Twin Cities Agencies Shine In The Big Apple

June 14, 2011

For one night last week, the MinneApple took a bite out of the Big Apple. The Public Relations Society of America held its annual Silver Anvil awards ceremony in Manhattan, and there was tremendous representation by Twin Cities agencies vying for the industry’s highest honor.

When the evening ended, local agencies took home more than a dozen awards, including at least one Silver Anvil each for Padilla Speer Beardsley, Carmichael Lynch Spong, Exponent PR, Weber Shandwick and Fast Horse.

But that should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the Twin Cities agency scene. We punch way above our weight in just about any marketing area you can name: advertising, promotions, digital, public relations, direct — the list goes on.

When I was reporting for the Star Tribune, I sometimes argued with editors over how much coverage the paper should give to the local marketing business. “They’re just trying to sell you something,” was a comment I sometimes heard.

Yes. They are trying to sell you something. And that’s a problem, because…?

Nearly 300,000 Minnesotans — about 10 percent of the work force — make a living in sales and related jobs, according to state government figures. My dad sold Lutheran Brotherhood life insurance. His sales kept a roof over my family’s head. And when one of his policyholders died, his sales kept a roof over that family’s head, too.

So why dismiss efforts that help LB’s successor, Thrivent, communicate the benefits of insurance to potential customers? (And no, I don’t do any work for Thrivent.)

The award-winning programs at the Silver Anvils included one that helped improve pregnancy care for at-risk mothers; another that led to the planting of thousands of trees; and another that spurred more than $40 million in charitable giving in a single day.

Building support for worthwhile programs like these and communicating their benefits to the public are things that a lot of smart people in the Twin Cities do very well. And we all benefit from having them do those things here, rather than in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.

This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for