Category Archives: Regional Association Council

ACTION ALERT: PPAI Leads Industry In Opposing Bill Targeting Promotional Products

In response to Sen. Joni Ernst’s proposed bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, to limit spending on promotional products by federal agencies and departments, PPAI has issued this action alert to strongly oppose the legislation. Please add your voice to ours and ask your members of Congress to oppose proposed bill S. 2722 that would be very harmful to our industry.

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Promotional Products Industry Supports Responsible Spending And The Effective Use of Promotional Products to Promote Essential Government Programs, Urges Congress to Do the Same 

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has proposed bill S. 2722 assigned to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to cut government spending that takes direct aim at the promotional products industry. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. The limits on promotional spending are included in a larger effort to reduce spending on public relations and advertising by federal agencies and departments.

Promotional Products Association International, the not-for-profit association for more than 533,000 industry professionals and more than 15,800 corporate members of the $24.7 billion-dollar promotional products industry, encourages industry members to take action now by emailing Sen. Ernst and Sen. Paul, and their legislators in Washington, D.C. to ensure they are watching out for us.

I have petitioned the Senator and reiterated, 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 targeted audience with the highest rate of recall, reaction and return on investment.

Promotional products educate, recruit, highlight safety awareness, urge organ donations and encourage healthy living and lifestyle choices. Promotional products recognize and reward employee achievements and inspire action. Promotional products are used to celebrate milestones, sign legislation and reinforce critical messages.

PPAI is in favor of balanced budgets and the responsible use of tax payer dollars, but it would be counterproductive for Congress to pass a bill that would eliminate any opportunity for the government to use promotional products in a powerful and effective manner. It will take a concerted effort by the entire industry—including practitioners, companies and representative national and regional trade organizations—to work together to advocate for our businesses, products and profession.

PPAI’s goal is to ensure that promotional products are viewed in a positive light. The Association will work diligently to achieve that goal.

Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose this harmful bill.


PPAI Launches New Community

PromoConnect CommunityI am excited to announce the official launch of PPAI’s newest, member-inspired benefit, Promo Connect. This online knowledge-community platform, offers industry-specific content to promotional products professionals through a channel for ongoing conversation and the exchange of information, ideas and solutions.

I’ve always felt that what makes the promotional products industry unique is its great sense of community—oftentimes seen in competitors working together to strengthen the industry, themselves and others. It’s this community that we hope to embrace and bring to the online world with the introduction of Promo Connect. We understand that many of you already have connections via Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms. But what makes Promo Connect different is its focus on the promotional products industry.

Whether you want to share your expertise, get your questions answered, help others with their challenges, or collaborate with others on industry-specific initiatives, Promo Connect is the place for you. I invite you to go to and join the conversation today. I also encourage you to become a frequent visitor and contributor. I hope to see you online.



PPAI’s 2016 Legislative Agenda – Get Engaged!

As the PPAI Public Affairs team, our DC-based Lobbyist and 80 of the most engaged, dedicated and motivated volunteers prepare for the Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D) next month in Washington, DC, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share PPAI’s 2016 Legislative Agenda.

Please take a few minutes to read through the industry- and small business-critical issues we will focus on during our Capitol Hill visits in May, and throughout the year during PPAI’s L.E.A.D. Local and recess visits.

It doesn’t take a lot to get engaged in industry advocacy but the payoff is tremendous. Want to get involved? Start here – at the PPAI Law website or contact Joseph Landeros at or 972-258-3015.


Let’s work together to grow and protect this amazing industry.

LDW 2014 Is Fast Approaching

The RAC Leadership Development Workshop for 2014 is just a couple weeks away. For those not familiar with this event, PPAI brings leaders from 27 regional associations together for a few days of high-level planning, sharing and discussion. One of the conference’s primary goals is to help prepare each regional to be successful in the coming year.  When regionals succeed, the entire industry benefits.

This year’s LDW content focuses on a first-of-its-kind benchmarking survey that shows each regional where they are succeeding, where they need to improve, and who to look to for guidance. It took a lot of courage for the presidents and executive directors to participate in this study and share the inner workings of their association. This unprecedented collaboration marks the start of a new spirit of cooperation among regionals.

If you want to know more about LDW and how it benefits attendees, regionals and the industry, I highly recommend you contact your local association to get involved. The local, grassroots-level participation is so vital to our industry’s well-being even a few hours of collaboration a year can have a positive impact.


What Are The Revenue Opportunities for Regional Associations?

Last week I was pleased to have you hear from guest blogger and RAC President, Roger Burnett, on creating opportunities to improve the value proposition of the regional associations. In this week’s post, Roger delves into the critically important topic affecting all regional associations—revenue generation. There is much to be gained from the thought leadership presented at the 2013 Leadership Development Workshop. I look forward to connecting with you all. –Paul

Guest post by Roger Burnett, CAS, RAC President

The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop will deliver the tools, resources, knowledge and peer-networking opportunities regional association leaders need to build more viable and sustainable organizations.

