Monthly Archives: November 2011

PPB’s December Issue Is Now Digital: Read The Exclusive Q&A With Commander Mark Kelly

For the first time, PPB is giving readers a sneak peek into the December issue with a special digital edition. Inside, find an exclusive interview with shuttle commander Mark Kelly and Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow, keynote speakers at The PPAI Expo 2012, as they discuss their blockbuster new book, Gabby: A Story Of Courage and Hope in this month’s cover story which previews The PPAI Expo. Plus:

  • Go inside with Stan Clark, the brand man behind the culture classic Eskimo Joe’s
  • Get the latest tech tools to master your day
  • Find out four steps for growing a business that’s profitable at every stage
  • See how to convert your customers and employees into your company’s biggest fans

Click here for the issue. Use the arrow keys on the tool bar to turn the pages or drag the edge of the page to the left with your cursor. If you are not a current print subscriber to PPB, order the next 12 issues now. In exchange for this month’s complimentary digital edition, please take a moment to answer our two-question survey here. Enjoy the issue!


A Guest Blog of Sorts… “Four-Letter Words” From Kyle Richardson at Promo Marketing

In light of all the activity surrounding President Obama’s Executive Order last week, I thought this was a very well written and to-the-point. I hope you enjoy this important read and thanks to Kyle and the folks at Promo Marketing for allowing me to reprint it.

Promotional Marketing’s Four-Letter Word

November 18, 2011 By Kyle Richardson

We have a problem. The promotional products industry has been haunted by it for years, and it’s only getting worse. It’s an image issue, one that marketers and branders have been unable to shake because it’s become inextricably attached to a demeaning epithet. And that phrase has become synonymous with our industry, for the worse. It’s our four-letter word.


I couldn’t tell you when that word came to gain its current meaning, but it was well before my entrance into the industry. Working in a newsroom in the early 2000s, I first heard it referencing the giveaways you’d receive at press junkets. Everyone was happy to get those freebees (what writer doesn’t want a new pen?), but “swag” still had a derisive connotation. The word is practically sneering. It diminished what otherwise would have been enjoyed.

What brings this to mind is, of course, last week’s executive order requiring federal agencies to cut promotional products spending by 20 percent. Although the actual statement issued by the White House never mentions it, nearly every headline included, if not focused on, “swag.” It didn’t matter that the executive order required spending be cut in four other areas, or that those other areas were listed before promotional items. Look the news up on Google, and you’ll find headline after headline about Obama killing swag.

Why? Because “swag” is a bad word. Swag means cheap, disposable, excessive and unnecessary. To the public, swag means junk. It tells the reader that the government is cutting spending on junk, and the reader likes to hear that. The story would have had a different spin if it said “educational materials” instead…

It all betrays a gross misunderstanding of what the promotional marketing industry is, and that misunderstanding is pervasive. Many people think promotional products equals free, and free equals valueless. That’s why I think this is an image issue. Audiences focus too much on the physical stuff, which is free, and not on why they are receiving it, which is where the value is found.

Fortunately, one thing this industry knows is getting a message out. From PPAI sending a petition to the president to suppliers and distributors speaking to the press, there’s a push back against this misrepresentation. Will it result in Obama reversing his executive order? No. But if it puts a human, American face on the industry, and teaches what promotional products can actually do, then hopefully some benefit can be had. At the very least, maybe we can get people to stop using that bad word.

To read the entire article:

Excerpt reprinted with permission from the North American Publishing Company (NAPCO) | All Rights Reserved Copyright ©2011

Your Help Is Needed Now

I want to give you a little heads up on an Action Alert we will be sending to all members later today. A preview of the message is below. Your help on this is very much appreciated.

There is growing concern in D.C. that legislators may consider measures that threaten the status of independent contractors in the industry.

Please contact your members of Congress right now and tell them to consider how this legislation would negatively impact this industry, your business and your livelihood. Do Not Put This Off—Take Action Today. 

Action Required:
You need to communicate with your members of Congress. Because mail no longer gets through to Congressional offices in a timely fashion, it is essential that you call, e-mail and fax your Representatives and be sure to identify yourself as a constituent in the e-mail header:

1. Call your members of Congress using this phone script.
2. E-mail your members of Congress.
3. Fax: Visit PPAI’s legislative software online and use the zip code search engine on the site to access your Representative’s website. You will find the fax number there.

