This week marked my five year anniversary with Promo Marketing. In an industry with so many 20-year vets, five years may seems a pittance, but for me it's a milestone. It's longer than my next-longest tenure at job (two years), longer than my time at college (four-and-a-half years), longer than I pretended I could play guitar (two years) or piano (18 months) or saxophone (20 minutes).
When I joined Promo Marketing, Pluto was still a planet. Saddam Hussein was still alive, and so was Kurt Vonnegut. There were no signs Fidel Castro would ever give up control of Cuba, nor was there any indication that New Orleans was at any risk of natural disaster. J.K Rowling hadn't finished the Harry Potter series, and Lady Gaga hadn't started whatever it is she's doing. No one had ever heard of an iPhone.
In 2006, you would be reading this on PMDM.com. Our magazine was called Promotional Marketing Magazine, and you would be enjoying the writing of Cynthia Graham, Jennifer Hans, Heather Morse and editor-in-chief Bill Drennon. Our current editorial director Nichole Stella was working on our sister publication, Print Professional (then known by the whimsical name "Business Forms, Labels & Systems"), and I was covering gallery openings and city council meetings for a local paper.
Back then, I had never heard of the phrase "promotional product." When Nikki hired me and explained the industry, I had no real understanding of what it was. It didn't occur to me how many things on my person were promotional items (T-shirt, key chains, lanyard, bracelet). Years would pass before I'd go out to a restaurant, or a bank, or doctor's office and immediately identify the products I saw by company. Before I worked here, I never thought about branding, couldn't tell you what ROI stood for, and thought "embellished" only referred to exaggeration. I had no idea what "koozie" meant.