Category Archives: PPAI

A Brief Update From Your Association

Happy belated Independence Day. I hope you are doing well and were able to enjoy a long holiday weekend, taking a welcome and well-deserved break with friends and family. I know many of you are struggling with the new challenges brought on by the recent spike in COVID cases and its impact on our families and businesses. Hopefully, you were able to set all that aside for a day or two to rest, relax, reset, and refocus.

This week I only have a few items I want to cover:

  • Payroll Protection Program Extension
  • Gathering Industry Sales Data
  • PPAI’s Rapid Re-planning Efforts
As previously reported in PPB Newslink, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed legislation to extend the Payroll Protection Program deadline until August 8, giving you more time to take advantage of money allocated to small businesses. President Trump signed the legislation Saturday. The PPP provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million to small business to help meet payroll and other day-to-day operation expenses. Be sure and take advantage of this opportunity. At last report, billions of dollars were still available. If you need more information, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

In the next week or so, PPAI will be sending out a survey focused on benchmarking our industry sales through the first two quarters of 2020. While we’ve heard numerous reports of companies being significantly down, we’ve also heard from others who have found ways to pivot and make progress. Additionally, there are signs that ‘traditional’ (non-PPE) business has been picking up overall. Help us report reliable information on industry sales by responding. The survey will have no more than 10 questions and won’t take longer than a few minutes to complete. Whether it’s a “misery loves company” scenario or one that offers cautious optimism, this benchmarking survey will give us some clear indication of where we stand as an industry and hopefully some best practices and benchmarks for moving forward.

I also want to update you on the steps we’re taking at PPAI to ensure the well-being of your Association, as well as best position us to help you and your business over the coming months. The short-term strategic initiative we are working on, which we are referring to as the rapid re-planning process, is focused on providing you with the programs, products, and services you’ll need over the next 12 months, while also taking into consideration the fiscal well-being of PPAI. As part of this process, we are looking at each division of PPAI and examining it within three possible scenarios for what the industry and the Association will look like a year from now. We are considering what makes the most sense in a best-case, worse-case or no-change scenario. While in our normal strategic planning process, the board of directors would look out three to five years, this rapid re-planning process is short-term, focused, and meant to guide us through the next year. If you would like more information on how to implement this process in your own business, I can put you in touch with the expert facilitator guiding us through this process.

As always, you have my email and phone number. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your thoughts and suggestions. They are always welcome.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay productive.

Paul

The PPAI Expo 2021 ► Are You In?

Each week, over the past couple of months, I’ve reached out to you by way of these emails and video updates. My goal has been to stay in touch with you and, in some way, offer words of encouragement and information to help you through this pandemic. I hope these updates have been helpful. As we look ahead, PPAI will continue to offer opportunities and solutions for individual and company growth.

One such solution will undoubtedly be The PPAI Expo® 2021. For 18 years, the promotional products industry has gathered in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to celebrate the power of promotional products. And we are planning to do the same in 2021. The PPAI Expo will certainly look different than it has in the past, but its purpose will be the same—to provide community, knowledge and a forum to do business. You can trust that we will have your safety in mind as well.

COMMUNITY
For many of you, the sense of community that The PPAI Expo offers is what you cherish the most. And to the degree that it is possible, the PPAI Expo 2021 will be there for you. At the heart of the PPAI Expo is a strong, passionate and interconnected community that comes together each year—a community gathering like no other in our industry. From developing new relationships to connecting with old friends, networking with this community is always at the top of the list for attendees at the PPAI Expo. And the need for that community network has never been so desired as it is today. Serving as the industry’s annual gathering place and the kickoff to business each new year, the PPAI Expo is the crown jewel of community in our industry and it will continue to shine.

KNOWLEDGE
One of the key components to any PPAI Expo is professional development. And in 2021 we will once again set the industry standard in speakers and education opportunities, with 50-plus breakouts and two general sessions. We know that this element of the PPAI Expo is a driver in the decision-making process for many, and we are confident you will be satisfied again with this show. The list of offerings may not be as broad as in previous years, due to some of the overall changes we are making to the PPAI Expo 2021, but the quality will remain. You can expect a timely and relevant lineup of top-level speakers.

BUSINESS
We know that many businesses in our industry have been adversely affected by the pandemic. As a result, for many of you, travel to The PPAI Expo will not be possible, regardless of the state of our nation in January. For those who may be in this position, my commitment to you is that PPAI will be here when you are ready and able to participate.

But if it’s at all possible, attending The PPAI Expo 2021 may well be one of the most important business decisions you can make. Coming out of this pandemic, businesses across all industries will seek unique marketing opportunities to reach their customers. They’ll be searching for ways to break through the clutter that is likely to occur as America gets back to business. The PPAI Expo will be there to help you fill those needs.

