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Lesson #1: The Face-Plant

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Samantha PhillipsFrom guest blogger and intern Samantha Phillips  …

With everyone away at the Chicago tradeshow, the ASI office feels like one of those deserted towns in old western movies. I keep expecting to see a tumbleweed bouncing aimlessly through Supplier Sales, or Clint Eastwood leaning up against the vending machine, a revolver twirling around his index finger.

But, the quiet office has made for a pretty productive week for me. I pumped out my fair share of copy, went on a few internal interviews, and found time to catch a drink with new department friends. There was one terrifying intern moment for me this week, however. I’ve been working with ASI’s public relations team on a few assignments over the course of my time here. One of these assignments was plugging data into the script that was to be read at the Counselor Award show in Chicago, which took place this past Wednesday. The task was simple: plug in the sales figures and rankings of 2013’s top 40 suppliers and distributors. Easy, peasy. Took me about twenty minutes and then I sent it off, thinking how impressed they would be with my speedy assignment delivery. Bad move.

I got a phone call this week from the PR manager saying that the teleprompter caught some mistakes in the script, and could I please review it. This was one day before the awards show was set to occur. Thankfully, the crisis was averted and I caught the mistake I had made: A few numbers were mixed up in the script and certain rankings were out of order. I was horrified. A nightmare kept playing in my imagination: enraged, bloodthirsty supplier reps holding pitchforks and torches, blasting through the doors of ASI, and demanding revenge for being incorrectly represented in front of the entire industry.

“Where’s the intern?!” they’d shout, snarling at the sweet receptionist who guards our humble office.

Thankfully, the mistake was caught, corrected, and I wasn’t even scorned. But internal anguish inevitably followed. How could I have screwed up like that? I thought, my confidence temporarily wounded.

Unfortunately, this is something we are all, at some point or another, forced to face. Whether you’re an intern, a new employee, or someone with years of experience under your belt, we all…to speak crassly for a moment…eff up sometimes. I’ve learned that the only way to face these pitfalls is with grace, elegance and a good perspective. It’s like jogging. You’re in your new stylish workout outfit, your butt looks fantastic, your form is perfection and you’re thinking to yourself: I must look like a freakin’ Olympian, as you prance athletically along the sidewalk. And then you trip over a tree root and all of that glowing confidence dies right there on the concrete. The key is to get up, laugh it off, and be more careful on your next go-around. Tree roots are everywhere, waiting devilishly to shame you. But learning to keep up the pace while also maintaining a sense of careful attention is the only way to get anywhere, in both jogging and business.

Interning is littered with moments like this, where you feel completely inadequate, defeated, and down on yourself. But these are the most important instances to gather whatever confidence you have left and trudge forward, understanding that sometimes in life, lessons have to be learned the hard way: even if it means face-planting in front of your hot neighbor.


ASI Radio’s 5th Anniversary Show!

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ASI Radio 5th Anniversary ShowIt seems like only yesterday when the maiden voyage of ASI Radio hit the Internet airwaves back in July 2008. For that show, the five hosts discussed the newly announced pharmaceutical regulations and the hotly contested Barack Obama vs. John McCain race for the White House. (It’s a great little trip down memory lane, complete with a rant or two from Joe  … listen to the archive here.)

Fast-forward to July 2013 and ASI Radio is on the precipice of its 5th anniversary show! To celebrate this milestone, we will have cake and champagne in the studio on July 2, along with some special guests! And for our dedicated and devoted listeners, we will have ASI Radio Trivia! All our users have to do is be prepared to answer the following five questions live on air tomorrow at 10:30 EST:

  • How many ASI radio shows have we done as of this Tuesday’s installment?
  • Name three celebrities who have been guests on the show.
  • Which sardonic host has earned the nickname “Captain Killjoy”?
  • Which industry pro does the weekly “Product Safety Minute” segment?
  • Name three cities, other than our home-base of Trevose, PA, where we’ve broadcast the radio show from live?

To participate, simply call 215-953-4979 during the Tuesday, July 2, 2013 show at 10:30 EST and you could be put through live to answer one of these questions. If you get a question right you can win some great prizes!

Good luck, and keep on listenin’!


Top 5 Markets Where Made-In-The-USA Matters

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July 4The Fourth of July is right around the corner — I know, where did the first half of this year go?! — and what better way to celebrate than with a primer on how to source “Made in the USA” products? This month’s Advantages magazine devotes an entire Strategy section to this topic, including tips on the following topics:

  • How to know if a product is really made in the USA
  • 5 reasons to buy American
  • Which product categories benefit most from a U.S. pedigree
  • Is the price worthwhile
  • What is “Made In USA Certified”

And finally, listed here, the Top 5 Markets Where American-Made Matters:

  1. Government/Political Organizations
  2. Automotive
  3. Military
  4. Unions
  5. Universities

Check out this article now, and Happy July 4th!


