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  • June 08, 2023 12:52 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    If you’re like most people, you spend a good portion of your workweek in meetings. The higher your level in your organization, the more meetings you are likely to attend. For example, the average CEO spends 72% of their time in meetings. Here’s the kicker, though – most of these meetings don’t accomplish much. Research shows that about 71% of meetings are unproductive.

    Poorly run meetings can have many negative impacts, according to executive coach Dr. Luis Velasquez. Among them include a decline in performance, cohesion and success. That’s why it’s important for leaders to understand why meetings get derailed. When leaders know what to look for, they can address the issues before they get out of hand.

    Keep reading this issue of PromoPro Daily for Dr. Velasquez’s thoughts on four common meeting derailers to avoid.

    1. Tackling unsolvable problems. Dr. Velasquez calls these “gravity problems.” This is when your team gets caught up discussing a challenge or issue that’s fundamentally unsolvable at the team level – much like the force of gravity. Focusing on these kinds of problems can drain your team and leave everyone frustrated.

    2. Making too many assumptions. This could mean making assumptions about others on your team, which could lead to a culture of mistrust and suspicion. Or it could mean making excessive assumptions about a specific issue without having any validations. The bottom line is that assumption overload can lead to negative consequences beyond just derailing your meetings.

    3. Fielding negative thoughts. Unproductive thinking patterns, which Dr. Velasquez calls “annoying negative thoughts” can affect meeting outcomes. Watch for these negative thoughts in the form of all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization and catastrophizing. Meetings could also get derailed if you spend too much time reassuring a team member of the validity of their idea.

    4. Chasing squirrels. Dr. Velasquez says some people have difficulty staying focused on the purpose of the meeting and introduce unrelated tangents – or squirrels. For example, if you called a meeting to discuss project specifics and a team member continues circling back to details on a separate project, your team is getting sidetracked. This squirrel chasing wastes time and frustrates other staff members.

    Don’t let your meetings end up wasting everyone’s time. Bring more focus and clarity to your meetings by staying aware of the derailers above.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Pubished with Permission from PPAI Media

    Source: Luis Velasquez, MBA, Ph.D. is an executive coach who works with senior leaders and their teams to become more cohesive, effective and resilient. He is the founder and managing partner of Velas Coaching LLC.

  • May 17, 2023 1:42 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Hello, SAAC! As your new president, I want to update the association on what has been happening and highlight our upcoming events.

    The installation dinner was a sold-out event! We finally had an opportunity to recognize and thank the past presidents who guided us through the pandemic. Thank you to Tara Villanueva, Stephen Ropfogel, and Bob Levitt. We also had the privilege of bestowing the SAAC Honorary Life Membership on Robert Collins, who has served our association and its members for more than 35 years. What a touching recognition and acceptance speech by him!

    We ended the evening with the installation of the 2023 officers and directors. I want to welcome and thank them for their service thus far:

    Officers 2023

    President – Jeff Stevens, WesCo Marketing

    Vice President – Amy Williams, CAS, AB Unlimited Worldwide

    Treasurer – Heather Valle-Laird, Logomark

    Secretary – Ryan Paules, Radar Promotions

    Immediate Past President – Bob Levitt, MAS

    Directors 2023

    Danny Henderson, C&C Marketing, Powered by Proforma

    Kimberly Horton, FPS Apparel

    Victoria Schmitz, CAS, Goldstar

    Heidi Selleck, The Vernon Company

    Mary Skeen, AIM Smarter LLC

    Steve Parker, MAS, The Magnet Group

    The SAAC Expo committee has been working hard on the show this year. Our new theme is the “SAAC Experience,” and the event will take place August 16-17, with setup on August 15. Hosted end buyers are welcome on the show floor on Thursday, and PPAI’s Dale Denham is our keynote speaker, sharing tips for maximizing merch in promotional budgets.

    We have listened to your feedback and are creating more networking opportunities, too, including a happy hour after the supplier set up on Tuesday from 5-6 p.m. Distributors are welcome. It will take place on the Center Terrace overlooking San Diego Bay. We also have a welcome happy hour networking event on Wednesday after the show at 4 p.m. Tickets are required for the “SAAC Experience: Game On!” event, which includes dinner, a cornhole tournament, outdoor games, and a DJ for music and dancing.

