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Chuck Penna

Above: Chuck Penna, in the early Salt Lake years

As I look forward to the new season of AMC’s Mad Men, I always think back on my own ‘Mad Men’ experience 30 years ago in Salt Lake City and the similarities to the Sterling Cooper agency.

Though my experience was a decade later than the smoke filled and martini-pickled ambience of the show’s 1960s setting, the Salt Lake of the 1970s could have held its own with Don Draper’s Madison Avenue.

After setting up a slew of interviews in Salt Lake, I learned I was going to be visiting shops that had been in business for 50 or 100 years. Coming to Salt Lake, I had expected the ad agencies to be very conservative—a vast departure from the liberal ‘party’ shops I had worked for outside of Utah.

The first agency I interviewed with was one of the “younger” shops, having been in business a mere 50 years. I was seated in a conference room that must have been decorated sometime in the 1940s… and not updated since. The first thing that surprised me was a very large collection of booze bottles lined up on a bar from one end of the conference room to the other. This collection would have looked at home in any NYC bar where the Madison Avenue executives had their three-martini lunches.

The doors opened and two agency partners walked into the conference room—one smoking Pall Mall cigarettes (the No. 1 cigarette brand In the 1960s) and the other with a classic David Ogilvy style pipe going. Right away they offered me a cocktail… at 11 a.m. I politely declined while they mixed up a couple of pre-lunch drinks for themselves. I was beginning to wonder if I was in Salt Lake or had caught a flight to Chicago by mistake.

As they started to review my creative book, the cigarette smoke was quickly filling the room. Looking around I noticed there were no windows and wondered if there was even a ventilation system—if there was, it wasn’t working. Soon the conference room was filled will a blue haze. My eyes started to water and my nasal passages were shutting down. As I tried to hold my breath, the agency partners, who were both easily between 70 and 80-years-old, slowly looked at every page of my portfolio.

When they finished looking at my creative samples the very senior partner looked up and asked me, “Son, are you a copy-contact or a commercial artist?” I had heard “commercial artist” as a term from the 1950s but I had no clue what a copy-contact was. I soon learned that a copy-contact was an account executive, who over lunch with client, wrote copy on a napkin and then gave it to the commercial artist to layout. I was getting an education in how agencies produced creative before DDB founder Bill Bernbach changed the industry with the set up of art director-copywriter creative teams, the format that is still used by ad agencies today.

But I explained that I worked in a creative team with a copywriter, under the direction of a creative director. Now the 80-year-old partner, while blowing pipe smoke in my face, said, “What’s a creative director?” At this point, I just wanted to get to grab some nasal spray and jump out the nearest window.

As if on cue, or perhaps just by pure luck, one of the partner’s secretaries came in. She looked and was dressed just like Doris Day from one of her 1960s romance movies with Rock Hudson. As “Doris” was standing by the door letting in some fresh air in, I saw this as my chance to escape the interview. I quickly gathered up my creative samples while shaking the partners’ hands and declining an interview wrap-up drink and started walking very quickly toward the lobby doors. Standing outside the building while taking in some deep breaths and waiting for my eyes to clear, I had to laugh about my first interview in Salt Lake and wonder what the next one would be like.

Then & now: We’re big Mad Men fans at PPBH, as you can tell. But, things have certainly changed. We’ve switched from cigarettes to M&Ms and from schmoozing clients over a three-martini lunch to lunchables at our desk over a teleconference with a client three time zones away. What hasn’t changed: the demand for problem solving, creative executions that work, late-night brainstorm sessions and deadlines.

We want to hear from you—are you a fan? Or, have you had your own Mad Men-like experience? Share it with us!

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Contributed by Jane Putnam

In case you haven’t heard, we’re excited to have added a new director of public involvement, Justin Smart, to our team. You can read the official PPBH-issued news release here. (Learn more about our public involvement department here.) We did a short Q&A with Justin so you can learn more about PPBH’s newest addition—both on the personal and professional sides.

Quick bio: Tooele native, Utah State grad (go Aggies!), previously worked at another consulting firm, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Office of the Governor, father to four, Tiger Woods in training and lover of music.

