Oct 04

It’s your reaction, stupid!

Today’s guest post is by  Nicole Newby and Samantha Bruno, Peppercomm’s Intern Committee Co-Coordinators.

twitter_battle_a_l (1)We all have horror stories about roommates, classmates, colleagues, the guy sitting next to us on the bus…the list goes on. But we never thought to vent our frustrations on Twitter. We aren’t Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. We prefer to address our quibbles in person. Jessica and Nikki, though, identified more with the latter.

Jessica and Nikki were roommates at Penn State who clearly did not pass any kind of compatibility test. Nikki took to Twitter first to air some of her grievances. Jessica later found the tweets and posted a few of her own, which escalated the roommate arguments to a global level, even inviting police involvement.

When Steve Cody asked if we would hire either of them as interns, our collective initial reaction was: “No way!” Simply put, we would never hire someone who blatantly can’t get along with other people for a position that relies so heavily on teamwork.

But upon further thinking, we took a step back. This situation is a microcosm for exactly what we do every day in the office—crisis management. Sure, none of our clients (at the moment) are in the hot seat for something as ridiculous as tweeting a screenshot of other tweets about their annoying coworker’s desk lamp or drug habits, but they are dealing with mistakes and facing public scrutiny for them. One of the most important points we always emphasize with clients in crisis situations really stood out to us while reading the article: You won’t be judged on the crisis. You will be judged by how you respond to it.

That means that right NOW is the critical moment for both Jessica and Nikki. Let’s take a quick look at how they’ve reacted so far:

  • Jessica: Adding fuel to the fire, she gives an interview to the Washington Post and allows them to use her last name.
  • Nikki: Recognizing the repercussions on her reputation, she refuses to continue engaging in the situation.

They have both acted on extreme ends of the spectrum, but has either issued an apology and taken responsibility for their actions?

The jury is still out on this one. We’re waiting to see how they work to rectify the situation to improve their personal brand. If either one can do this successfully, we would absolutely consider hiring her. There’s no better way to exemplify your value as a PR and communications professional than single-handedly managing a public crisis.

A side bar PSA to all the high school and college students out there before we sign off – As the power of social media grows, so does the breadth of available channels for individuals to communicate their every thought and movement.

We are not sure that young people fully understand the repercussions of that. Perspective employers, including us, utilize Google during the hiring process, so think twice before you air out all of your dirty laundry. While a post may seem to have a short lifespan and anonymity on social media, don’t fall asleep under a false sense of security. What you put out there, could come back to haunt you, jeopardizing future professional opportunities. That may not be your top priority in high school, but it should at least be on the list.  Trust us when we say, most of the time, we’d much rather just read about what you ate for dinner.

 

Oct 03

An accident waiting to happen

hoboken-nj-transit-train-crash-maps-1475163112197-master495-v2I naturally wanted to wait a few days to pass before opining on the terrible New Jersey Transit tragedy that left one person dead and scores of others injured this past week. And, no one is still sure whether the engineer is fault, the equipment wasn’t functioning or Amtrak/NJT simply decided not to fund the automatic braking system that would have prevented this bloody nightmare in the first place.

I must admit to having a knee-jerk reaction when I first heard the news: It was a combination of horror and resignation, but most certainly not shock.

NJTransit has been a favorite target of mine; I’ve blogged, Tweeted, posted photographs on FBook and Instagram and even included NJT in my stand-up comedy routine. But the accident was most definitely NOT a laughing a matter.

But, if any accident could be seen happening years in advance, it was the one in Hoboken.

For years, I’ve:

– Ridden on decrepit, ill-kempt passenger cars that were filled with litter.
– Sat on trains that were stuck at a full-stop.
– Avoided restrooms that doubled as cesspools.
– Been barked at by morose and sullen conductors.
– Been frustrated by the near total lack of communications on delays, cancelations or other matters of import.
– Waited patiently as rookie engineers routinely undershot, or overshot, station platforms (note: this was a weekly, if not daily, occurrence)

The latter always elicited a head-shaking, Donald Trump-like sigh from me, but I never imagined it would one day lead to tragedy. It was quite clear the engineers were inept when it came to safely easing their massive engines and precious cargo into a station. But, I figured well, one day, they’ll get it right. And, then there were the times when a train came whizzing into Penn Station, making me wonder how on earth the engineer would brake the cars in time for a safe stop.

