With the release of yesterday's newsstand numbers from ABC, which showed a 12 percent decline in sales during the 1st half of 2009, many journalists were once again reminded about the painful reality of the job market.
But, I have good news. Journalists' experience is just what many ad agencies are looking for in 2009 and the future.
One of their specific needs is...experienced journalists who are great story-tellers.
Work for an Ad Agency?
Before you say, "I'd never work for an ad agency. That's like selling out," let me explain why it's a great option.
Big brands are starting to understand how valuable editorial content is in communicating their message.
(Message equals -- buy our product or we'll go out of business.)
But -- consumer brands are faced with a major dilemma.
Traditionally, agencies create well-polished advertising campaigns that win big awards and are placed in those fancy magazines like Vogue.
The average consumer now sees those glossy campaigns as wallpaper.
(If you didn't grow up on Long Island, wallpaper is that stuff your parents pasted to the wall and thought it looked better than paint. Eventually, you ignored its hideousness just like consumers are ignoring traditional, glossy advertising.)
Capturing Your Audience Through Old-Fashioned Storytelling
I spoke with Sander Volten, managing director of EURO RSCG 4D, who I met while consulting for his agency in Amsterdam. He explains the need for journalists' expertise:
"Historically, most agencies don't have the infrastructure to offer their clients robust editorial offerings. We realized this a few years back and have turned to the expert storytellers for guidance -- whether it's a major publisher or independent journalists," explains Volten.
To demonstrate, Volten pointed to a recent digital campaign developed by his agency.
EURO RSCG 4D held a global contest to hire a blogger, who would create original content and find stories to share with Beck's (the global beer brand) target audience -- guys in their early 20s -- through Becks.com.
If you're thinking EURO RSCG 4D & its client Beck's dipped their toe into publishing -- you're absolutely right.
They understand how the media landscape is changing and how consumers are responding favorably to editorial content -- even when it's developed by a consumer brand.
And, that's the big opportunity for journalists.
Look for more big brands to follow the Beck's example and begin to create editorial -- print and videos -- daily!
Creating Susan Boyle Magic: Now the Holy Grail
Speaking of videos, many agencies are now looking to create the same magic "Susan Boyle" viral experience.
She had a great story and moment (A homely-singer w/cat becomes an international sensation - and that was passed on virally to millions of people around the world because of her remarkable "story.")
But, how do you give your digital ad campaign a better chance of going viral like the Susan Boyle video?
Again, it's all about hiring well-trained journalists!
"The experience journalists bring to the table is perfect for agencies," according to Volten. "Journalists know how to find a good story and, most importantly, a compelling hook."
This background is critical because ad campaigns -- especially digital ones -- are all about "storytelling," according to Volten.
Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam was recently hired by Olympisch Vuur (Alliance Olympic Plan 2028), which is charged with getting the citizens of The Netherlands excited to bid for the 2028 Olympics.
To make that campaign successful, the agency plans on digging up emotional, heroic stories from the past and bring them back to life today through online videos.
Just like what happened with the Susan Boyle video, the agency hopes the target audience "will pass on these stories to their friends and families," adds Volten.
It's time to freshen up your resume, go to the Barney's Warehouse Sale to purchase some chic agency garb -- and put your storytelling to work because Madison Avenue is calling.
Mark Pasetsky is the editorial director for CoverAwards.com, which is best known for analyzing magazine and catalog covers from around the world. In addition, Pasetsky serves as an editorial consultant for OK! Magazine and is the editorial director for Taraci.com.
Follow Mark Pasetsky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markpasetsky