Marketing = Journalism = Marketing = Journalism …

It sounds silly, but my junior year of college is when I really “found” myself professionally.

I did so by trying all kinds of new things and by expanding my leadership experience. I joined an advertising class and the American Advertising Federation, took an introductory marketing class, applied (and got) a summer corporate communications internship, served as editor-in-chief of my university’s student newspaper and maintained a 3.5-something GPA.

But this post isn’t about bragging.

These experiences subtlety show how I had my legs in , marketing and journalism, thinking they were two completely different worlds. But these worlds are actually one in the same. These experiences have helped me learn something important: Marketing is journalism and journalism is marketing.

Let’s start with the first one: Marketing is journalism.

Gone are the days of simply pushing out ads urging customers to buy, buy, buy!

This strategy might work in a few cases, but for the most part, marketers need to be genuine and to establish trust. They do this by creating honest information and resources that people will care about and that people will come to depend on. In most cases, people won’t buy from someone they don’t trust.

Acting objectively and fairly like a journalist builds trust and helps a customer feel he or she can depend not only on the information the company provides, but also on the product or service the company provides. Then, the company has to live up to that feeling by delivering on the promise.

Now second: Journalism is marketing.

Journalists out there might scowl right about now, but it’s true. No matter how objectively you report, you’re still giving out an idea and requesting or hoping people take in that idea as fact. You could report the most accurate version of a story using the most powerful words, but if people don’t buy into that story, you’ve lost. No one is going to read and you’re going to go out of business.

In the past, these worlds were separate from each other, but technology and other factors have brought them closer together than ever. For this reason and others, I’m so glad I decided to combine these industries my junior year, and I hope to expand professionally in both areas .

Before closing, here are just a few things marketers and journalists have in common:

  • They both work for an audience. For marketers, the audience is customers; for journalists, it’s readers, who are essentially customers of information.
  • They both sell ideas. Even unbiased, objective journalists have to sell you the idea that they’re unbiased and objective.
  • They both need creativity, honesty and strategy. Journalists and marketers who bore and lie to their audiences will be ignored. Also, journalists and marketers who ignore and fail to have at least a fuzzy plan for the future will also fail.

I could go on, but I ask you: What else do journalists and marketers have in common?

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Are your ads boring? Gen Y probably thinks so.

Every year since my freshman year of college (2006! Yikes!) I have visited Southside High School, my alma mater, to talk about St. Bonaventure University with current high school students.

This year, I was happy to have a fellow SHSer/Bonnie to return with. It’s always an easier task when you’re not alone, and this student, a Bonaventure freshman, knew a lot more people at the high school than I did since she recently graduated.

While we were there, one of her friends came up and we all talked or a while. Part of our conversation went something like this:

Student: What’s your major?

Me: I’m a graduate student. I study integrated marketing communications.

Student: (Quizzically) Oh, what kind of classes do you take with that?

Me: Well, recently I took a new media class that was a lot of fun because we got to blog and use Twitter and stuff. Before that I took a class on advertising.

Student: Advertising? That sounds boring.

I think I responded with something like, “No, I enjoy it.” And the conversation moved on.

But later I got thinking about this. Boring? That’s not what most people say when you mention advertising.

Now, obviously, this was a high school student who certainly doesn’t know all there is to know about careers, let alone a career in advertising (I certainly didn’t at his age).

However, his remark describes how many Gen Yers view advertising: It’s stupid, boring and annoying.

Being a Millennial myself, I certainly see where my generation is coming from. I have had similar boring, corny, annoy experiences with ads that get in the way of what I really want – a show, a webpage, a song, etc.

While some young adults dislike advertising, it still has a place in society, at least for the foreseeable future. Moving forward, it’s important companies make sure their advertising does two things:

  1. Fits your brand and your product/service
  2. Fits your audience

First, your marketing must fit your brand’s personality. If your brand focuses heavily on being innovative, creative and fresh-thinking, it should reflect that in ads or other marketing pieces. If it doesn’t, consumers will become confused or disinterested.

Secondly, let’s face it: An ad for a retirement community will not resonate with teenagers. Period. It just won’t interest teenagers.

But show them a commercial for a new cell phone and things might change.

That comparison illustrates part of the problem with traditional advertising, a tactic that is not personal and that assumes everyone watching that channel or reading that magazine has at least some kind of interest in that product or service.

Gen Y wants something that’s personal. They might not know it, but they value relationships more than anything. As the student unknowingly illustrated, advertising is being talked to and being talked to is often boring.

Having a conversation on something that interests you is fun. Advertising can start that conversation, but opening a conversation is just a piece of the beginning of a relationship. After the ad is shown, it’s up to the marketer to take away the “boring” factor by building a genuine customer-brand relationship.