As companies continue to move beyond staid brochures and old-fashioned marketing techniques and embrace what some have coined “content marketing” – blogs, articles, social media, etc. — the question of who should produce that content is a growing debate.

More and more, companies and professionals understand that they need to present themselves as thought leaders in their particular area of focus and one of the best ways to do this is through writing. The issue, however, inevitably comes down to time. Writing takes time.

Factor in a growing cadre of out of work journalists – many of whom are knowledgeable in the subject matter companies are writing about – and what you are seeing is something of a cottage industry of startups offering writing and editing services. As with most new concepts, there is going to be advocates and detractors.

Proponents of the idea of third-party content providers argue that such an approach saves time to focus on real business. Opponents will argue that a journalist might not have the expertise and, ultimately, only they, through his or her own voice, can properly connect with the target audience.

So which is it? Both sides have a point. But that doesn’t mean either is right. If properly managed and there is clear communication, third-party writers can be an amazing resource. They can ghost write articles and blog posts, disseminate content through social media and generally can do so in a style that is more reader friendly (sorry). The key is the relationship.

Third-party web startups that farm out articles to invisible writers will work effectively for most companies. But if companies can work through real communications companies and develop relationships with freelance journalists that know their business, it can be a great model that will drastically increase the output of content.

Journalists are trained to quickly absorb information and write about it in a reader-friendly way. Generally a third-party writer should be able to, through a quick interview, understand what needs to be said and do the necessary research to produce a good blog post or article. The company only then needs to sign off on a finished product. This kind of collaboration is both fast and cost productive and will lead to better media relations.

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