Friday, March 2, 2012

A marketing whiz and the lessons she learned from journalism

Good journalists make good media professionals. Meaning, if they want to, they can do well in most other jobs in the media industry be it PR (as many of my former colleagues have proved), marketing, advertising... even teaching. :-)

That is what I believe. And that is what I tell every new batch of students at Commits.

Now here's a former journalist turned marketing whiz reinforcing my belief that journalism training and experience can be a great asset in other media fields. Nancy Friedman, who styles herself as Chief Wordworker at Wordworking, an unusual communications company in California, says she has been able to apply to marketing some of the lessons she learned from journalism and she explains them in detail on her blog, Fritinancy.

Here are the 10 points she discusses:

1. Get to the point.
2. Take notes.
3. Ask and anticipate questions.
4. Spell the names right.
5. Nouns and verbs are your best friends.
6. Hello sweetheart, get me rewrite.
7. Omit needless words.
8. Grab attention with a great headline.
9. If you make a mistake, issue a correction.
10. There's no writer's block on deadline.

To let you revel in the strength of Friedman's argument and to give you a flavour of her uncluttered, persuasive writing style let me reproduce what she has to say about her first point, "Get to the point".

All journalists learn the inverted pyramid format: putting the most important news in the first paragraph, or lead, and the least newsworthy information at the end. Readers of ads, web content, and white papers are no different. Give them the information they need up front; don't waste time with throat-clearing and other verbal filigrees.

And because I really like what she has to say about Point No. 3, let me give that to you as well:

Ask and anticipate questions. When you're digging for information, there are no better digging tools than the five W's — who, what, when, where, why — plus H for how. I use them all the time when I'm interviewing clients. Who are your competitors? What are your products? When do you expect to launch? Where are your target markets? Why are you in business? How do you expect to achieve your goals? And like the journalist I once was, I'm ready with follow-up questions when I get the answers.

Friedman elaborates on the other points just as brilliantly. Read her column in its entirety here: "What Journalism Taught Me".
  • Also visit Nancy Friedman's Wordworking website here (Slogan: "Announce. Convince. Describe. Define. Celebrate. Sell. Tell your story.") and learn how she helps companies tell their story.


  1. I could not agree more. Journalism teaches us to be methodical, precise and also sift through the information to highlight only what is relevant.

  2. very inspiring article.. thanks for sharing Sir RP.

  3. Indeed. And this knowledge will help us plunge into any job in the field of media with ease. At least it teaches us to keep our eyes and ears open to see what is happening around us with a certain perspective.

  4. Ramesh--Thanks so much for your kind and generous words. I'm delighted that you found my post relevant and useful.

    One small correction: My agency's slogan is "Your Story, Well Told."


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