Monthly Archives: August 2013

Regional Association Membership Strategies And Participation

NOTE: Video Autoplay Update
Guest post by Roger Burnett, CAS, RAC President
VIDEO: "The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop will deliver the tools & resources necessary for regional associations to position themselves as critical sources of stability within the industry."

VIDEO: “The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop will deliver the tools & resources necessary for regional associations to position themselves as critical sources of stability within the industry.”

Regional associations are dedicated to using new opportunities to make personal connections that will help increase and retain membership. Industry members don’t have to be part of a regional association to care about their livelihood, but working hand-in-hand with association members to ensure the continued viability of our industry not only engages them but also gives them a reason to consider becoming part of an association.

The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop, September 25-27 in Grapevine, Texas, will deliver the tools and resources necessary for regional associations to position themselves as critical sources of stability within the industry, and it will also provide them with multiple opportunities to network and brainstorm with peers in ways that will challenge current ways of thinking.

LDW will provide the most up-to-date aspects of membership recruitment by identifying the core elements of a recruitment campaign, developing a formula of touch points and providing an arsenal of templates, tool kits and best practices to execute.

Armed with their takeaways from LDW, regional leaders will be able to focus their efforts on creating opportunities to improve the value proposition of the associations for members and current non-member constituents.

The industry also must realize the unique opportunity that regional association leaders have to leave their mark on the industry. With a concerted effort, they can set a course that ensures the continued legacy of serving regional association members and the industry as a whole.

LDW will teach regional association leaders about engaging volunteer leaders and recruiting and retaining them, and it will provide ideas for volunteer recognition. Attendees will discuss the importance of rewarding volunteers, the value of setting a plan and different ways to accomplish these goals.

Regional communities must create, facilitate and continue to have these conversations with each other so that they can develop a plan for success. PPAI and the RAC Board are committed to providing the forums, tools and resources necessary to address these challenges at the 2013 Leadership Development Workshop (LDW).

Inside PPAI’s 2013 North American Leadership Conference & Product Safety Summit | A special message from PPAI Chair, Marc Simon

NALC 2013: Perspectives on the Promotional Products Industry presentation.

NALC 2013: Perspectives on the Promotional Products Industry presentation.

On August 11-15 in Chicago, PPAI hosted two of our most popular and powerful educational opportunities—North American Leadership Conference and Product Safety Summit. Over the course of four-and-a-half days, we were treated to a series of superb speakers who shared countless years of experience on hotly relevant topics from innovation, marketing and the economy to product recalls, FDA regulations and social compliance—to name just a few. For PPAI’s Chair of the Board Marc Simon, it was also a thrill to hold these two exceptional events in his hometown. Below, Marc shares a special message with you.


Greetings to our valued members!

For those of you who attended PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference (NALC) and/or PPAI’s Product Safety Summit (Summit) in Chicago earlier this month, I want to thank you, on behalf of the PPAI Board of Directors and staff, for your enthusiastic and attentive participation. Based on the comments we have received, it is fair to say that NALC and Summit were enormous successes.

If you were unable to attend either conference, let me tell you what you missed.

First, a few numbers: We had more than 150 participants at NALC and more than 180 participants at Summit. Notably, these were largely different groups of people. More frequently, senior management attended NALC and a combination of senior execs and people responsible for product safety and compliance attended Summit. Approximately 300 people in total participated in various aspects of this great week.

There were two themes to these back-to-back conferences: content and volunteerism. Let me explain.

For both conferences, we recognized that everyone’s most valuable resource is his or her time. We needed to be certain that we used everyone’s time judiciously. Both NALC and Summit participants heard from recognized experts who were impressive and even entertaining.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), was NALC’s first speaker. Gary made the point that innovation is critical for an industry, for a company, indeed for an individual, to survive and prosper. He observed that innovation is cultural and spoke of the many ways in which the culture and diversity of the United States breeds innovation. He contrasted that with other cultures, including China. It was ironic that the CEO of CEA, the bastion of technology—which is often blamed for limiting human interaction—spoke of the importance of relationships, face-to-face experiences and five-sense experiences to build trust and confidence, which are the essential ingredients of innovation. Gary’s presentation gave reason for encouragement—innovation is cultural (our culture), and relationships remain vitally important.

