How to Think Like a Journalist to Elevate Your Messaging

Do I work in a newsroom or at an engineering firm? Trick question – the correct answer is BOTH.

Over the past several years, the communications and marketing industries have evolved to focus on Brand Journalism and Content Marketing. These are fancy terms for saying companies like AE2S and AE2S Communications are doing their own reporting and creating their own “channels” to broadcast our news, instead of relying solely on traditional media to do it for us. It’s called owned media. AE2S and its affiliated companies have a lot of owned media, including websitessocial mediaYouTube channelblogsnewsletters, etc.

AE2S recently created its own Media Center. The goal is to coordinate everything the marketing and communications staff produces to more efficiently and effectively connect content with the people who should see it. This includes newsletters, articles, social media, presentations, awards and other interesting stuff we want our staff members, clients, and the public to see.

How do you create your own media center? Look at the content of your newsletters, website posts and social media to see how they can be cross-promoted across all your owned media. Encourage your staff who produces content to think like journalists! Your content will become more engaging and effective.

Here are three tips for thinking like a journalist:

Identify Your Audience

Who is your target audience? What do they want to know? What information do they expect you to provide? In the case of a city, the customers are your residents. Examples of things they likely want to know about are changes that will affect their pocketbooks, city projects that will impact their daily lives, and city events.

Answer the 5 W’s

Provide answers to WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY in your announcements. In all forms of content – website articles and social media posts included – it is crucial for providing complete information. In most cases, it’s important to structure the content with the most important information at the top. If your audience is most interested in water rates, put the most pertinent news about an upcoming rate increase in the first two sentences. That way readers who only see the first couple sentences will still receive the message.

Identify the Best Way to Share Information

Sometimes a written explanation is best. However, graphics, photos, and videos might be better options. Visual representations can often help people to understand a concept better than words and are a great way to augment an article. For instance, Zack Otteson, AE2S Communications Graphic Designer, created an infographic to illustrate the three tips for thinking like a journalist. In addition, social media posts that include a visual element get more attention than simple text posts.

AE2S Communications has two former journalists on staff, Tammy Jo Anderson Taft and me. Prior to landing at AE2S, TJ reported for several newspapers and I was an executive producer at a CBS and NBC local news station. to identify the interesting news that’s happening at AE2S and for our AE2S Communications clients. If you’d like some tips on creating your own Media Center, contact me, AE2S’ Media Manger, at