Q: What made you decide to work in the communications field?
A: I have always been fascinated by communication of any type—interpersonal, mass, political, persuasive, technical… you name it. The art of getting words just right, to say exactly what it is you want to say, has been a passion for me. From the time I was young and one of the local anchors on the 10 p.m. news was someone I looked forward to listening to, I knew I’d work in the world of words. And I have. From communicating myself about topics broad and narrow to helping others communicate more effectively with one another, I still have passion for getting the message just right.

Q: Tell us a little bit more about your mediation and negotiation training. How did that come to be, and what benefits/experiences have you had with it?
A: There are some bedrock principles in the fields of mediation and negotiation that would help everyone on the planet become better communicators and enjoy richer relationships. Mediation is about getting at the heart of things, delving past just what someone is saying they think and really understanding what is going on in their head. It’s about actively listening to understand. Time and again when working with members of the public who are angry with a decision or a plan, I’ll say something like, “That must really be frustrating for you” and they stop dead in their tracks because they realize they’re being heard. Generally speaking, we’re not good listeners because we’ve never been taught to do it well. We learn to read and write and think and form opinions for ourselves most of our educational careers, but we rarely get trained to listen. But when we do and we can demonstrate that we have, it makes all the difference.

Q: Now that the serious work stuff is out of the way… who is your favorite sports team?
A: Gotta go with the hometown team—the Jazz. I also cheer for Real Salt Lake, since I played soccer a lot of my life.

Q: And your favorite sport?
A: Golf! I have taken a keen interest in becoming a better golfer. I’m still very much becoming better at this point, with a long way to go.

Q: What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your “spare” time?
A: I appreciate the quotation marks around “spare.” Does that really exist!? I love spending time with my wife and four children. Whether it’s playing Wii, reading, camping, enjoying a game in the backyard or watching a movie, as long as we’re doing it together, we’re pretty happy. I also love to read when I get a minute to myself.

Other fun facts:

  • Fluent in Tagalog
  • Playing Joseph in an upcoming production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (we’ll have more on that in a future blog post).

Welcome to the team, Justin!

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Utah is one of the most beautiful states in the country, with an incomparable landscape you cannot find anywhere else. But something is lurking in the shadows of the stunning Rocky Mountains—inversion… haze… pollution. No matter how you say it, there are just no good words for the thick, murky smog we often experience in the winter and summer months. According to the Salt Lake Chamber, “Having poor air quality hinders corporate relocation efforts, places additional regulatory burdens on business, increases health care costs and places Utah’s federal highway funding at risk.”

The good news? We can do something about it. PPBH has joined the Salt Lake Chamber’s effort to clear the air by becoming a Clean Air Champion. Clean Air Champions are local leaders and businesses that recognize if we all make small changes, we can make a big impact on Utah’s air quality.

Becoming a Clean Air Champion is not just lip service. Clean Air Champions embrace best practices and find tangible ways to improve Utah’s air. The bonus is that these best practices can benefit a company’s bottom line. For example, as part of PPBH’s commitment to being a Clean Air Champion, we provide a teleworking option for PPBHers, encourage use of active transportation (biking, walking), have established a TravelWise Integration Plan and participate annually in the Clear the Air Challenge.

Join us and become a Clean Air Champion.

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Contributed by Jasmine Borla

CPP, CPM, GRP, DMA, HUT, PUT….in the world of media planning and buying, the plethora of abbreviations, terms and formulas can be overwhelming. Let’s break down some of the basics so the next time one of your homies asks if you’re down with CPP you can confidently reply, “Yeah, you know me!”

Media Basics

Designated Market Area (DMA) – Nielsen Media Research’s geographic definition of 210 exclusive TV markets broken into counties in which home market stations receive the predominant share of viewing. (The Salt Lake City DMA is currently ranked No. 33 with 927,540 TV homes.)

Households Using Television (HUTs) – The number of homes in a particular market that use at least one television set during a specific period of time.

Persons Using Television (PUTs) – The number of people viewing all television stations including network, independent, public broadcast and cable channels during a given time period. This reflects the total amount of people tuned to TV in general rather than to a specific program.

Persons Using Radio (PUR) – The percentage of an area’s population (Persons 6+) listening to radio during a specific time period.

Reach – The percentage of the targeted demographic population that is exposed to the advertising message one or more times.

Frequency – The average number of times the target demo is exposed to the message.

Average Quarter-Hour Rating – The percentage of the target demo that listen to/watch a specific station during any 15-minute segment of a defined daypart, for at least five minutes.