Next, Northwestern University Professor Frank Mulhern led us through the evolution of advertising from the presumed monolithic, homogenous state in which we know what consumers want and where consumers are captive to where we are today and where we are headed. Brands are shifting from products and services to people and lifestyles. Content marketing is everything, and “earned” media is growing rapidly. Marketing is becoming organized by interests, and people connect based on shared interests. As a result, marketing is becoming more analytical and targeted. (And therein lies the reason our industry will continue to grow. What can be more targeted and analytically based than our solutions?) Also, gamification is growing in popular appeal, another trend that favors our industry.

Our most knowledgeable, interesting and entertaining NALC speaker highlighted Tuesday’s lineup. Austan Goolsbee was previously chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors and is now a University of Chicago professor. He made three key points: 1. The economy is in for another 12 to 24 months of sluggishness, 2. The government is not going to help, and 3. Pent-up demand, the most productive work force in the world and our culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism will eventually push through all the clutter to lead us to new economic heights. I could not possibly do justice to the wit, humor and delivery style Goolsbee displayed, but we all laughed at the unintended consequences of lasagna and plumbing bombs (ask someone who attended for the details) as well as the observation that no one ever died jumping out of a basement window. Goolsbee spoke for an hour and took questions for another half hour. The universal comment we all heard was, “I could have listened to him all day.”

Product Safety Summit speakers included a panel of brand-integrity officers representing three of the world’s most valuable brands—The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and John Deere— speaking to the challenges and goals they face every day. Directors from the Consumer Products Division of Underwriters Laboratories gave a primer in the product safety requirements our industry faces.

It was a huge honor to have Neal Cohen, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Small Business Ombudsman, as one of Summit’s keynote speakers. He spoke to the special considerations that exist in our laws and regulations to account for the practical limitations of small businesses. John Fuson, most recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s associate general counsel for major enforcement actions, was fascinating as spoke of the practical requirements to which our industry’s food and drug niche (including hand sanitizers, for instance) is subject. Another government speaker, Jim Joholske, the assistant executive director of the Office of Import Surveillance for the CPSC, gave insights into new laws and regulations that our people now encounter every day. His interest in helping our industry was obvious—especially as he told listeners that if they couldn’t resolve an import issue, they were welcome to reach out to him for help.

The big hit of the outside expert Summit speakers was Katherine Cahill, an independent consultant. She spoke about the responsibilities that arise when product recalls are indicated. Her session, scheduled for 90 minutes, ran over by a full hour, as no one was willing to leave the room. She was filled with practical advice and everyone got a lot from her session.

Now for the second theme: volunteerism. None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts and painstaking attention to detail from several PPAI members who volunteered their time to make this event so valuable for all of us—and each of these people has a full-time, demanding job outside of PPAI volunteer responsibilities.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Gene Geiger, CEO of Geiger, and to Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Resources, for their passion and commitment in personally attending to each and every detail of the Product Safety Summit. I also want to recognize CJ Schmidt of Hit Promotional Products and Marc Held of Bodek and Rhodes for their exceptional work as co-leaders of the NALC Work Group. Jonathan Isaacson, CEO of Gemline, had to have spent 100 hours doing the research, analyzing the results and putting together his highly informative NALC presentation on trends that are apparent on the supplier side of our industry. NALC presentations by Larry Cohen, CEO of Axis Promotions, on how suppliers can work more effectively with distributors and by Jeff Meyer, CEO of Certified Marketing Consultants, on mergers and acquisitions were just two of the many sessions that were both interesting and valuable. Thank you also to those peers who shared their valuable insights on a series of panels that explored relevant topics throughout both conferences. A final and personal thank-you goes to the dozen large distributor and supplier companies that quietly sponsored Austan Goolsbee’s appearance.

I was very proud to have my hometown show so well to all of our participants. Next August (August 10-12, 2014, and August 13-14, 2014, respectively), we are going to Boston, and the prospect of interacting with professors from Harvard and MIT is at least as exciting. So please join us!

Marc Simon
PPAI Chair of the Board

For session summaries, photos and a video Q&A with Austan Goolsbee, visit



What’s New At LDW?

RAC Leadership Development Workshop 2013Recognizing a crossroads in the evolution of the 27 regional associations and the Regional Association Council, PPAI staff and the RAC Board of Directors approached 2013 with a renewed sense of purpose.

The RAC Board has diligently opened dialogues within the regional community so its council can focus on what the regional associations need most to be successful. The challenges are real, and hard work must be done now to ensure a strong future for these organizations.

At the 2013 Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), PPAI and RAC have pledged to give regional association leaders the tools, resources and networking opportunities they need to be successful in our changing business climate.

