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5 Key Differences Between Content Marketing Writing & Journalistic Writing

5 Key Differences Between Content Marketing Writing & Journalistic Writing

Though they are often taught in the same curriculum in both high school and college classes, there are some clear differences between the world of digital marketing and journalism as a whole. Both of these fields overlap often, but each serves a unique purpose in business. A few key differences between the two emerge when you take a look at the content each field is writing. 

While some digital marketers stick to more traditional means, others are doubling as SEO content companies or web design firms as well, much like reporters now have to be photographers or producers also. 

In this blog, we’re going to break down the differences between the writing for each field, what purpose they aim to serve, as well as the audiences targeted and emerging trends in both industries. Both have very intentional differences that serve important functions to best deliver the message or educate an audience about something. 

What Does Content Writing in Marketing Look Like? 

Content marketing is the method of writing content for particular clients you’re serving. This could look like writing blogs for their online presence, landing or service/product pages for websites, or doing SEO work. This can include blogs, articles, emails, videos, infographics, social media posts, or anything else which can be accessed online. 

It can serve many purposes, from educating your audience about your brand, services, or products, or entertaining them and answering questions surrounding your specialization (example: a blog entitled “What Are Modern Kitchen Designs in 2022?”). 

But SEO is likely the most important in the digital world today. SEO, or search engine optimization, is an emerging and now necessary pillar of modern digital marketing. 

SEO is a method of using certain keywords and writing methods—such as quick, easily-readable paragraphs, etc.—to improve a business’s online presence on search engine results pages. Because people are constantly searching for products and services near them using their phones, a business needs to be one of the first results they see. Otherwise, they could fade into white noise in their field. 

Some other basic components of great SEO methods include: 

  • Short, readable paragraphs 
  • Organic keywords attached to a brand or business 
  • Mobile-friendliness 
  • Originality 
  • Authoritative links attached to businesses in content 
  • Research writing
  • Utilizing multimedia methods for content 
  • Updating with algorithm changes and trends 
  • Relevant content and information for consumers 

Content writing in marketing is much more research-based than source-based. There aren’t often quotes, but there is data used from reliable online sources. It can be difficult to straddle the line between writing on-brand and writing for SEO. The best marketers know how to serve both purposes. 

What Does Modern Journalistic Writing Look Like? 

Unlike content writing in marketing, journalistic writing means to provide information to the general public, or specific audiences as public service, compared to trying to sell you something (though certain modern news outlets may be exceptions). There are human sources, quotes, and data to support a certain point or message of an article. 

Writing for journalism has moved heavily digital; you’ve heard that print newspapers are dying, and unfortunately, it’s slowly but surely happening. Because of this, writing for online methods means journalists have had to evolve. Headlines have to be captivating enough for online users to want to click and keep reading. 

Similar to content writing in marketing, short paragraphs need to be utilized to keep the reader’s attention. The ways news companies have adapted to storytelling have been driven by the introduction of new multimedia methods, such as video storytelling, interactive online stories, social media use, photojournalism, and more. 

Journalists largely use the AP style as well. This is a certain set of rules all journalists are loyal to, but often publications will develop their own loose styles based on AP style. In content writing for marketing, the clients a marketing company serves largely drive the style, tone, and direction of content, while the marketers enrich it with SEO services, etc. Often, clients will allocate their content needs to a digital marketer. 

In journalism, there shouldn’t be any agenda, selling point, or money-driven motivation in telling a story or writing a particular piece of content (in most cases). 

Some basic elements of journalistic writing include: 

  • Quotes from reliable sources 
  • Data to back up a story or piece of content 
  • AP style use 
  • Multimedia methods of storytelling
  • Precision in writing 
  • Short, readable paragraphs 
  • Catchy headlines that hook the reader
  • Fairness and balance in writing 

How Are They Different? 

Below are three specific ways the content between the two fields contrast one another:

1. Audience 

Content writing in marketing adopts a client’s audience to better sell their presence online or draw more eyes to their brand or service. Journalists serve the general public and aim to answer questions in the public forum, hold positions of power accountable, and provide crucial information to the general public. 

2. Content 

The content for marketing is heavily research-based or informational about a brand, service, product, or company. The content for journalism varies greatly and generally serves to inform and tell valuable stories and perspectives. 

3. Approach 

Content writing uses an SEO-based approach in an effort to serve a client or boost their online presence. It can make their web pages stronger, clearer, and more concise while providing a user-friendly experience for potential customers or clients. Journalism’s approach should be service-based for the average person. It’s educational and comes from an objective place to tell a particular story or present certain information. 


While both content writing in marketing and journalistic writing may look similar in many forms, such as blogs, backlink articles, social media writing, and more, they actually serve very different purposes. 

Journalism is meant to inspire, inform, and tell stories in a beneficial way to the general public. Content marketing aims to bring a business into a better light to improve its bottom line and eventually sell more of its product or service. 

Both use data to back up their content and utilize things like headlines, short paragraphs, and subheads to break up content in a readable way. In fact, news organizations are utilizing SEO practices in the modern age as well to draw more eyes in. They may be more alike than you think, but both serve different purposes in the world.

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