Gross Rating Points (GRPs) – The total accumulation of average ratings a schedule will yield, each rating point representing one percent of the population.

 GRPs = Reach x Frequency

Cost Per Point (CPP) – The cost of achieving one rating point or one percent of the target demo.

 CPP = Cost/Rating Points

Cost Per Thousand (CPM) – The cost of achieving 1,000 exposures within the target demo one or more times.

CPM = Cost / Impressions (in thousands)

Jasmine is a guest contributor to the PPBH blog. This post is the first part of a multi-part series on the media lingo you need to know.

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Contributed by Jason Alleger

How do agencies stay ahead of the curve? We start by finding the best news sources for our industry. Below is a list of sites that should be added to marketer’s web bookmarks to know what is happening in social media and the evolving digital world.

Mashable. A holistic social media news site. The site constantly has new studies, infographics and industry news that is informative and to-the-point. If you’ve ever had a social media question, Mashable has answered it.

MarketingProfs. Short for ‘marketing professionals,’ this site explores a broad range of marketing solutions. If you want to know the five steps of effective brand promotion or three awesome Google spreadsheet hacks for marketers, look no further than MarketingProfs.

TechCrunch. When a new technology emerges, TechCrunch is your source to tell you about it. It’s how we follow trends in CAPTCHA advertising or validate retargeting, for example.

eMarketer eNewsletter. Provides a daily briefing of digital marketing and media trends. This is an excellent source to find relevant tables and graphs to look smart. Do you know the smartphone penetration in the U.S. by device? If not, you better subscribe.

Twitter. Want to know about an earthquake before it hits? Ask a global brand a question? Then you should be on Twitter. Some of our top recommendations to follow include:

@FastCompany (super interesting articles)

@PennaPowers (agency and PR news—us, of course!)

@AdAge (agency updates)

@MeganLeap (writer for MarketingProfs)

@jasonalleger (myself). This feels like #FF

Cynopsis Digital. This daily enewsletter showcases any changes in digital companies’ offerings. It also gives any industry news and showcases hot websites and apps.

Checking these websites daily will help you look smart in any marketing conversation. Are there any sites we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Before I dive in to this subject — I need to insert this huge, important disclaimer: PPBH is lucky to have GREAT clients. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case, which has provided the background, insight and knowledge for this post.

Every agency experiences clients that don’t understand the agency-client relationship needed to make the client successful. Oftentimes the agency is perceived as just a “vendor” or “supplier.” When this happens, the agency is almost always underutilized.

Simply put: If you don’t trust your agency to be prudent with your budgets, understand your needs and know how to best put your resources to work for you, you are probably better off just trying things on your own until something starts to work. A good agency understands that your success is the only way it will keep you as a client long term. If you are constantly questioning its motives or challenging its proposals, you will find it difficult to have the synergy it takes to move you—your progress, your bottom line, your ROI, etc.—forward.

I know some of our clients may be reading this, wondering, “Is he talking about me/my company?” The answer is NO! We’ve been doing this for 28 years and have been at it long enough that when a client comes to our shop with these characteristics, the relationship doesn’t last long.

Imagine you were having frequent horrific headaches. You start to complain about it to your friends and family and their advice ranges from helpful to relatively wacky. Finally, the pain is so bad that you seek professional help. You go to a doctor who conducts some tests. Once he finds the cause of the headaches he advises you to have a delicate surgery to remove the object in your head causing the pain. Bad advertising clients—or in this case, the patient—say:

  • “Thank you, I’ll figure it out from here.”
  • “I don’t think you know what to do, I have a brother-in-law that is good with this kind of thing.”
  • “Thanks for the advice, but I have a coupon for a discount surgery somewhere else.”

Obviously not understanding that the surgery is only part of the solution. The doctor shakes his head and says, “Best of luck to you, I hope you survive your own decisions.”

So, not to leave you hanging, here’s the solution to your headache, or in this case, how to cultivate a good relationship with your agency.