But as you might expect, The PPAI Expo 2021 will look different from what you’ve grown accustomed to. We are making some significant changes in order to streamline and facilitate the best business environment possible while considering the challenges you may be facing.

First, we will limit the size of the show. We are making a conscious decision to downsize the footprint of the trade-show floor by 50 percent. This will include limiting the size of booths. This step, along with others, will ease the financial burden for exhibitors while providing a solid business experience for everyone involved.

Second, we will change The PPAI Expo from a three-day to a two-day trade show. This will help both attendees and exhibitors with travel expenses, as well as their time away from the office. To make up for the shortened schedule, we will extend the show hours each day. The new hours will also give us the flexibility to control access to the show floor, if necessary, based on government guidelines.

Finally, we anticipate making PPAI Expo-related virtual opportunities available in advance of, during and after the 2021 live event. Our goal is to make The PPAI Expo a brand you can count on for business opportunities well before and after the live event.

It is highly likely there will be more changes and updates as planning moves forward. I encourage you to stay up to date on the latest developments by visiting The PPAI Expo website for show details and the schedule.

SAFETY
While no one knows exactly what things will look like in January 2021, rest assured that PPAI will go above and beyond to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing. Whether it’s physical distancing, hand sanitizing stations or temperature screening stations, we will exceed the recommended guidelines in order to offer the safest business experience. We are already working with our Las Vegas partners to put things in place.

ppaiexpo21_we-are-in400pxThe PPAI Expo 2021 will be the bright light the industry, your business and our community so desperately needs. We know this event has served as the gathering place for our industry in the past and we anticipate the same for the future. I invite you to share your excitement for The PPAI Expo 2021 today. Go to ppai.org/expo/we-are-in and download your We’re In badge to display on your social, emails and website.

Are you in?

 

Advocating For Our Industry In Good Times And Bad

One of the most important things an association does for its members is advocacy. This is at the core of every industry association, including yours. In both good times and bad, PPAI focuses on informing influential, targeted audiences on the power of promotional products and the businesses and stories that make up the industry.

In recent years, our efforts on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and with the GET IN TOUCH!  advertising campaign have paid great dividends. Most federal and state legislators are well aware of the promotional products industry. There is also significant awareness of our industry’s relevance in the advertising and marketing communities. Complementing the awareness driven by the GET IN TOUCH! campaign are the multi-million-dollar marketing campaign tools members are encouraged to use in their own marketing efforts. These robust advocacy efforts continue today and are the focus of this update.

This year, as I mentioned in a previous update, we’ve had to cancel our annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) and our in-person visits to D.C. Instead, next week we will embark on a virtual L.E.A.D.—L.E.A.D. From Home—one that every member can participate in. Personally, I will miss seeing those of you who would have joined us in D.C., but the current situation leaves us with no other options.

We urge all of you to join us in thanking your members of Congress for their support of small businesses. Encourage them to continue to give you the tools and resources you need to keep your doors open and your employees paid because small businesses will be the backbone of this country’s economic recovery.

Here’s how to participate in this year’s L.E.A.D. From Home:

  • Mark your calendars for this program starting Monday, May 4.
  • Email or call your member of Congress.
  • Forward the provided emails to your team members and industry peers and encourage them to participate as well.

Our hope is that these messages will keep our industry top of mind in Congress and help to ensure a brighter future for the industry that has been so good to all of us.

The GET IN TOUCH! campaign, which was recently updated, can also be used without leaving your home. It is the perfect way to keep your brand and messaging in front of your customers. The campaign is even more important now as you work to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. Get the buyer outreach toolkit, and take advantage of the thought-provoking images, engaging videos, new research-based infographics and more. In fact, many members are currently working with our staff to customize their own branded broadcast-ready video spots that were created as part of the campaign. To get your customized video spot, reach out to Get In Touch! program manager, Kim Todora at KimT@ppai.org.

Finally, I want to update you on some of the organizational changes we’ve had to make here at PPAI. As I committed to you in March, our primary goals during this period of COVID-19 uncertainty are twofold. First, to make sure we continue to provide essential services to members and the promotional products industry and marketplace. Second, to make the necessary business decisions to ensure that there is a strong and relevant trade association in place to help you recover and rebuild when the business constraints of the pandemic are eased, if not lifted.

PPAI is a lagging indicator of our industry’s business climate, specifically as it relates to membership recruitment and retention, whereby reported sales volume determines the dues payable to the Association. Membership dues account for about 50 percent of the Association’s total revenue. The other half of our revenue—and the driver behind most of our profitability—involves trade shows, live events, conferences, advertising, sponsorships and registrations fees. So how will the pandemic impact PPAI in the short- and long-term?