    Other committees are also hard at work. The marketing committee is updating our newsletter to include more relevant content, upcoming events, and focus on association members, and the events committee has planned a bowling and networking event in May in San Diego, more bowling in OC and LA in June, and fun events in other regions to come. Please support their efforts and take advantage of some in-person time together. We look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming events!

    Jeff Stevens
    SAAC President

  • May 17, 2023 1:38 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Are you a New Year’s resolution kind of person? I am not. While I believe strongly in setting goals, I have never been inclined to set them around a calendar year for the sake of tradition.

    A few years ago, I noticed a trend among some of my colleagues and friends. In place of setting a specific resolution, they are choosing a word of the year.

    If you’re unfamiliar, choosing a word of the year is something that is done instead of, or maybe in addition to, setting a specific resolution for the new year. The idea is that you choose a word that will guide and inspire you throughout the year. It is said to be a powerful way to set intentions for the coming year, allowing you to focus on a way you want to feel or what you want to experience in the 365 days ahead.

    One of the things I like most about this concept is that there isn’t going to be a specific moment of ultimate success or failure – it’s a lot more practical and realistic to how we lead our lives than to create a resolution that is likely to go out the window before February, anyway. With a word of the year, your focus may ebb and flow throughout the 12 months, and there will always be opportunities to improve and refocus.

    This is one of those moments of refocus for me. The word I chose at the beginning of 2023: intentionality.

    As we’re heading into the summer months, many in the promotional products industry, including me, are entering a season of increased business travel. This means lots of opportunities to network and a great chance to introduce intentionality to your networking.

    Weaving intentionally into your networking will provide a far more effective approach to helping you reach your goals.

    Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way:

    1. Define your goals. Before you start networking – in fact ,before you determine where you want to be networking – it’s important to know what you want to achieve. These could be company or individual goals.

    Whether your networking goal is to learn from others, build your networking, find resources or something else, it’s important to set clear and specific goals. This will help you get the most out of the time you invest in networking.

    2. Know your strengths. Determining ahead of any given networking opportunity how you can rely on your strengths to approach the situation will help set you up for success. Knowing your strengths is also important in determining how you want to present yourself and how you want to differentiate yourself from others. This will help you create a strong personal brand that will resonate with others.

    3. Be strategic. Networking isn’t just about meeting people. It’s about identifying and building relationships with the right people – people who have the potential to help you achieve your goals and grow both personally and professionally.

    Make sure to build in time to be intentional about how and who you are building your network with.

    4. Follow up. Networking is not a one-time event – it is an ongoing process of relationship-building, so be intentional about the need to stay in contact with the key people you meet. Following up after an initial meeting and staying in touch are equally important components of the process.

    Intentionally put aside time from your regular routine to connect with your network. It’s easy for this to take a back seat to the hustle and grind of our day-to-day life, especially for anyone in sales. But we must make sure to have a plan in mind to stay top of mind with your most important contacts.

    As I continue my year of intentionality, I’m looking forward to putting this advice to work at PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference and Women’s Leadership Conference in June – I hope to see you there! 

    Tucker is the vice president of revenue and expositions at PPAI.

    Published with permission from PPAI

  • May 17, 2023 1:29 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    National Candy Month

    June 6
    National Drive-In Movie Day

    June 18
    International Sushi Day

    June 29
    National Camera Day

    Product idea: Reminisce or simulate a drive-in movie with this LCD projector. It delivers high-quality entertainment in vivid imagery. There’s a wide variety of multimedia functionality, allowing you to stream media via USB flash drives, memory cards and two HDMI connections. Enjoy streaming all types of movies, music and media through various apps by connecting a compatible streaming device.

    Hirsch / PPAI 221823, S10

    National Picnic Month

    July 10
    National Kitten Day

    July 16
    National Ice Cream Day

    July 24
    National Tequila Day

    Product idea: Tacos have been trending for years, and finally tequila is having its moment. Featuring authentic classics like tacos al pastor and Baja-style fish tacos, Tequila & Tacos also includes entirely new spins – such as fried Brussels sprouts tacos or tempura-battered seaweed tacos cradling ahi tuna – paired with delicious cocktails crafted with the finest agave spirits, like a traditional tart Paloma cocktail rimmed with spiced salt or an eye-opening mezcal Manhattan.