And, don’t get me started on NJT’s hub, Penn Station. It’s easily one of Manhattan’s worst eyesores.

All of that spoke to me of a management that simply didn’t care, wouldn’t invest the money to upgrade its transportation or, more importantly, properly train engineers and conductors on everything from driving and maintenance to courtesy and professionalism.

Sometimes, you can spot an accident waiting to happen just by the way a business comports itself. Sadly, NJT was a case in point.

In this case, my only question is: How come it took so long?

Here’s hoping the tremendous image and reputation hit will knock some sense into NJ Governor Chris Christie and the ineffectual management at Amtrak/NJ Transit. I think it will. But, why does it always take a tragedy to force change? This one was years in the making.

Sep 28

How come?

c452279cc538120aa9fe397f96351cacHow come the countless incendiary comments made by a certain presidential contender are not only found acceptable by 50 percent of the electorate, but applauded for “telling like it is?”  I ask because, if any one of those racial, gender and religious slurs were to be uttered by any CEO of any company in America, there would be immediate consequences.

Could you imagine GE’s Jeff Immelt calling his CMO “Miss Piggy?”

How about Mark Zuckerberg telling his Latino and black employees their neighborhoods are “hellholes”?

What about Jamie Dimon informing Muslims employees at JP Morgan Chase he’d be working with community leaders to close their mosques?

I guarantee the boards of GE, Facebook and JP Morgan Chase, respectively, would demand their immediate resignations. And, I’d be willing to bet a large portion of said presidential contender’s base would be fully supportive of penalizing such unacceptable behavior.

So, why don’t the same rules apply to the man running for chief executive of our country? How can any minority voter whose sensibilities have been repeatedly attacked still stand by their man? It defies logic. And, yet, there it is.

The larger question I’m grappling with is this: If the presidential contender should be sworn in as our next president, will he advocate for a return to the future when it comes to political correctness in the workplace?

Will he lobby for banishing the ethics and moral codes that guide many (but, not all) of America’s business and industry?

And what about his base? Will they think it’s now acceptable to behave like Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Duck Phillips (love, love, love the nickname Duck, BTW)?

I miss quite a bit when it comes to pundits weighing in on the circus-like spectacle that is the presidential election. But, I’ve yet to hear anyone opine on the possible return of crassness in Corporate America.

Fully half of the electorate want change. And they want it now. But, will that change also include turning back the clock 60 years when it comes to how we treat one another at work?

I worry because when the leader leads, the followers follow.

Sep 26

Country of Sedition

6776b7aedad6447b87ee01c5e20904b2I’m whipping through a fascinating new book, “City of Sedition – The History of New York City During the Civil War” by John Strausbaugh.

While I fashion myself something of a Civil War and New York City history buff, I kid you not when I say I’m learning two or three new facts every single page.

The most striking thing about the book, though, is its timeliness.

I know the expansion of slavery into newly-admitted states was the cause of the Civil War. I also know about the bloodshed in Bleeding Kansas and elsewhere.

But, I was unaware of the pure hatred between longtime friends and family members that existed well before the war. While nearly every white person North and South viewed blacks as an inferior race, many, but not all, Northerners saw slavery as abhorrent. In fact, there were multiple factions within the North (and, in particular, New York City) who were fully committed to supporting the Southern cause prior to, and during, the war.

Surprisingly, the Big Apple’s Southern sympathizers were a mix of the one-percenters and the lower class of the day (sound familiar?). Manhattan’s merchants were making an absolute killing importing cotton from Dixie and then shipping it to Europe on ship after ship.

NYC’s other Southern sympathizers were the Irish Catholics. They’d already seen free blacks take away their low-paying jobs and worried that, once freed, slaves would take away whatever other low-paying gigs were left (again, sound familiar?). The Irish Catholics hatred and fear of blacks would lead to a week-long riot in Manhattan in 1863.

We’re surrounded by the same level of fear and hate today. We live in a country of sedition where supporters of Trump and Clinton shout and scream at each other in arguments that often escalate to fisticuffs.

I experienced this first-hand about a month ago when I dined with my 96-year-old dad who, while amazingly vital mentally and physically, espouses political views that would shame David Duke.

