Tina Filipski

I recently saw results from yet another survey that ranked various advertising media—this one reported on the trustworthiness of one medium over another relating to purchasing decisions. But there was one critically important medium missing from the list: promotional products.

This omission isn’t anything new and I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. The larger advertising world simply is not fully aware of promotional products as a bona fide advertising medium. For decades, our industry was largely invisible, although millions of businesses have used promotional products for more than 100 years to promote their brands, and billions of people have benefitted from the messages they carry and the useful value they provide. And most people are surprised to hear it’s a $21 billion industry. So what do we, as Promotional Products Association International, do about this astonishing lack of awareness? We get our story out!

Last fall, during Advertising Week in New York City, PPAI launched a first-of-its-kind, five-year, multimillion-dollar campaign to increase awareness and enhance the overall perception of promotional products, and to help direct a larger share of advertising dollars to their purchase. The campaign name cuts to the heart of the tangible and long-lasting benefits that differentiate our ad medium from all the others: Get In Touch!: Advertising That Lives On. To help members spread the message, PPAI’s website makes numerous tools available—print ads, logos, social media graphics, talking points, research videos and more. Although the materials are superb and PPAI is putting a great deal of effort, time and money behind this program, getting the message out requires maximum participation from our membership. From you.

Anna Tillman, social media administrator for distributor Williams & Associates, is one who has made the most of this new initiative. On the company Facebook pages and Twitter accounts she has shared a Get In Touch! infographic that shows the various reaction and retention rates of different forms of advertising, added another graphic on recall to her posting schedule and created email blasts, using the stats from the campaign, for her salespeople to send to clients.

“My hope is to generate new business with current clients, and to also reinforce their trust and continued business with us,” she told me. She also plans to measure the effectiveness of using the tools by tracking the interaction rate of posts on social media, especially any new clients gained. She believes the campaign’s message is important to communicate because before she went to work for Williams, she says, she highly underestimated the selling power that promo products offer. Now she wants everyone to see the light.

If you are using the program materials on your website and in your self-promotions, bravo! And thank you for embracing this initiative. If you are wondering what all of the excitement is about, find the details and tools at ppai.org/advocacy.

But there’s more work required to making the world at large distinctly aware of our medium. In April, nearly 80 PPAI member volunteers and staff voiced the industry’s issues on Capitol Hill during PPAI’s annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). They held nearly 260 meetings with legislators and their staffs to create awareness about issues, opportunities and the potential challenges our industry faces. Read more in Inside PPAI.

While those meetings took place, companies across the industry celebrated Promotional Products Work! Week with many member-supported activities to engage and educate buyers—open houses, factory tours, group presentations, community outreach, volunteerism and customer appreciation events. Check out the highlights on page 88.

The Get In Touch! branding campaign, PPAI L.E.A.D. and Promotional Products Work! Week are all integral parts of PPAI’s strategic plan of grassroots outreach to create a highly active and connected community, as well as a create deeper understanding of promotional products as a proven and long- lasting advertising medium. The campaign is focused on your success as a promotional products professional—and we need you to help make it happen.

Promotional products have been under the radar for way too long. Pulling together, in the same direction, with a campaign like Get In Touch!, we can ensure our medium is always top of mind.