Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 35)
This podcast series features business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. This episode includes a conversation between Pete Codella, director of marketing and communications at the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and Tyler Sohm, vice president and executive creative director at Rumor Advertising.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Pete Codella: [00:23] Hi everyone, and welcome to the Business Elevated podcast. I’m Pete, Codella the director of marketing and communications in the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which is known as GOED. In its fourth special legislative session this year, the Utah legislature provided a $2 million appropriation as part of HB 4001 for a statewide economic reactivation campaign to be managed by GOED. The initiative encourages Utahns to support local businesses and nonprofits and elevate the economy. We went through the state’s Request for Proposal process and selected Salt Lake City-based Rumor Advertising as GOED’s partner on the campaign. Today on the podcast, I’m joined by the vice president and executive creative director at Rumor Advertising, Tyler Sohm. Tyler, welcome and how are you?
Tyler Sohm: [1:15] I’m good. Thanks Pete for having me.
Pete Codella: [1:18] It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been working together. We’ve hit the ground running and we’ve been so appreciative of all your good work on behalf of the state.
Tyler Sohm: [1:28] We’re excited to be part of the project. It’s a wonderful opportunity.
Pete Codella: [1:34] On our podcast discussion today, we want to discuss this campaign. Rumor Advertising, in their proposal to the state called it ‘In Utah.’ We’ll get into some of that in a minute. But first Tyler, why don’t you share with our listeners a little bit about your background. What brought you to Rumor Advertising? Some of your professional experience?
Tyler Sohm: [1:54] Yeah, thank you.
I am proud to say that I am a born and raised Utahn. I have a rather rich family history going back generations in this state. I was born and raised in Sandy and graduated from the University of Utah. Then, I decided to build my career right here in the heart of Salt Lake City. For the past 19 years, I have led the creative team at Rumor Advertising and it’s a company that I’m passionate about and feel very strongly about, especially that it’s something that is based locally in Utah. It’s fun to be part of a community where you’re actually serving others as well.
Pete Codella: [2:30] Tyler, you said you’d been at Rumor for 19 years. I think in that time period I’ve moved maybe a half dozen different times. That’s awesome that you’ve been there that long and worked with the team there.
Tyler Sohm: [2:43] Hardly feels like that long. I was a young buck, so you know.
Pete Codella: [2:49] Time flies. It goes by fast.
Tyler Sohm: [2:52] They say time flies when you’re having fun. This is one of those projects that makes my job quite enjoyable.
Pete Codella: [2:01] That’s awesome. We appreciate your support. Let me dive into the campaign a little bit. Like I mentioned, the Legislature took federal CARES act money and asked our office, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, to come up with some kind of outreach and communication campaign that would foster economic growth and encourage local support.
We thought of it as a buy local, but think ‘Utah First’ kind of campaign. Something that connects consumers and businesses, and also businesses to other businesses, organizations and nonprofits across the board. Tyler, you responded to our request for a proposal and gave a pitch.
And since then you’ve shared the campaign with the governor and then also with about a dozen different organizations and partners from GOED. Tell us from your perspective, what’s our primary objective? What are the goals of this campaign?
Tyler Sohm: [3:59] As we started the campaign, we wanted to address it from the most simple way possible. Specifically, we highlighted three key words: elevate, educate and engage. First, we want to help build Utahns consumer confidence in the midst of, and following the coronavirus pandemic, and educate Utahns about their consumer responsibility to follow local health department and CDC guidelines. Lastly, we want to really create an environment that we can engage people and help with statewide economic development initiatives as we work together to reactivate Utah’s economy.
Pete Codella: [4:39] That hits the nail on the head exactly. I saw different proposals for this campaign and love the clarity of ‘In Utah.’ Talk for a minute about that word ‘in’. What it means to be ‘In Utah’ and how we’re using that.
