“Are you going over to the dark side?”

Making the leap from journalism to ethical marketing

It was 2015. I had mentioned exploring a career in advertising and public relations to a work colleague who was a lifelong hard news journalist. He had covered riots, coups, natural disasters and more .

That quote up there? That was his response.

Two years later, I am studying marketing — the “dark side” — in Brisbane, Australia. I’m not a convert, though. I come back to this exchange every now and again. It demonstrated to me how oppositional the worlds of journalism and marketing are, despite ultimately being two sides of the same media consumption coin.

There must be common ground — something to bridge that perceived gulf, to bring sustainability to journalism and salvage truth in marketing.

In short, what kind of stories do we, as idealistic and irrational, emotional and intellectual, curious and cynical beings, need in our lives?

This blog is about answering this question, for myself, and hopefully, for anyone who has ever worried about the type of media we are consuming and financially rewarding.

My background is somewhat diverse. Half of my family is Thai and the other half is American. My father, now retired, was a hard news reporter, and we were a portable family as he moved us from journalist post to post.

My mother was a professor of political science, and so our family dinner conversations would swerve from what my aunts were doing to the implications of the next (for there were certain to be more, I would argue) military coup.

I inherited my parents’ unrelenting and unerring eye for truth. From my mother, an analytical instinct, and from my father, a love of literature and all things story-telling.

Marketers lie, my journo self would roll her eyes. But no one is paying for the truth any more, I would reply. Indeed, during my last months in publishing in 2016, no less than 6 publications shuttered — a death knell. And so I have to admit that 2017’s foray into the so-called “dark side” is partially fuelled by fear.

But it is also fuelled by optimism and a strongly held belief: Marketing (and indeed journalism) that refuses to employ manipulation tactics, lies, or “hacks” — can and should be rewarded. It’s a problem we face as an industry, and as a person working in those industries or consuming the work of those industries, I’d say it’s a problem we face also as ethical human beings.

It is also one that I (and countless others more knowledgeable and experienced than me), are compelled to address. How do we come to a point where we reward truth?

Supported by the latest research, I am condensing the lessons you need to learn, week by week, in under 5 minutes a post — at www.jindawedel.com. The blog is a chronicle of finding that coveted joyful ground where content is not a dirty word — it’s about effective and ethical communication. It’s about marketing that you don’t have to be ashamed about.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I hope you’ll do me one favour, though.

Call me out when (not if) I’m wrong.

Question me when I’m unclear.

Tell me your story and let me learn about you.

And — if you think it’ll help your friends or colleagues — share this post.