The journalism school at my college had two tracks of emphasis to choose from: news and information or strategic communication. News and information studied writing, reporting, and editing while strategic communication focused on marketing, advertising, and public relations. I did a little bit of both. My background in broadcast paid off when I shot and edited a TV commercial, and writing news articles carried over well into writing press releases. When I was asked by the school to talk to potential new students, a common question would be what the difference was between marketing and journalism. With the advent of the digital age and new channels of communication, this can be a difficult question to answer, the lines are blurring between the two. Here are 4 distinctions between the two that I’ve learned.
1. Defining Journalism and Marketing, Who They Work For
WikiDiff differentiates journalism and marketing, defining journalism as, “The writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles for widespread distribution,” while marketing is “The promotion, distribution, and selling of a product or service.” Simply put, marketers work for their clients and journalists work for the public. In marketing, each brand has a distinct target audience and the marketers work to appeal specifically to that audience. Their goal is to increase sales and brand awareness. Journalism, however, reports to society as a whole. They just want people to listen, no matter who, to get high ratings.
2. Brand Marketing Level of Creativity
Marketers have the responsibility of creating the branding elements for their client, which can include their identity, image, positioning, perception, values, and voice. Brand marketing tends to be very right-brained, meaning they are creative and abstract. Journalists are more bound to writing based on facts and circumstances, they give a descriptive voice to what happens in our world. They are more left-brained, orderly thinkers. Creativity is certainly a factor in journalism, but for marketing, it is a necessity.
3. Storytelling Styles
Effective storytelling styles engage the audience. Journalism is reporting news of importance with speed, accuracy, and relevance. How will this story impact the reader? Will they read it from me first? Are the facts accurate and the sources checked? Is it compelling and interesting? Marketing is more about the need to create a lasting connection between the client’s product and the consumer with branding, advertising, and content. Their goal idea is to make people curious to know more about the client and the product. Think of it as journalists know what to tell consumers about something and marketers know how to get them to engage with it. For example: let’s say a new business opens nearby. The local media will cover it and say who they are and what they do. The marketer’s job, though, is to convince people why they should shop there and how it will help them.
4. Social Media Marketing
Facebook and Twitter have forever changed how we get news. We no longer have to wait for the evening news or the morning paper before we know anything, now journalists can report it in real time to a widespread audience. Social media marketing is a good targeting strategy. They release prepared messages, images, videos, and links to their ideal audience. And thanks to SEO and cookies, they can make it so their messages are the first thing consumers see when they get online.