Five Qs: Phil Rzepka of the Adcraft Club of Detroit

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Phil Rzepka, president of the Adcraft Club of Detroit, metro Detroit’s largest advertising association, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about talent retention and supporting the region’s growing base of startups and entrepreneurs.

1. DDN: What is the Adcraft Club’s mission?

PR: We create networking opportunities for our members and aim to create a vibrant community of marketing professionals in Detroit. We support the region in a number of ways in terms of trying to attract businesses and help compete for talent. (For example,) we’ve created a talent portal that lives off of the Adcraft website. Agencies and companies can use it to source talent in the region, and it also provides content about how to live, play, and work in Detroit. So it’s a great example — as students come out of the University of Michigan and Michigan State and Western Michigan — that shows that they don’t have to go to Chicago or New York to find a job. There are plenty of opportunities to start a career and prosper here in Detroit. They don’t have to leave the state to have a successful career.

2. DDN: Do you struggle with graduates who aren’t prepared or qualified to enter the workforce?

PR: No. We’ve had a lot of success, especially at my day job at Carat. We do a ton of hiring from the local colleges and I’ve been really impressed with the talent we’ve gotten out of the region. There are a lot of partnerships (that support that). Adcraft has teacher relationship at U-M, Eastern (Michigan), and Northwood (Instititue), where we keep in contact with the professors. They bring students to our events like AdCon (Career Conference) and ask us for feedback about how they can change their curriculums. We talk about the importance of analytics and the sort of things that are important that kids coming out of college know and are prepared for in the workplace. It’s about marketing ROI. It’s about paid media. It’s about social media.

3. DDN: So it goes beyond the ability of writing good copy?

PR: Well, that definitely helps. (Laughs) But then you have to be able to measure how successful that copy is. Good isn’t just getting fact-checked anymore. Good is what gets shared and what gets picked up. It’s a lot more quantitative now than it was a few years back.

4. DDN: What trends are you seeing in the industry?

PR: For one thing, we’ve always relied heavily on the autos in Detroit. The industry has sort of been a preeminent client in the region. But there are also different, smaller businesses and smaller clients forming and diversifying the region. We’ve been doing some things that try to connect with and support the tech startups and entrepreneurs that are cropping up in Detroit.

5. DDN: Like what?

PR: One example is hello:Detroit. We have people from all of the big agencies — Campbell Ewald and Carat, for example — come together to help a local business (that has graduated through D:Hive’s Build program) in need of marketing help. All of these marketing professionals come together for an entire weekend and create logos for the business and upgrade the marketing plans. We’ve done that twice now, once with Detroit Maid, and most recently, with Flash Delivery. All of these people volunteer their time for the weekend, and we’re really proud of that effort.

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