From Charlie to Charlie

Dear Charlie:

Congratulations on the appointment to lead the next era of leadership for the Advertising Club of Buffalo, you are already one step ahead by being born with the greatest name ever. As you usher in a new era of leading the greatest collection of creative and communications folks across Western New York, I figured I would share some advice to help you over the next two years, and maybe reduce some alcohol consumption.

You are embarking into unchartered waters, but its ok, you have a great team behind you. Listen to the uber-talented board of directors (and especially Tina) who over the past few years have doubled programming, increased membership, built up scholarships and more. They are the ones responsible for a vibrant array of events and expand the Club membership past the “big agencies”. They work obnoxiously hard for little recognition and will be your lifeblood. Learn to delegate. Seriously.

You will lead the professional organization that provides the best bang for the buck around, so make sure people know they are part of the American Advertising Federation, a global organization of professional and aspiring communicators and to take advantage of all of these benefits . Remind them that work from Buffalo, yes Buffalo, wins at the national level each year.

As the president, you are probably going to hear about the ADDY Awards: how they aren’t the same, how the categories don’t fit for certain people, that the judging is fixed and Jimmy Hoffa is burned under our secret judging lair (Only 3 out of 4 statements will happen). It’s your job to remind people that creativity can come from everywhere, not just Crowley Webb, The Martin Group or Travers Collins. Remind students that if they want to get a job in the field, walking into an interview with a gold ADDY around a chain on their neck is a better discussion piece than anything else, and remind people that supporting the show by attending, volunteering and most importantly, entering, helps build the collective creativity of the region. Sure, not every category is covered correctly, but remind them they can create their own category and sponsor it (xpedx Best Use of Paper Award anyone?) if they really feel that passionate about it. And finally, remind them if they really think the judging is fixed, volunteer for the day and they will see the difficult decisions judges make to stay true to the craft. It’s as legit as MC Hammer.

You will probably get a lot of emails, calls and comments at events about what should be done to improve the Club or how it used to be operated. These are all great, as it shows people are genuinely interested in seeing the Advertising world prosper and are concerned. Kindly remind them the Club is not only operated by the board, that members can run events and serve on committees, or at least, pay for a student to attend an AdLab. But jot these down and see what ideas are feasible. Great ideas and improvements should come from the membership and that keeps you and the Board on your toes. They are constantly trying to help you improve the Club for the general membership, and fostering that type of involvement is a great thing for an organization like the Ad Club.

Finally, have fun. You are leading a collection of seasoned, mid-level and rookie art directors, marketing managers, social media strategists, copywriters, print producers, photographers, voice-over talent, account executives, business owners, students and who knows what other titles are out there. The Ad Club is a great collection of interesting people you will meet, so get to know the different backgrounds and try to provide a benefit to each of them, they all contribute to the greatness of the WNY creative culture and sometimes all they want to do is attend a happy hour and gripe about bad clients (no one has those!). Provide a nice mix of events and throw a great ADDY party and your two years at the helm will fly by.

Seriously, I hope you enjoy the Board presidency as much as I did. I deeply appreciated all of the support from the board members I was honored to serve with and the relationships made with members have been priceless. It has been great to see different members and prospering new companies and agencies get involved with the Club. I wish you and the rest of the board plenty of luck moving forward, and feel free to discount my membership moving forward for all the savings I created by leaving everything as president Charlie for another two years. Thanks for the opportunity.

Charlie Riley