Alone We Won’t Boil the Ocean, But Together, We Can Make Some Waves

Recent news on the economic impact of Wisconsin’s creative industry is eye-opening. Looking most broadly at arts and creativity as a regional resource – including printed goods, architectural works, the arts and, of course, advertising and PR – we’re a force providing more jobs than historic Wisconsin industries like beer and paper.

This presents an opportunity and responsibility to ensure the industry stays strong through developing talent, pushing creativity and supporting diversity. There are many leaders working on such efforts statewide and locally, but it’s hard to argue more isn’t needed especially in D&I.

One program alone isn’t going to boil the ocean when it comes to a prosperous, diverse and inclusive future for our region and its talent, but can we make some more waves from creative services’ waters edge?

Recently, I learned about The BrandLab, founded by the late John Olson of the Minneapolis agency that bears his name. The Brand Lab’s CEO visited Milwaukee to meet with a handful of Milwaukee creatives and share why she thought we could be next for The BrandLab.

Those gathered shared great programs here and talked about the ongoing challenges in building and sustaining a diverse creative industry especially in, and representative of, Milwaukee.

She peeled back what has worked in Minneapolis and is now offering promise in Kansas City – creative towns similar to ours. The BrandLab program formula focuses on providing exposure, access, opportunity and equity.

It was a discussion that piqued interest – could the program succeed here and does Milwaukee have the formula for success? Those “must haves” include:

  • a committed school district;
  • industry leaders willing to give time and talent;
  • financial support from companies, agencies, foundations and others; and
  • creative leadership willing to listen, learn and change.

The group that met with her concluded that this just might be the time. Several leaders have already pledged initial support, and The BrandLab CEO will return to Milwaukee in the fall to meet with others. You are invited to help test the Milwaukee waters. Will you join us? Contact me by email at if interested.

Kris Naidl, APR
Member of the PRSA SE WI Diversity & Inclusion Committee
EVP, Managing Director of PR
Laughlin Constable