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Marc Stryker


We knew 2015 was going to be an embarrassment of riches for movies. It’s pretty telling that the goods were still great even when one of the most hotly anticipated films turned out to be a thunderous dud (sorry, Avengers: Age of Ultron fans, you know it’s true). So if you couldn’t find anything to your tastes at either the local multiplex or art house theater, than maybe it’s time for you to grab your food storage and guns and go off the grid. Here’s what kept the folks at Penna Powers from running for the hills:

Inside Out – Pixar strikes again with this tale of the emotional world inside an emerging adolescent girl. As always, Pixar makes movies for both kids and adults, without having to drop annoying pop culture references to keep the parents engaged. This tale was sweet and entertaining on the surface while supplying the depth needed for satisfying repeat viewings. And Amy Poehler and Tina Fey seem to be in a see-saw match to win the movie-star-who-could-also-be-your-best-friend award.


The Martian – This could have been an over-the-top sci-fi action spectacular but surprisingly, director Ridley Scott went with a more low-key approach combined with spare, but amazing visuals. We liked the way the film economically showcases how a problem gets solved by a team of professionals – less flash, more problem-solving, which is typically how we work as well, though we’re not usually tasked with getting a stranded astronaut home from Mars.


Room – Based on the book of the same name, this film from director Lenny Abrahamson (who also helmed the very strange but interesting Frank), is simply sublime. Given the pitch black subject matter, that would seem a near-impossible task. But Room manages to transcend the lurid nature of its premise with very strong performances from little Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson.


Ex Machina – This is the year of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who seemed to star in everything.  And all her performances were memorable, especially this one, where she plays an artificial intelligence creation. Poe Dameron from Star Wars plays the arrogant creator and General Hux plays the audience stand-in who “wins” an opportunity to play the human component in a Turing test. And what a test this turns out to be.


Mad Max: Fury Road – We’re all familiar with the sub-genre of film known as the “road movie”, where a protagonist or two go on a road trip and through a series of often zany adventures, find something about themselves in the process. Well, take that concept and stir in an unholy concoction of cocaine, adrenaline and amphetamines and you get this insanely kinetic road trip across an apocalyptic wasteland brilliant enough to make us forget all about Tina Turner and the Thunderdome. Oh what a lovely day!


Jurassic World – We’re obligated to include a Chris Pratt movie in our year-end listings and this one just barely beat out Jem and the Holograms.  Jurassic World was on top of the world box office until a certain space movie came out. Ironically, this little film earned director Colin Trevorrow the right to helm Episode 9 in the Star Wars canon. See you in 2019!


What We Do in the Shadows – Hilarious faux-documentary/found footage of a secret vampire society.  Fortunately, they’re led by the always reliably funny Jermaine Clement.


Ant-Man – We were quite underwhelmed by the trailers for Marvel’s almost forgotten Avenger. Fortunately, the movie turned out to pretty dang good, with the best ever cinematic use of Thomas the Tank Engine.


The Hateful Eight – Like Chris Pratt, we are also under contract to sing the praises of Quentin Tarantino, because he doesn’t do that himself enough. Most of us haven’t seen this one, but of course, the universe wouldn’t be right if a Tarantino flick wasn’t on a top ten list.  We’ve heard Samuel L. Jackson is at his most Samuel L. Jacksonion in this one – not sure how he can top Pulp Fiction or Snakes on a Plane, but we’ll buy a ticket to find out.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Thanks for scrolling through this blog post to find out what you already know to be true.  Penna Powers loves Star Wars!  I mean, we almost have an unlawful infatuation with it. We’ve already made J.J. Abrams an honorary partner of the agency – he actually has a key and can stop by whenever he wants. Mr. Abrams now has the reputation of being the go-to franchise realignment specialist. Witness how he rescued the Mission Impossible franchise from John Woo’s slow-motion dove fetish, Star Trek from the clutches of film formaldehyde and Star Wars from George Lucas himself. Abrams made both a modern and nostalgic sequel that zings and swings and features real actors’ real faces that are actually connected to their real bodies.

Honorable Mentions: Beasts of No Nation, Cinderella, Spy, Black Mass, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, The Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Slow West, Infini, Advantageous, Chappie, Kingsmen: Secret Service, Vacation, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

What do you think we missed? Let us know what you liked in 2015 in the comments below. And be sure to check out the Penna Powers Picks: Best Movies of 2014.