I was countering his more outrageous statements when a soccer mom stormed up to our table, poked me in the arm and said, “You are beyond ignorant. You’re a traitor and you’re supporting a traitor for president!” I tried to ignore her but, in a flash, her burly husband stormed our table as well.

“You giving my wife lip, a*shole?”

Keep in mind that I was with my 96-year-old dad and, at the time, was sporting an ankle-to-hip leg brace.

I took a deep breath, grabbed the table and lifted myself up. “Look buddy,” I said, if I had two legs and wasn’t with my dad, I’d be happy to take the conversation outside.”

At this point, the aggressors realized the entire restaurant had grown silent. The thuggish husband surveyed the scene, looked at my leg brace, glanced at my dad and then grabbed his wife. As he walked he away, he shouted, “We don’t talk to traitors!”

The issues have changed, as have the players. But, make no mistake. We are once again headed on a collision course between two completely different mindsets that will forever change the country in one way or another.

Lincoln preserved the union in 1865. I just don’t see anyone doing the same in 2016.

Sep 20

The Deplorable Prospect: After Word

BULLIES 4Since so many of you were kind enough to weigh-in yesterday with your thoughts on the increasingly boorish behavior of prospective clients, I thought I’d share the ending of the sad tale I had told.

As expected, we revived a ‘Dear Agency’ letter which, although sanitized to protect the names of the guilty, will provide insight into the sleazy underbelly of PR that our noble trade media pretend doesn’t exist.

Keep in mind, this Dear Agency form letter was received more than two weeks after the prospect had demanded fresh ideation the afternoon after we pitched them the morning on that same day.

We complied, and then our point person placed countless follow-up e-mails and voice mails that were completely ignored. It was painful to be copied on his numerous attempts and scan the in-box for some sort of acknowledgement.

Nothing.

And, then this letter arrived yesterday (the date of the product launch they had originally asked us to pitch. I thought the timing of the note was a particularly sleazy aspect to the entire deplorable affair).

Anyway, please read on (and, weigh-in with comments). I especially enjoyed David Baker’s tongue-lashing about playing right into the prospect’s hands and not “interrupting the entire RFP process as so many others have.” That elicited a hearty LOL from this blogger:

Hi XXXXX

Thanks for participating in our search for a new PR partner.

We appreciate the thoughtfulness of your submission and the timely manner in which you returned everything. We also very much enjoyed meeting with you and meeting your team in New York at your office.

It was a hard decision and it ultimately took us a little longer than expected to make a decision as we wanted to be thorough in our approach.

As a result, we have decided to go with another partner who more closely aligns with our strategic needs at this time.

Thank you for your time and best wishes in the future.

XXXXX

Sep 19

The rise of the deplorable prospect

This post is dedicated to Peppercommer Carl “Union Jack” Foster.

71802598This past Summer was beyond bizarre in so many ways for me personally, my agency and my country (Note: I have papers proving I’m an American citizen).
Today’s bizarre subject is the alarming rise of absolutely deplorable conduct on the part of prospects. It’s always existed but, like certain campaign rallies, seems to have reached a crescendo in the past few months.

Here’s the most recent example:

Prospect invites us to pitch a major new product/service offering. Tells us we’re on the short list. Puts us on a tight time frame to prepare the pitch and emphasizes two critical needs: a highly creative launch idea and extensive media experience.
Prospect team (including the company president) shows up at our digs.

Presentation goes swimmingly. Prospect, especially the president, loves our “big idea”.

Meeting concludes with CMO saying, “Impressive, but let’s ideate on a really big idea. What other thoughts do you have to share?”

We asked for a few hours, and promised we’d cook-up another kick-ass idea (all gratis, needless to say).

And, we did. It was brilliant. It dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s of every single strategic parameter the prospect hoped to achieve on launch day.

We immediately sent the CMO our idea.

And, that was that. No response. No “Thanks for the quick turnaround. We’ll review and revert” (one of my all-time favorite consultant-speak phrases, BTW.) No nothing.

Our point person sent a follow-up note to see if the CMO had any questions. No response. I already knew in my heart of hearts that we were dead (because this sort of deplorable prospect behavior has become de rigeur).

The days passed. The silence was deafening (I’d love to know who coined that phrase. Positively brilliant).