This year, RAC graduates from the membership-focused theme of RECRUIT! RETAIN! RESULTS! to a more comprehensive theme, Synergies For Success, which represents the partnership between PPAI, the RAC Board and the regional associations. This over-arching theme also allows for a more in-depth focus on the forces driving the regional association community.

Through Synergies For Success, we will reduce the number of tracks, simplify their focus and align them with PPAI’s industry-wide goals of growing the Visibility, Viability, Credibility and Community of the promotional products industry.

New, invigorating, interactive sessions and group consultations with subject-matter experts at this year’s LDW are designed to provide guidance and direction that meet the specific needs of the regional association leaders.

VIDEO: What's New At LDW 2013?

VIDEO: What’s New At LDW 2013?

Finally, LDW facilitators will be available to provide guidance to attendees as they create step-by-step action plans to define their respective regional associations’ specific goals to ensure ongoing, long-term success.

These are the kinds of dynamic cultural shifts that remind me just how energizing this work can be. I believe our PPAI Regional Relations team and the RAC Board when they tell me how energized and excited they are about the changes happening at LDW and what the changes will mean for our regional associations.

Looking forward to seeing you at LDW 2013.


PPAI & ASI Join Forces To ADvocate For The Industry

I am pleased to share with you details of the new PPAI & ASI ADvocate™ program announced this week during the PPAI North American Leadership Conference (NALC) in Chicago.

The new program is open to every promotional products industry member.

The new program is open to every promotional products industry member.

We at PPAI are very excited about this strategic collaboration with ASI and believe that our efforts working together to expand the reach and scope of the original PPAI ADvocate program into what is now the PPAI & ASI ADvocate program answers the industry’s call to speak with one voice, raise awareness and deliver local marketing strategies that build business across the promotional products industry.

The PPAI & ASI ADvocate program jointly leverages the assets of both industry organizations and is designed to train promotional products professionals on how to make presentations to business organizations and educational institutions about the power of promotional products and the importance of working with professional promotional products distributors.

The PPAI & ASI ADvocate program is just one more way PPAI delivers member value by creating visibility, viability, credibility and community for our industry—every day.

I, personally, am on the road many times a month sharing the ADvocate presentation with the industry and buyers.

I look forward to seeing you out there soon.



PPAI And ASI Join Forces To ADvocate™
For The Promotional Products Industry

Industry organizations join together to inform
advertisers, marketers and educators about the
proven power of promotional products.

CHICAGO –The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI; and the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI; today announced they are joining forces through an expanded ADvocate™ education program to help industry professionals demonstrate the power of promotional products to buyers.

Through the new PPAI & ASI ADvocate program, more than 430,000 industry professionals will be eligible for free training in making effective presentations to advertisers, marketers and students on the staying power and cost-effectiveness of promotional products. The program will be formally launched at a live training webinar on Thursday, September 19, 2013.

Paul Bellantone, CAE, president and CEO of Promotional Products Association International, said, “The PPAI & ASI ADvocate program is a collaborative effort that will benefit the entire promotional products industry and the marketing and advertising communities we serve. It is clear we share a strong commitment to growing the industry through education and advocacy—a requirement in today’s competitive media environment.”

“ASI is delighted to partner with PPAI on an education initiative of such importance to our industry,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI. “Industry members need to take advantage of every available opportunity to prove the lasting value of promotional products and their power to persuade consumers. Armed with free education and research from surveys like ASI’s Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, any distributor will be able to confidently convince buyers to spend more of their marketing dollars on promotional products.”

The PPAI & ASI ADvocate program is open to every promotional products industry member. To participate, industry members must attend a PPAI & ASI ADvocate training session offered by PPAI and ASI and sign a letter of agreement relating to established guidelines, ethical standards and professionalism.

Program support is available free of charge through both organizations and includes speaker training and certification, fact-based marketing and presentation materials, research and case studies.

Since the ADvocate program’s inception in 2005, hundreds of promotional products industry professionals have been trained and have delivered thousands of presentations to businesses, community groups, colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

The Washington Report- Fall Outlook

Through our legislative contacts and lobbyists, PPAI has access to up-to-the-minute information, insight and analysis that you won’t see published anywhere else. The information in this month’s special Washington Report focuses on the Marketplace Fairness Act and the debate over the collection of sales and use taxes from consumers by out of state sellers. It is timely information that will help you become more aware and better prepared to advocate for your business, profession and industry.
I hope you find this information beneficial to your business.