    The Book Company / PPAI 218850, S5

    National Dog Month

    August 4
    National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

    August 8
    National CBD Day

    August 30
    National Beach Day

    Product idea: This True Spectrum CBD Soothing Freeze Gel is ideal for athletes, weekend warriors or anyone with an active lifestyle. Used by chiropractors, athletic trainers, physical and occupational therapists, massage therapists, podiatrists and more to deliver a great topical relief, True Spectrum Soothing Freeze Gel combines natural ingredients that allow deep penetrating cold therapy pain relief in a convenient roll-on applicator. Made in the USA.

    Select Manufacturers / PPAI 110946, S1

    Kristina Valdez, PPAI Associate Editor

    Published with permission from PPAI 

  • April 16, 2023 7:33 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    A tendency to micromanage can strike even the most well-meaning leaders. They may want to produce the best work but feel the need to review and redo every item. Or, they may have difficulty delegating, preferring instead to do the work themselves. Whatever the circumstances, micromanaging can negatively impact the whole team by stifling creativity and crushing employees’ confidence.

    When it comes to micromanagers, consultant and author Marlene Chism says they fall into one of two groups: those who know they micromanage and those who don’t. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share some tips from Chrism on how leaders can get on the same page as employees and begin to overcome the need to micromanage.

    1. Put a plan in writing. Think about the deadline, responsibilities, shareholders involved and other details in any given project. Then, put together a written agreement that outlines everything. Chism says this can provide focus and prevent guesswork or rework. Written agreements prevent the back and forth, scope creep and disappointments that happen when there’s a lack of clarity or a lack of trust, she says.

    2. Book some check-ins. What are some benchmarks you could add to your calendar? When these are added at the beginning of the project, they can help alleviate the “are we there yet” conversations that can make employees feel like they aren’t trusted. Chism says designated check-in dates also serve as a reminder to use this time for communicating about unexpected obstacles and needed tweaks.

    3. Create systems of accountability. Micromanagement isn’t the same as accountability. Leaders will sometimes have to initiate difficult conversations about performance or behavior, Chism says. Don’t let the fear of being called a micromanager keep you from holding your team members accountable. She recommends documenting coaching conversations and setting up follow-up dates to ensure progress is being made.

    4. Don’t blindside your staff. Chism says it’s never a good idea to hold your comments until an annual performance review. You owe it to your employees to stop blindsiding them by waiting until a formal review to share your concerns or feedback. You might risk being called a micromanager if you have more frequent conversations, but it’s critical to keep open communication flowing in all directions across your company.

    Micromanaging ends up doing more harm than good — for leaders and their teams. To overcome this harmful habit, remember to document plans in writing and set aside time for regular check-ins. Keep your team accountable and talk to them openly and honestly. By tamping down any micromanagement tendencies, you can begin to create a culture of empowerment and trust.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    SourceMarlene Chism is a consultant, executive educator and the author of From Conflict to Courage: How to Stop Avoiding and Start Leading. She is a recognized expert on the LinkedIn Global Learning platform.

     Published With Permission from PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:25 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    There’s a regulatory issue on the horizon that practically every company operating in the promotional merchandise market is going to have to deal with. And that horizon isn’t evenly distributed. For some, they’ve already reached it, and for others it’s in the short- or medium-term distance. But it’s coming, and most of us are going to have to contend with it, one way or another.

    There are more than 9,000 perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS) in use today in myriad products. Due to the strength of their carbon-fluorine bonds, they are persistent, bio-accumulative “forever chemicals,” and some have been shown to have multiple, adverse effects on human health. Governments at the state and federal level, and around the world, are enacting regulations controlling or prohibiting their use.

    These rules apply to different product categories, follow different schedules, require different testing and mandate different responses. In short, it’s very confusing.