Cutting to the chase, our point person continued to e-mail, leave voice mails and do everything short of showing up in the lobby of the prospect’s building and ambushing the CMO on the way in or out (I may still make him do so, but ask that he videotape the prospect’s response. Guarantee it would be YouTube-worthy).

And, here we are. Weeks after that one meeting and that one request for one big idea.

I’d kill to out this prospect and list the CMO as positively toxic to agencies.

But:

A.) That’s not the way I play the game.

B) If I actually did so, I’d be entering the deplorable zone since myself since it would hurt the CMO’s image and reputation.

And, so these deplorable prospects continue to roam our streets footloose and fancy-free with no repercussions whatsoever for putting an agency through the ringer, picking their brain and undoubtedly implanting their ideas themselves.

These are the stories you won’t read about in PR trades (who continue to portray our industry as a latter-day Shangri-La).

But, kids, these are the trials and tribulations that are a reality of the agency world. Sadly, they mirror the very same type of deplorable conduct we’re seeing in the country as a whole.

Sep 12

I’ll take biggest business blunders of the 1980’s for $200, Alex

ofDhGTdDear Boomers and Gen X’ers:

Are you as amazed, astonished and appalled as me at the sheer lack of knowledge on the part of our sons and daughters of virtually anything that transpired before the year 2005?

I know Millennials and their successors, the Gen Z’ers, have taken more punches than poor Muhammad Ali at the end of his career but, folks, the knowledge gap is widening to seismic proportions.

But, fear not, I have a solution.

Before sharing said remedy, though, I would like to submit three recent examples from my personal and professional lives that bear witness to my fear for our country’s future (i.e. “Those who have no knowledge of the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them”).

1.) Scene: family picnic. Players: a 20-something niece and this reporter. Conversation:

Niece: “Hey Uncle Steve. We’re both left handed!”

Me: “I always knew we were both sinister.”

Blank expression. I had to explain the word sinister originated in the Middle Ages and was used to describe anyone born left-handed. Southpaws were considered unlucky and in league with the devil (both true in my case).

The newly-educated Millennial shrugged her shoulders and left to replenish her glass of pinot grigio.

2.) One of my daughter’s 20-something friends spied my heavily bandaged and badly ruptured quadriceps tendon, and asked what had happened.

I told her my ever-jealous business partner had pulled a ‘Tonya Harding’ on me.

Blank expression. I told her to Google Tanya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and Olympics, and report back to me. Minutes later, she ran up to me and said, “OMG, Wikipedia says that, next to the OJ Simpson thing, Tanya Harding was the biggest news story of 1994!”

3.) We were brainstorming for a new business pitch when the subject of famous husband-and-wife teams came up. A Millennial participant said, “What about that GE guy and his wife who are always on cable TV fighting about politics?”

I told him he’d confused Jack and Suzy Welch with James Carville and Mary Matalin. To which the Millennial nodded and said, “Oh, right, Carville and Matalin are executives working for the prospect, correct?”

While I’ve changed the names and slightly altered the scenarios to protect the innocent, the stories are true.

We have an entire generation of lost souls about to take the helm of business and industry who have virtually no idea about the who, what, when, where, why or how of the world that existed before they extricated themselves from their video games and began non-stop texting.

There are obviously exceptions to the rule but, in my opinion, this is a generational pandemic.

But, as noted, I have a solution I’m about to implement at my firm: Business Jeopardy. That’s right, I’m ripping off the show’s creators in a desperate attempt to educate the troops.

I’m planning five, one-hour workshops. Each will focus on a particular decade (a la the outstanding CNN series) and each will feature categories relevant to my firm: business-to-business, industrial, consumer and marketing communications in general.

We’ll create a Jeopardy-like board and ask that all answers be in the form of a question.

So, for example, in the 1980’s Business Jeopardy workshop, one answer in the business category might be Ivan Boesky.

In the 1970’s workshop, an answer in the consumer category might be Gerald R. Ford (that one’s for you, Grand Rapids). Another answer in the 1970s business category might be Bhopal, India.

We plan on maximizing attendance by handing out Amex gift certificates to the winners of each decade, and then host a tournament of champions whose winner might receive, dare I suggest it, a DVD of the complete CNN series about the various decades.

Regardless of who wins what, it’s my belief the entire firm will benefit (as will each and every participant).

In the meantime, I must close by providing you with the answer to the contestant request in the headline. The answer is: Steve Cody. The correct question? “What was the single biggest hiring mistake made by H&K in the 1980s?”

