Media Works in the News

The latest Baltimore Jewish Times issue features a great story on Media Works’ Principal Jody Berg and the company’s 20th anniversary. Be sure to pick up the latest issue.

Here’s the full story by Maayan Jaffe:

Creative Control – Media Works celebrates 20 years in competitive field.

Twenty years. A $26 million media shop. Media Works. Twenty-five years ago, Owings Mills resident Jody Berg was your typical college communications graduate. Idealistic and poised for success, she landed a job at one of the country’s top public relations firms in Washington, D.C.

Four months later, she was laid off, and the company disbanded. She took a job in an advertising agency and fell in love with the media placement side of the field, but became frustrated by how little say she had in what went on with the company. The creative team, Mrs. Berg said, was in control, and media was simply told where to place their creations.

After giving birth to the first of her two children, Mrs. Berg decided she wanted more flexibility and to be in the driver’s seat, designing her own destiny. It was 1989, when boutique agencies were slowly popping up across the country and full-service advertising agencies were losing some of their best to try it on their own.

Mrs. Berg took the plunge, and Media Works was born. From nothing, Mrs. Berg transformed her company into more than something. Media Works now handles a wealth of accounts, including Advanced Business Systems, Erickson Retirement Communities, LifeBridge Health and MileOne Automotive.

As a media buying agency, Mrs. Berg and her team focus on the strategy behind where a company places their advertisements, doing the research to determine how best to reach its target audience. They look at the different media, and negotiate the best rates for their clients with those media.

Mrs. Berg said the media buying — and communications — industry in general has shifted a lot in the last two decades. It used to be that large companies put their business with full-service agencies that could do everything from the creative to the placement in-house. Not so anymore.

David Warschawski, who runs a local marketing company bearing his name, explained the phenomenon. “It used to be that big agencies in major metropolitan areas dominated the landscape. The ad agency was the media buying agency. Now, we’re seeing more fragmentation, more specialization, and more independent smaller agencies and solo practitioners than ever before,” he said.

“Expertise in niche areas is becoming valued, and it’s created an environment where a boutique agency like Media Works can flourish.”

Media buying venues have rapidly expanded. There used to be three major television networks — NBC, ABC and CBS. There was no Internet, and only four or five powerhouse radio stations. Now, said Mrs. Berg, “anything eyeballs are seeing, you can buy.”

She said her media placement includes TV, radio and the Internet, but also shopping mall table tents and dioramas, and even airport billboards. She noted that you used to buy time on a network and today you buy your ad to run with a specific show.

“When I was buying ages ago, you could buy one program and reach 20 percent of the market. Now, everything is so fragmented and everyone’s lives are busy,” said Mrs. Berg. “We look at age, lifestyle and even preference in leisure activities. It’s much harder than it used to be.”

But Mrs. Berg keeps up. She offers continuing education for her staff, is a member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and attends professional conferences.

“With media landscaping changing every minute, if you don’t stay on top you are going to die with the wind,” she said.

However, although she says she “lives and breathes this stuff,” she also takes time for family and to give back. Mrs. Berg formerly sat on the marketing board of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. This year, she and her family are chairing the Associated’s Super Sunday fund-raising campaign.

This month, in honor of the company’s 20th anniversary, Media Works has launched a philanthropic partnership with Girls Empowerment Mission, a program to empower girls who attend Chesapeake High School, by providing opportunities and growth experiences which in turn will enable them to become independent, self-sufficient and confident young women. Media Works will take the girls on a communications industry field trip to various museums in Washington, D.C., will host them in their office, and offer a selection of speakers to discuss the field.

Where will Media Works be in 20 years? Well, said Mrs. Berg, she envisions her younger staff taking over and the company continuing to thrive. But for her — “I’ll probably be on a beach somewhere.”

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One response to “Media Works in the News

  1. Great Blog post. I am going to bookmark and read more often. I love the Blog template if you need any assistance customizing it let me know!

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