For industries in which there is a debate about whether individuals who provide services to a business are employees or independent contractors, there is a provision in the U.S. tax law known as Section 530 that provides safe harbors for the use of independent contractors in industries, such as the promotional products industry, that had traditionally engaged independent contractors. Section 530 also prevents the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from writing rules on how to classify individuals as independent contractors or employees.

A proposal to raise revenue that does away with Section 530 could:

  • re-classify many independent contractors as employees by the IRS
  • end the use of independent contractors in the promotional products industry
  • force some independent contractors to stop running their own small businesses and start working for someone else

Contact your members of Congress now! No matter what the nature of the conversation, follow up the phone call with written communication by fax or e-mail. Please share copies of your correspondence with PPAI. We would also appreciate any report on the results of your efforts.

Questions, comments, concerns? Contact PPAI Public Affairs.

Meet Me In Las Vegas

In a few short weeks, our mailroom, loading dock and every empty office and inch of free space at PPAI Headquarters will be stacked high with pallets, boxes and shipping crates. Staff has until December 22 at 8 am sharp to have our
show materials packed and ready to be loaded on the trucks headed to The PPAI
Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas—or else!, states
the internal memo sent by Christi Jones, CEM, PPAI operations manager (read:
Expositions Queen).

After four months on the job, I’ve learned that my new position doesn’t buy me
deadline extensions. And, having worked with Christi for 12 years, I’ve
learned that “Or else-ville” isn’t a pretty place to be.

It’s been exactly five years since we’ve had to load the trucks this early in
December to make it to The PPAI Expo on time. Not coincidently, it’s been
five years since The PPAI Expo—the 48th largest show in the United
States and the promotional products industry’s premier event—was forced to
shift dates to accommodate the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Contrary to what you may have heard on the street, PPAI staff didn’t forget to book the convention center or intentionally shift dates to go ‘head-to-head’ with other industry shows. As in 2007, the CES—North America’s largest tradeshow with more than 100,000 attendees—moved its 2012 show dates to the second full week in January; the same week we traditionally schedule The PPAI Expo. I know the folks at CES. They are good, decent people and didn’t do this intentionally to harm us. It is just an unfortunate by-product of the way New Year’s Day falls on the 2012 calendar.

We considered having our show overlap with CES, but the “Expo experience” simply can’t be duplicated when we have to compete with a show of CES’s size for airfare, hotel rooms, cabs, restaurants and labor. Prices would be up to triple their normal cost, if these services were even available. Moving the show later in
the month wasn’t an option either, as the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is
booked years in advance. Yes, even Las Vegas, the convention capitol of the
world, has its limitations.

To ensure you will still have the best overall experience, The PPAI Expo 2012 has
moved to Monday, January 2, through Friday, January 6, (exhibits are open
January 4-6), 2012.  How does this shift benefit you?

  • Hotel rates at all major
    properties are consistent with 2011
  • Even less expensive hotel rates over New Year’s weekend with $95 room rates at the Mandalay Bay Hotel for those wishing to enjoy the holiday in Las Vegas
  • No challenges getting Las Vegas show tickets
  • No challenges for cab or dinner reservations
  • No dramatic price increases on airline tickets
  • For exhibitors, the show move-in dates of January 2-3 will not result in additional labor costs

Historically, having the show the first week of the year has had a minimal impact on our attendance. In fact, attendance was down just seven percent in 2007. While you have a lot of choices when it comes to industry tradeshows, the truth is, no other show delivers more for your time and money than The PPAI Expo, and no other show offers more to help you grow your

  1. More than 100 education sessions
  2. Nearly 1,500 exhibiting companies
  3. Two high-flying general sessions featuring Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and lead pilot of the famed U.S. Navy Blue Angels, John Foley
  4. Two keynote luncheons
  5. The New Product Pavilion
  6. The Green Products Pavilion
  7. The Made In The USA Pavilion
  8. Comprehensive Product Safety Education
  9. The Power of Two Party

Start your year off with The PPAI Expo, the industry’s largest, most successful and longest-running exhibition and conference. It promises to deliver everything you’ve come to expect and more. If you haven’t already registered, go to today.