“You control the board.”

 

 

 

Sep 08

The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

leeWhat do Weber-Shandwick, F-H, Makovsky, M. Booth and, yes, Peppercomm, have in common?

They’re hugely successful strategic communications firms whose prowess is directly connected to the strength and performance of their back office functions.

Show me a PR firm with a weak CFO, office manager or personnel director, and I’ll show you an agency that isn’t winning new clients, growing profits or attracting and retaining great people.

 

Caste System

Alas, back office workers are often treated in much the same way as the Untouchables in India’s Caste System. They’re literally invisible, are rarely mentioned in internal memos and NEVER included in those already suspect best workplace tales that PR Week likes to spin.

But, that’s not the case at my firm.

If an office manager hall of fame were to be created, I’d make sure Peppercomm’s Lee Stechmann would be among the first class to be elected (He’s the Babe Ruth of the Back Office).

Making the case for Lee

To begin with, Lee is arguably our best writer. His daily, and weekly, updates are equal parts Dostoyevsky and Louis CK.

Case in point: Every Friday, Lee reminds employees on our two floors in the New York office to remove their food from the fridge, place empty plates in the dishwasher and dispose of any refuse in the general kitchen area.

On one particular Friday, he added a note to help those who might be in need of extra grease to clean their silverware. It read, “You’ll find Dawn underneath the fifth floor kitchen sink.”

Good lord! I was aghast and immediately responded with an agency- wide memo asking why Lee had put poor Dawn under the sink, and how long he intended to keep her there.

To his credit, Stechmann issued an immediate clarification that read like  a police bulletin and assured employees that Dawn was NOT an underachieving employee being punished for her transgressions but, rather, a dish washing detergent.

That said, Dawn’s plight is still considered an unsolved mystery at Peppercomm and the fifth floor sink is still roped off with yellow crime scene tape.

Above and beyond

But, it isn’t Lee’s flair with the pen that elevates him to Greek god status on the Mount Olympus of clean-up.

Rather, it’s his random acts of love and kindness that truly set the man apart. To wit:

Our building (like every Manhattan office) plays host to occasional visits from small, furry creatures. Rather than declare war on them, though, Lee extends an olive branch. Peppercomm’s Sarah Sanzari recalls spotting Lee on a Saturday morning carefully plucking tiny mice from the glue traps in which they’d been snared, cleaning them up, rehabilitating them, and freeing them outside the building. Holy Saint Francis of Assisi, Batman!

Adam Giambattista, another Peppercommer, says Lee never bothers to ask when he spies AG lugging two heavy boxes up the staircase connecting our fifth and sixth floors. He’ll simply grab one and carry it himself.

And, Nicole Newby says she’ll often discuss her love of cats with Lee, who provides shelter in his garage during the winter for homeless felines.  Now, you tell me: How many office managers in this world will shower cats and mice alike with equal amounts of affection?

Lee’s true piece d’resistance, though,  occurred about five years ago when one of his beloved little fellow’s passed away of natural causes (a fact later confirmed by a coroner’s report).

As you’ll see in the accompanying photograph, Lee built a tiny coffin for his deceased office mate and adorned it with laurel wreaths (or, reasonable facsimiles thereof).

In honor of our fallen comrpepper-mouse.ade (and Lee’s quick/thinking craftsmanship), we observed an agency-wide moment of silence before Stechmann tossed the carcass down the garbage chute.

Great people make for great workplaces. And, those great people aren’t limited to the ones with fancy titles and high-profile digital footprints. They include top professionals such as Lee Stechmann without whom, I think it’s safe to say, Peppercomm wouldn’t be Peppercomm.

And, what higher honor can a business bestow on a single individual than to annually name him their unofficial Most Valuable Player year-in and year-out? Lee is given that honor at every year’s offsite retreat (I don’t give him anything. I just tell Lee he’s our most important employee. Maybe I should give him something, huh?).

I also have no doubt that Lee’s quiet excellence has played a key part in our having won virtually every Fortune Magazine award for great cultures.

I’m sure Burson, Mitchell, Marina Maher and other top firms have their back office heroes but, trust me, none shine brighter than our very own Lee Stechmann.

