertain those in Eloqua’s market.
  • The LA Kings made Rich Hammond, who has covered the Kings for the past decade and previously wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News, its in-house reporter, in order to, in his words, provide “better, more comprehensive Kings coverage than ever before.”
  • In 2008, Miller Brewing Co. hired a corporate reporter, James Arndorfer, to write Brew Blog, which was intended to be less of a corporate blog and more of a news-oriented source of fresh content.  Brew Blog shut down less than six months later, but not until Arndorfer famously (well, famously in the sense that it was reported in the Wall Street Journal) broke the news that Anheuser Busch would be announcing a new brew – before A-B or the trade press had a chance to report the story.
  • Cisco retains an A-List stable of freelance writers, including Bill Bulkely, Elizabeth Corcoran, Jason Deign, John Dodge and Marc Gunther, to write and report for its news@cisco page.
  • In addition to the value that journalists bring to the PR department, there are all sorts of implications and opportunities for missteps when hiring a corporate reporter. Exhibit A: Chevron hired a reporter to tell its side of a story on rain forest contamination and pre-empt an expose on 60 Minutes.

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.

Image credit: sskennel

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Jeff Cutler (February 2nd, 2011)

Good post.

More than ever before have the opportunities for trained journalists been coming from odd places.

In my role as a veteran journo, I have worked on a bunch of corporate projects including…

Reporting from the Gulf of Mexico on the oil spill. An environmental firm sent me down there for two weeks to get the stories that major news outlets weren’t reporting.

Writing blog posts about technology methods for large security management firms.

Covering conferences and events for a variety of firms.

The balancing act here is not for those of us trained as journalists to decide between the dark side and maintaining our credibility, it’s between knowing if a story actually has merit in a news capacity. Only then can folks like me retain our self respect and role in the rolls of journalists. But we can also boost our earning potential and expand our experiences.

*Many of the stories I researched and reported on from the Gulf were also picked up by CBS and other global networks because they were examples of unbiased, professional journalism.

Keep up the good work.

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