Tag Archives: advertising

Norma Hanson: An Industry’s Hero

The millennial generation sees limitless possibility in almost every kind of endeavor. Being a part of this, the idea of being denied advancement because of my sex had never even crossed my mind. However, little did I know that this idea would soon be brought to the forefront of my attention. I came into contact with someone who had to face this realization and the associated challenge head-on at the very beginning of advertising as a profession.

On Oct. 1, the College of Communication at The University of Alabama welcomed educators, practitioners and students to its annual Advertising Day, a day-long event consisting of seminars, presentations and question-and-answer panels. There, individuals who excelled in the career field discussed their experiences and shared their knowledge. Some topics included media sales, nonprofits, sponsorships, design, portfolio building, political campaigns and minority-target advertising.

I attended the “Hall of Fame Role Models” presentation where I was fortunate enough to hear from an industry pioneer who quickly became a personal hero. Seventy-five-year-old Norma Hanson of Dothan, Ala., was described as the first female force behind the advertising world in Alabama. She was thrilled to be back at the university and was eager to share her experiences about a life of hard work plagued with continual gender struggles.

When she graduated from the university years ago, little was known about the advertising industry. Hanson’s only sources were her reading books, which were limited. A change of venue was in her future, so she packed her things and moved to Atlanta to interview at the advertising agency, Tucker Wayne.

“I had a mouth. I loved people and I knew how to sell. You need to sell yourself,” she said. Hanson was hired and proved her talent immediately. She was working long days, engaging in as many aspects of the career field that she could get her hands on. Hanson said, “I had a positive attitude…I wanted to learn…I was a sponge…What it took I wanted to do.”

Hanson was proud of the recognition she received within the company, especially with her boss. She never expected the day she was told her efforts and achievements were insignificant and the South was not ready for female accounting executives. This did not settle with Hanson—she was determined to break the mold.

In 1980, a young man came to her with a mission and an idea. He wanted to open an advertising and design firm and he wanted Hanson and her experience. She took the plunge.

“You need to be willing to step out from the norm and do something different. You need to be willing to take a risk,” Hanson said. Together they opened the firm Slaughter Hanson, which later became a $40 million agency. Hanson also opened the marketing and advertising agency, Norma Hanson & Associates in 2005. “I have tried to retire three times but I cannot stand the thought of not being in the middle of it,” Hanson said.

Hanson has worked within the marketing and advertising industry for more than 50 years. When asked what advice she has for students she said, “Being male or female is not the big issue. It’s wanting something and wanting it bad enough.” Last Thursday, Oct. 8, she was inducted into The University of Alabama’s C&IS Hall of Fame. She will be forever recognized as a hero in our industry.

by Meghan Zimmerman


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The PR Department… A thing of the past?

Currently, the economy is not at its best. This may be the most obvious declaration you have read in quite some time. Our daily activities consist of eating, sleeping, working and being reminded of how the economy is ruining our lives. However, there are underlying aspects to this statement that some may fail to initially recognize. One of which is local outsourcing. The job market relies heavily on the economy, and in times such as these, we are seeing shifts in the common practices of big business. 

When a company’s budget gets tight, it is no secret that the public relations and advertising department is the first to get the ax. As PR students and practitioners working in the industry, it is important to be aware of potential cutbacks and actions companies take throughout the aftermath. 
The Turner Broadcasting Company in Atlanta, Ga., has recently had to trim down their amount of employees. Being the successful mega-business that they are, Turner acknowledged that though the payroll was getting shorter, they still had to produce the same end results. Here enter syndication and outsourcing. 
Among others, Career Sports and Entertainment was hired by Turner to create quality results equal to in-house production. Career is a private marketing agency in Atlanta, Ga., located literally down the road from the broadcasting company. 
Hiring private PR, talent and/or production firms to do the work, pay the workers, package the results and deliver it to your door is more cost efficient than in-house labor. Turner has inadvertently presented some of their staff with two options: either do the work of two to three people or accept the act of outsourcing. 
The efficient practice of outsourcing is nothing new. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have been searching for ways to raise productivity and profit.
However, we normally equate the topic with the global market, not the local business down the street. This traditional view of international outsourcing has shielded our eyes from local practices that, eventually, may affect your company and more importantly, your job. 
Our present economy has led people to worry about their livelihoods by the masses. Outsourcing is not the most frightening practice we are experiencing, but it adds discomfort and confusion to stressful times. 
The ideal situation would be to keep every employee on staff and hire private firms when projects call for collaboration or specific talents. Except, things are not looking so ideal in the big business world, and realistic adjustments are being implemented. 
Whether I am a 22-year-old PR student, eager to enter the job market, or a 46-year-old company MVP, the current job cuts cause one to question her occupational future. 
Will the company PR/Advertising department become a thing of the past, leaving private PR firms to reap the benefits? Or, will outsourcing plateau and become a steady, healthy practice?
-Meredith C. 

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