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Billboard Insider Interviews OAAA’s Ken Klein

Date: June 09, 2016

Summary:
Ken joined OAAA in 2001 after 25 years in media and government, including leadership positions at Florida’s Department of Transportation and the office of US Senator Bob Graham.

Body:
Ken Klein is EVP, Government Affairs for OAAA, leading the US out of home industry’s outreach to government with a personal focus on Congress.  A regular contributor to Billboard Insider, Ken was trained as a journalist; he worked for The Associated Press and a Gannett paper in Florida.  Ken joined OAAA in 2001 after 25 years in media and government, including leadership positions at Florida’s Department of Transportation and the office of US Senator Bob Graham.

Ken, how did you get involved with OAAA?

I met Nancy Fletcher after the ’98 election; she hired me three years later.  Coming from Capitol Hill, I faced a learning curve about the out of home industry.  Before I started at OAAA, Nancy sent me to Cincinnati to spend a day with Tom Norton at Norton Outdoor. Lessons from that emersion course included:

  • Everybody is connected. The Norton family leased exterior wall space at a neighborhood tavern in Cincinnati owned by the Boehner family.  John Boehner, who cleaned the floors as a kid, would become Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
  • Change is constant. Tom pointed to a sign painter who was mowing the grass.
  • A sale transcends all. At lunch that day, the Norton family brainstormed billboard creative to pitch an air-conditioning customer.
  • Self-regulation can be your friend. Tom doesn’t care for double stacks.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There may not be a typical day, which I like.  My day ended yesterday with a call from Steve Ginsburg of Clear Channel in Maryland about potential warning labels on soda ads (what are the arguments, what happened in San Francisco, what could happen in Baltimore?).  Today started with learning more about the emerging debate on privacy and Big Data.

I have a good day when my activities fall into these categories:

  • Advocacy–telling our story via the strongest points, images, venues, and voices
  • Relationships–enlisting new friends and keeping old ones
  • Vision–anticipating/understanding what’s next, including risks
  • Relevancy–helping OAAA members tell our story, win friends, and figure out next steps
What issues take up the largest portion of your time?

Politics, technology, privacy, and basic rights such as speech and private property.

Any guess as to when the courts will rule on the Scenic America challenge to the FHWA Guidance on digital billboards?

Soon.

Are there current congressional initiatives which impact the US out of home industry?

There are always issues, but the recently enacted Highway Bill is the traditional/historic vehicle for anti-billboard proposals. The President signed a five-year Highway Bill late last year.

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