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Lifelong learning and how the basic tenets of journalism apply to marketing

  • 31 October 2014
Ellen Pensky (yellow dress) at the Jim Hayes Symposium, Cal Poly, with fellow organizers Kevin Riggs, Mary Glick, Frances Squire, Susan Houghton and Mark Looker at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Photo: Alan Halfhill

Ellen Pensky (yellow dress) at the Jim Hayes Symposium with fellow organizers Kevin Riggs, Mary Glick, Frances Squire, Susan Houghton and Mark Looker at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Photo: Alan Halfhill

I read a fascinating Fast Company article recently about a tech CEO, Arijit Sengupta, who stepped way outside of expected norms for his field by learning to dance. It not only changed his life, but transformed his view of business.

While I’m not training for Dancing with the Stars just yet (although I could be persuaded), I understand where Sengupta is coming from—to stay agile and relevant you need to stay engaged in lifelong learning.

Recently, I blogged about a special project I was working on for my alma mater, Cal Poly’s journalism department. The event was held earlier this month, and was a success in many ways, attracting 125 attendees with the goal of advancing integrity in journalism and communication.

There were some impressive names in journalism there, not the least of which was the keynote speaker, Karen Miller Pensiero, editor for newsroom standards at The Wall Street Journal. When discussing the challenges faced by journalists in today’s world of instant communication via social media, she said, “The old core values of journalism still apply. The truth is still number one. Don’t publish anything until you know it to be true.”

In marketing, our writing goals are a bit different than in journalism: we seek not only to inform, but to persuade and SELL. Years after my college days and education in journalism, stepping back into that world reminded me that integrity is important, no matter what you are communicating.

I believe in giving back, but my time spent working on the Jim Hayes Symposium ended up being more than a good deed—it helped me look at marketing with fresh eyes.

The Jim Hayes Symposium: Speakers
As I mentioned, the event was well attended and featured some terrific speakers. In addition to a keynote from Karen Miller Pensiero of the Wall Street Journal, the event was moderated by Kevin Riggs, Senior Vice President, Randle Communications and former KCRA-TV reporter and anchor. Speakers included: David Kerley, ABC News Correspondent; Peter King, Media Director, Office of the President, University of California; Patrick Lin, Director, Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group, Cal Poly; Robert Logan, Senior Staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine; and Judy Muller, Professor, Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, and former ABC News reporter and NPR commentator.