Heard Around The Agency – March 2023

By: Carly Corfman

At SAM, we value both the personal and professional accomplishments of our employees. Check out these updates from across the agency.

Account Team

AT welcomed some new faces in February. Holland Chupek and Ann Marie Waldrop joined S4 as the newest account coordinators. Additionally, LC Carlton transferred from the SEO team to join the HL/CR team.


BreAnna Partain and her wife closed on their new home on March 1! Congratulations to them on this accomplishment.

Suann Hunter’s daughter, McKenzie, has completed six months of dance classes at Beverly’s Dance Studio. She is preparing for her first dance recital in May!


Chloe Edwards was promoted to Sr. SEO Coordinator. Congratulations to her on a well-deserved promotion! Additionally, Grace Ward was hired as SEO Coordinator. We are happy to have her join the team!

On February 11, Anthony Savage got married to his fiancée, Corinne.

On February 24, Bobby Mathews released his book, Magic City Blues.

Elizabeth McDanal and her boyfriend, Brandon, recently purchased a house. It’s a new construction and will be ready for move-in this summer.


Media switched to Strata as their media buying software about five years ago. On February 28, they opened the 10,000th campaign. That’s about 2,000 broadcast media campaigns per year, and that doesn’t include revisions. Pretty impressive!

Media is still looking for a few people to join their team. If anyone knows someone who could fill the Senior Digital Media Coordinator role, please have them reach out to Liz.

Interns – Incoming!

SAM is hiring paid interns for the summer season. Part-time positions will be open in Account Team, Digital, and Graphics. Applications are due March 15. Students can apply directly through our careers site.

February New Clients

We had 10 new clients choose us as their agency in February. We are thankful for the new business and are excited to be working with them!

  1. FOX – Fox Automotive Group
  2. FOC – Fox CDJR
  3. FOT – Fox Toyota
  4. FHO – Fox Honda
  5. FOS – Fox Subaru
  6. ACH – Auburn Chevrolet GMC
  7. CBA – Chad Bemis Auto Exchange
  8. JTF – Jim Taylor Ford
  9. JTB – Jim Taylor Buick GMC
  10. JTC – Jim Taylor Chevrolet Buick

Lead With Speed – Carrying the Momentum Outside of SAM

Momentum, stamina, endurance, energy… what comes to mind when thinking about the 2023 theme, Lead With Speed? This year is off to a speedy start with the goal of driving innovation and growth for the agency and our clients. Not only are our employees striving for quick turnarounds on requests, but some are focused on maintaining speed in their personal lives.

Whether they are racing to finish a task, get to the grocery store, pick up the kids, or make a doctor’s appointment, many of our employees are always on the run. We even have those who run for fun.

Tiffany Millan grew up as an athlete and began running as part of her conditioning for tennis and volleyball. Although she did not play sports in college, running became a hobby for her as it was one of the only free ways to stay active. Over the years, she has incorporated running into her fitness routine. She runs outside a few days during the week and takes fitness classes at Orangetheory, as well as barre classes at a local studio. When she’s training for a race, she attempts longer-mile runs on the weekends.

Tiffany and her boyfriend, Dakota, after finishing the Superhero 5K.

Tiffany, along with fellow SAM runner Katie Reeves, participated in the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend on February 11 and 12. Tiffany ran in the Superhero 5K while Katie ran the Half Marathon. Both Tiffany and Katie run because it’s enjoyable for them, and it also enhances their mood.

“When you work out, you are doing it for your health and to feel better about yourself,” Tiffany said. “When you work, if you love your job, you want to feel energized. Your physical health has so much to do with your mental health, and your mental health affects you and your workload.” She says a good balance of working out and maintaining her physical health creates a more positive attitude and motivates her to tackle any challenges she may face in the workplace.

Katie was also involved in sports as a child. She played soccer competitively her entire life and incorporated running into her college routine as a way to stay active. Running with her college roommate quickly transformed into a hobby. Eventually, her competitive spirit led her to participate in two half marathons per year from 2009 until 2016.

Katie after finishing the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon for the first time in 2014.

