A Day in the Life of … Adrienne Appell, Toy Association Director of Strategic Communications

Toy Association Staff Spotlight

May 7, 2018 | From proactively communicating Toy Association members’ commitment to toy safety to promoting the hottest toy trends of the year, Adrienne Appell, director of strategic communications, has her finger on the pulse of the industry. Toy News Tuesday editors recently caught up with Appell to gain insight into the Association’s many communications initiatives and its focus on supporting the industry. Here’s what she had to say…

What are your responsibilities as the director of strategic communications?     

My job requires me to develop and maintain relationships with the media, including traditional media, influencers, and bloggers, and to look for ways in which The Toy Association can promote its members and the industry.  

I am in constant contact with members to stay abreast of what’s new, next, and cutting-edge in the toy industry. This is the part of my  job where I get to play and it’s a lot of fun! 

I also work very closely with our External Affairs team based in Washington, DC to share positive toy safety messaging with the public, underscoring all the work that is done by our members and the broader industry to make sure toys and games are safe.

What is your career background and how has that experience translated to your role at The Toy Association?

I have worked at The Toy Association for 13 years. (Time flies when you’re having fun playing with toys!) I started my career at a large public relations firm working on a variety of consumer and business-to-business accounts. Prior to joining The Toy Association, I worked as a publicist in the corporate communications division of Scholastic, Inc. My responsibilities ranged from classroom magazines and the website to The Scholastic Store – and even a few Harry Potter book launches – so I knew children’s entertainment and toys was something I liked.

A priority of The Toy Association is making the public is aware of the lengths that toy companies go to ensure that toys are safe. Can you share some of the strategic “wins” the Association has had recently against certain NGO groups determined to get media coverage of their “dangerous toy” lists?

We have an aggressive campaign all year long to educate consumers and government on the industry’s commitment to safety, and to dispute false claims made against our members. This includes rapid response to false claims as they emerge, as well as proactive safety messaging through broadcast and print media and digital influencers.  We are currently redesigning our PlaySafe.org website to make it an even better tool for families who have toy safety questions.

These year-round efforts helped dampen total media coverage of the “dangerous toy” lists released by NGOs – like U.S. PIRG and W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) – during last year’s crucial fourth quarter.

The Association’s communications team plays a hand in everything the organization does to support members and the industry, both internally and externally. How can members leverage the team’s resources and stay updated on new initiatives?

We encourage members to sign up for product previews with our team at Fall Toy Preview and Toy Fair. This ensures that we are seeing (and playing with) companies’ newest toys and games – which helps us determine the biggest toy trends for the upcoming year.

It also assists us in getting the word out about our members’ products. The communications team frequently promotes our members and their products in local and national broadcast TV segments, and in articles featured in domestic and international trade magazines. 

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to and read Toy News Tuesday, our weekly e-newsletter, to learn about our many events, activities and educational resources for members, as well as safety and advocacy news, and yes, even calls for product when media opportunities arise.

What was your favorite toy growing up?

My favorite toy growing up was probably my Barbie collection. My sister and I used to play with them for hours, and much to my mother’s dismay, we cut off all their hair. That’s why I wasn’t able to pass any down to my daughter. I’m hoping she doesn’t find out we did that until she is out of her Barbie stage.

Adrienne Appell, director of strategic communications, can be reached by email or phone (646.520.4863).