Tyler Sohm: [4:57] It’s amazing the word in is just two letters, but it has a lot of meaning in it. We’ve drawn a little box on our board that represents the word in. We talked about the words, about belonging to something bigger. People being involved and having a sense of ownership.
Sometimes when you’re ‘in you’re doing the things that are cutting edge at present,. It’s kind of the coolest thing to do. Looking at an idea of being current and popular. It’s really cool to be in Utah, especially this time of our lives. Utah has so much to offer. It’s one of those things that’s gained a lot of popularity across the country as we’ve seen an influx of people moving here, and other types of opportunities that we have. To be ‘in’ is to be contained within something. You’ll find everything here in Utah. We also talked about and discussed as a creative team the need to be in the know, to have a local following and to be able to be educated.
Obviously being in gives you access. It’s kind of a privilege that you get to be associated with other people. People of like minded ideas and behaviors. There’s really a type of opportunity for people to work together when they’re called in something.
Pete Codella: [6:18] Agreed. Like you said, it’s concise and has a lot of different meanings. It’s also really broad and applies in a lot of different ways. One of the concepts you’ve presented, and we’re planning on for the campaign, is building on that ‘In Utah’ with little icons and badges. Like ‘Invest In Utah’ for our financial services, ‘Innovate In Utah’ for innovation, entrepreneurship or ‘Industry In Utah’ for manufacturing, or “Incentives in Utah”. We really like how clever that is to play on ‘in’ and build that word out with different industries.
Tyler how do you see this campaign touching all these different kinds of industries?
Tyler Sohm: [7:01] The beauty of this campaign is its simplicity. As mentioned earlier, it’s flexible, it’s expandable and it seamlessly supports other GOED initiatives. We feel like the ability to ask people to be involved in something is a universal idea, regardless of what industry you’re in. So whether you’re involved in outdoor recreation, technology startups, information technology or agriculture being able to be involved in a bigger story is something that’s really important here. First and foremost, all of this messaging has a very positive message to it. We’re looking to help encourage that consumer confidence by keeping things positive.
We’re all kind of sick of hearing about the negative side of COVID. There’s businesses that have been able to really make this opportunity. Something that has helped them strengthen as a company or as an organization and to be able to look at the positive of things. That’s what this campaign is meant to do. Be non-apologetic. To be inspirational and informative. Really directly connected to somebody’s action. To something that they can do themselves and to contribute to a bigger storyline.
Pete Codella: [8:23] I’m feeling involved in something. It’s kind of the culture of Utah and really speaks to Utahns quality of life and why it is that people choose to live and work and recreate in the state. They like being, like you say, ‘In Utah.’ You brought up an interesting point. It can be negative hearing all these messages about COVID-19 and the pandemic. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge and address the fact that the health of Utahns has an impact on Utah’s economy and our ability to get out and do things. To purchase things and be together not only socially, but commercially.
How do you see our campaign, supporting or sending messages of safe distance six feet apart, wearing masks and things like that? How will that be part of ‘In Utah?’
Tyler Sohm: [9:21] We’re focusing very carefully on making sure we’re following the local and CDC guidelines, both in imagery as well as in our messaging.
One of the things that makes this very important to us is that we show life can go on while we may have to make a few changes here and there for the foreseeable future. That business can thrive, our economy here in Utah can continue to grow and that we don’t have to be held hostage by the pandemic itself.
We are looking at ensuring there’s healthy behaviors represented in all campaign materials and messaging. We hope that Utah businesses and our partner organizations will also be able to help spread that story through some of the promotional or other activities that they are doing through newsletters and their social media channels. As they solicit stories from their partners, vendors and community members will be able to start a storyline that continues to move forward. As people are seeing the new normal that that is being established.
Pete Codella: [10:39] Agreed. The campaign, you know, engages the economy, We’re promoting being healthy while we do it during the pandemic and even afterwards,
I think we’re fortunate in Utah that throughout the Herbert administration Utah has then acknowledged and received lots of accolades from different publications. Touting number one state for entrepreneurs or best state for business or innovation. There are lots of different rankings and comments about that.
