As a former journalist and current manager of Spin Sucks, a proud outpost of branded content, many of my old colleagues would probably say that I’ve gone over to the dark side.

When I was a cub reporter at a small newspaper on the central coast of California nearly a decade ago, a respected veteran reporter on staff, upon resigning from her post, left me a note saying she was certain I would run a publication one day.

While I was flattered that she saw such potential in me, I shrugged off the message. I was only interested in getting out and covering the stories, and I had no aspirations to become part of management.

I remained in journalism for several more years, but I eventually left the industry, disheartened with where it was headed.

Now, four years after my last newspaper job, I’m working at a digital marketing agency, where I find myself managing the company’s blog and thinking about audience and content and how they relate to marketing and growing a business.

In the past, media content and advertising were black and white. On TV, we tuned in for the content and we accepted that, in between segments of content, we would be subjected to a certain amount of advertising. It was the price we paid for enjoyable programming, and there was no question which was the content and which was the advertising.

While that model is still alive and well, today the idea of advertising and content being one and the same has become more accepted. And while there are many purists who bemoan this model, there is no question that it opens up many new possibilities in how we receive our information and entertainment.

But when you add in another advance in media – the opportunity for interaction, not just between creator and consumer, but also between consumer and consumer – things get really juicy.

This is where the content you produce takes on a life of its own and where one plus one adds up to more than two. Because not only are you creating quality content for your audience to enjoy, you’re creating a place where relationships form.

And when relationships begin to form between members of your audience, you’ve officially built something much stronger than a mere publication. You’ve built a community.

I was proud to be part of the editorial staff of a newspaper back in my journalism days. I felt we were doing important work. It was a huge responsibility to deliver the news to people in a balanced way to keep them informed about what was happening in the world around them and how they might be affected.

Most journalists would probably scoff at what I’m doing now and how I refer to myself as the manager of a publication. But I honestly believe I’m helping to bring more to people’s lives here, as part of a branded blog, than I ever did as a “legitimate” journalist.

I’m proud to say I am indeed running a publication and a community …from the dark side.

Photo courtesy of Forum One Networks