A Year To Remember


One year ago this month I accepted the gavel from outgoing Chair Steven Meyer, MAS, at The PPAI Expo 2013 and stepped into the role as chair of PPAI. I’m grateful for the experience to serve this organization, to work with our board members and other volunteers, and to support our president and CEO, Paul Bellantone, CAE, and his team of professionals.

For PPAI, 2013 was another year of steady progress as the Association continues to provide leadership in many critical areas including legislative affairs, product safety, trade shows and industry awareness, to name a few. PPAI’s successes in 2013 are the result of careful staff planning and thoughtful board decisions that were taken over the past two to three years. My role as chair this year has been both enlightening and meaningful to me.

It’s been a very quick year but a great deal has been accomplished. Here’s a snapshot of some of PPAI’s accomplishments that were rolled out in 2013:

  • Expo East made its successful debut in May in Atlantic City—the result of a strategic alliance between PPAI and Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York—with 741 booths, PPAI’s Vegas-style show production, Expo-like education sessions and six specialty product pavilions including brand. Expo East is meaningful for several reasons, including the ability to demonstrate PPAI’s outstanding trade-show management skills to a more regional audience that does not attend Expo in Las Vegas with as much frequency, and it allows your Association to modestly diversify its revenue streams.
  • The first Promotional Products Work! Week, held in February, drew participation from most of the 27 regional associations and dozens of industry companies, which organized activities throughout the week. In sheer numbers, the news of PPW!W reached more than 702 million readers, and generated 362 news posts and 1,031 video shares via Twitter. This is meaningful as our Association leads the industry’s efforts to combat attempts to liken our advertising and marketing medium to waste and abuse.
  • PPAI provided its top-rated education program and overall support for the SAGE Show in Fort Worth in February, demonstrating PPAI’s ongoing commitment to our partnership with SAGE and desire to reach and educate our members wherever they are. The Power of Two continues to present a compelling value proposition to our members.
  • The ADvocate program was relaunched as a joint program with the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Since 2008, the program has trained industry professionals to give talks to business groups and universities about the power of promotional products. Where competitive realities permit, we seek opportunities to partner with ASI for the industry’s benefit.
  • Legislative Education And Action Day (L.E.A.D.) drew a record 70 members to Capitol Hill for 280 face-to-face meetings with legislators and their staffs on key industry issues. Although the benefit is more indirect, our legislative and regulatory lobbying activities constitute perhaps the most important function our Association performs.
  • PPAI’s Product Safety Summit drew more than 170 people to Chicago this summer to hear from government and industry experts. In its third year, attendance was up almost 50 percent from 2012. Product safety is of paramount concern to all of us.
  • PPAI staff also took our product safety message on the road as part of the SAGE Seminar Series educating between 1,750 and 2,500 distributors in more than 50 cities about the importance of product responsibility.
  • Increased attendance and superior ratings reinforced the value of both the Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) and North American Leadership Conference (NALC) this past summer. These programs have become the industry’s cornerstones for training and development between Expo East and The PPAI Expo. Program content has driven the recent success of these conferences.
  • PPAI completed and released a critical, new study report—The Influence of Promotional Products on Consumer Behavior—focusing on consumer recall and behavior after receiving a promotional product. The data give marketers even stronger evidence that promotional products are among the most memorable and actionable media. There’s no better bang for your buck! This is the message we must all convey.
  • Support for the industry’s regional associations was also of paramount importance. PPAI participated in at least one event for each of the 27 associations and provided strategic planning sessions for five. The Association also held the annual Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), moving it from June to September to accommodate regional board elections and offering a fresh format with new education sessions.
  • PPAI welcomed its first board class under the new board structure (Tom Goos of Image Source, Inc. and Kim Newell of World Wide Lines, Inc.), and the board appointed its first at-large director (David Nicholson of Polyconcept) who begins his two-year term of office following The PPAI Expo this month.
  • PPAI makes a bold statement about the importance of product safety with this month’s introduction of the Product Safety Awareness Program. It requires every member company wanting to gain access to the PPAI marketplace—regardless of membership category—to complete a minimum of four hours of product safety education.

PPAI enjoyed several internal achievements this year as well. We congratulate Paul and his team for recognition of their great work.

  • The Business Development department was restructured to transition from an outside advertising sales team to manage all sales (trade-show booths, sponsorships and publications advertising) in-house under one director to maximize efficiency and enhance the members’ experience.
  • PPAI as an employer also earned highly positive results in an annual employee engagement survey and launched a new wellness program to help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • It was year for awards too as The PPAI Expo was recognized as the 53rd top-ranking U.S. trade show on Trade Show Executive magazine’s 2013 Gold 100 List. PPAI’s Marketing team also won a 2013 Communicator Award of Distinction for the Expo 2013 Marketing Campaign, and the Publications team won an Azbee award and a FOLIO honorable mention for PPB articles as well as an ASAE Gold Circle award for PPB Newslink.
  • PPAI staff members also raised the bar for their own industry education by earning TAS, CAS and MAS designations this year as now required by their level of responsibility.

It’s been quite a year of progress. As my term comes to a close and I pass the gavel to PPAI’s incoming chair Mark Jenkins, MAS+, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the PPAI board members who have served so generously, and to Paul and his team for their tireless efforts to strengthen and enrich our Association.


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