Katie says when training for a race, it’s important for her to find ways to become motivated. Signing up and paying for the race is the first step. Then, she plans over the next few weeks the exact day, time, and distance she will run in order to build up endurance. “I always tell a few friends and family as a way to hold myself accountable,” Katie said. “So if I end up not doing the race, I’ll be properly humbled.”

Having a balance of mental toughness while also knowing her own limits keeps Katie on track, both on the running trails and at work. “When you get to a point where you know you need to rest, you have to stop and take a breather – whether it’s on the side of the running trail, or taking a literal lap around the circle and getting something from the Bevi machine,” she said. Katie says that being consistent with what she does every day, at work and with her running routine, is what leads to long-time results and success.

Tiffany says maintaining speed is crucial in order to achieve her running goals, and by staying consistent, she can feel satisfied with her performance. However, she says pacing herself is important for preventing burnout, which goes hand in hand with maintaining her task list at work. She is constantly staying on top of her job tracker, checking her budgets, and monitoring Podio throughout the day. “You don’t want to do too much or feel overwhelmed and not be able to give 100% to yourself, to your team, or to the client. We owe it to the client to be quick. Thankfully, we have a really great team and are able to make sure everything gets done across the board.”

Heard Around the Agency – Feb. 2023

By: Carly Corfman

Check out these updates from across the agency.

From Jingle Bells to Wedding Bells

Many people around the agency are celebrating the season of love, as many engagements have happened over the past few months:

Account Team

  • Kendall Reganall
  • Mary-Ashley Eddleman
  • Kelsey Plemmons (getting married in April)


  • Ashley Fort
  • Anthony Savage (getting married in February)
  • Graham Yarboro
  • Will Cargile


  • Carly Corfman
Will & Gillian
Carly & Austin
Kendall & Jacob
Graham & Lauren
Ashley & Mac
Anthony & Corinne


Digital News

  • The PPC team hit record numbers in 2022.
  • Search and Vehicle Ads campaigns increased in spend by $85,000 in December compared to November (2022).
  • YoY Google Ads spend (including Digital Media) increased by $3.98 million.
  • Tiffany Millan and Scott Giles passed Facebook’s Meta Certification.
Baby Kit
Baby Walker

We also welcomed a few SAM newborns this past year. Courtney Binder’s son, Walker, and Brad Price’s daughter, Kit.


DEP News

The DEP team welcomed Nolan Siegler as DEP Senior Sales Director. Nolan has 10 years’ experience at Epsilon’s automotive division where he conducted all direct marketing initiatives for advertising agencies, dealer groups, and individual dealerships. Nolan will be working out of Nashville, Tennessee, and will be in the BHM office. Welcome to the team, Nolan!

Media News

Liz Elder has been promoted to Vice President and Media Director. Additionally, the department has taken over 100% of the media reconciling from the Accounting department. This will ease the workload for Accounting, as well as increase Media’s knowledge of the different processes regarding invoice reconciliation.

Direct Mail/eCampaigns News

  • The Mail team has taken over POP jobs. They are really excited to learn a new department and take on new responsibilities!
  • eCampaigns grew the largest of all the departments last year, growing 47%! Congratulations to this team and their hard work.

Magic City Blues

By: Carly Corfman

It’s 4:50 a.m. and his alarm begins to chime – the all-familiar default tone of “Radar.” He swipes it off and begins his ascent into the kitchen, where he grabs a cup of coffee. The earthy smell of Breakfast Blend automatically fills the room, and he’s thankful once again that he prepared the pot the night before. He takes a fresh cup and settles into his chair in the office, flipping through his favorite newspaper comics – now all online – until 5:00 a.m. when he begins to write.

This is Bobby Mathews’ daily routine as an author and full-time digital copywriter at Strong Automotive Merchandising. Before the kids get up at 6:00 a.m., he writes between 1,000 and 1,700 words, repeating the process every day until the project is done.

Bobby’s writing career began over 15 years ago. Originally from Enterprise, Alabama, Bobby has written stories in areas all across the country. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bobby spent a year in New York writing feature stories about people trying to reclaim their lives. He spent the next 2 years in Wyoming managing a local newspaper, “which was the longest decade of my life,” he said. After six years in Georgia as the managing editor of various newspapers, Bobby returned to Alabama, following the tornado on March 1, 2007 that hit Enterprise High School. He worked for The University of Alabama, spent time freelancing, and also dabbled in public relations. All of his experience led Bobby to Birmingham, and then to SAM, where he continues his passion for writing through a different avenue.