To cultivate a good relationship with your agency, make sure that you are both on the same page. Lack of communication is a major cause of distrust and confusion. Put one person as your primary point of contact with the agency’s account manager. Utilize the agency account manger to keep your efforts focused, on budget and on time. If you have questions about your account, ask your account manager to resolve your questions, Don’t go on a witch hunt in an attempt to catch them trying something funny. And, most of all, if you don’t feel comfortable in your situation in any way, contact an owner or partner of the agency and find a solution together. If they are professionals, they’ll make it work or help you find a solution that works for you. My door is always open and my phone is always on. I’m happy to field calls, questions and the like. Remember, your success is paramount in a good agency’s opinion.

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In a recent article, Ad Age Digital’s Jason Del Rey reveals the findings of a new survey of advertising decision makers and their ad spending plans for the next year. Social media is taking center stage this year. Of the nearly 1,200 respondents, 59 percent said they will increase social media ad spending in the next 12 months.

Before everyone jumps into social media, PPBH Media Director Marc Stryker and I want to share with you the must-know tips on the changes happening in the social media realm, what it means for your brand and how you can leverage it to make the most of your investment.

1. Don’t be that guy. Some marketers are determined to look at social media as just another way to “interrupt” people. That’s what we do with TV, radio and rich media online ads, so why not do the same with social media? Well, because you can’t interrupt people’s conversations like the socially inept loud guy at the party. Don’t be that guy.

2. Social media amplifies whoever you are. We all try to present our best selves online, but it’s difficult to pretend you have friends if no one wants to talk to you. Businesses need to look at their brands and make sure they’re for real before trying to engage people. If you’re a boring company that doesn’t innovate, social media can only hurt you.

3. The proper marriage of paid and organic. Anyone can buy an ad to point fans to their page. Whether or not those fans ‘like’ or even if they do ‘like,’ whether they stay engaged is still unknown. Take those creative ad ideas and marry them with long-term engagement strategies to keep those fans interacting with your brand.

4. Content is king—at least that’s what Facebook is telling us. Facebook’s recent changes to its ad platform really de-emphasize the “ad” part of the platform. What they want you to do is tell your story and all the interesting things you already should be saying on your Facebook page. Then you can create ads that bring people to that content. You’re going to see less of those weight loss diets and get-rich-quick investment schemes.

5. Reward people for spending time with you. Whether you sell skis or business management software, provide an experience that is fun, educational and rewarding for your social community. There are a million places they could be online and when they choose to engage with you, you better be ready for it.

Ready or not, social media is evolving. Social media budgets are increasing. Brand content is growing in importance. We’re ready for the social media explosion… are you?

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The excitement and suspense that is March Madness, it’s finally here! With all the musings about Cinderella stories, ‘bracketology’ and home court advantage, it presented an interesting opportunity to apply many of the same elements that are key to winning a championship and seeing how they also apply to making a client and agency dream team.

The Coach: The importance of this role in the agency/client relationship is vital. Decisions need to be made quickly and within context of a company or organization’s holistic view. Without a dedicated client contact that is accessible, knows a company or organization’s business goals, responds quickly and is authorized to make decisions. Agencies can’t work in a silo. Engagement from this client coach is critical.

The Starting Line Up: In the world of communications this is the communications plan. It identifies a clear vision of what is to be accomplished, the players, the plays and the timing. All are key to get you to a slam dunk.

Blocking: Clients who don’t trust their agency with all the information – the good, the bad, the ugly and, yes, even something embarrassing, are essentially blocking a successful communications effort. An agency/client relationship needs to be a team. Our best, most productive and successful relationships are those where there are understandings of sensitivities, but there are no secrets that could lead to a flagrant foul.

Time Out: Okay, so in PR there is never really a ‘time out,’ but I’m using this term loosely to illustrate the necessity of having regular and set strategy discussions and updates. In our 26+ years, we have found the ideal to have a dedicated phone and/or in-person meeting once a week where reporting on what is taking place and looking to the future is discussed. These meetings are supplemental to the daily emails and phone calls required to keep delivering on deadlines.

Fastbreak: As a dream team, every day there are goals that need to be achieved. It’s important to adjust when needed, but it is as important to give the starting line up plan enough time to get some traction before changing direction and being put on the defensive.

In the end, it is all about working toward the ‘win’ to increase sales, changing behaviors and influencing decisions. At the same time, there is another goal that we at PPBH always keep in our playbooks. Equally important to the championship is that our star client contact(s) become the MVP within their organizations.

We’d love to get drafted as a part of your team’s lineup (and best of luck this year on your bracket!).

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