Bad news sell newspapers – well whoop de do for newspapers! It certainly doesn’t do the rest of us any favours. The UK’s red tops struggle to find a front page headline unless Amy Winehouse slaps someone or a Big Brother contestant farts on air unless there’s a sensational crime to write about. Failing that it’s a case of let’s follow the broadsheets and create gloom and doom in the UK by reporting on every last snippet of bad news from the high street.This desire to sell newspapers regardless of the messages sent out by the news articles creates further gloom and despondency in the high street which spreads throughout the land to create a massive downturn and a countywide malaise. And what for? Just to sell newspapers? That may not be entirely true but it is not without some credence and it is a fact in the UK that bad news will rise to the top of the pile to be reported before good.Look at this example: the source is the BBC News website and you might think that the headline is from last week – but no, it is in “mid-boom” on 24 May 2005 and the article reads:-Profits and sales tumble at M&SMarks & Spencer saw its profits fall by almost a fifth last year and has admitted that the outlook for the business remains “challenging”.The retailer’s annual pre-tax pre-exceptional profits fell 19% to £618.5m… Chief executive Stuart Rose said conditions were tough but insisted the company was “on track”. “Clearly it is tough. The economic climate has turned out to be tougher than we forecast but we are on track.”But as it turned out, M&S definitely was on track and in May 2006 posted profits of £751.4m which was a 35% rise on 2005. In 2007 M&S posted profits of £965.2m which was 28.5% up on profits in 2006. Pre-tax profits for the year to 29 March 2008 were £1,007m and sales rose to £9 billion.This was the first time in 11 years that M&S profits had topped the £1 billion mark. You might think, “Well that’s great news for M&S” but what was the headline?This is from the Times Online May 21 2008:Marks & Spencer profits reach £1bn but there may be trouble ahead amid downturnIn the Telegraph 3 July 2008-07-10 Marks & Spencer shares tumble as retailer issued profit alert Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said that in the past few weeks “consumer confidence levels have deteriorated markedly and market conditions have become more challenging.”Retail analysts will downgrade forecasts on the back of the profits warning. In a flash note to clients Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Palli International, cut his pre-tax profit forecasts for the current year from £850m to £800m “at best”.How about if the headline had read: Forecasts say that M&S will make over £2,000,000 profit a day this year Or M&S profit forecast for 2009 is £244,000,000 better than the last time it said that the economic climate was tough in 2006!What I am getting at is that if you want to look at things in a pessimistic light then just read the papers and then panic. However, things are not all gloom and doom and we can interpret so many facts and figures in a more positive way. No matter how dark the outlook is being painted by the newspapers and other news media, there are always opportunities to do well if you are willing to look for them and to make the most of those opportunities when they present themselves.I work in an industry that is closely allied to advertising and marketing and it is at times such as these that the industry feels the pinch. Corporate budgets are cut and the first in line for the chop is often the advertising budget which is absolutely crazy. Still, I would hate to see newspaper headlines that read: Agency Closures due to forecasts of reduced profits and would much rather see: Agencies bring client success despite forecasts (not much of a headline but it might make the trade press). However, in order to achieve client success agencies will have to work harder to make their sales and marketing campaigns stand out and get noticed.One area in great need of improvement in effort is direct marketing. I am still receiving letters form credit card companies, insurance companies and so on that have not changed one iota in style for years. And yet if there is a squeeze on, shouldn’t these direct mail pieces be screaming at me rather than offering the same old lame format that is unquestionably heading straight for the bin.For years, one company has been spreading the message that companies should try harder to make their marketing efforts really work. Maximize your opportunities by ensuring that your marketing efforts really do hit home. That company is Whitney Woods, specialists in promotional products which are based on cardboard engineering techniques and a UK market leader in interactive marketing products and pop up mailers. This company’s product range offers different ways in which to beef up a direct marketing campaign in order to give it maximum effect and increase the chances of the campaign becoming a great success.The company’s range can be turned to all kinds of advertising, marketing and promotional applications and UK agencies should consider these ideas before making plans for future promotions. It will certainly give air to some new ideas and perhaps make the difference between success and failure in what are supposedly difficult times for the industry.