“I knew that I wanted to be a writer from a very early age. There was a point where I had to decide if I wanted to be a writer, or if I wanted to write.” Bobby said it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of being a writer, moving to a romantic city, and living the stereotypical life of an author. “But at the end of the day, it’s better to have planted your rear-end in a chair and written a thousand words, rather than concentrate on wearing a fisherman’s sweater and finding six-toed cats,” he said. “It took me a long time to figure out.”

Since “figuring it out,” Bobby has written and sold two novels, published 27 short stories, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice. He was also a finalist in 2021 for the Derringer Award, an international award for short mystery/crime fiction.

Bobby’s first book, Living The Gimmick, was published in May of 2022 by Shotgun Honey, a company that specializes in crime fiction. The book is a murder mystery about professional wrestling between the 1980s and the modern world. “I didn’t know what I had when I wrote the first chapter. It took me about a month to write this 60,000-word novel, but I had written the first chapter about eight years before I finally came back to it.” The book touches on areas of the Me-Too movement and how it’s sometimes impossible to really know the people we’re the closest to.

On February 24, Bobby’s newest book will be released – Magic City Blues. The murder mystery is built around the idea of a land swindle involving the Carraway Hospital property. It was written as an homage to Robert B. Parker, an author who has had a big influence on Bobby’s life – so much that he named his younger son after one of Parker’s main characters, “Spenser.” Bobby discovered Parker’s books in his early 20s after graduating college. Magic City Blues is a mixture of Parker’s influence and the writing of Donald Westlake, who Bobby considers “one of the best writers of the 20th century.”

Additionally, Magic City Blues features some of his favorite spots around Birmingham like Eagle’s Restaurant, the now-closed Pale Eddie’s Pour House, Saw’s in Avondale, and The Collins Bar. He talks about the Vulcan statue on one side of the city and the statue of Electra on the other. “In some ways those statues are like a great lost love. Or, you can look at it like there’s one side of the city that’s ready to build something, and the other side’s ready to throw-down.” Bobby was able to incorporate historical pieces of Birmingham as well as current facets of the city’s personality. “It may not be your version of Birmingham; however, it is a version you will recognize.”

Bobby says one of the best opening lines in crime fiction comes from a 2001 novel called Firebreak. “When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.” Bobby said it’s such a great opening line because “you have to find out what happens next.”

“I think that’s one of the interesting things about writing crime. It’s not necessarily the crime… because crime is in many ways mundane. It’s always unfortunate. You hear it on the news every night. What makes a story to me is the reason why. Because that’s where it’s different – the reason why it happens. What drives a person to that desperate point,” Bobby said.

On February 25 at 6:00 p.m., Bobby will do a live reading of his new book among other authors at Noir At The Bar. The event will be hosted at the Red Cat at Pepper Place, where copies of the book will be available for purchase. Several New York Times best-selling authors will also be participating.

Bobby is grateful for the time he’s already spent at SAM, and he appreciates the chance to work with such talented and unique people. “I feel incredibly fortunate to do something that I love in writing crime fiction, having my books published, and widely praised. I also feel incredibly fortunate to work for an organization that recognizes my talent, my drive, and offers me the opportunity to use that talent in a way that Strong does,” he said.

All About the Summer SVMS

The days are quickly counting down to the next STRONG Virtual Marketing Summit (SVMS). Learn a little about why we host this event, and hear from Media on being involved in their first SVMS.

Why the SVMS?

In 2018, SAM began partnering with Google to host a series of educational summits for decision-makers in the automotive industry. Originally, these summits were held in person at Google’s offices in New York City and Austin, Texas. But as we all know, 2020 changed just about everything.

After pivoting to a virtual summit out of necessity, the SVMS team realized the scalability that virtual marketing events offered. Since hosting the first SVMS in the fall of 2021, SAM has grown an annual summit into a thrice-yearly event. It will be exciting to see how the event evolves in the future, but in the meantime, keep reading to see what’s in store for this month.