I think as COVID-19 hit us in early March Utah’s economy was doing really well compared to the rest of the country. Just from things I see in here, I think people hope the ability to be buoyant at this time and resilient will help us get through this and deal with the new normal, but also acknowledging the reality of increasing case counts at this time. We have to be careful, but we stay healthy as a community. Partnering with other organizations. Let me take that comment and lead into two additional programs that were given to Rumor Advertising as part of this effort.
I may have mentioned initially. Now this was part of the legislative appropriation, the $2 million, just part of HB 4001. Then in the most recent special session of the Legislature, HB 5010, two more programs were added to your work, Because you guys don’t have enough to do.
They added ‘Healthy In Utah’ and then ‘Learn & Work In Utah.’ We’ve kind of talked about ‘Healthy In Utah.’ Maybe you could tease what we’re working on with a celebrity mask wearing videos and radio spots.
Tyler Sohm: [12:42] One of the exciting things about this is to work with some well known Utah faces. Being able to cover them up and to be able to see their personalities shine through regardless.
That’s maybe part of the whole storyline is that we’re still who we are as Utahns by wearing a mask or by following guidelines. Everyone has their own opinion of what that means and what should be done. We recognize and celebrate the fact that everyone has their own opinion and ideas about that.
When it comes down to it, we’re all ‘In Utah’ together. We all have to make some decisions that will help support the health of ourselves, our families, our coworkers, and those around us. I think all of us want to get, get back in the game. Maybe even go to some sporting events and other things, but also make sure that their economy is strong.
That really does come from following the best information we have. As we promote the connections between economic stability and doing our part individually, and as organizations in Utah, that’s really where the healthy message comes in. This expansion is healthy in Utah is really a big picture initiative to help all people recognize that regardless of what your personal feelings may be, or what you understand as healthy or not, it helps the general public and others to be able to comply with these guidelines.
We do that in a way, as you mentioned, with using well-known Utah figures and having some fun with that messaging without being overly serious. Life is still enjoyable and these are serious issues, but we don’t always have to take ourselves so seriously. That’s an approach we’ve found helps resonate with the masses and spreads a message that sticks.
Pete Codella: [14:55] In addition to wearing protective face coverings and social distancing, HB 5010 was specific in wanting this campaign to help remind all of us what it was like back in January. Utah was receiving recognition for high quality of life because of wellness and how healthy Utah’s population is. That has to include things like wellness checkups, vaccinations, flu shots and elective surgeries, all the regular things that we do that we do and and since March some people have been a little afraid to do.That’s also an important part of our effort here is just to remind people what it means to be healthy and all those other elements will be part of this.
The second part, from HB 5010, was the program to help displaced unemployed or underemployed workers because of the pandemic. The money was given to Talent Ready Utah and the Utah System of Higher Education for a program we’ve called ‘Learn & Work In Utah.’ Just watching for that information. Tyler, do you have anything to add on the learn and work side? It’s an awesome opportunity for us to really help folks who maybe are looking at the situation and saying, ‘You know, I could probably spend a few weeks or months and get a certificate and go in a bit of a different direction with my career.’
I think there’s lots of opportunities in that regard.
Tyler Sohm: [16:33] Some people lost their jobs in his pandemic. Some people got furloughed from organizations because there just wasn’t enough work for them to do in their particular industry. I know working with ‘Learn & Work In Utah’ and partnering with different public colleges and universities. We have an opportunity to educate people about programs that are there to help them receive a certificate or some additional training. Maybe be in a better place after this pandemic.. Sometimes we need things like this to kind of give us a little boost and make some changes.
I think all of us get a little comfortable sometimes wherever we’re at. As we are working in promoting this initiative, as well as part of the ‘In Utah’ campaign, it helps to know that there are a lot of great partners. A lot of good people who are doing great things across the state.
