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Susan Broome Featured

12:13pm EDT March 11, 2004
The opportunities to make puns are so obvious that you feel compelled to avoid them, for fear of appearing a little too silly.

Surely Susan Broome has heard the full sweep of jokes prompted by her last name. If that isn't enough to prompt a chuckle, Broome has led Ten/United's team on its lucrative Hoover Co. account for a decade.

Thankfully, she good-naturedly raises the issue of her name first, letting you off the hook. In one of her early attempts at persuasion on a mass scale as a would-be student council reformer, Broome ran on the promise that she would sweep clean the halls of middle school government.

There's not much of a chance to use the "new Broome sweeps clean" gag when referring to her new position. Broome, Ten/United's new executive vice president and general manager, doesn't see herself turning the 150-employee agency upside down any time soon. Still, the changes in the business - not to mention the agency's impending move to a more open-area environment in One Gateway Center, designed to enhance team interaction and minimize the barriers to communication, both physical and psychological --promise to keep Broome plenty busy and challenge her nimbleness..

Broome takes over the top job at Ten/United from Jim Calderone, who retired earlier this year, and who came up through the ranks on the creative side of the business. Broome, on the other hand, has spent most of her 20-year career on the account management side.

"I had been heading up the account management department, so this is moving from being a kind of player coach to becoming the head coach," says Broome.

The industry in Pittsburgh has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the last few years. Some agencies, like Ten/United and MARC, have made acquisitions both here and in other markets. Ten/United, for instance, merged with DDF&M and bought agencies in Orlando and Columbus. Others, like Ketchum, have scaled back Pittsburgh operations and spawned a gang of solo practitioners.

Smart Business talked to Broome about the ad industry in Pittsburgh, where it's headed and where Ten/United fits into the picture.

Can you identify any trends in your industry in Pittsburgh?

We really feel that in our industry, it seems that the trend is that there really isn't a trend that stays very long. We've gone through e-commerce, mergers and acquisitions, and it seem like again, all these trends phase in and out. That's really how we sum it up, that there really isn't a trend, per se, right now in Pittsburgh.

Doesn't that make for a challenging environment for you?

We have a lot of diversity (among) our clients, so we do offer diverse services. And it's something (that requires) a great level of flexibility in terms of servicing them. You're going one direction and then you may be shifting. You know, it's looking at the differences and helping them set the strategies, set the direction they're going. So it's something that's ever-changing. It certainly is, on a daily basis.

I think that's what we all love about this business. You're never quite sure what's going to be on the other end of the phone.

What's the future for the large, full-service agency in Pittsburgh?

I think that with a full-service agency, or as you say, one of the large agencies in Pittsburgh, we are able to have an effective and efficient approach for our clients, that we can help them with not only their branding message but also the selling message that's presented to the consumer.

So it does give us the opportunity to analyze their needs, sit down and create the needs, create the goals. We do a lot of working with clients on their strategy, their positioning, their branding. So I think the future here, I look at it overall for large agencies, it doesn't really matter what city we're in, with all the virtual tools we have at our disposal, we can be in Pittsburgh doing things as we do for clients we have in other cities, other states. I think that the future remains positive as long as we keep adapting.

We're very much able to have assignments go across offices and really maximize our resources that way. We often say that, with all the virtual technology that's out there, it really helps us to have seamless execution. I'm working right now on some assignments with the creatives in Columbus. I don't really think that it matters what office they're in. We are fitting the creative expertise of that team with the particular needs of the client. It gives us a lot more resources to draw upon.

What experiences were most important in preparing you for this position?

I have over 20 years now in the advertising industry. Most of it's been here in the Pittsburgh marketplace. I'm Pittsburgh born and raised. I've worked on both the client side and the agency side, so that gives me the balance of being on both sides of the deck. I've been in the account management department most of the time. That really helps me to have a clear understanding of the agency needs and the client needs.

I also have a degree in advertising from Penn State. I also have a degree in organizational management, so that really helps me to be able to make sure we have the most effective processes and procedures in place that help the agency and meet the client needs, again, making us efficient in servicing them.

Jim Calderone handed over the helm of a successful shop. Right now, he's turned over a shop that's been heading in the right direction. The biggest thing I'm faced with is the move to the new offices and a new office environment, so it's shepherding that situation. The other thing will be to continue the communication between the offices.

It's not just the Pittsburgh office, and I can't just think about the Pittsburgh office. I have to think about Ten/United as a whole and how we're going to keep that communication across all offices and exchange resources, and really know that we've got a lot of bench strength, and it's not just here in Pittsburgh. How to reach: Ten/United, www.tenunited.com