I appreciate your support of PPAI and The PPAI Expo 2012, and look forward to
seeing you in Las Vegas.

Take Action Now: Petition Washington To Reconsider Spending Limits On Promotional Products

Just a few weeks ago, I asked all of you to help us make an impact on Congress during our Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) scheduled for March 2012.

If that didn’t convince you to take action, this will… Wednesday morning, PPB Newslink issued a breaking news announcement to report that President Obama has issued an executive order to limit Federal spending on promotional products, as well as travel, technology, printing and vehicles.

Thanks to a vigilant PPAI member who alerted us that this order was imminent, we were prepared for that announcement and sent Obama a letter last Friday, November 4. We also had a chance to reach out to several key groups in Washington. We believe those actions mitigated the overall impact of the order.

All too often, these challenges to our industry don’t come through traditional channels. We need you to be our sentinels on every public policy corner. If you hear something that sounds like it could be a threat to our industry—let me know.

This is the second time in the past two months that we’ve followed up on alerts from PPAI members that have enabled us to preemptively respond to threats. In both cases, those inside Washington acknowledged that they were surprised we had found out about what they are doing.

So now what? Please do the following 5 things…

1.    Call the President

2.    Email the President

3.    Call and write your member of congress using PPAI’s online advocacy tools

4.    Keep an eye out for rumors and threats – if you hear of something, let us know

5.    And finally, be our advocate. Stand up for the industry that has been so good to you and to all of us—defend its good name.

We understand that the Federal government needs to cut spending and lower the deficit, and while it might be tempting to limit the purchase of promotional products in order to yield some short-term savings, in the long term, this prohibition may unintentionally diminish the good work of Federal agencies.

Time and again, promotional products have proven themselves to be the most cost-effective way to reach a very targeted audience in a tangible, long-lasting and memorable manner.

If you have questions about the President’s Executive Order, please contact Anne Lardner-Stone (, Eme Alberico ( or myself and let’s talk. There’s much work to be done to protect our industry today and in the future. We need your help.

PPAI Petitions President To Reconsider Promotional Products Spending Limit

Breaking News

PPAI Petitions President To Reconsider Promotional Products
Spending Limit

President Obama will issue an Executive Order instructing all
Federal agencies and departments to limit spending on “non-essential items used
for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and

non-work related gadgets.”The limits on promotional spending are included in a
larger effort to reduce spending on federal employee travel, vehicles, printing
and technology by 20 percent.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of one industry member who has
embraced the PPAI grassroots program, PPAI was alerted that the Executive Order
was imminent late last week. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE,
immediately petitioned
the President
and said, “while it might be tempting to limit
the purchase of promotional products in order to yield some short-term savings,
in the long term, this prohibition may unintentionally diminish the good work
of Federal agencies. Time and again, promotional products have proven
themselves to be the most

cost-effective way
to reach a very targeted audience in a tangible,

long-lasting and memorable manner.”In addition, the PPAI Advocacy team reached
out to the White House and small-business advocates within the government.
“While PPAI was not able to stop this order, we believe we were able to
mitigate the overall impact further demonstrating why the industry needs
grassroots participation to be effective,” says Bellantone. “We need to

sure we have members of Congress watching out for us.

“The government efforts against our industry are not coming
through traditional channels. Executive orders are written privately and
released—without public input or debate. We must have sentinels on every public
policy corner. This is the second time in the past two months that vigilant
members have given us critical insights and allowed us to preemptively respond
to threats. In both cases, those inside Washington acknowledged that they were
surprised we had found out about what they are doing.”PPAI thanks members who
are watching out for the industry and encourages everyone to join us in our
advocacy efforts. PPAI’s goal

is to ensure that promotional products are viewed in a positive light. The

Association will work diligently to achieve that goal.


Have you ever sold promotional products to a
Federal department? If so, please contact PPAI immediately at
and let us know. We will use your experience to demonstrate how promotional
products can be used to help government agencies succeed.

Look for more specific guidance on next steps to
guide your advocacy efforts throughout this week.

If you have industry critical information,
please contact Paul Bellantone at or Anne Lardner-Stone at