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Agency promotes three execs as part of succession strategy

SWBR Inc., an advertising, marketing and public relations agency based in Hanover Township, Northampton County, promoted three employees to vice president roles.

SWBR promoted three executives to vice president roles at the company as part of a succession plan. From left are Annemarie Dodenhoff, David Saba, and Ernie T. Stiegler. (Submitted) –

The agency said it named Ernie T. Stiegler as vice president of client engagement, David Saba as vice president of strategic communications, and Annemarie Dodenhoff as vice president of creative.

CEO Ernie R. Stiegler, father of Ernie T., made the executive moves to set up the agency for the future as he establishes a succession plan.

Ernie T. said the moves also would help executives at SWBR better lead the firm for the future. He has five years of experience at SWBR developing and conducting strategic marketing plans that drive sales leads. He started a digital marketing initiative at the agency and grew the digital services side of the agency by more than 100 percent.

Saba has worked at SWBR for four months and increased the public relations business at the agency by 65 percent. Previously, he has built public relations departments into profit centers at two other agencies in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley in the past 10 years.

Dodenhoff is a conceptual creative director with more than 20 years of experience in both business-to-business and business-to -customer clients, working in the education, medical, industrial and finance fields. She has been building brands and creating digital experiences at SWBR for three years.

The agency, established in 1969, has seen many changes over the years in advertising, marketing and public relations.

“PR used to depend heavily on publishers,” Saba said. “You couldn’t get your message across unless you were working with a publisher or article.”

In 2019, there’s a huge content generation aspect where public relations focuses on getting a unified message that captures the voice of the client, Saba said.

“We are held to a much higher standard than in the past,” Ernie T. said. “Our focus is certainly showing clients all about connecting the dots between marketing and sales. I think the standard is constantly rising. We progressed from a technology standpoint in marketing so you are able to track the results.”

Technology has also helped give the agency the ability to be in contact with the customer at all stages of the journey, from lead to sale, Saba said.

“Things move so fast in the digital realm, we see results almost immediately,” Dodenhoff said.

These days, the agency can track brand messaging and user experiences digitally, which was different from before.

Saba said his role focuses on developing strategic digital marketing plans, creating communication strategies with unified, consistent messaging across a variety of areas, including the agency’s social media, website and sales presentations.

The agency has a number of clients, including those in the education, medical device and retail fields that are both global and local.

With increased technology come opportunities but also challenges.

“One of the challenges we see is everything moves so fast today,” Ernie T. said. “Our content focus is helping clients prioritize what channels to be on.”

From a public relations standpoint, there’s so much background noise, Saba said. It’s very easy for brands to get lost or go unheard. Clients want their value proposition noticed and one way to do that is by creating a unified approach to the content you produce, he added.

With a flooded market, people have very short attention spans, added Dodenhoff.

The challenge lies in creating content that stands out.

New technology also gives the agency data it can use to help influence its approach to a client and respond quickly, Saba said.

As for the future, Ernie T. said the agency, which has 20 employees, is looking add freelance workers and potentially a different office location.

“We are considering all options in the Lehigh Valley,” Ernie T. said. “Just like the agency has evolved, our office space needs to as well.”

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh.

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