    “This subject is really for the chemists,” says Rick Brenner, MAS+, president and CEO of Product Safety Advisors. “But all of our industry is going to have to deal with it at an administrative level. What test do I need to tell me it’s OK? That sort of thing. Nobody’s going to become an expert in it, but we need to understand what it means for our businesses.”

    The PFAS Origin Story

    First discovered in the 1930s, PFAS chemistry has been appearing in consumer and industrial products since the 1940s. The substances have been incorporated in a broad range of goods to provide water- and stain-resistant properties, nonstick surfaces, flexibility and durability, and other capabilities. Think Teflon and Scotchgard.

    Common consumer products that contain PFAS include grease-resistant paper, fast food containers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes and candy wrappers. PFAS can also be found in:

    • Nonstick cookware.
    • Stain-resistant coatings used in upholstery and fabrics.
    • Water-resistant clothing.
    • Cleaning products.
    • Personal care products like shampoo and dental floss.
    • Cosmetics like nail polish and eye makeup.
    • Paints, varnishes and sealants.

    The first clues that PFAS may have adverse health effects came in the 1970s, when studies found the chemicals in the blood of occupationally exposed workers. PFAS was found in the blood of the general population in the 1990s. That discovery led to greater awareness of the chemicals and concerns over their presence in the environment and humans, as well as potential health impacts.

    Widespread documentation of environmental contamination didn’t happen until the early 2000s. PFAS chemicals can pollute sources of drinking water and the environment in multiple ways, through washing and disposal in landfills and incinerators. The chemicals have been found in sediments, surface and groundwater and wildlife. Some have been found in places throughout the world far beyond where the chemicals were initially used or manufactured.

    Legislation in New York enacting certain PFAS prohibitions notes, “mounting research has linked well-known PFAS compounds such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to kidney and testicular cancer and communities with PFAS contaminated water have been shown to suffer serious medical effects.”

    The same bill cites research from the John Wood Group, an engineering and consulting firm, that says, “PFASs are very persistent in the environment, and some are highly soluble and mobile. Documented evidence has shown that PFASs emitted to soil can readily move into groundwater and be transported well beyond the original contamination source.”

    The Regulatory Landscape

    PFAS chemicals are coming under regulatory scrutiny from all corners: Numerous states have enacted laws and regulations controlling or prohibiting the chemicals’ use or managing human exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering new rules, and in February, the European Union proposed a ban on the manufacture, use and selling of goods containing PFAS in the common market.

    States’ focus on PFAS has typically centered on various product categories, namely:

    • Food packaging.
    • Cosmetics or personal care products.
    • Children’s products.
    • Textiles.
    • Fabric, carpets or rugs, and upholstery.
    • Fish and deer meat harvested from select waterways and areas.

    How this activity affects the promotional products industry varies. Recent legislation of particular note to the promo industry includes bans on PFAS use in apparel that passed in New York and California. These prohibitions go into effect on December 31, 2023, and January 1, 2025, respectively.

    But by no means are these the only regulations instituted at the state level that will impact the industry. Seventeen states have one or more regulations governing PFAS use, while four more have bills in consideration. A law went into effect in Maine on January 1 that mandates notifying the state of any product being sold in the state that had intentionally added PFAS.

    Complicating efforts to comply with these laws, the prohibitions not only cover different product categories, but differ on timetables, how they measure PFAS and which chemicals they apply to – remember, there are more than 9,000 PFAS in use.

    Several federal agencies are also moving on PFAS. Among them is the Environmental Protection Agency, which in 2021 established a strategic roadmap to take specific actions and commit to new policies to protect public health and the environment, and to hold polluters accountable. In September it proposed designating two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous due to “significant evidence” that they present “substantial danger to human health or welfare or the environment.”

    Another federal agency examining the impact of PFAS on public health is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has several ongoing reviews of PFAS in food and food containers.

    “There is no current federal regulation on PFAS in any consumer product,” says Brenner. “It’s not like Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, where there’s a specific threshold that you can’t have more than so much lead and lead in the substrate of any product, or so much lead in the surface coating. There’s nothing like that for PFAS at the federal level yet.”

    In fact, he adds, if we go back to the way that lead was regulated in the U.S., it’s a very similar situation to what’s going on now with PFAS.