We expect member companies will continue to experience an annual decline in sales which will adversely affect the dues revenue we collect. On top of that, to the extent that I can reasonably foresee the future, those other revenue sources will suffer significant declines through 2020, somewhat predictably through 2021 and quite possibly beyond that. We just do not know, but, pursuant to our strategic plan, we strive to see as far as possible into the future to best gauge the business climate for our members, the industry and the Association. In any event, for the first time since I joined PPAI over 20 years ago, normal Association operations will face significant losses.

As a result, I, like so many of you, have implemented staffing, salary and benefit reductions to help PPAI manage through this challenging economic time. As a 501(c)(6) trade association, PPAI was not eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program which might have assisted us in mitigating staff cuts. These actions are never easy, nor should they be. And they were not taken without deep concern and late nights of worry for our internal colleagues who have worked diligently to help make PPAI the Mark of a Professional.

In addition to staff cuts, we’ve also made changes to the structure of the business with the consolidation of departments and management. All of this was advanced with a mandate to retain the essential products and services you are promised as part of your membership in PPAI.

My goal in all of this is to manage and restructure PPAI, your Association, to reflect current realities and likely scenarios we will all face in the near and foreseeable future.

As I communicated to the PPAI team, we have no crystal ball to tell us when the economic constraints of the pandemic will end or when our businesses will recover. But, I remain positive—the constraints will end and our businesses will recover. Even then, industry events will likely be reduced in size and profitability for the foreseeable future.

As we regroup and reposition the Association for a post-coronavirus future, you have my commitment that the leadership team—and a smaller, leaner, restructured and reimagined PPAI—will work tirelessly to make thoughtful decisions to maximize the value of your membership.

Our challenges are real and pressing, both as an association and an industry of professionals. But, our resolve is as intense as ever. And, this Association will move forward as the Mark of a Professional to serve you and the promotional products industry in this most challenging of times to ensure promotional products and our associated businesses continue to be a cost-effective and powerful marketing media.

In my next update I’ll share the latest on The PPAI Expo. So, stay tuned and stay healthy.

Paul

Thankful For Your Support

This week it appears a lot of the COVID-19 discussion has shifted to getting the country back to work, which I believe is a positive sign and a step in the right direction for all of us. Of course, we remain cautiously optimistic. Although there is still a great deal of concern, from an overall business perspective, this discussion is indeed promising.

As we all continue to focus on our businesses, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support. Each week I hear from many of you with inspirational words of encouragement and praise for the work your Association is doing. As I have said all along, our goal is to provide the assistance and information that is relevant and needed today, while strengthening your Association for tomorrow. We would not be in a position to do either, without your support. So today we say, thank you—thank you for being a PPAI member and especially thank you to those of you in our volunteer network.

This week is National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize and celebrate those who give so generously of their time to help their communities and organizations. For PPAI, volunteers are the backbone of the Association. You dedicate your time, talents, and voice to the success of the Association. You are an inspiration and exemplify outstanding leadership. That service and dedication is well recognized and greatly appreciated. I invite those of you who are not currently serving within our volunteer network to visit our PPAI Volunteer Community to learn more about the mission and importance of our PPAI volunteers.

With that said, here are this week’s updates:

CARES Act: PPAI’s Government Relations team continues to track developments in D.C. related to additional COVID-19 relief legislation following the CARES Act. While we know some of the Small Business Administration loan initiatives, for example, the Paycheck Protection  Program, have run out of funding, we are keeping a close eye on negotiations between congressional leaders and the Treasury Secretary to finalize new legislation that would replenish those critical relief funds. We will keep following these developments closely and share any actionable information we have with you as soon as possible. You can find the latest information here.

Connecting With Colleagues: As promised, PPAI continues to bring our communities and members together in these times of social distancing. Today, I’m happy to introduce PPAI’s Social Spaces, a series of fun and interactive virtual gatherings for PPAI members. Starting next week, you’ll have a unique opportunity to join colleagues in one of three weekly virtual hangouts. First up is Cereal Talk, a morning hangout for those early birds. The Eat Suite is perfect for those who want to hop in for a virtual lunch. To wind down the day, The Poured Room will host virtual happy hours. Staying connected has never been easier. Sign up for a Social Space today and use this opportunity to maintain interaction with your colleagues.

The PPAI Expo — Early Space-Draw Extension: As we look ahead, The PPAI Expo 2021 is the bright light on the horizon offering the possibility of a reunited industry and the resurgence of the promotional products community. We know this event has served as the gathering place for our industry in the past and we anticipate the same for the future. With that in mind, I want to let our exhibitors know that the early space-draw deadline has been extended by six weeks to June 12, 2020. That means you can still take advantage of early-bird pricing and save $300 per 10×10 booth. Please call your account manager for more information.

Thanks again for your support. Stay healthy and productive. And as always, if you want to contact me directly, please do so at paulb@ppai.org.

