LONDON: The continued rise of content marketing means that brand journalism will be a mainstream career choice within the next five years, with creativity and commercial awareness among the essential attributes required.

In Rise of the UK Brand Journalist, a new report from content marketing platform NewsCred, 50 brand journalists, working both client and agency side, and 50 senior marketers from a cross-section of industries were polled for their views on this fast-growing area.

Perhaps their most surprising finding was that only 12% of both marketers and journalists thought writing ability was the most important skill for a brand journalist.

This may be because there is an assumption those people aspiring to this sort of job already has that particular skill.

"It's more difficult to find someone that can look at the content from the brand's perspective while taking into account the general direction of the business, reporting structures and everything else," Marcus Stoll, head of marketing EMEA, NewsCred, told Marketing Week.

Consequently, creativity was seen as by far the most vital requirement, cited by 41% of brand journalists and 32% of marketers.

That was followed by commercial awareness, cited by 18% of journalists and 20% of marketers.

Finding people with the right blend of editorial and commercial skills is the main issue when hiring brand journalists. Almost two thirds (63%) of brand journalists NewsCred surveyed found it difficult to hire content team members, with 33% reporting that finding people with the right marketing and commercial skills is the most difficult part.

For one third (32%) of marketers, however, a key struggle was finding journalists who understood the brand well enough.

Notwithstanding these recruitment problems, 42% of marketers intended to put more into hiring brand journalists in the coming year, while 48% of marketers were planning to invest further overall in content marketing.

And their confidence in this strategy was reinforced by their future outlook. Five years down the line, 66% of marketers believed most brands would have in-house content teams, while 84% of marketers agreed that clear standards of measurement for evaluating the ROI of content marketing would be in place.

Shafqat Islam, NewsCred's CEO and co-founder, expected that the brand journalist would come to play "an integral role not just for the marketing department but for businesses as a whole".

"The challenge now is how brand journalists make their mark with editorial and commercial prowess that will see the bar lifted for both professions of marketing and journalism," he added.

Data sourced from NewsCred, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff