3 Min Read | Strategy

One writer does not make a newsroom

Here are six other roles you’ll need

At the end of 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter.com. He then promptly went on a hot-headed mission—it sometimes seemed—to fire as many people as he could. It’s all part of an increasingly prevalent narrative around “bullshit jobs,” those “pen-pushers” unfairly perceived to be holding back the Promethean energies of the romantically conceived “real workers.”

In Musk’s case, this privileged cadre of “real workers” was the programmers—heroic scientist-entrepreneurs on the frontiers of innovation. If only such types could be unshackled! Swiftly, they were, and Twitter slammed face-first into a host of advertising and content-moderation problems.

Too often it is the marketing or content department of a corporation that is first in the firing line of a downsizing operation. What’s at risk is an entire communications ecosystem, there to find and nurture audiences—the lifeblood of any organization.

Even when starting a content department from scratch, too many businesses believe all they need to run a content strategy is a single writer with a couple of smart ideas. After all, everyone writes emails all the time, every day. How hard can it be? Well, quite hard if you don’t have a team.

All around the world, freshly recruited writers and editors turn up to their new jobs as heads of content at exciting organizations, only to find themselves organizationally marooned. Like a stranded Robinson Crusoe, they are expected to do everything—from strategy through to social posts—with no help, bar the occasional support from a few Man Fridays (willing or otherwise) from elsewhere in the business. This never works. Content requires proper resources to succeed. Take McKinsey: The powerhouse consultancy operates a global publishing team of more than 70 people, including more than 25 editors. This is a serious content department that’s thoroughly integrated into wider corporate strategy.

To set up a truly useful content program, you need a wide range of soft and hard skills—not to mention a variety of thinking styles and life experiences—to shape strategy, sense-check ideas, and break down echo chambers.

A fully functional newsroom should include the following roles:

  • Editorial directors: to set strategy, including content pillars and tone of voice
  • Creative directors: to set visual strategy, including how to tie concepts into the overarching brand guidelines
  • Data and insights teams: to recommend and manage appropriate channels, formats, and analytics, and to measure and optimize content
  • Journalists: to write informed, accurate content of varying styles, tones, and genres
  • Copyeditors: to obsessively check for spelling, grammar, style, and factual issues
  • Picture editors and illustrators: to choose, license, shoot, and create visuals to bring ideas to life
  • Videographers: to ideate, develop, film, and animate multimedia content

For your content to stand a chance, you need this synergistic, dynamic, and flexible team with many years of combined experience. These experts perform best at one step removed from your business. This makes them able to question unchallenged narratives, and to provide a vital bridge between you and your audience.

Like we said, one writer does not a newsroom make. And specialist agencies can give you the space, resources, and agility to make your brand sing.