Back when I was at Crowley Webb and they were still in the old building on Franklin Street, John Webb swooped into my office and said, “Get your coat and let’s go. We’re late”  I’m thinking “new client search and he’s buying lunch.”  Turned out we showed up at a board meeting for the Ad Club.  I can’t remember what it was officially called back then but it was still the Ad Club.  They were taking nominations for the board… and voting on them at the same time.  All of a sudden I blinked, and I was on the board.  I whispered to Webb that I actually wasn’t a member of the Club.  He said, “We’ll take care of the paper work later.”  Really. That’s how I got into the Buffalo Ad Club.

As it turned out, joining the club and getting thrown onto the board worked out pretty well. I’ve had a good time.  But to be honest, some of the events and programs over the years may have been “flat.” Some were actually bad.  We’ve had some great shows and programs though.  Anybody remember the ’99 show that we laughed all the way through?  Collins won Levy, Flynn won Osborne, and we all know who won Most Creative Use of Paper.  Joe Crowley said, “Best show we ever had.”

That’s old news.  Charlie Riley and the board came up with something new this year that’s probably the best idea we’ve had since we merged the clubs.  AdLab.  Last Tuesday of every month.  If you’ve missed them, they’re panel discussions, featuring our own members.   There have been several since March, starting with a panel on Copyrights.  I particularly liked the May program on Strategic Planning with Putney, Hettich and Raccoon.

Normally, you wouldn’t have account types from competing shops get up in front of a group and discuss how they individually approach the business.  But it says a lot about the confidence each of these people has in their ability, and the pride they take in their own agencies.  Because it’s our own members, everything that’s said at these sessions is locally relevant, and not a broad representation of industry trends and issues.

Another key point.  Each of the Ad Labs covers a different topic, supposedly directed at a particular industry segment or skill set—print production, media, the Internet strategy development, whatever.  So why go to all of them?  Two reasons.  An old boss once said that the measure of a professional is not just how much of an expert you are in your own profession, but  how knowledgeable you are about areas, professions, and skills that affect you and your own responsibilities.

Should a printer know something about television production?  A copywriter about social networking?  A researcher about tradeshows?  We all work in an Integrated Marketing Communications environment.  If you don’t know something about what the other guys do for a living, not to worry. Your competitors will know.  You need to get up to speed on this stuff if you’re serious about the business.

Secondly, AdLab is actually a pretty good time: Beer and pizza with friends you worked with at the old agency—or maybe with folks you’re going to work with at the next shop.  Either way—it’s also cheap.

As of this writing, the next session is, or was, Research.  It’s research that sets up the objectives, budgets and executions, and determines what each of you will be doing on the account.  You might want to get on board for this stuff.