    “In the summer of 2007, there were millions and millions of Barbie dolls and other Chinese toys that were recalled. It is referred to as the ‘summer of recalls.’ As a result, a number of states started passing lead regulations – and none of them were harmonized with another, and it became very challenging,” Brenner says. “What can we do when there are different regulations in different states, and they have different definitions of what’s covered and what’s not covered?”

    In August 2008, the CPSIA was signed into law. One of its provisions was that all state consumer product safety regulations that had been passed subsequent to 1986 were preempted. With the federal laws in place, companies didn’t have to worry about what state they were dealing with.

    Brenner says, “It was a benefit to all of us in the industry because all of a sudden we had a standard that applied everywhere. We’ve got the same situation now, and that’s the issue. You have all of these states passing legislation right now about PFAS, and they’re not harmonized.”

    Without federal standards, the simplest thing for industry companies to do is to find the strictest state standard that goes into effect on the earliest date and apply it to their product lines and production methods.

    The European Union’s proposed ban on PFAS is the bloc’s largest chemical restriction to date. If adopted, the measure would prohibit the manufacture, use and importation of PFAS on their own, as well as the manufacture and importation of products and substances that contain PFAS. Companies would potentially have to redesign a range of products intended for the EU market.

    Adding another wrinkle to the regulatory landscape stems from children’s products. State regulators pay close attention to PFAS in children’s products, prompting more stringent restrictions. Seven states currently have laws on the books regarding PFAS chemicals in children’s or juvenile products. Six more states have proposed regulations in 2022 and 2023.

    What Does This Mean For Promo?

    For promotional products companies, whether or not their business is subject to current regulations related to PFAS, the wise move today is to evaluate production methods and products to determine if they use or contain these chemicals and are subject to potential risks.

    Industry companies are already moving to manage the PFAS issue. In December, 3M, which participates in the promotional products industry as a supplier through its 3M Promotional Markets division, announced that it would exit PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

    “This potentially has a huge impact on the promo industry as it is everywhere,” says Chris Pearson, MAS, vice president of compliance and Asia operations at supplier Spector & Co. “Even the largest manufacturers have been using PFAS for years for waterproofing and stain resistance. It is also found out in the world because of this, so trace amounts are everywhere.”

    Electronics and soft goods suppliers are especially vulnerable to these regulations, he adds.

    “It takes a long time to engineer these out with a safe alternative,” Pearson says. “We used to use a different version and that was the solution, but now we realize that the substitute was equally as bad as the original. Without a loss of properties and features, this is very difficult to remove.”

    As has always been the way in every regulatory shift, compliance is driven by the largest customers. Industry distributors selling to smaller businesses are likely to never have a problem. Distributors who deal with companies like Nestlé, General Mills and McDonald’s, etc., will have to be prepared, because those are the type of customers who are going to be unable to buy anything without conclusive proof that the goods they’re purchasing don’t contain proscribed PFAS chemicals. To be successful, these distributors need their suppliers to be prepared.

    “Suppliers in this industry are the ones that need to deal with this,” says Brenner. “They’re the ones that need to understand what’s in their products and whether or not PFAS is part of it. That’s going to be a matter of them contacting their testing lab, getting an education, reviewing their product categories, reviewing their products and developing a strategy, because the distributors in the industry are going to be asking, ‘Is there PFAS in it?’”

    Brenner adds, “It’s really challenging. I don’t think a distributor who’s trying to sell all day long, they don’t have time to be on the phone for three hours to get answers like this. They’re going to rely on the suppliers to be vetting their sources and understanding what’s in the products they’re selling. It’s going to be a big challenge for suppliers because they need to know what’s in everything they make.”

    Test, Test, Test

    The regulatory impact on the promo industry has the potential to be far reaching. PFAS’ ubiquity means it’s likely to found in a wide swath of the industry’s goods.

    “Take PFOA, one of the chemicals on California’s list,” says Brenner. “The question is, what’s PFOA in? Well, if you tried to test your products for every PFAS, it would be far too expensive. Different labs have different strategies, but basically the approach is to start with testing for either total fluorine or total organic fluorine under the basis that if it doesn’t have that in it, it can’t have PFAS in it because every PFAS bond is carbon and fluorine.”