That’s one of the things I love about Utah. It’s one of the reasons I stayed here and raised my family here was for this idea that people help each other. The economics of Utah, business-friendly policies, collaboration, all the innovation that comes from and through Utah. It really helps my family and others feel that quality of life that you brought up earlier in the conversation.
Pete Codella: [18:06] Tyler, it sounds like you work for GOED. I’ll give you some business cards.
Tyler Sohm: [18:09] I do work for GOED.
One of the things that Rumor’s always been known for is being a part of the partnership with the organizations we serve. We’re really on board with what GOED is doing.
All of the initiatives we’ve been able to get to know. The different partners and programs that are served by GOED, it’s something that we believe in. We all feel that we’ve made Utah our home for a reason. Participating in this particular cause, and a big public awareness with mass media and social media, is something we can really get behind. Every member of our team has been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to make sure that we have the highest quality of creative. That will communicate a message that can influence the lives of others across the state.
Pete Codella: [19:09] We appreciate that. Let me just summarize a few things from the House Bill 5010. In addition to ‘Learn & Work In Utah’, the bill created, all with CARES Act funds,‘Create In Utah.’ We’ve already talked about ‘Healthy In Utah,’ ‘Safe In Utah’ for PPE and also ‘Shop In Utah,’ which will have more information about allowing businesses to offer coupons and discounts to their customers.
I’ll call it ‘Travel In Utah. It’s money for our office of tourism to promote the Utah Life Elevated brand to promote staycations, To promote all the things you can do near your home and within the state as we get out. Like the campaign says to shop, dine, play and film and all those things in Utah together. That really helps the economy.
You mentioned social media. Would you like to talk about how the campaign will be supported? What kinds of things will be on social media? What opportunities are there for partners to join?
Tyler Sohm: [20:21] This is really exciting. We have a few different areas of promotion that we’re doing. We’re really trying to get people and drive people to our website which is inutah.org.
We’ll probably talk a little bit about that towards the end here. Where you can show your support and, join with other local Utah businesses. You can learn about the local community and see what people are saying, how they’re showing support and how their businesses are doing. We really want to also tell the stories about Utahns who are thriving and businesses who’ve stepped up to meet new challenges. How they’ve made some minor changes in their business practices to promote the health and safety of their customers and employees, but also how they’ve been able to utilize this pandemic to strengthen business relationships and business practices.
Whenever any of these businesses or organizations are able to succeed, we as Utahns succeed. That helps strengthen our economy and it gives us more resources here. As we’re talking on social media, we do have a mass awareness campaign that will drive traffic to the website for consumers. These are average everyday Utahns who will participate in going to restaurants, shopping and doing the things that they love to do feeling comfortable and getting out and doing. As long as they’re practicing safety guidelines.
We’re also targeting businesses and other organizations through certain social media campaigns. This will help them realize the importance of sourcing from local Utah companies, to increase their supply chain vendors that are Utah-based companies, building a culture of being proud to be a locally owned company or a ‘In Utah’ brand. The social media campaign will support that kind of action driving to the ‘In Utah’ website that people can share and engage and follow the social conversation.
Pete Codella: [22:39] I’m excited for the website, and particularly the portion of it that is curated social media content with hashtag #InUtah. It’ll be fun to see all the things that Utahns post and our businesses and organizations. One of the things that’s really cool are the stickers that you’ve got for retail locations, restaurants and businesses to display.
Talk about those for a minute. The locally sourced or locally grown or made in Utah stickers.
Tyler Sohm: [23:11] These will be available as stickers as well as badges that go at the bottom of websites. A company could download a badge from the In Utah website and embed that right in the footer of their website.
We also have stickers that we can put on storefronts that will be distributed to business owners that would like them. Let consumers and business owners, neighborhoods and anybody doing business feel very good. To kind of have this esprit de Corps about being proud to be supporting local businesses.