Sincerely,

Paul

Business NOT As Usual

Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI President & CEOA Video Message from PPAI President & CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE

I hope this latest update finds you doing well. It’s week 4 for me and the PPAI staff to work remotely and learn to live with the COVID-19 new normal. While it doesn’t appear that we will be headed back to the office anytime soon, we are starting to see some good news across the country as social distancing seems to be having the desired effect. Hopefully, we are beginning to turn the corner.

In the meantime, it’s certainly not business as usual for PPAI or our industry. I’ve alluded to it multiple times in previous updates, we are all having to make some very tough decisions. What’s different about making these tough decisions, as Seth Godin pointed out in a recent blog, is for the first time, challenges and tough decisions are not individually unique as they may have been in the past. With the coronavirus pandemic, we are all experiencing difficult times as a result of the same incident. And, as a result, it’s virtually impossible to get away from it. Everyone is talking about the same challenges and grueling decisions. That is making it even tougher to remain positive.

But with trying times and difficult decisions comes the opportunity for creative solutions. For PPAI it’s finding ways to:

  • bring you the content you desire today
  • offer you social and business interaction platforms
  • generate learning opportunities
  • and facilitate business.

I hope my previous updates have shown you how we are doing just that. Because while it may not be business as usual, business still needs to get done. You still need to communicate with customers. You still need to maintain a brand presence, and you still need to focus on the future—regardless of how uncertain you may be about what the future holds.

PPAI UPDATES:

Supplier Business Updates Editing Made Easier – The most viewed page on PPAI’s Coronavirus Update webpage is the Supplier Alert page. This is where industry suppliers are updating their status as it pertains to any business disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. We’ve now made it easier for suppliers to keep that information up to date. Suppliers can simply login to their PPAI My Site account and add the latest information.

Pyramid Award Submission Fees Waived – Being able to show clients your award-winning campaigns is one of the best ways to help position you as a solution provider as your clients look for ways to rebuild their businesses. I know it may not be on the top of your list right now, but as mentioned earlier, we can’t lose sight of the future. So let’s celebrate creativity, innovation and collaboration. No fees for submissions or return costs for the PPAI Pyramid Award 2021 competition. The competition will be open April 27–May 29, 2020.

Helpful Advice in PCT – Every day our team is offering up a dose of practical advice and thought-provoking ideas in Promotional Consultant Today. Recent issues tackled topics such as how to approach selling in a global crisis and shared tips for dealing with unexpected change. You can find all issues here and subscribe for free to get PCT delivered to your inbox every day.

Tech Summit Cancelled – Another tough decision has been made. We’ve decided to cancel the 2020 PPAI Tech Summit, which was scheduled for September 21-23 in Austin, Texas. However, keep your eyes open for details on a virtual Tech Summit.

Share What You Are Doing For Your Clients/Community – As mentioned last week, we are collecting positive stories to highlight how PPAI members are helping their clients and communities. I encourage you to share your stories.

ADDITIONAL HELPFUL LINKS:

Please know that I continue to hope and pray for all of you and a resolution to this crisis in the near future. I’ll end with a quote from the same Seth Godin blog. “The boat is really, really big and we’re all in it.” Seth Godin

Let’s stick together, help each other out and know that the promotional products industry is and will be around to help our neighbors, communities and nation bounce back from this. And for that, we can feel proud!

Sincerely,
Paul

With Every Challenge Comes New Opportunity

This week, I’ve chosen to take this email in a different direction and hopefully strike a decidedly different tone than what we are all hearing on the news. There’s enough bad news, blame and uncertainty out there already. I certainly don’t want to add to it here. Yes, this update does come with notifications of PPAI programs that could be helpful to you as I’ve shared in past weeks. I’ve even included our latest event cancellation announcements – something we’d prefer not to have to do. But, with every challenge comes opportunity. I want to be thankful, optimistic and focus on the future. I challenge each of you to try and do the same.

I’m thankful for my family and friends who, through these odd times of social distancing, have found creative ways to stay in close contact. I’m thankful for the PPAI board and the hundreds of amazing volunteers who continue to lead, engage and contribute even as their own businesses struggle. I am thankful for the dedicated and talented staff, who are busy reimagining and redesigning our benefits, programs and events in order to provide essential business services today and create a viable and relevant Association for the future. I’m thankful that I work in an industry that is well-positioned to help others during this crisis and will be here to help them grow their businesses when it’s over. No industry is better suited than ours to help businesses stay connected with their customers during a crisis, reemerge after a crisis and reconnect with their customers when the tough times are over. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Most of all, I am thankful for you, our members, who continue to support us in both good times and bad not unlike what I’m sure you are doing for your clients and community.

In fact, we’d like to know how you are currently staying in touch with your customers and what good things you are doing to help them and your community in these tough times. Take just a moment and tell us about it.

