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Employability perspectives from Scotland on content marketing capability building: How have journalism graduates been equipped for content marketing jobs?

Cameron, Jackie Cameron



In 2012, content marketing luminary Jay Baer observed that every business is in the business of publishing (Baer, 2012). Echoing this point, Lieb (2012, p.xiii) stated: "Marketers are buying less and less media. They're becoming the media, and the best of them are competing with 'real' publications for audience, users and eyeballs." Global corporations use journalistic story-telling strategies to compete for audiences as digital technologies have levelled the playing fields with news media businesses (Oliveira, 2017; Kee & Yadzanifard, 2015). The concomitant embrace by marketers of news publishing techniques is an international development that has continued to gather pace, with Ho, Pang and Choy (2018, p.134) noting that Asian marketers are "taking over the role of content producers from traditional media to compete for consumers' fractious attention to maintain brand health". Spend on content marketing ramped up during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 and content marketers expect content marketing budgets to increase by above-inflation percentages in 2022 (Stahl, 2021).

This seismic shift in marketing budget to digital content (Dinev, 2021) that competes with journalism has led to a change in what is required of marketing practitioners. There are potentially considerable opportunities in content marketing roles for graduates from journalism degree programmes. Journalists provide a significant "tributary" to the labour pool for content marketing, also referred to as "brand journalism" (Serazio, 2020, p.690). Furthermore, many students undertake journalism studies even though they have no intention of working in the news media , as they identify value in developing skills in information gathering, analysis and distribution in an information economy (Foote, 2017, p.437).

Marketing education scholarship has scarcely considered how marketing can be taught to students with little business knowledge (Crick, 2019, p.1079); furthermore, it is unclear whether universities have responded to the changing landscape to equip journalism students with the requisite skills and knowledge to exploit content marketing opportunities. This empirical study, therefore, aims to fill this gap by examining how universities have adapted undergraduate journalism programmes to enhance employability in content marketing among these cohorts of non-marketing students.

The research, focused on Scotland, draws on 19 semi-structured interviews and analysis of university documentation in the public domain. Findings indicate that journalism educators at Scottish universities missed opportunities to better equip students to compete for digital content jobs, as recently as until 2020. There is an apparent disconnect between the development of skills at university and those that are in demand in industry, with pre-digital forms of media organisation, processes and skills embedded in the structure of degree programmes. Instead of embracing the convergence of platforms or developing modules on social media, programme structures reflect the legacy industry of print, together with a siloed approach to the media. This, in turn, creates a lacuna, possibly to be filled by marketing degree programme providers seeking to attract the many students looking for journalism-type skills while aspiring to careers in marketing communications.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 2022 Academy of Marketing Conference
Start Date Jul 5, 2022
End Date Jul 7, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2023
Keywords content marketing , university education, marketing, journalism, employability