As 2016 comes to an end, we look to the horizon and watch 2017 break upon us. Typically throughout December, we see many “Best Of” blogs and articles discussing what in our industry has come and gone over the past 12 months. It is also a time to highlight successes.

This year, Strategic America had many successes, both large and small. I can’t say any of them rise to the level of Adele’s “Hello,” however they are important all the same. I find it difficult to whittle down our list to just five. Even though each of these events is remarkable for an advertising agency alone. For me to write about only five underscores how truly successful 2016 was for us. So here it goes: The Top Five events that made 2016 an outstanding year for Strategic America.

5. SA earns Google Partner designation

While SA has been successfully implementing SEM campaigns for many years, becoming a certified Google Partner was an important milestone in 2016. This award signifies the AdWords skills and expertise that Google values in an agency and instills confidence in current and prospective clients alike. We achieved this status not only by taking and passing Google-developed exams, but also by driving a large volume of business and sustained growth by SA into Google for the past several years. Google recognizes agencies that are taking a strong position in their digital service offerings, and SA has once again proven to be one of them in 2016.

4. SA launches its thought leadership series: Luminaries

What began as a Snapchat tutorial between our chairman, Mike Schreurs, and a young SA professional ignited into an illuminating experience for SA and other central Iowa professionals. During the interaction, the young woman asked Mike how young professionals can be successful in the business world today. This question inspired a very special series of talks, Luminaries: Women Leaders in the Workforce. Over the course of two months, we invited six extraordinary women to share their experiences with SA and invited guests. Each woman has had a different path to success, but there were commonalities in all of their stories— perseverance, self-commitment and mentorship. This is just the beginning; our second Luminaries Series will be held sometime this summer.

3. And the award goes to….

Strategic America!

Now, SA does not begin each campaign or new client relationship with the objective of winning an award. Our mission is to find a better way, always, and make a genuine impact on our clients’ business goals. However, when we do get an award for our work, it’s icing on the cake. Well, SA had a whole lot of icing on our cake this year. (And a few Wendy’s frostys.)

  • In February, SA was honored by the Des Moines chapter of the American Advertising Federation by winning two gold ADDYs for our “Helping Small Businesses Grow” campaign and TV spots developed for the Iowa Lottery. Two SA-ers also earned individual honors.
  • In March, SA won a 2016 Bronze Telly Award for its public service announcement produced for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. Telly Awards are given nationally to recognize excellence in film and video productions, online video content, and television programs and commercials.
  • This fall, SA was honored at the 2016 International ECHO Awards in Los Angeles. SA was runner-up in the Business and Consumer Services category for the Service Experts Summer 2015 campaign.
  • In October, SA won four PRIME Awards—more than any other organization—from the Central Iowa chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. One of the awards was the coveted PRIME award for Integrated Communications Campaign, which SA has won three years in a row.

2. SA earns BBB Torch Award for Ethics for the second time

Although I just mentioned our awards, the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics really deserves to stand on its own.

Since 1993, the BBB Torch Award for Ethics has recognized companies that display an outstanding level of ethics and integrity in all their business dealings. This isn’t an award that is taken lightly, as organizations must be nominated and submit an application that is scored in four categories: organizational practices; reputation within the industry and community; marketing, advertising and communication practices; and customer, vendor and supplier relationships.

As proud as we are of this accomplishment, this is the second time SA has won this honor and we are even more proud to be one of only four companies to win twice.

1. Changing of the SA Guard

This year, our beloved founder Mike Schreurs stepped aside as CEO and passed the reigns to his brother John. It was a poignant moment for both men and all of us at SA when Mike made the announcement at our monthly internal meeting in August. John as CEO does not mean retirement for Mike though. He has stepped into a new role as chairman and chief strategist, and SA is blessed that his leadership will continue in 2017.

Happy New Year from everyone at Strategic America.