Below are the updates for the week. Remember, you can find the latest information and resources at www.ppai.org and stay in touch with the community of industry professionals on Promo Connect.

Town Hall Discussion with ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews and Myself – On April 1, I participated in a digital town hall-style discussion with ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews to examine the COVID-19-related issues facing the industry. We discussed the challenges both organizations are working through, the effects on our members, their businesses and their customers, and details about the CARES Act that will hopefully provide some relief.

Additionally, there were many questions that we couldn’t get to due to time constraints. Watch for responses on the coronavirus page beginning this week.

I am thankful for PPAI’s Tina Filipski and ASI’s Michele Bell’s fabulous facilitation and not letting Tim or me veer too far off track.

CARES Act: What It Means To You – Last week PPAI held a webinar on the CARES Act which modifies elements of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to help businesses mitigate their coronavirus-related losses. It provides disaster relief for industry companies, including payments, loans with forgiveness options and direct payments to businesses and individuals.

I am thankful for the great work of PPAI’s general counsel, Cory Halliburton and our DC Lobbyist, Cliff Andrews for joining PPAI’s own Anne Stone and Maurice Norris on this important and timely webinar.

We will host another webinar on Thursday to once again review the CARES Act. If you have questions, please send them to Anne Stone in advance of the webinar and we’ll do our best to answer them.

PPB Rising Stars – Nominations are now open for PPB’s annual Rising Stars recognition program. Even in these uncertain times, up-and-coming young leaders are continuing to make their mark on their companies and communities. Help us celebrate them. Nominations are accepted through April 23.

I am thankful that there are up-and-coming young leaders who will continue to reimagine and reinvigorate this industry. Now more than ever, we must find new ways to drive value and build community and, relevance for our customers, members and industry.

Idea Source – Are you currently trying to engage with your clients? Are you working on new ideas to help them weather this current storm? If so, I would encourage you to utilize PPAI’s Idea Source. You’ll be able to search PPAI Pyramid Award-winning campaigns for creative ideas and successful campaigns. We have waived the subscription fee and Idea Source is now available free of charge to all PPAI members.

I am thankful for the great ideas and award-winning programs that demonstrate the power of promotional products and keep our industry’s success both memorable and measurable.

Expo East Cancelled – Based on the current COVID-19 situation, and the importance of your health and safety, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Expo East, effective immediately. We feel this is a sensitive and responsible action considering the shelter-in-place restrictions in many areas across the United States and the recent announcement deeming the Atlantic City Convention Center a temporary field hospital to accommodate expanded capacity. The cancellation includes all education sessions on Wednesday, June 3 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City as well as the trade show exhibits on Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

I am thankful for the dedicated volunteers and staff at SAAGNY who have entrusted PPAI with the management and leadership of this renowned East Coast event.

PPAI’s Women’s Leadership Conference Cancelled – We are disappointed to announce the cancellation of PPAI’s Women’s Leadership Conference. WLC is one of our most highly attended and strongly-supported programs among PPAI’s annual events. However, given the current situation and following discussions with past attendees and the WLC workgroup, we’ve decided to cancel this year’s event which was scheduled for June 22-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Stay tuned for other opportunities and plans.

I am thankful for the understanding and guidance of this dedicated group of women leaders and attendees who have made this annual gathering, one focused on growth, community and empowerment. And as we look to reinvent this program for the future, I know they will be around with the same enthusiasm.

Thanks again for all your support. We hope you continue to find ways to remain productive, optimistic and focused while adjusting to these unprecedented times. If you have any questions, we will do our best to answer them quickly.

Sincerely,

Paul

ADJUSTING TO UNPRECEDENTED TIMES

PB Message 2020-03-31 at 12.24.14 PM

A Video Message from PPAI President & CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE

