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Companies have been hiring ex-journalists for years as PR people because they knew how to tell a story and how to work with their fellow ink-stained wretches. (For those old enough to remember ink.)

Marketing automation vendor Eloqua has gone a step further and hired Jesse Noyes, formerly a business reporter for the Boston Herald, as a “corporate reporter.” His goal, he says, is “to drill down within the company and the industry to find the stories that too often go untold. I will profile brands and the people that work for them. And I will attempt to explain game-changing trends as they happen.”

Good for Eloqua for recognizing that “old school” journalistic qualities such as fairness, thoroughness, and clarity are more important than ever, and can be found in professional reporters. And good for Jesse for riding the wave that has made every vendor a publisher who needs to tell their own story.

However, as someone who does his own share of “corporate reporting” for IT vendors, here are three tough moments I predict Jesse – or any corporate reporter — will face. When they come up, how should Eloqua respond? How would you respond?

  1. I found a really, really smart customer doing some leading-edge marketing automation –       but with a competitor’s product. Can I write the story?
  2.  I need the CEO or CTO to respond honestly and thoughtfully to a big announcement, but they’re busy talking to customers. Who will shake them loose so they can talk to me, and when? 
  3. Marketing complains my last story focused too much on the problems customers are facing, and want me to “take a more positive tone.” I’m reporting what I’m seeing in the marketplace. Exactly how brutally honest do you want me to be in my writing?

There are no easy answers to questions like these, but having even rough guidelines will be critical to making your “corporate reporter” successful. I (of course!) have ideas on my own, but am curious to hear yours first…

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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