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BEHIND THE BYLINES: ALISON WEISSBROT

Julie Descamps 2023-11-10
BEHIND THE BYLINES: ALISON WEISSBROT#1

This week we are honoured to be talking with Campaign US Editor-in-chief, and latest addition to our jury, Alison Weissbrot. She's a woman of many hats, and shared with us a bit about her journey in the trade press industry, the value of a creative award judged solely by members of the press and her different passions. Dig in!

BEHIND THE BYLINES: ALISON WEISSBROT#3

What inspired you to become a journalist and how did you get into the profession?

I've always had a passion and skill for writing and I wanted to do something meaningful with my career. I thought journalism brought those two things together perfectly. I didn't know I wanted to be a journalist in college, though. I majored in International Studies and didn't write for the school newspaper. But I started blogging about food and travel in my senior year and realized I wanted to get into journalism. I fell into the advertising beat sort of by accident, when I landed my first job as a reporter at AdExchanger. It was a steep learning curve, but I absolutely loved it and never looked back! 


What’s your role at Campaign US - and what are the latest developments there?

I am the editor-in-chief at Campaign US. In addition to leading the editorial team and strategy, I edit pretty much everything that goes up on our site. I also support the Campaign brand and business by developing agendas and recruiting for our events, supporting the growth of our subscription business and moderating and hosting panels. And I still do some reporting, host a weekly podcast and write a weekly opinion column. I wear a lot of hats!

Campaign US has had a great year. We've expanded our editorial team to five people, launched a premium paid content tier, pushed into data journalism projects and built on and refined our flagship editorial products, such as the CMO 50 and the Agency Performance Review. We're just getting started! 


What do you think distinguishes the US edition of Campaign from its long-established UK version?

Campaign US is a much younger brand. The UK edition has been around since the 1960s and has a historic, iconic brand. In the US, we're a challenger brand - pushing up against bigger competitors with scrappy energy and a fresh, provocative take on where the industry is heading. We've brought a lot of technology expertise to our US team that positions our coverage on the cutting edge. 

 

You worked for a while as a copywriter. What made you switch back to journalism?

I had always wanted to be a journalist, and copywriting was a stepping stone to get there. But I learned a ton - about how to write clear, concise and engaging copy that immediately draws in the reader. I also learned a bit about marketing, which positioned me well for my next two roles.


What for you is the value of an awards show judged exclusively by journalists who write about the creative industry?

Even though as journalists, we cover the industry all day, we can provide an informed, outsider perspective to the work that brings a different lens to how it is typically evaluated. 


What are the most memorable campaigns or creative projects you've covered and what made them stand out for you?

I like campaigns that are either really impactful, really innovative or just plain funny. I think the work Dove has done around eliminating toxic online beauty standards is really meaningful. On the other end of the spectrum, what McDonald's did with Grimace this summer was brilliant humor and genuinely cracked me up. 


How is AI likely to impact journalism, and are you concerned about it?

AI is going to impact every single industry. When it comes to journalism, many newsrooms are already using AI to report certain types of repeatable, numbers-driven stories, like quarterly earnings releases. Like most industries, I think we'll see more automation of rote tasks like picking through long reports, or using it to help write snappier or more SEO friendly headlines, or even with sourcing. But I am not worried about AI being able to do in-depth reporting or cultivating relationships with sources any time soon. 

Even though as journalists, we cover the industry all day, we can provide an informed, outsider perspective to the work that brings a different lens to how it is typically evaluated.
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As a journalist, what's your relationship with social media? Is it important for journalists to have a presence on these platforms?

I do think it's important for journalists to have a social media presence, as it helps build our profiles and get our stories out there. However I don't think it's necessary to be on all platforms all the time. I've never been great at Twitter, for instance, and since it became X, I haven't used it really at all. I find a lot of success on LinkedIn, probably because I write for a B2B trade publication. 

Instagram is fun and my favorite to use in my personal life, but I've been off it recently due to the toxicity on the platform. The hard part, sometimes, about what we do, is that we have to be plugged into the news all the time, but when the news is so dark, you sometimes just want to tune it out. 


We also noticed that you were a food blogger a while back. What’s your favorite recipe?

I love food! Eating it, cooking it, talking about it. I like variety, so I'm always trying out new recipes (I love the NYT cooking app). In the fall and winter, my boyfriend and I love making a different soup every Sunday night. But some of my all time favorite go-tos are pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant) or a nice tofu stir fry. 


Who are your role models or mentors in journalism and the creative world? And what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

I love everything Kara Swisher does and am a loyal Pivot listener. Creatively, there's no one more genius than Taylor Swift

As for career advice, my mom always says “take the call - you never know where it will lead”. 


Do you have any pets?

I am a proud mother of a gray tuxedo cat named Calzone :)

The hard part, sometimes, about what we do, is that we have to be plugged into the news all the time, but when the news is so dark, you sometimes just want to tune it out.




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