I hope this update finds you healthy, finding ways to remain productive and successfully adjusting to these unprecedented times. As we continue to monitor the latest information and news on COVID-19, PPAI remains steadfast in our dedication to you and your businesses today and tomorrow. In fact, we currently have weekly meetings of our staff directors, our Board of Directors and daily meetings of our executive team. We are focused on getting you the critical services of today and securing a healthy organization for tomorrow.
Last week, I talked about our online community platform Promo Connect and our COVID-19 information page — resources available to help you navigate these uncharted waters. I also addressed some PPAI event cancellations and postponements. Today, I will update you on additional services and opportunities that are available to you.
Below you’ll find information on two of our affinity partners, Affinity HR Group and Paley Rothman Attorneys at Law. We believe both might be of assistance to you at this time. You’ll also find information from the Small Business Administration on available loans and a link to a recap of the CARES Act, which is providing relief to small businesses and individual operators.
I’ve included information on relief PPAI is offering to regional associations, opportunities for our members in Canada and a couple of programs where we are waiving fees. Also, if you are unable to get to your printed copy of PPB, it is available via flipbook and online. The April issue spotlights eight of the best multi-line reps in the industry and shares proven ways to cultivate diversity in your company. Plus, 12 calming self-care products that tell recipients you care about them along with some simple ways to hack your workday and get more done.
Finally, below you will find the details of a podcast I’ll be doing with ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews tomorrow. I hope you’ll be able to join us.
As I mentioned last week, we continue to evaluate and redefine every aspect of our business as necessary to provide you with the support you need in these tough times. Like many of you, I had to make the difficult decision to reduce staffing, salary and benefit and overhead expenses. And as I shared with the PPAI board last week, there is no comfort in numbers when making these difficult decisions, and I empathize with their role as company and industry leaders. I encourage you to let us, and our strategic partners, know if there is something you think we can help with as you transform your own business to adjust to these unprecedented circumstances.
Human Resources Assistance – PPAI’s affinity partner, Affinity HR Group, is a national HR consulting firm specializing in addressing the needs of small to mid-sized businesses. Affinity HR Group is staffed by a group of seasoned HR professionals with years of combined experience providing sound people support to clients nationwide. Affinity HR’s team offers PPAI members exclusive member-only discounts on a wide range of HR services. They’ve put together the COVID-19 Workplace Response Plan.
Legal Assistance – PPAI’s affinity partner, Paley Rothman Attorneys at Law, offers PPAI members a free 15-minute legal consultation. This can be immediately helpful to your business as you review contracts and employee issues. PPAI has retained Paley Rothman to answer your legal questions, so be sure to give them your PPAI number when setting up your consultation appointment. Get your legal questions ready and call Jessica Summers at 301-968-3402 to set up your free 15-minute consultation.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Recovery Assistance – In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small-business owners in all U.S. states, territories and Washington D.C. are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help overcome a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
CARES Act: What It Means To You – PPAI continues to closely monitor developments in Washington, D.C, closely. The recent U.S. legislation aimed at providing relief to businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the CARES Act, has significant implications for the promotional products industry. It provides disaster relief for industry companies, including deferred tax payments, loans with forgiveness options and direct payments to businesses and individuals. Find out what it means for you. We will also hold a Webinar on the topic this Friday (4/3/20) at 1:00 pm CT.
For Our Members In Canada – Promotional Product Professionals of Canada (PPPC) has purchased services from the Michigan Promotional Products Association (MiPPA) to allow free webinar access. Keep in mind that the webinar content is originating from and created in the U.S., but most topics will be universally applicable. All webinars are eligible for PPAI certification points. PPPC is working to create Canadian-specific webinars and French content in the coming weeks.
Legal Counsel For Regional Associations – PPAI understands the importance of a strong regional community and remains committed to the regional associations, some of which are rescheduling or cancelling spring events. To help, the PPAI Board of Directors will pay two hours of legal fees for each regional, as needed, as they address these issues.
Certification And Pyramid Submission Fees Waived – Beginning Wednesday (4/1/2020) through June 30, the TAS, CAS and MAS application fees will be waived and pricing for Associates will be at a 50 percent discount. Additionally, this year’s Pyramid Awards submission fees are being waived. This competition will open on April 27 and close May 29.
COVID-19 Podcast Featuring ASI President And CEO Tim Andrews And Myself – On Wednesday, April 1 from 1-2 pm CT (2-3 pm ET), I will join Tim Andrews for a special industry Town Hall, “COVID-19 Crisis: The Industry’s Leaders On Where We Go From Here.” As leaders of the promotional products industry’s two largest member organizations, we’ll discuss what each organization is doing now to assist members, the $2 trillion stimulus package, share advice on what small businesses can do now to survive and even thrive throughout the crisis, and outline action plans and forecasts for the coming months. If you can’t attend live, we’ll share a link to the recording in PPB Newslink, at ppai.org/coronavirus-information and across PPAI’s social media. Register now as space is limited.
While I hope all, or at least some, of these items will be of assistance to you, more importantly, I hope you, your families and your colleagues will remain in good health.
Sincerely,
Paul

Navigating Uncharted Waters

Update with PPAI's Paul Bellantone

A Message from PPAI Pres. & CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE

First and foremost, I hope you, your families and your coworkers are healthy and doing as well as possible under these uncertain and trying conditions. Like all of you, the team and I at PPAI continue to monitor the situation, adjust, adapt and continue to hope and pray for improvement. Now, as always, my promise to you is that PPAI will not lose its focus – you and your business. The promotional products community has weathered many challenges in the past and we always come out stronger because we stand and work together. Our primary goals over the next days and weeks are twofold. First, to make sure we can continue, along with our service partners, to provide essential services to members and the industry. Second, to make the necessary business decisions to ensure that there is a strong and relevant trade association in place to help you recover and rebuild when this crisis ends.