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iStock_000020824252_LargeFrom caring for our air and helping reduce driving fatalities, to making the most of holiday celebrations with Utah’s premier grocer, Penna Powers in partnership with our clients won first place Golden Spike awards for the following communications:

  • Harmons summer print ad (print display)
  • UCAIR digital boards (outdoor)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah “Law to Save Lives” (public service/advocacy)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah Bicycle Safety video (video)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah Chalkboard Illustrations (print communications)

Heralded as “Utah’s longest-running, most prestigious public relations and communications awards”, more than 100 entries were submitted to this year’s annual best practice award competition. It was sponsored by the Greater Salt Lake and Utah Valley Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) organizations.

Additional accolades for campaigns and programs earning finalist status this year:

  • Harmons for the Holidays (publicity and media relations)
  • Harmons Mother’s Day 3D Video (social media)
  • Harmons Food for Thought summer edition photography (print communications)
  • Penna Powers “Have an Awesome Holiday” card (direct mail)
  • Safe Trails. Serious Fun. (videos)
  • TravelWise “Rethink Your Commute” (television commercial)
  • UCAIR “Show UCAIR” media partnership (publicity and media relations)
  • UCAIR social media campaign (creative tactics)
  • UCAIR “Show UCAIR” winter inversion campaign (public service/advocacy)
  • UCAIR “Woodburning” online ads (interactive communications)
  • UCAIR “Skip the Smoke, But Keep the Fire” (radio spot)
  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Fish Utah results research (research)
  • Zero Fatalities Iowa radio spot (radio commercial)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah “Ice, Snow & Construction” (publicity and media relations)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah elevator door wrap (creative tactics)
  • Zero Fatalities Utah chalkboard TV (television commercial)

Entrants this year were submitted by agencies, businesses and organizations from higher education, government entities, medicine, sports organizations, outdoor adventure and community education initiatives.

The Colorado PRSA chapter judged award entries. Different from most award programs, the Golden Spike awards criterion includes measurable demonstrations of increasing awareness, changing behavior and modifying perceptions. The annual competition is sponsored by the Utah Chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicator and the Utah Society for Healthcare Communication and Marketing.

We applaud our clients for the products, safety and health programs that improve our quality of life, and love being a partner on their team.

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IMG_3980 800 pxHailing originally from far-off Park City, Samantha Martin joined our social team last month.

We knew we liked her when we learned that she could live on pizza, cheeseburgers and milkshakes. She could entertain us too as she plays the guitar, mandolin and ukulele.

From an early age, social media has been in her blood. She shared that in 2nd grade, she was the culprit of holding up a school field trip when she wandered off in her snowshoes, tromping through mud to take pictures to document the events of the day.

Her experience includes managing social media for several companies from footwear to food, and she recently graduated from the University of Utah.

At Penna Powers, she’ll be responsible for executing social strategies and promotions for a variety of clients from social change to retail.

#WelcomeToTheTeam Samantha!

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Working as a media planner gives me the opportunity to interface with a lot of sales reps. Their titles vary from account managers, business development executives, marketing specialists, or sales managers, but they all share the same central role – to get people to use their company’s services.

Media planners act as giant filters. They are tasked with analyzing all of the opportunities available and fitting them into a client’s media plan that helps achieve specific goals.

Sales reps and media planners have a symbiotic relationship. One thrives along with the other. A good media planner is always looking for new opportunities, and a good sales rep provides those opportunities.

What creates the most value for a media planner (and their client) is for a sales rep to provide relevant information for their product. This is the best form of selling. My favorite reps send regular updates, for example:

  • Showing what’s new in their platform
  • A recent success
  • A new product
  • An idea they’ve had for one of my clients

That keeps them top-of-mind, and I make updates to a spreadsheet of all the companies and their product offerings that I work with. I’ll oftentimes pass along this list to my colleagues and clients, which creates long-term value.

Bad salesmanship usually falls into one of four categories, with all being related to selling blindly without an objective in mind. Some of the worst things sales reps can can do are:

  • Wildly ask to get on the next proposal
  • Just follow up casually
  • State that they’ve seen our client advertising and asking why it’s not with them
  • Do the above mentioned items through email

A good salesperson cultivates relationships with their clients. Because those relationships typically aren’t built through email, neither should their sales pitches. I’ve compiled a few emails my colleagues and I have received that showcase this form of poor salesmanship.