    Pearson says, “Promo companies need to start testing and certifying their supply chains to ensure there are no intentionally added PFAS’ to their products. The companies with more robust testing and compliance programs already are doing this.”

    Promotional products companies can logo, source and distribute any consumer product, and should be cautious when using categories with the potential to contain PFAS.

    “Be aware of the product categories that are at higher risk for containing these chemicals,” says Karolyn Helda, managing director at supply chain solutions provider Qima. “Know your suppliers and what is in your product. The product's Bill of Materials and Bill of Substances can be reviewed to determine if PFAS are added. However, factories may not be willing to provide this information, and therefore it will be up to the promo industry company to conduct testing to monitor their products. A good option is to test suspect materials, such as a coating on a textile, for total organic fluorine.”

    Helda notes that alternatives to PFAS are coming onto the market – hydrocarbons and waxes are being adopted by outdoor brands for use in textiles; cellulose-based alternatives, biopolymers and biowaxes are being used in food packaging; and the cookware industry offers ceramic and hard-anodized options. But even as these come available, testing and scrutiny will remain important.

    “Chemical alternatives to PFAS are being developed and studied,” says Helda. “But like with any new chemical, companies need to do their homework on the safety of the alternative before employing it for use on their products."

    What’s Next?

    It’s not yet clear whether the industry will get federal regulations harmonizing rules regarding PFAS across the country like it did with CPSIA. Regardless, promo companies need a strategy.

    “This is coming, and you need to be aware of it,” says Brenner. “There are countless products that have PFAS that we’re selling every day."

    “If you’re a distributor, you need to be asking questions of your suppliers, and suppliers need to study the issue and understand where and why these chemicals are used. The best advice is to be aware of them and to try to get an education on how they are used and where they are in our inventories.”

    Industry businesses may or may not be affected by the consumer product regulations related to PFAS. But because the chemicals are so prevalent in goods today, prudent companies should evaluate their potential risk now to determine if PFAS can be found in their products or production methods.

    Promo companies also have educational opportunities to available to them, as PPAI’s annual Product Responsibility Summit has brought experts together from within and outside the industry to discuss the issue.

    “More than anything, take the time. Now,” says Brenner. “We’re in the ramp-up before it gets to be where every product is examined for PFAS. Understand where, what and which of your products has some PFAS chemicals in them. Take the time to investigate.”

    Khattak is the senior digital editor at PPAI.

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:22 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach effectively shut down last Thursday evening through Friday due to a worker shortage. Port and labor representatives offered differing analysis of the causes behind the stoppage, but that it comes during protracted labor negotiations has raised some eyebrows.

    The Shutdown

    Late Thursday, April 6, terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach closed due to a lack of workers during the evening shift. The closures continued through Friday, with operations resuming on Saturday.

    • Statements from port management suggest the staffing issues took them by surprise as well.

    Both International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13, representing port workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing employers, have issued statements on the incident.

    “On the evening of Thursday, April 6, ILWU Local 13 held its monthly membership meeting as is its contractual right,” ILWU Local 13’s statement read. “Several thousand union members attend the monthly meeting. On Friday, April 7, union members who observe religious holidays took the opportunity to celebrate with their families.

    “Cargo operations are ongoing as longshore workers at the Ports remain on the job.”

    The PMA’s press release reflects its view on what happened. It reads, “The largest ILWU local on the West Coast has taken a concerted action to withhold labor at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulting in widespread worker shortages.

    “The action by the Union has effectively shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – the largest gateway for maritime trade in the United States.”

    The Promo Perspective

    Labor negotiations between the ILWU and PMA have entered their 11th month. They began in May 2022 and affect 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports from California to Washington.

    • The contract negotiations cover wages, working conditions and several other issues.
    • Dockworkers have been without a contract since July 2022.

    The discussions appear to have stalled. Last month, PPAI joined with several other industry groups in a call for the Biden administration to become more involved in the discussion toward its resolution.

    For importers in the promotional products industry, last week’s incident is another chapter in the lengthy, ongoing labor dispute and the uncertainty that surrounds it. For most, the best case is to remain flexible.