About the Summer 2022 SVMS

This summer’s SVMS will focus on the evolution of TV viewing. Speakers from SAM will discuss the best strategies for advertising on streaming services like Hulu, ESPN, and YouTube. They’ll also cover the benefits of Google’s Performance Max campaigns, Spanish advertising, and Linear Media.

The summit will take place on Thursday, July 28 at 10:30 a.m. SAM team members will have a chance to watch live, but please refrain from registering for the event. The internal link will be sent out on the 28th.

John Paul Strong, Stan Long, Jason Waters, and Casey Quattlebaum will speak at the event, covering all of the media-related topics listed above.

Up until this point, the SVMS has been primarily digital-focused. This marks the first time that Media has spearheaded the content, and they’ve done a phenomenal job helping craft scripts and angles.

“I am excited for Media to make its debut in this episode of SVMS!” Casey said. “I also enjoyed collaborating with my team. It forced us to think outside of the box and use our creative juices!”

Michele Alfano shared similar sentiments: “It was refreshing to collaborate on something a bit different for our team. The process from the first brainstorming session to the final scripts was great to be a part of. I can’t wait to see Casey shine in the final product!”

Liz Elder said of the project: “I was so proud of my team – Casey, Katie, and Michele – who pulled together, did a lot of research, and came up with strong content to make this episode of SVMS the best one yet! We collaborated to get the scripts written and worked so well together – each of us adding bits and pieces of information, graphics, research stats, and so on. We definitely stepped out of our comfort zones with this project. We were the embodiment of all 10 of SAM’s core values in this collaboration. It was challenging but rewarding all at the same time. We can’t wait to see the finished product!”

The SVMS project is led by Beth Nichols, with support from nearly every department in the agency. A lot goes into the planning, marketing, and implementing of each marketing summit. But the results have led to new clients, increased exposure, and higher engagement from our current dealers.

Stay tuned for the launch of the next SVMS!

Heard Around the Agency – July 2022

Learn what Team SAM has been up to lately, both in the office and at home.

Account Team

AT is celebrating both Hayley’s return from maternity leave and Holly Logan’s new arrival, baby Liam. The team is also excited about Sydney joining as the newest Account Coordinator, and wishes Rose good luck on her move to Texas.

“I was definitely nervous about coming back and leaving sweet baby James,” Hayley said. “But I really have been so happy being back. I missed my clients but especially my people.”

Rose shared the following about her move: “As of July 18, I will officially live below the Mason-Dixon Line. After 20 months and two freezing winters in Chicago, I am thankful to be heading back south. When the career opportunity was presented to my husband, it didn’t take us long to agree to relocate to Fort Worth. I will not miss those cold winters!”


Direct Contact

The DC team is excited to welcome its three new hires: Grace Bauder on eCampaigns, Anna Beth Heisler on Mail, and Rachel Mayo also on Mail. Welcome to the team!



Digital has had a busy month celebrating many promotions and new hires. The team has also enjoyed seeing photos of Summer’s new puppy, Coach.

My husband (Logan) has been begging me for a white Labrador Retriever ever since we got married,” Summer said. “I wasn’t on board at first because of our busy schedules, but I started looking at different breeders online just out of curiosity. On Saturday morning, I told Logan I was headed to the Pepper Place Market with a friend. Little did he know, I was actually headed to pick up our new pup. I came home and surprised Logan and he was shocked and thrilled! We are already so in love. The vet said he will be around 100 pounds.”





The Graphics team is getting ready to welcome two more members to the extended SAM fam. Alex Hendrix is expecting her first child in August, and Ryan and his wife are also expecting in September.



The team in Media is looking forward to Carly Corfman’s transition to the department, along with the addition of a new employee, Jordan Murphree, on July 18.

Media has also been busy working on the SVMS, which you can learn more about here.

How to Refer an Employee

They say that birds of a feather flock together. That’s exactly why SAM encourages employee referrals whenever there are open positions to fill. Better yet, employees can cash in on these referrals – with a $3,000 reward for a successful hire.

Like any referral program, there are some limitations. This article discusses why the employee referral program exists, stipulations necessary to claim the reward, and why it’s set up this way.

Let’s dig in!


Why Offer A Referral Bonus?