Sep 06

Legally Legal

14126124620_5534159341_bPeppercomm observes its 21st anniversary today and, at long last, we are now able to both fight for our country and drink alcohol in all 50 states and Guam. (Note: Guam is my favorite US protectorate).

Rather than regale you with my 21 top memories, I thought I’d reprise the one posted the day we began our 19th.

The only two, new items I’d add are:

– Photoshopping Ed’s head on the body of a scantily-clad David Beckham and placing the framed result right alongside Ed’s phone. To his credit, Ed continues to proudly display the Moed/Beckham composite in his office.

– The amazing internal e-mails that Office Manager Par Excellence Lee Stechmann routinely sends to our staff. I intend to devote a blog shining the spotlight on Lee later this week, but suffice it to his say his e-mails combine the clear, crisp conciseness of a Hemingway sentence with the whacky, unpredictable prose of the late Robin Williams.

So step back and smell the roses that go along with surviving for 21 years in a field that is brutally tough, intensely competitive and whose leading trade publication takes great pains to completely ignore your existence.

Viva Peppercomm!

And here is “Hey Nineteen” from 2013:

This week marks Peppercomm’s 18th anniversary, and the beginning of our 19th year in business. So, without further ado, here’s my list of the 19 most memorable moments in agency history (good, bad and otherwise):

1.) I win my very first battle with Ed, and the firm is named after my black lab, Pepper. The name immediately separates us from our mostly eponymous competitors and strikes a chord with canine-loving prospects everywhere.

2.) Gary Sullivan of business insurance giant, Alexander & Alexander, says he has a “good feeling” about Ed and me, and becomes our first “blue chip” client.

3.) Steelcase hires us to introduce the Leap office chair. Some 15 years later we remain their agency of record.

4.) Julie Farin and Larry Thomas retain us to represent Money Talks, a personal finance site. We win our first Silver Anvil, the Oscar of public relations.

5.) Valerie Di Maria rolls the dice, and hires Peppercomm as GE Capital’s agency of record. That, in turn, leads to an introduction to GE Corporate and our subsequent launching of the multinational’s ‘Imagination at work’ campaign.

6.) In the dotcom era’s waning days, we create PartnershipCentral, an online destination that, at its peak, had 26 full-time staffers. P’Central closes when the bubble bursts. It was a bad day at black rock, to say the least.

7.) A Drew University intern is fired in her first week of work when, after I ask the status of a research assignment, she responds by saying, ‘Sorry, dude. I guess I just flaked.’

8.) A Northeastern University intern barely keeps her job despite twice flipping Ed the bird at a holiday party.

9.) In 2006, Peppercomm hits the trifecta as two industry trade publications name us agency of the year, and a third names us most innovative.

10.) In that very same year, Peppercomm hits its biggest speed bump ever when two Fortune 500 clients promise us multi-million dollar budgets. We staff up accordingly, and then neither guy so much as spends a dime with us.

11.) We’re hired on the spot by Whirlpool’s Audrey Reed-Granger as we wrap-up our new business presentation on a Friday afternoon in Benton Harbor, Michigan. We’d have the privilege of serving WP for the next seven years.

12.) We make perhaps the worst new business pitch in agency history when, in the midst of presenting to a company called BraunAbility, we somehow manage to show slides of their direct competitor’s product. That one still hurts.

13.) We create the Uncorporate Challenge Race, Peppercomm’s answer to the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (and yet another example of our belief in taking the road less traveled).

14.) We begin incorporating stand-up comedy training as part of the agency’s management development. MSNBC subsequently airs an eight-minute segment that attracts clients et voila, a new service offering is born.

15.) We fire a foul-mouthed, high profile CEO for his abusive ways. He responds to me with an e-mail, declaring: “This is complete and utter bullshit.” The phrase becomes legendary in Peppercomm vernacular (right alongside ‘I found your presentation both glib and superficial.’).

16.) We create Brand Squared (licensing), acquire H20 (a creative digital shop) and invest in Flagship (a London-based consultancy). The firm evolves from providing traditional PR to a more holistic mix of strategic integrated communications.

17.) Crain’s New York Business names Peppercomm New York’s top workplace. We beat 930 other organizations, including Microsoft and New York Life, to earn what remains our most prized award.

18.) MINI Cooper names Peppercomm AOR and the firm enters the highly coveted (and uber competitive) automotive category.

19.) To be announced later this week.