Video Update

As the news about COVID-19 continues to pour in, I understand many of you are seeking some sense of normalcy in a situation that is far from normal. With all of this in mind, I want to remind you of some resources that are available to you, as well as update you on a few things:

  • Coronavirus Information Page – This page is continuously updated and includes helpful links to the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, industry news as it relates to the virus, the latest updates on PPAI events, and a recently added section for regional event updates. https://www.ppai.org/coronavirus-information/ 
  • Supplier Status Update Page – We’ve created a web page for suppliers to share status updates about their business operations. This is an informative resource to learn about new safety measures, adjusted hours, temporary closures and factory cleaning methods straight from suppliers. https://www.ppai.org/unique/coronavirus-related-supplier-updates/
  • Promo Connect – Promo Connect, PPAI’s online community, is a valuable resource to directly connect with other industry professionals. We are already seeing a spike in communication activity via this platform on a variety of topics. https://community.ppai.org/home
  • Free Online Learning – We are making all education courses (more than 300 offerings) via PPAI’s online education platform free to PPAI members. https://onlineeducation.ppai.org/
  • Working From Home – Out of an abundance of caution and under the direction of local officials, PPAI staff members are now working from home. We prepared for this likelihood in advance and as a result, you should experience no interruption in service.

Additionally, PPAI is having to make some very tough decisions regarding events:

  • Promotional Products Work Week Postponed – We will postpone this week-long event, originally scheduled for May 4-8, to coincide with Advertising Week, October 5-8, where we already invest heavily in industry advocacy activities. The industry and Association will use this as a rallying point to begin rebuilding and the early October dates can be both timely and fortuitous.
  • PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) Cancelled – Our annual visit to Washington, D.C., originally scheduled for May 6-7, in which our members represent and lobby on behalf of our great industry, has been cancelled. However, we intend to encourage all members to reach out to their members of Congress to thank them for their work on behalf of all of us and ask them to keep the needs of small businesses top-of-mind.
  • SPARK Conference Cancelled – While we recognize the importance of young professionals to the well-being and future success of our industry, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this program, originally scheduled for July 15-17. However, PPAI is considering making SPARK a one-day event in conjunction with The PPAI Expo in January 2021. We will continue to find ways to serve this vital community.
  • Other PPAI Events – Currently all other events are being evaluated. Rest assured, when the cancellation of any event is discussed, so too is the opportunity to offer programming in a virtual environment. Please know that all decisions will be made with your best interests in mind.

We have all entered uncharted waters together, and it will take cooperation, support, compassion and sound business decisions for us to get through this. Together it is possible.

As I look ahead, I want you to know we will continue to evaluate and redefine every aspect of our business, as necessary, in order to provide you with the support you need. We will work together with you to ensure that your business and your Association are around for the next 100 years.

From the entire PPAI team, we wish you the best.

Reach out if you need an ear or have an idea to share. And most importantly, keep washing those hands.

Be well,

Paul

The PPAI Expo 2020 Marks Extraordinary Start to Decade

The PPAI Expo is such an exciting time for PPAI and the entire industry as we gather together to celebrate all this great industry has to offer. In January, we hosted The PPAI Expo 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and it was such an extraordinary experience. It was incredible to see everyone come together to advance the industry and discover what’s new and next in promotional and experiential marketing. Expo kicks off the year and brings to the forefront innovation, trends and advanced technologies in promotion, gifting, fashion, decorating and sustainability, as well as activation and engagement strategies. This year, more than ever, we’re seeing technology inside the products allowing marketers to measure behavior and track the success of their campaigns.

It is also important to note, that no matter how long we’ve been here as an industry, we’re still growing faster than most media. Last year we grew at more than six percent, which is almost twice the average GDP. What we’re finding is the more advertisers are using digital and other innovative marketing methods the more they’re looking for something like a promotional product to break through the clutter and build a relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Below, I am pleased to share with you a brief recap of just a few of the many highlights from the extraordinary experience that is The PPAI Expo.

Paul

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PPAI hosted The PPAI Expo® January 12-16, which continues to be the largest, occupying more than a million square feet of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and longest-running trade show in the promotional products industry. Approximately 13,000 promotional products distributors from nearly 4,000 distributor companies and 33 countries came to Las Vegas to experience the industry’s best-attended show.

Expo Montage

The PPAI Expo 2020 was among one of the largest and most-attended shows in the event’s history. In addition to visiting the more than 1,220 exhibitors occupying a sold-out show floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the 21,000-plus industry professionals attended more than 115 educational sessions and networking events. Participants were also treated to the updated look and feel of the show that included a brand-new murmuration design.