    The winners in the dispute have been ports on the Gulf and East coasts, who saw their traffic pick up during the West Coast port backups in 2021 and 2022. With potential labor action on the West Coast, shippers continue to have favorable views of the Gulf and East coasts. As shipping services and infrastructure builds up around these ports, promotional products companies should expect some degree of this shift to be permanent.

    James Khattack, PPAI

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:19 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Most companies offer employees a variety of resources to help them succeed. These may include trainings, mentorship programs, tuition assistance or any number of other offerings. While these benefits and perks can certainly help individual staffers, companies should also pay attention to creating a supportive work environment — one that leads to a culture of well-being.

    Author Dr. Richard Safeer says that employee well-being and health are not solo sports — well-being involves the whole team. So, to create an optimum work environment, leaders can start with the three building blocks of a healthy culture. We outline Dr. Safeer’s thoughts in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

    1. Peer support. Those around you — your colleagues, friends and family — significantly influence your habits. Dr. Safeer points out that when we’re around happy people, we’re more likely to be happy. Likewise, when we’re around stressed people, we’re more likely to feel stressed. He says leaders can take advantage of this strong connection by encouraging peer support in pairs or groups. Instead of only commending employees for personal achievements, try appreciating them when they support a co-worker. What the leader pays attention to gets repeated, he says.

    2. Leadership engagement. It’s important for leaders to not only talk about the importance of well-being but to model it as well. Your team is watching you, Dr. Safeer says. If you take a break for lunch, so will they. And if you decide to go for a walk after lunch, they might feel inspired to move as well. Sharing what you do to stay healthy shows your team that well-being is important, he says.

    3. Norms. The third building block, according to Dr. Safeer, involves norms. These might include supporting a healthy workday, like eating together to build a sense of community among team members. He recommends having a discussion with staffers to learn what health goals they may want to achieve. Then, you can drive norm agreement and address any obstacles that might get in the way. Dr. Safeer says you might even encourage a team promise by inviting employees to sign a pledge that everyone will support each other.

    If you lead a team, remember to focus on well-being for the entire organization — not just individual employees. You can lay a solid foundation with the three building blogs of peer support, leadership engagement and norms.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Dr. Richard Safeer is the chief medical director of employee health and well-being at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the author of A Cure for the Common Company: A Well-Being Prescription for a Happier, Healthier and More Resilient Workforce.

     Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:17 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Some sales approaches have seemingly been retired for newer approaches in recent years. Things like cold calling and transactional selling have been put aside — especially in the age of artificial intelligence. Mike Kunkle, a sales expert and founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC, doesn’t think these sales approaches are totally useless now, but he does feel they need to be modernized.

    Through his career working in sales effectiveness roles, Kunkle has learned a few things about sales relationships. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we highlight some of his top takeaways when it comes to relationships in modern selling.

    1. Know what clients want from the relationship. You should always understand your customers’ challenges, opportunities, impacts, needs, outcomes and priorities, Kunkle says, as well as need and solution alignment. However, it’s also important to know what the buyers want from a supplier/partner. Ask, clarify and confirm. Kunkle says this alone can differentiate you.

    2. The best relationship wins. Following the tip above can be a key differentiator, but it may not be enough. The buyer’s personality and other situational factors will come into play. And keep in mind, Kunkle says, that some prospects will still choose to work with someone they know, like and trust, even if they don’t necessarily have the best solution.

    3. There’s always emotion and logic involved. Kunkle says people make decisions emotionally and justify these decisions with logic. They seek out what’s trustworthy and credible and then look for the logic in their choice.

    4. Professional and personal aspects matter. This applies to you and the others at your company or partners with whom your buyers will work, Kunkle says. It’s important to know your buyers’ and customers’ value drivers. They may include things like aspirational plans or personal motivators. Always aim to be buyer- and customer-centric, he advises.

    5. Never overlook branding. Remember that customers can have a relationship with your company too, Kunkle says. This is why your branding matters so much. Think about how people feel about the brands they are loyal to. These brands can evoke powerful emotions that lead to brand loyalty. Aim to create a brand that resonates with your target audience.

