A couple weeks ago, hundreds of journalists took buyouts offered by McClatchy. After 10 or so years of seeing reporters leave newsrooms -- through buyouts and layoffs -- and a decade since my own departure, this one felt like the big one. I heard that whispered over and over again at The Charlotte Observer farewell event my former journalist husband and I attended at a local brewery. So many of the veteran writers, editors, photographers we learned from and worked alongside, gone. It's staggering. And I can't stop thinking about it.
I could tell you all the reasons you should support journalism, starting with a susbscriptioin to your local newspaper, no matter how small it's gotten. But instead I'm going to tell why you should hire a former journalist -- and not just in the usual roles of public relations, communications and marketing. I know former colleagues who have transitioned to tech jobs and corporate risk departments, too.
Again, I speak from personal experience. I was a journalist before I created a career in public relations. I worked in corporate communications full time for two other companies before launching my own business, where today I often hire ... you got it former journalists. Here are the five biggest reasons you too should have a former journalist or two on your team.
1. They're smart, resourceful and connected.
I've worked for and with a lot of companies now, and I can tell you that the ones that have had the highest concentration of really smart people have been the newsrooms. Journalists are also resourceful, dogged and well connected, which means they won't stop until they track down the information and people needed to get stuff done.
2. They know how to deal with all kinds of people.
In my years as a journalist, I interviewed all sorts of people -- from CEOs and public figures to a single mom who relied on food stamps. Journalists know how to talk with anyone and adapt to different audiences. This is important if your company has diverse audiences that span from say senior leadership to shareholder, front-line workers and ultimately consumers.
3. They are deadline driven.
You know I hate corporate buzzwords like deadline-driven, but in this case it's actually true. Reporters have spent their entire careers on deadline. You aren't going to be waiting around for them to do their work.
4. They can write.
It seems weird to put this on the list. I mean, of course, journalists can write. Here's the thing though: A lot of companies are going through great pains to produce copy that sounds like it was written by actual human beings and not by a committee that piles the corporate jargon. I've heard it called "real talk." Well, journalists have been writing like actual human beings and for other human beings -- not corporations -- for forever. You cannot train a marketing person who has never been a professional writer and doesn't enjoy writing how to write. Sorry, marketing friends. I love you, but you know this is the truth.
5. They bring fresh eyes.
While journalists have worked for big corporations like McClatchy, they know little about corporate culture. They don't innately get things like title hierarchy (reporter and editor is all they've known) or how to schedule meetings in Outlook. But honestly, who cares? What they lack in corporate polish, which I think is super boring anyway, they make up for with fresh eyes. When I started out in corporate PR, I heard things like, "We love your fresh perspective," all the time. It was an asset.
Now, go out there and get yourself some fresh eyes. Look at your candidate pool with fresh eyes, too. Look for the journalists.