As the August recess begins, much is left to Congress for this year. The potential deadline for a debt ceiling increase nears with the hope that real tax reform will accompany. This fall could also see rejuvenation to the Marketplace Fairness Act with its recent additional support. The delay of healthcare reform is also a pressing issue as Congress retreats to their home districts. The two bills in question would delay implementation of the reform and are currently awaiting movement in the Senate.

Congress will return after Labor Day and while it will have a full agenda, only a couple of items are on the “must do” list. At some point, the federal government will run out of wiggle room below the debt ceiling and Congress will have to increase it. The hope of tax reformers (and debt reducers) everywhere is that hard deadlines for tax reform and debt reduction can be planted into the debt ceiling increase. The crisis will probably come to its day of reckoning in October, when Congress and the President will likely be forced to deal with it.

The other “must do” action is funding the government for its new fiscal year, which begins on October 1. It is doubtful, however, that Congress will have passed the appropriations bills it needs to fund the government through regular order by this date. The talk going into the summer recess is that Congress will pass a “continuing resolution” that funds the government at current levels. There is a possibility that a deal on the debt ceiling could also include a deal on fiscal year 2014 funding.
Everyone is pressing Congress and the President to deal with their particular piece of legislation this fall, even if it is not on the “must do” list. Proponents of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) are just one group expected to make a push for House passage of a bill that benefits their cause.
Under the MFA, states would be allowed to secure jurisdiction (nexus) over out-of-state sellers to require them to collect and remit use taxes. The legislation exempts sellers that make less than $1 million in total remote sales in the year preceding the sale from the requirement. The Senate passed a version of the bill in May.

MFA proponents have an ally in Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has placed it on his “must do” list. If a federal law is not enacted, the governor will have to accept an increase in the Virginia gas tax. He had championed a state budget that reduced the gas tax by offsetting it with a potential increase in the collection of sales and use taxes on internet-based sales transactions. The relevancy of this observation is that the key player in the House is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) who has indicated that he does not like the Senate-passed version. If the House does act, they are expected to consider a different version of the bill, rather just pass the Senate version, resulting in either another compromise with the Senate or the Senate adoption of the House-passed version.

Tax reform also received a lower ranking in importance this fall. There is no magical deadline for tax reform—at least not yet. Since this is the first session of a Congress, the discussion could carry over into next year. Much of the speculation has to do with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’s (D-MT) impending retirement after this Congress and Rep. David Camp’s (R-MI) departure from his position as Ways and Means Committee chairman. The common notion is that as lame ducks they will not have leverage to “get it done” in 2014. Both have promised a mark-up of a bill by their respective committees this year.

If there is no tax reform side deal, it will be difficult for Sen. Baucus and Rep. Camp to gain any traction for tax reform this year. If so, tax lobbyists will scramble to renew expiring tax credits and deductions. For example, the direct expensing allowance, also known as the Section 179 allowance, will drop from its current temporary levels of a $500,000 allowance with an asset purchase cap of $2 million, to $25,000 and $200,000, (both without indexing) respectively, in 2014.

The House passed two bills that would delay implementation of the healthcare reform law. Fairness for American Families Act, H.R. 2668, introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), would provide a one-year delay in the imposition of the individual health insurance mandate penalties. The Authority for Mandate Delay Act, H.R. 2667, introduced by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AZ), would delay the application of the employer health insurance mandate for one year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is not likely to call these bills up for a floor vote as freestanding bills. For the moment, the proponents of these changes will pursue an amendment strategy, looking for a “must do” legislative vehicle to which they can be attached. Activity on these proposed changes will probably heat up in October.

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013 (LARA), H.R. 2655, is on the move in the House of Representatives. The bill is moving through the committee process and could reach the House floor in the fall.

LARA is all about the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 11 says that attorneys or unrepresented parties may not file lawsuits that are being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; the claims, defenses and other legal contentions are not warranted by existing law or by a frivolous argument for extending, modifying or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; and the factual contentions do not have evidentiary support. The rule allows courts to impose sanctions at their discretion, though this was not always the case. Until 1993, the courts were required to impose sanctions. “Shall” disappeared from the language of Rule 11 governing sanction imposition, and the lawsuit floodgates opened. LARA reverses those amendments , and in addition requires that judges impose monetary sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits. These sanctions include the attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the victims of frivolous lawsuit.