Charity Gibson Plays To Her Strengths
Looking at Charity Gibson’s story, it seems she was bound to enter the promotional products industry one way or another. After applying for her first industry position as a business-to-business account manager in 2000 and facing rejection after several follow-up interviews, Gibson confidently circled back a year later, determined to change her career. She was through with her role as an assistant manager and marketing director for an apartment community in Tucson, Arizona, which brought her face-to-face with disgruntled residents, who often complained of faulty pipes and indoor flooding. She didn’t want to be involved in reporting problems: she wanted to help find solutions. And once she made her break into promo, she sprinkled her wand of kindness, innovative ideas and core decision-making on those who crossed her path, whether clients or colleagues, employers or friends.
Gibson is currently a national account coordinator for supplier Peerless Umbrella Co. headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, the owner of industry social media consultancy Green Banana Social, sits on the executive committee and is a founding chef for nonprofit PromoKitchen and, in her newest endeavor, the host of an industry podcast, Badass Women of Promo, which she started in March. Gibson says she founded her podcast to create a space for female promo professionals, like herself, to discuss “the challenges and advantages that come with being a woman in the promotional products industry,” while placing a “big, bright spotlight on all of these incredibly talented individuals.” Shared using the hashtags #BadassWomenOfPromo, #BWOPpod and #FindYourInnerBadass, in her first episode she interviewed Kate Plummer, MAS, the vice president of sales and marketing at Ontario, Canada-based distributor Clearmount.
Gibson didn’t plan to start a podcast, but when the idea landed in her lap—or popped up on her computer screen—she welcomed it wildly, approaching the project with persistence and fervor. In a private Facebook group for industry women, Gibson recalls Shannon Loredo, president of distributor Business Branders LLC in Houston, Texas—and the 2019 recipient of the Women’s Leadership Conference’s Ros Plummer Scholarship—posting a question asking, “Who are the female influencers in the industry?” Then, someone tagged Gibson. “I decided, in that moment, that I wanted to use my voice and the influence I’ve built to help all of these women share their stories,” she says. “I believe Shannon posted the question on a Friday afternoon, and that night I built the website for Badass Women of Promo, started all the social media accounts, reached out to a few suppliers to see if they would help support the podcast, collected some photos and quotes to start posting as content, and on the following Monday, I got to work recording.”
On the podcast website, Gibson invites listeners to nominate promo women they find inspiring for a future interview. To date, she’s received nearly 100 nominations. She shares with PPB a bit about her podcast—and her tireless positivity.
Is there a message, thought or perspective you’d like to communicate, using your podcast?
If there was only one thing women would take away from the podcast, I hope it would be the realization there is a badass inside of them. We wake up early. We stay up late. We chase UPS trucks to make sure we meet event dates. We make the tough phone calls when something goes wrong. We celebrate big when things go right. Some of us battle through on our own; some of us work while raising families. Some of us are road warriors and some of us work at home, which is a challenge of its own if there ever was one. Some of us work for someone else, and some of us try to do it all on our own.
What sort of challenges do you believe women face in the promotional products industry?
The biggest challenge facing women in promo is women. We need to get out of our own way. Ask for the promotions, earn our way into boardrooms, seek out organizations that value what we bring to the table, figure out what we want and work to make it so. Entrepreneur Jesse Itzler—founder of Marquis Jet, a partner in Zico Coconut Water, founder of The 100 Mile Group and an owner of the Atlanta Hawks— has said, “If no one told you how to do your job, how would you do it?” Well, how would you? Stop and think about that for a minute. Yes, women do face some unique challenges that range from balancing work with raising children to pay gaps and beyond, but with tenacity and determination, these challenges can become opportunities, and what appear to be roadblocks can be stepping stones to innovation and catalysts to change. Whether something is viewed as a challenge or opportunity is up to us to decide.
How did you decide what platforms to use to promote your podcast?
My experience as a marketer and agency-minded distributor has been key. Additionally, having been responsible for promoting content for PromoKitchen for the greater part of the past decade has helped with this one as well. Knowing where the digitally connected in our industry community convene, promotion through social media was a natural fit. Instagram is not only seeing the most engagement, in my opinion, but it’s the most fun to use. However, just like anything, having an integrated marketing strategy is imperative. The website and blog serve their purpose. Of course, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, iTunes, etc., are necessary for accessibility and, most importantly, there is a merch component. Tactile products are going out to friends and fellow influencers, as well as everyone who is nominated as a “badass woman of promo.” As we all know, promotional products help brands tell stories, and the #BWOPpod definitely has a story to tell.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.