Seth-BarnettSeth Barnett, who for more than three years has served as PPAI’s government relations manager, is transitioning to a new role at the Association as diversity development and engagement manager. Part of the member engagement and regional relations team, Barnett’s position is a new one at PPAI and will focus on the strategic integration of demographic diversity in the Association’s programs, messaging and outreach within and outside the industry.

As government relations manager, Barnett has supported the ongoing success of PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) as well as the development and growth of L.E.A.D. Local. He trained industry advocates, wrote legislative briefs, monitored updates to industry law and tracked legislative matters at both the state and federal levels.

He recently spoke with PPB Newslink about his new role at the Association, the challenges it was established to address and his plans going into the position.

PPB Newslink: This is a new position at PPAI. What needs of the industry and Association was it designed to meet?

Barnett: The diversity challenge of our industry primarily focuses on generational demographics. The global economy is at a crossroads where, within the next 10 years, most of the workforce will be nearing retirement and there will be a tremendous need for young leadership. Our industry is no stranger to this demographic challenge as it primarily employs Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

During my time at PPAI, I’ve written articles and recorded podcasts about the generational issue and the ways our industry can meet this challenge. When PPAI’s Board of Directors began incorporating generational diversity within the industry in its strategic plan discussions, I wanted to take this idea to the next level and presented it as a new role for PPAI. This role will take this global economic challenge and simplify it in ways our industry can tap into to ensure continued success in the marketplace.

PPB Newslink: What will be your primary responsibilities in this role?

Barnett: There are two primary challenges that this role will seek to address. The first is our industry’s broad generational divide between the large number of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, and the insignificant number of Millennials in its workforce. We will look at how companies both within and outside our industry are attempting to recruit and retain Millennials. We are a unique industry with unique opportunities for younger people to get involved and stay involved, and we will find ways for businesses to diversify their workforce and create leadership opportunities that ensure success into the future. The second challenge is to better understand the changing marketplace and find ways for our industry to meet the new demands set forth by the younger generation of consumers. This will help businesses compete as the market continues to trend toward younger consumers.

PPB Newslink: How does this position work with other stakeholders in the Association and industry?

Barnett: This position works with supplier and distributor members at all levels. The success of the industry is made possible through a continued common understanding among all stakeholders. It is my hope that the information we will be providing will be useful to everyone in some way. We will also be developing ways to educate young people about the industry and what value it holds. This will not only inspire those seeking new opportunities to join our industry but also educate future consumers about the value of promotional products as part of the advertising mix. So in that regard, we are attempting to create new stakeholders through education and marketplace optimization.

PPB Newslink: What will be the focus of your first 90 days in the position? Any longer term goals?

Barnett: During the first 90 days I will work to establish a foundation and begin to help those in the industry have necessary conversations about their employment demographics and their visibility in the marketplace. It is our goal to establish long-term plans that address potential future industry demographic shifts as this position progresses. Many industries have begun to forecast the ways demographics will affect business several years down the road. It is my hope that as the research, conversations and education about this issue continues, we will be able to better predict economic and demographic challenges.