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JD Rucker

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Why Every Dealership Needs a Journalist… for Online Marketing

Journalist

“Journalist” according to Wikipedia: “A journalist collects, writes and distributes news and other information. A journalist’s work is referred to as journalism.”

It’s important to understand what I mean when I use the word. Many people hear the word and think of a “reporter” since most people who call themselves journalists today follow the news reporting line of the art. With that understood, let’s get right into it…

Every company who wants to reach the highest level of success in online marketing going forward needs to have someone acting as a journalist for the company. They needs someone who collects, writers, and distributes news and other information about the company, the industry, the customers, the local area – anything that has relevance from a marketing perspective. This hasn’t always been the case. Until very recently, a good SEO content writer would suffice as long as they had some skills to put together a nice press release every now and then. SEO content was all that you really needed to succeed.

Today and going forward, that’s no longer the case. That’s not to say that you don’t need SEO content. In most cases, you do, at least when getting your site put together. If you’re in a competitive industry like automotive, you’ll want additional SEO content pages to be built regularly just to stay ahead of the competition. To truly push forward and start dominating on both the search engines and social media, you’ll want to apply some journalistic art to your website and blog.

You need a journalist.

It doesn’t have to be a full-time job. It could be someone at the company who can do it occasionally. It can be you. If you’re involved with marketing at the company, it’s a great skill to have. It doesn’t take a degree from OU’s School of Journalism to get the job done. It just takes understanding your industry, a touch of creativity and brainstorming abilities, an eye for good content, and a willingness to stick to it.

 

No, a Content Writing Service Won’t Work

There are plenty of very strong and useful content writing services out there. Some of them put out great work. Most are mediocre, but even that’s okay as long as you can edit it a bit before publishing. The problem with these services is that they’re designed specifically to build SEO content. They rarely put out content that is worth reading and sharing which is the goal of your company journalist.

More importantly, they aren’t at your store. They aren’t there meeting and talking to customers. They aren’t shooting the breeze with the guy in accounting or participating in the March of Dimes walk like the girl in the service department. This is where the journalist comes in and it is hard (impossible?) to outsource.

 

The Journalist’s Role

The goal is to put out content that helps in four major areas:

  1. Search Rankings – Google and Bing need SEO content on the site to let them know the proper purpose of each individual page, but they love real content that people are willing to read and share. They can tell the difference between content that is meant for them and content that is truly meant to entertain or inform your visitors. This type of journalistic content can propel your other content to the top in ways that SEO content alone simply cannot do.
  2. Social Sharing – Nobody is going to share your specials page. They’re not going to share a piece of content written by an SEO content writer titled “Chevrolet Dealer Serving Madison Proud of Award Winning Models”. This content has its place, but it’s not going to find its way on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ without some artificial inflation (which Google and Bing can smell from a mile away). What people will share is a piece of content at the same dealership titled “Everything We Know About the 2014 Corvette is Mind Blowing”. An outsourced content writer might be able to put out something decent, but then it won’t have the flair that your business demands. Make it special. Use a journalist. Be a journalist. If you know you’re industry, you can do it.
  3. Public Relations – Again, it takes someone at the store to take pictures and videos when you sponsor the local Social Media Saturday meetup. Yes, there are plenty of press release services out there that do a nice job, but they can’t put out the real content that is replacing the canned content that goes into press releases. Real people don’t read PRWeb. Real people won’t find the content that gets syndicated to Yahoo News except for the few weeks that it ranks well in Google. Blog and website content that sticks, that’s already associated with the company, and that you’ll have some measure of control over forever – that’s the place where real public relations starts in 2013? Why? See reason #2. Social media is the new public relations driving force, not press releases.
  4. Humanized Businesses – Today more than ever, people want to deal with other people. The business atmosphere is loaded with automated telephone service, autoresponder emails, and vanilla content that nobody reads. By adding the human flair of a journalist at the store posting pictures, videos, and stories at the store, on the blog, and across social media, you’ll be able to highlight the human factor that people consciously or unconsciously crave. They may not know why they prefer to do business with you, but after the transaction is complete it won’t matter. Now it’s time to keep them happy through ongoing service – a different topic altogether. You have to get them in the door, first. Humanizing your business is a step in the right direction for both you and your customers.

One of the most important parts of good journalism is to keep it as short as possible. On a topic like this, 1000 words simply won’t be enough, so proper journalist standards says that I need to break this up into parts. Part II of The Company Journalist Series will cover how to pick the right topics and give examples of what you should be posting on your site and blog to start building your content marketing goldmine.

Renee Stuart
Humanize your business... Amen! Great post JD.
Eric Miltsch
Right on JD - this internal content manager (or whatever you want to call them) needs to exist. Goes right along with my concept of splitting the responsibilities of the Internet Manager; that person can't be expected to to add this to their daily activity list.
Greg Wells
JD, you've identified the missing link for most dealers. Great post!
Jared Hamilton
I totally agree, but lets have a discussion around payplans for this person. How do you suggest they get paid and how do you make the pay pencil? There are lots of ways to skin this, so this could be interesting...
Kyle Reyes
Great article. And let's not forget the sense of community networking that journalists also bring to the table. Want exposure for the non-profit contributions you make and events you host? Those of us with a background of "gate keeping" in the media are your keys to the doors of publicity. The Poynter Institute posted a great article a few years back: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/leadership-management/what-great-bosses-know/94647/ten-reasons-you-should-hire-a-journalist/

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