5 steps to hiring an ‘editor in chief’ for your content

Expand the reach and effectiveness of your content marketing efforts by hiring someone who can treat your branded campaigns and website like a newsroom. Here’s how.

As traditional journalism jobs dry up, analogous positions in content marketing seem to be growing on trees.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a talented and capable editor in chief who can power your product with compelling, best-in-class copy. Remember, not every veteran journalist is suited to the marketing world.

Here are four things every marketing exec should think about when hiring someone to run a content marketing program:

1. Prioritize skills over industry knowledge. You’ll be better off finding someone who has creative talent, even if there’s a learning curve on the nuances of your product. An understanding of how content marketing works certainly helps, but don’t disqualify people if they’re unfamiliar with industry lingo or even the marketing business overall.

You should be publishing unique and varied content that readers can’t get anywhere else, and only seasoned editorial talent can provide that. Find an editor with experience covering a multitude of platforms and content formats, because the workflow and concept development are different.

Editors should have proven ability in producing everything from a blog post and a listicle to an explainer and a long-form feature, and on multiple platforms (print, web, mobile, social media). Besides, bringing in an editor with a different perspective will lead to stories with fresh angles.

2. Don’t expect the EIC to write everything. Companies new to content marketing sometimes go in with unrealistic expectations, because they aren’t familiar with the editorial process and how a newsroom works.

Editors often manage more than they create, ensuring that everything from original, fleshed out reporting and balanced editorial mix to catchy, varied headlines and original storytelling take place.

Writing uses a different part of the brain. Writers are so busy writing and reporting, they don’t always see the big picture, how their story connects to other topics or whether their arguments hold up.

An editor not only stays on top of copy for grammar, spelling, and clarity, but also helps writers build stories that pack a punch and that people will read—not to mention creating headlines that prompt people to click and read an article. Even so, the best editors are good writers, too; just don’t expect them to churn out six blog posts a day (or even a week) because they bring so much more to the table.

3. Find someone who already has a team. Think of your EIC like a coach. Instead of having one byline and one voice on all your articles, find an editor who has good relationships with top talent and can wrangle them to work for your brand.

Readers will take your work seriously if they trust the people producing it, or if the people producing it build credibility through well-reported, well-executed content. Good editors also bring value to your organization by recruiting high-quality writers who have contributed to well-known media outlets.

There will always be dozens of guest bloggers who know the lingo and pitch safe ideas, but connecting with a handful of journalists who know what they’re doing will garner immediate respect for your publishing efforts.

4. Invest in a copy editor. Although an EIC will handle the broad editorial strokes, they’ll still need support on the details, even if that support is freelance. Teaming with a sharp copy editor helps in eliminating sloppy mistakes that hurt your credibility. That additional pair of eyes is crucial.

It’s not that editors shouldn’t do that—they should—but flawless copy requires dedicated editing specifically for typos, grammar, spelling and usage issues. Depending on the volume of content you publish, freelance copy editors often suffice.

5. Hire a social media manager, too. If you’re spending a lot to commission content, it’s also important to pay for someone who can amplify your work to a larger audience.

Social media has become a science over the years. Now, marketers are expected to be active on established platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email, as well as emerging platforms like Snapchat.

All that content you’re producing on your company blog will eventually be published as a Facebook Instant Article, LinkedIn, or Medium article in the near future.

With a small team, you can give the EIC all the help he or she needs to attract and expand the right audience and drive all the leads, sales and brand expansion you seek.

Ben Plomion is the chief marketing officer of GumGum.

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