To make the best product, you have to have the best talent. And recruiting a quality workforce takes a considerable amount of resources. Referrals have the advantage of being pre-vetted by an existing employee who can serve as both a reference and an ambassador of the company. Referrals save the agency time and money sourcing talent, so in return, employees are rewarded for helping provide quality staffing.


How Do You Qualify for the Referral Bonus?

Before encouraging a friend to apply, it’s a good idea to check out the official Employee Referral Policy. And please note, SAM no longer allows the hiring of relatives.

The company will pay a $3,000 cash bonus to the employee who refers a candidate that is subsequently hired if one of the two requirements below is met exactly:

  1. Employee sends the candidate’s résumé directly to the COO and hiring managers prior to the candidate applying online.
  2. Candidate applies online and lists the employee’s name who referred them.

You are eligible to refer candidates after you have worked at SAM for at least 90 days.



Let’s look at a few examples of how this could play out.

Situation 1: Somebody applies for an open position via LinkedIn. They have edited their résumé to include a line saying, “referred by [SAM employee name].” In that case, the employee is eligible for the referral bonus.

Situation 2: A person applies via Indeed using their Indeed profile. It’s the candidate’s standard résumé, not customized and no message included. An employee emails their manager later that day recommending the applicant. Here, the employee is not eligible because the application was submitted before the referral was given.

Situation 3: An employee emails the COO and hiring managers the résumé of a candidate to refer. The candidate later applies via LinkedIn. Now, the employee is eligible because they submitted the referral before the candidate applied.

If you want to be eligible for the referral bonus, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you must communicate the referral before the candidate applies in any way. This ensures that SAM received the application due to an employee referral, not other job marketing channels.

When an employee referral works out, it’s great news for everyone. You’ve saved the agency time and money, earned yourself a bonus, and gotten your friend a job! By sticking to the referral policy, you can make sure you’re rewarded for the referrals you send SAM’s way.

Heard Around the Agency – May 2022

There’s always something exciting going on at SAM. Check out a few updates from our various departments below.

Account Team

  • Robin recently returned from a trip to Hawaii.
  • The team welcomed Carly as its newest Account Coordinator.
  • The SAM Kickball Team made it to the playoffs!
  • Baylee was inducted into the Junior League of Birmingham.



  • Celina’s wedding to Connor took place this month, followed by their honeymoon.


Direct Contact

  • Anna Beth and her husband Garrett are about to move into their first house, and they are so excited!
  • Rachel Mayo starts on our team tomorrow and will be working with Anna Beth in Mail. She comes with lots of experience and is eager to learn more about Mail and the company.

Where in the World is Strong

With the summer travel season approaching, here are a few reminders on how to participate in the Where in the World is Strong feature.
  1. SAM flags are available at Luke’s desk. Stop by to check one out before your trip.
  2. Take a photo with the flag during your travels.
  3. Send the photo to Celina and Luke to share on SAM’s social media.
Here’s an example of how they look:

Heard Around the Agency

There’s always something exciting going on at SAM. Check out a few updates from our various departments below.


  • The Production department celebrated the completion of Midtown Studio, located on the first floor of SAM’s headquarters. Due to flooding a few months back, some of the studio was damaged, giving us the opportunity to upgrade both the space and its equipment. You can read more about the studio redo in this article.


  • Elizabeth Rodriguez, Casey Quattlebaum, and Liz Elder have been working on their Google Analytics Certifications. They have been training via Skill Path with Google. The training has consisted of 15+ hours per person. After completing their training, they will test. Testing is online and will take about an hour and a half each. This will be a huge accomplishment for both the department and the agency!
  • In personal news, Liz has an upcoming mission trip planned with her daughter. And Katie Reeves is heading out West this June. Sheila Grandy-Morrison has started baking again, and is in talks to begin supporting a non-profit organization via her culinary craft.


  •  Bethany Alexander has been working with crochet and has an online shop where she sells various handcrafted crochet products. She also owns several chickens and is known to bring fresh eggs to share with the department.
  • Laura Dobbs is expanding her multilingual skills by studying French on her own.
  • Shelby Fields is learning exceptional time management skills by juggling completing her degree with full-time work at SAM.

Account Team

  • The team has been excited to celebrate Kelsey’s Plemmons’ recent engagement!


  • Rachel Blackerby is due to give birth any day now!
  • Erica Brock is getting married at the end of this month.