We’ve seen a push to go small and to go local from different organizations over the last few years. We look at this ‘In Utah’ campaign as a perfect catalyst to, actually build, an identity around what it means to be locally owned in Utah.
Pete Codella: [23:13] Agreed. There are some organizations that have done that really well. I think our invitation is let’s work together. Let’s elevate this conversation. Let’s expand this. Let’s get more Utahns behind this for the good of the state. I’ll say now that if you’re interested in those stickers, it’ll be a few weeks, probably early August, just email us at, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hook you up with some of those things.
There are also opportunities for some other swag, baseball, hats, or pins, or you name it really with this campaign. We want to talk about that opportunity for partners to come to us and kind of co-brand things and get them out there in the public.
Tyler Sohm: [25:00] As you know, GOED is not a for profit organization.
We’re still developing the way to distribute these efficiently and with the right appropriation of budget dollars. However, these are really exciting things we’ve designed. A few dozen different industry specific graphics that use the In Utah logo. These are fun, exciting and engaging and highlight these fantastic industries throughout the state of Utah.
We’re hoping we’ll be able to utilize partner organizations to help distribute and promote these types of things. We’re partnering with lots of recognized trade groups, associations, industry organizations and even individual businesses to spread this reach of the In Utah campaign.
On the website, you’ll be able to find if you’re interested in doing this. You’re able to download a partner toolkit that has resources for you to understand, and be able to just run with it. You’ll be able to use the In Utah campaign as part of your marketing campaign to show your support, but also being part of a bigger storyline.
Pete Codella: [26:22] I hope people understand our intention is to be very collaborative and open source. We want people to participate and help make this their own. We’re not saying it’s a done deal and here are all the options. An analogy I’ve used before is we’ve started a table of contents of a book. We’ve written the introduction and now all those chapters get to be filled in by trade organizations, partners, companies and others who want to partner with us and bring this message to life, with the goal of the economic reactivation throughout the state.
So we’re excited for that.
Tyler Sohm: [27:05] One of the real exciting pages of the website is the opportunity for people to submit their success story. We want to hear what makes you part of Utah. We want to hear how your business has grown through this process, how you stepped up to meet new challenges and there’s instructions on how to submit those stories on the website.
And we really look forward to hearing from you there. We also take those through social media as you tag us back. We have some fun social media handles that really caps off what the campaign is all about. Ouur social media channels will be found at @AllInUtah. On Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The handle really says everything is here and we’re all in.That’s what we hope to have the public, other business and organizations understand and be there with us.
Pete Codella: [28:08] Agreed. One more invitation and we’ll wrap up. Those of you listening that represent companies, organizations or associations,we’d like to partner with you to create an In Utah badge that represents your industry.
We’ll probably have this month, a dozen or more of those that represent different things in the state. For foodies, agriculture, skiing, aerospace, defense, IT, financial services, film, mountain biking, those types of things. We’d love for you to reach out to us and together for us to develop something that’s unique for your industry and your niche, the people that you work with and serve.
Tyler, any parting thoughts to share?
Tyler Sohm: [28:55] We’re all in Utah together. Let’s make it the best we can. Let’s share that hashtag #InUtah and really change public behavior. That perception is very important. When you feel sick you don’t feel like doing anything, when the economy’s down it can be a little bit depressing. We hope to have everyone engage in a positive message that helps spawn economic growth and development for the state. We’re happy to be part of it. Thank you.
Pete Codella: [29:24] Thank you. I mentioned earlier some of those in Utah programs and just want to let everyone know you can find information about those on our website, business.utah.gov at the top. There’ll be a COVID-19 programs and grants button for you to learn more and apply for grants. If that’s applicable, like Tyler said, we would love for you to join us hashtag #InUtah, and on the website inutah.org, which will launch mid-July and a mass media advertising campaign to follow that.
Tyler, we’re enjoying working with Rumor Advertising and we’re looking forward to the possibilities of what we can accomplish together this year. Thank you for joining us on the podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.