PPAI Leaders Spoke On Preparing For The Future During Wednesday’s Keynote Luncheon


In an open panel forum on Wednesday during The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE; Board Chair Brittany David, MAS, and Incoming Board Chair Ira Neaman, MAS, reflected on the Association’s highlights from last year and discussed how they plan on preparing for the industry’s future.

The promotional products industry is changing right before our eyes, they said. From a new generation entering the work force to how digital is changing consumers’ buying habits, PPAI is taking the initiative to anticipate what’s next.

“We must have the confidence to evolve,” Bellantone said. In the past year, the Association has demonstrated its crucial role as an advocate for its members and the entire industry. David reflected on how the introduction of a new bill, the "Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act," or the SWAG Act, would have prohibited federal agencies from spending money on promotional products to promote themselves and their programs. “PPAI acted quickly, and we were able to have a seat table to help craft the new language of the bill,” David said.

During the Q&A section, audience members asked their most pressing questions ranging from the potential impact of President Trump’s signing of the initial trade deal with China to how non-traditional companies are entering the industry. Regarding the latter, David answered, "We can either welcome and embrace them or try to keep them out. Because, either way, they are going to keep doing it whether they are a part of our Association or not."

Confronting uncertainty with strategic planning, Neaman acknowledged PPAI’s role in the future. “There is an evolution of change coming,” he said. “We are now representing four generations of consumers. It’s understanding that people will want to do business differently, and we want to be the enabler, providing tools and education to our members.” To be prepared, PPAI will have to ask: What are the issues and the topics that will be talking about tomorrow?

To help answer that question, Bellantone introduced Maura Mitchell, founder and principal of Brandology, as PPAI’s new strategic planning facilitator. “It’s hard to break what you built,” Bellantone said, explaining the importance of bringing in a third party. Mitchell’s new role will focus on strategic foresight and helping leadership find solutions to some of the Association’s biggest challenges—such as how digital will impact future business practices, how PPAI will remain valuable beyond the trade show and how to engage different generations entering the workforce.

Members will have several chances to be involved in the strategic foresight process to offer their own valuable insight about the industry and PPAI. From mass surveys to two-sentence Tuesdays, Mitchell said, "Everyone will have the opportunity to participate."

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