The 2020 show featured numerous experiences designed to create excitement and engagement in different areas on the show floor. The EXPO Live! interactive stage made its return and provided live streaming of product demonstrations and interviews with notable Expo speakers, exhibitors and industry leaders. The stimulating pop-up activations included fun-filled activities such as roaming photo booths, virtual-reality experiences, donut decorating, live music, and oxygen, caffeine and themed food bars. The Beer Garden offered a laid-back environment on the trade-show floor that welcomed more networking opportunities among industry professionals.

The puppy petting booths returned and were provided by Wagging Tails Rescue. Most of the adorable puppies were available for adoption, and they all live in foster care until they’re adopted to their “fur-ever” families. Therapy goats were also on-site for petting sessions and goat yoga, and they were provided by Petting Zoo 2 U.

The ever-popular Sneak Peek and Product Pavilions featured a new category, Giving Back Products, incorporated into the already-stellar lineup of New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA Products, Express Ship Products and 1st-Time Exhibitor Products. New to the Expo this year was the PPAI Fashion Show, which offered distributors three different opportunities to learn about emerging trends and new supplier products, and the Professional Development Domes, conveniently located right on the show floor, offering attendees additional educational opportunities in a unique space.

During the PPAI Association Update, Bellantone reported on PPAI’s continued organizational growth, noting that the Association reached 16,000 members during this year’s Expo.

During the show, thought-provoking and inspirational general session and keynote speakers included Ben Nemtin of MTV’s The Buried Life; Molly Fletcher, a former sports agent dubbed the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN and ESPN; and Dr. Rick Rigsby, president and CEO of Rick Rigsby Communications, founder of Rick Rigsby Ministries and former college professor, mostly at Texas A&M University.

In lieu of the annual PPAI Pyramid Awards celebration, recipients were honored in numerous ways throughout the show. This year there were 46 Gold, 35 Silver, 11 Supplier Stars and 10 Supplier Awards of Merit winners. During the annual Chairman’s Leadership Dinner, the industry’s luminaries, dignitaries and leaders celebrated the achievements of two industry legends, Carl Gerlach, MAS, of Gill Studios, Inc., and Roni Wright, MAS, of The Book Company as they were inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame. Tribute was also paid to this year’s winners of the Distinguished Service Award, Rick Brenner, MAS+, and Kippie Helzel, MAS, and the H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient Rod Brown, CAS.

The next installment of The PPAI Expo is set to be held January 10-14, 2021, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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PPAI Named One Of The 50 Best Places To Work By Outside Magazine

I am excited to share with you that PPAI has been named to Outside magazine’s 50 Best Places to Work. At PPAI we have incredibly talented and hard-working team members who strive every day to connect with each other and serve the communities we work and live in to make a meaningful difference. I couldn’t be prouder of and more grateful for our PPAI team members, for the amazing culture, work environment and community impact we have here at PPAI.

Paul

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Outside logo-topPPAI has been named by Outside magazine as one of the Best Places to Work in 2019. PPAI checked in at No. 35 on the organization’s annual list of the nation’s 50 top employers.

“We are honored to be named to this list of exceptional companies with warm and welcoming environments prioritizing work-life balance,” said PPAI President and CEO, Paul Bellantone, CAE. “This recognition acknowledges our past efforts and helps set goals for the future as a best-in-class employer. There is a sense of accomplishment and community that comes from working at PPAI that I personally believe is hard to find elsewhere.”

PPAI Top Place to Work - Outside Magazine 2019wide

PPAI has been named by Outside magazine as one of the Best Places to Work in 2019. PPAI checked in at No. 35 on the organization’s annual list of the nation’s 50 top employers.

PPAI offers numerous perks throughout the year, including an annual animal-themed obstacle race to raise money for animal rescue. The organization also organizes fun-filled, team-building fitness challenges such as marshmallow archery, black-light dodgeball, ax throwing and escape rooms. Committees comprised of staff also organize an annual cornhole tournament and two annual staff outings to go along with quarterly birthday celebrations, in addition to Halloween costume contests, chili cook-offs, on-site massages and food truck treats.

“Working at PPAI encompasses purposeful and rewarding work as we advocate for and advance the promotional products industry, while promoting a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere,” said PPAI Human Resources Manager Doris Sweely. “For PPAI to be recognized as one of The 50 Best Places to Work in 2019 is a proud moment both professionally and personally. It reinforces that we have a true family culture where work-life balance is modeled and encouraged.”

This is PPAI’s first time being honored by Outside, which has compiled a “Best Places to Work” list since 2008. PPAI was one of just two organizations in Texas to be honored; C1S Group in Dallas landed at No. 48.

Outside is America’s leading active lifestyle magazine, with more than two million readers a month. For more than 30 years, the magazine has covered travel, sports, adventure, health and fitness, as well as the personalities, environment and style and culture of the world “outside.” Along with receiving many other accolades, Outside is the only magazine to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence.

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