VIDEO: The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop will deliver the tools, resources, knowledge and peer-networking opportunities regional association leaders need to build more viable and sustainable organizations.

It comes as no surprise that most regional associations generate the largest portion of their revenue from trade shows and events. Distributor and supplier participation in these events has been the linchpin for the continued viability of our regional associations and their ability to provide content to regional members. As the industry continues to evolve into a more dynamic one, we too must learn to adapt; this includes examining new and creative ways to generate revenue.

The 2013 Leadership Development Workshop, September 25-27, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas, will deliver the tools, resources, knowledge and peer-networking opportunities regional association leaders need to build more viable and sustainable organizations.

Through a session on creating non-dues revenue, PPAI staff will show attendees how to implement strong affinity programs with tailored, industry-specific benefits that can increase member retention and ease the burden of member recruitment.

LDW 2013 will also offer several opportunities to take a deeper look at what makes a trade show relevant, then identify and capitalize on the trends that can make regional trade shows measurably successful. By implementing new programs and reinvigorating the trade-show experience, regional associations will develop stronger relationships with their members while increasing non-dues revenue.

As president of the Regional Association Council, I present LDW as the opportunity for us to come together to work toward possible solutions to an industry-wide problem and use the collective knowledge of the leaders in our industry’s trade associations to brainstorm possible outcomes.


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.

A Guest Post from Roger Burnett – RAC President

I am turning this post over to Roger Burnett, Regional Association Council (RAC) President and super-engaged, all-round volunteer and reposting an important message Roger shared on his own blog ( earlier this week.

Roger’s message is clear and concise and a bit troubling for those of us who work to build the strength and relevance of the regional association community.

I urge you to engage with Roger and let your voice, concern, suggestions and ideas be heard. You can hear Roger speak to the power of engagement and volunteerism at Expo East on Wednesday morning.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves and get to the important work of strengthening the regional association community.

Thanks for listening.


It’s Time To Stop Kidding Ourselves.

President’s Message – May 2013
Posted on May 13, 2013by rogerwburnett

I began my year as RAC President with an address to the Delegate Assembly. In that address, I make reference to Not Kidding Ourselves. It’s in keeping with that mission that I approach you today.

In my travels to visit with member Regional Association leaders, some patterns have started to reveal themselves that were sufficiently worrisome that I thought it was important to document them and get working on solutions, as the implications are reasonably serious.

This is about survival.

It’s not surprising to anyone reading this that the single largest contributor to the overall revenue for a Regional Association is that which is generated from their once or twice per year trade-shows. Distributors and supplier patronage to these events has been the linchpin to the continued viability of the Regional Associations, and the revenue generated from those events provides sufficient annual funding to guarantee content to each Regional member, plus it ensures the continued existence of these trade associations. Think of them as the “Black Friday’s” of the trade association industry.

What may be surprising is to know just how vulnerable this makes the entire Regional Association Community.

There are a number of forces at work to diminish the value of the trade-shows we produce.

 The internet has diminished the need to participate in a trade-show in order to see product or gain access to information.
 The perception of trade-show as for-profit enterprise has introduced a number of competitors into the trade-show space and exponentially increased the frequency of trade-shows in each market, thereby diminishing their value.
 Many distributors or distributor groups hold private events that resemble a trade-show, reducing the need for distributor salespeople to attend other events.

In any business model, there are always threats, so to position the items listed above as the death-knell for Regional Associations is alarmist, and I won’t do it. What DOES frighten me, however, are 2 things:

1) I have not yet been able to identify ONE Regional Association that has found a way to develop a second (much less a third or fourth) viable income stream to prevent against a decline in trade show revenue.

2) There does not appear to be a concerted effort at the Regional level to address the concern, and there doesn’t appear to be much collaboration at the District level about this topic.

So, it is by virtue of that fear that I state this intention.

It’s time to stop kidding ourselves.

As RAC President, I present this opportunity to the President of each Regional Association. It’s time for the leaders of your representative organizations to come together and work toward possible solutions to this industry-wide problem, and use the collective knowledge of the leaders in our industry’s trade-associations to brainstorm possible outcomes.

Regional Presidents, this is your call to action.

Should you be willing to participate in this all-important initiative, I ask that you register yourself in this LinkedIn forum President’s Forum. (Click the link to be taken to the forum) There, I will start and facilitate conversations around the topic and present possible solutions as they are articulated by the Group.

Additionally, I will host an ALL-PRESIDENTS conference call to serve as a kick-off on Monday, June 3rd at 4 PM EDT. Once we have confirmed participation in the LinkedIn group I will distribute the conference call information for all attendees and provide a pre-meeting agenda to prepare you for the discussion.

Without input, we cannot change. Without change, we cannot guarantee our continued success. I look forward to your participation in this event, and welcome any discussion in the meantime.


Roger Burnett
President – 2013 RAC Board of Directors