Tag Archives: PPAI L.E.A.D.

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

Guest Post | Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.

If Coke and Pepsi can set aside their battle of the brands for a worthwhile cause, so too can the promotional products industry. During PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) event held in May, industry representatives from around the country united to encourage our nation’s legislators to consider critical issues important to the entire industry.

Today I am pleased to present a guest post, “Thoughts on PPAI L.E.A.D. in Washington, D.C.”  by Kyle A. Richardson, editorial director of Promo Marketing magazine. This PM blog originally appeared in the June 27, 2016 issue of Promo Marketing.

Thank you, Kyle, for joining us for the PPAI L.E.A.D. We are grateful for your participation and retrospective on the critical importance of our industry’s unified voice in D.C.

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Last month I had the privilege of joining a select group of promotional products professionals in Washington, D.C., for Promotional Product Association International’s (PPAI) Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Influential industry members from across the country volunteered their time to head to our nation’s capitol, to raise awareness about our industry and the legislation that impacts suppliers and distributors.

We’ve reported on many of these business topics—independent contractor requirements, the Affordable Care Act, Toxic Substances Control Act reform—but it is another thing entirely to go to D.C. and speak to senators and representatives about our industry, our concerns and our needs. When you see a small section of our community—just 80 volunteers in all—organize more than 300 meetings over two days, you start to appreciate the significance of what PPAI has put together.

It isn’t just the numbers, either: Who was in attendance is just as important. Supplier CEOs, distributor franchisees, multi-line representatives and more all stood united in D.C. We were organized by state, with many groups consisting of companies in direct competition with one another. Along with some suppliers and distributors, I was on the Pennsylvania team representing Promo Marketing next to ASI’s own senior vice president and senior counselor, Chuck Machion. No one was concerned about business rivalries. We were all there to do the same job.

PPAI_LEAD - PM 6-27-16

Left to Right: Kyle A. Richardson; Bruce Korn, CAS, president of Zakback Inc.; U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA); Larry Whitney, director of global compliance for Polyconcept North America.

What most stood out, however, was seeing that what we’re doing works. In several meetings, staffers greeted members of our team by name, recalling them from last year’s event. In other meetings, representatives mentioned receiving emails from suppliers and distributors as part of Promotional Products Work! Week. One staff member we met with took notes on the PPAI L.E.A.D. notebook he received in 2015. If you think events like this don’t have an impact, you’d be surprised.

You also may be surprised to learn that every D.C. staffer looks like they’re 17. Don’t let “House of Cards” fool you: Everyone in the Capitol is too young to drink.

I want to thank PPAI for inviting me along this year, as well as all the members of my team—Chuck, Bruce Korn of Zakpack Inc., George Jackson of George Jackson Promotions, Larry Whitney of Polyconcept North America and Norm Hullinger of alphabroder.

It’s said you should lead, follow or get out of the way. The promotional products industry has made it clear which path it will take.

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Kyle Richardson

Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.