Example 1 – Overselling

I wanted to reach out to you to get the specs for the upcoming digital campaign for client X. Are we looking at $3,500 -5,000 for this campaign? Please let me know so that I can reserve the impressions for you. It’s a hot commodity because of its efficiency and I want to ensure that we can fulfill your request.

Example 2 – Blind Selling

I want to gain your endorsement as a visionary in the digital space. There have been features integrated into our platform which I believe you’ll find impressive. I implore you to get on board, grab the future by the lapels and run a native advertising campaign to amplify your branded content. May we count on your support?

Example 3 – Why Isn’t It Me?

We noticed that you guys have a billboard on the I-15 talking about this and that. We can take this to the next level for you guys. We can run banners on the site. Press releases. You could even sponsor our X show that goes out through the FB feed, on the website, etc. Seriously, Jennifer, you guys are not taking advantage of our services. We even have the coupon of the week that goes out to X email subscribers that KILLS it. Let’s do something. How do we get started?

Example 4 – Casual Follow Up / Passive Stalking / WTF?

Just popping by and checking in on your current planning at Penna Powers. Below are two photos of what I would look like if I were a caterpillar of sorts just checking in, or a dolphin just popping by. Let me know the scoop when you’re able.

Bad Sales Emails

Bad Sales Emails





These images were actually embedded into the email.

We hope our clients appreciate the work we do to filter these, and that anyone selling can learn what is most valuable to provide to media planners.

What’s your worst sales email? Let us know in the comments.

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What does it mean to be creative? Is there an undeniable logic that governs all creativity? Or have we assigned so many different definitions to the word that now it means almost nothing? I’ve heard that everything worth doing has already been done. If so, what is there left to create? Can we be more creative? Perhaps creativity is dead.

The truth (if there is any to be found) is that creativity is actually thriving. In fact, in a recent presentation given by Penna Powers founding partner Chuck Penna, I learned that the demand for creative jobs is rapidly rising in the United States. While creativity is ever expanding, however, there’s still no clear definition as to what “being creative” actually means. Jonathan Tilley, a brand strategist who targets creative minds, said it well: “Creativity is as individual as it is universal.”


You might want to sit down. Your mind is about to be blown mildly engaged.

In other words, something could be incredibly creative to one person while still being absolutely boring and mundane to the next. While combining two seemingly unrelated and overused ideas could be the next creative break that leads to a total cultural revolution, it could also be an absolute train wreck failure that no one cares to remember. So what am I saying? I’m saying that I have no idea what creativity is and I probably never will. But don’t worry. Even though I can hardly answer any of the questions I’ve been asking, I can tell you my (completely unbiased) opinion on how to be more creative.

And my answer is simple. In fact, I’ve been using it since the sixth grade, and it’s called “guess and check.”

For those who might not remember, “guess and check” is an extremely useful (though widely discouraged) tactic of taking a math problem and “guessing” the final answer. Then, plug the final answer into the question and see if it fits. You’ll know you’ve got the right answer when every part of the equation falls into place.

Applying this basic math strategy to life, I think there is only one way that any of us can truly be more creative, and that is by trying new things until we figure out what works. If you’ve always done it the same way, consider changing it. You might be more creative than you think.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Write a short story about a problem you are having, complete with a villain and hero (maybe throw in super powers too).
  • Learn how to juggle.
  • Write down 50 random words on pieces of paper and store them in your office. Next time you can’t think of a proper solution, pull a single word from your stash. Problem solved.
  • Take an extra long shower in the morning.
  • Never considered yourself much of an artist? Perfect. Sketch out your problem or idea. Use stick figures if you have to.
  • Sing your next presentation. Or at least say the same things as you would normally with a beat.
  • Stay awhile and listen.
  • Wear a costume and pretend to be that character while you work; try to think about how that character would solve the problem.
  • Use big words and wear glasses.
  • Go horseback riding.
  • Let a horse ride on your back.
  • Try a sport you’ve never tried before. If there is none, make one up.
  • Lay down on the ground and weep softly to yourself.
  • Pretend your problem is the latest board game to hit the shelves. Then play it.
  • Record yourself talking about things.
  • Pick up a new instrument. Or a new language. Or at least try watching a new show on Netflix.

And that’s only a few ideas to get yourself started. I’m sure as you try more and more different things, you’ll figure out what works for you. And yes, you will be more creative. I like to live by the motto that, with the exception of very few things, “you can’t know until you’ve tried.” So try, try again or whatever that expression says. And if all else fails, you can always ask us at Penna Powers for help.

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