    Sales relationships today may still involve traditional things like golf outings and dinners, but they should always be built on a foundation of true bonds. These are what Kunkle calls the “human differentiators.” By considering the observations above, you can build a solid foundation in today’s evolving sales environment.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    SourceMike Kunkle is a recognized expert on sales enablement, sales effectiveness and sales transformation. He is the founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC.

    Published With Permission From PPAI

  • April 16, 2023 7:12 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Cybersecurity has become a crucial element of running a promotional products business. It’s an unfortunate reality, but ransomware incidents and cybercrimes are increasingly targeting different companies in the industry.

    • Small and large companies alike are vulnerable.

    A new study conducted by a cybersecurity company reports some harrowing statistics involving shipping and logistics carrier.

    Phishing With FedEx

    Phishing is one of the most common forms of cybercrimes, so much so that the White House felt compelled to officially warn businesses of the threat in 2022.

    • Criminals use phishing to trick the user into letting them into their files to steal, disrupt or hold files ransom.
    • This is not the obvious phishing of 10 years ago, which was typically easy to identify.
    • Phishing has increased in sophistication and number of attempts, which, combined, increase the probability of any given company being successfully victimized.

    Impersonation is the most likely tactic of a phishing scam.

    • The cybersecurity firm Cloudflare released a report of the most common brands impersonated through successful phishing scams (defined by causing victims to click on the phishing URL).

    The report showed that shipping and logistics companies rank among the top ways phishing scammers approach potential victims.

    • FedEx, a PPAI Affinity Partner, is ranked 40th on Cloudflare’s list of most impersonated brands.
    • Much higher on the list is the carrier service DHL, which is ranked fourth on the list.

    Shipping and logistics companies are impersonated because doing business with a carrier can mean getting updates about the status of your delivery, or requiring action to receive an order or address a delay.

    • When a business needs to receive a shipment, they typically need that shipment on schedule.
    • For that reason, they may rush to open an email that contains only minor differences from what a real email from FedEx might look like without taking the time to consider it might be a scam to gain access to their computer.

    The Real FedEx Has Advice

    FedEx’s statement on possible fraud is as follows:

    “FedEx does not request, via unsolicited mail, text or email, payment or personal information in return for goods in transit or in FedEx custody. If you receive any of these or similar communications, do not reply or cooperate with the sender. If your interaction with the website resulted in financial loss, you should contact your bank immediately.”

    A few warning signs that FedEx warns customers to be on the lookout for:

    • A sense of urgency

    While your shipment is likely an urgent matter to you, FedEx emails, texts or calls will not rush you to act or appear pushy in their language or tone. Urgency leads to quick decisions, which is what scammers are hoping for.

    • Requests for personal or financial information.

    FedEx’s systems are organized from the initial phase of doing business. If the company requests money or personal information while a shipment is supposed to be in route, take a step back and visit FedEx’s customer service page and get in touch with a representative.

    • Spelling or grammatical errors.

    These are telltale signs of phishing. Be sure to look at the exact email address. It may be slightly different from what an official FedEx email address would appear as.

    Take Best Practices Seriously

    Whether the criminal is impersonating FedEx, PayPal or the CEO of your company, you are very likely to be targeted by a phishing scam.

    A cyber crime can be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    PPAI has a few best practices and considerations that the organization follows internally and advises of members.

    • Consider how much access to systems, data and files each employee needs in order to be able to do their job. The less any compromised device has access to, the less reach that threat has.
    • When archiving data for reference, consider making it ‘Read Only’ so users can look at it but not alter it.
    • PPAI urges companies to be constantly updating their cybersecurity prevention and security plans to keep up with evolving threats. PPAI’s security road map looks very different than it did even just last year.
    • Train all your employees to be on the lookout for phishing scams.

    If you are successfully hacked in a phishing attack that turns into a ransomware attack, you may receive a message claiming your computer is infected and demanding you to call a number or pay an amount or take an action.

    • At that point, it may seem too late.
    • Nonetheless, immediately unplug your machine and contact your IT department, as the damage can potentially be mitigated.

    Written by Jonny Auping, PPAI

    Published with Permission From PPAI

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