Why B2B Companies Are Hiring Editorial Teams

Why B2B Companies Are Hiring Editorial Teams


Enter a Google search for “traditional media is…” and see what pops up. Two of the top options are “dead” or “dying.” But that’s not quite right. Traditional media isn’t dead. It’s just evolved.

Nowadays, companies are reimagining their content strategies. They own their media platforms. They run dedicated, enthusiastic fan communities. They produce their own content across a variety of formats. 

But this media approach doesn’t work unless it feels authentic, like traditional media. It can’t be a thinly-veiled pitch for your company’s products or services. In other words, it requires treating your content like a traditional publication. 

So why isn’t every company doing that?

Simple: not many companies know how to do it. But some forward-thinking ones do. And for some companies, like a traditional publication, that includes hiring a Head of Editorial.

What’s the advantage of a Head of Editorial? What distinguishes this role from content marketing as we know it today? And should you abandon the traditional publishing strategies we’ve been executing for years? AudiencePlus co-founder and CEO Anthony Kennada tweeted earlier this year: “I’m curious where editorial ends and traditional content marketing begins.” 

To find out, let’s explore why B2B companies are hiring editorial teams.


A fancy new word for content marketing?

Today’s “Head of Editorial” is more nuanced than our understanding of content marketing. To make it clear, a Head of Editorial typically has the following traits:

  • A journalistic background, either by training or direct experience.
  • They’re in charge of creating a consistent voice/tone for a brand.
  • They help develop content and story ideas, even if they don’t always produce them.
  • They lead the overall direction of the content and property.
  • They build an audience of subscribers through intentional content distribution.
  • They create a sense of trust between the brand and its community. It’s not just the appeal of your content that counts. It’s how much your readers can trust it—and, by extension, your brand.

In traditional publications, the Head of Editorial was in charge of content. They decided what got published and when. They guided writers and journalists with story ideas. They accepted or declined pitches as they saw fit.

Hire a Head of Editorial for your brand’s media, and you’ll get much of the same. But there are some unique nuances for B2B companies:

  • Heads of Editorial align your brand to a specific market niche rather than a general readership.
  • Content formats extend beyond the written word. These formats can include videos, podcasts, and more.
  • Heads of Editorial typically have experience in building and engaging audiences. This means using different distribution methods beyond SEO.
  • Storytelling and trust-building are crucial skills—not just optimizing content for pure digital performance.

That last point is a critical differentiator from our traditional understanding of content marketing. Content marketing has historically focused on performance marketing and (ultimately) driving revenue from content efforts. Editorial, on the other hand, is more focused on audience building - the content is the product.

Another key difference: “Owning your distribution,” according to Kennada. “Editorial teams know how to do this well, and that mentality is finally making its way into B2B.”


Who is hiring Heads of Editorial?

Who is hiring heads of editorial, especially editorial heads with traditional publication experience?

Look around and you’ll see Heads of Editorial who have moved in-house into software companies almost everywhere. Quentin Hardy of Google Cloud? Formerly of The New York Times and Forbes. Emily Anne Epstein of Asana? Formerly of The Atlantic. Mary Hayes Weier of Workday? Formerly of InformationWeek.

The “prestige” factor that comes with traditional publications isn’t quite what it used to be. Many editors are happy to leap into brand publishing. Emily Anne Epstein, for example, moved from senior editor at The Atlantic before freelance editing and ultimately landing as an editorial lead at Asana. Quentin Hardy, who worked at The New York Times, can now be seen writing for Google Cloud.

Why the migration in-house from traditional media publications? For B2B brands, the distinction is easy. They want these heads of editorial to build a style of media credibility that only comes from respectable editorial leadership.


Should your business build an editorial team?

Knowing all this, are B2B content marketers really so different? Or is the Head of Editorial an appropriate title for people with traditional editing backgrounds? And if they are separate roles, how can they co-exist in your organizational chart?

The non-sexy answer is that it’s a judgment call.

For larger companies, editorial and content marketing can be two different teams, each reporting into separate organizations with distinct charters. For smaller companies, the content marketing team assumes editorial responsibility - balancing their priorities across performance marketing and thought leadership.

Regardless of how the team is structured, an objective and editorial approach to content production and distribution can benefit your brand. Ultimately, the idea is to lend credibility and trust within the community you serve.

Here are some considerations before making the business case:

  • Does your content team have the bandwidth and expertise to produce thought leadership content beyond performance marketing content (optimized for SEO)?
  • Does your content team have the specialization to produce media in emerging formats beyond the written blog post?
  • Can you build an audience that subscribes to your thought leadership as a trusted brand, independent of their interest in your products or services?

Ultimately, it’s about how you want your audience to see you. Putting out valuable content is one thing. But it may take a Head of Editorial to put out valuable content to position your brand as a trusted thought leader.


The Ever-Evolving Editorial Team

The editorial team—and its lead—is still evolving. But it’s not going away. Today’s content teams can embrace editorial practices to boost the profile of your brand. If you want to build trust with your owned media strategy, then don’t ignore the lessons of editorial teams of the traditional media world. 

After all, you may soon find yourself working with them.


Why B2B Companies Are Hiring Editorial Teams

In traditional publications, the Head of Editorial was in charge of content. Does this role have a place in B2B SaaS? Would having this role at your B2B company be advantageous? In some cases it definitely can be. Read more to learn how you can bring lessons from editorial teams into the today's content teams.

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