How Do You Pronounce GIF? Like the Peanut Butter

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GIF vs. JIFEver since I was in college in the mid- and late-’90s, the debate has raged on how to pronounce those little animated loops that were so prevalent in the early days of the ‘Net (remember The Hamster Dance?!). My nerdy lifestyle afforded me ample access to computer geeks, from designers to developers, and no one could agree on how to pronounce a ‘GIF’ file … was it an animated gif (hard ‘g’), or an animated jif (soft ‘g’)? For me, I’ve always maintained that choosy designers choose GIF … choosy moms, on the other hand, choose JIF, the sandwich spread. (I mean, how can you compete with choosy moms?!)

However, the creator of the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), Steve Wilhite, recently accepted a Webby Award that he punctuated with a 5-word acceptance speech:

It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.”

And just like that, I — and millions just like me, who choose to pronounce the hard ‘g’ — was wrong. Or was I? If you took to the Web right after this announcement, it was afire with rhetoric ranging from comical to defiant, but all seemed to support the hard g. On Twitter, this announcement began trending giving rise to new hashtags like #hardg, #softg and #gifgate. Some of the best-ofs from Twitter:

  • @shanselman If I lose a job or tank an interview because I hard-G the word Gif, so be it. We’ll be homeless. I WILL NOT BE MOVED. #hardg?
  • @Articul8Studio Nothing gets pronounced “jif” in our office, whether it be file formats or peanut butter. #hardG
  • @derekdevries It doesn’t matter how the “father” of GIFs pronounces it, like every aspect of the lexicon it matters how the public pronounces it. #hardg
  • @XControlled My gunior high school years would’ve been jreat if more jirls would’ve been interested in joing out with me. #gifgate
  • @shahruz How do you pronounce GOB? #SoftG

Seeing an opportunity to ride the wave of hoopla, the creative folks at Jif — the sandwich spread made of peanut butter — created their own animated gif (er, jif) in response to the announcement. Read Katherine Leonard’s blog called “Jif Newjacks the GIF” to see Jif’s clever take.

And in the meantime, we want to know: Where do you stand on the JIF vs. GIF debate?


3 Tips on How to Rebrand Your Company

Filed under: Tip of the Day, Uncategorized

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about the importance of brand management in times of crisis and used an example of an epic brand meltdown on a business Facebook page. That business — Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro — did incredible harm to its reputation simply because they had no brand management plan. (And, some might argue, common sense.)

Of course, once the smoke clears and the dust settles, Amy’s might want to investigate on how they can rebrand their business. Because, well, they’re gonna need it. And that’s where ASI comes in! So, Amy’s, take note … here’s a great video by Counselor that provides 3 important tips for rebranding your company. Enjoy!

  1. Establish Goals
  2. Refresh Your Image
  3. Make It Public


The Harlem Shake Goes Viral in the Ad Specialty Industry!

Filed under: Fun, Uncategorized

The Harlem ShakeJust a few days ago, I never heard of The Harlem Shake. Now, I can’t go a few hours without hearing about it!

Featuring a song by Baauer of the same name, The Harlem Shake is basically an Internet meme that went viral earlier this month where groups of people film themselves emulating a funky dance style. Lasting no more than 30 seconds, The Harlem Shake begins with one individual — usually masked or helmeted — dancing alone for 15 seconds and surrounded by people who seem quite oblivious. Then, as the music kicks in, everyone joins the convulsive dance. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

How or why this has become such an Internet sensation is befuddling, but it’s so pervasive that some of the folks in the industry — including ASI — have jumped onto The Harlem Shake bandwagon. Check them out below, and if your company is doing one, we want to know! Post a link here, or email us at feedback@asicentral.com.


5 Tips to Get Better Press

Filed under: Tip of the Day, Uncategorized

Be Better At Everything GuideSalespeople, dontcha just wish you could be better at everything?

Well, now you can! Thanks to Advantages magazine’s June article titled “How To Do Everything Better Guide” now you can be all that you ever wanted to be, and more!

– Want to be a wine expert for you next client dinner?
– Need tips on how to create an effective product video?
– Looking to ramp up your return on investment (ROI)?
– Befuddled by that darned Twitter bird and want to know how to tame it?

It’s all in here, plus so much more! So what are you waiting for? Become better at everything now. And in the meantime, here’s a little teaser on how to get better press:

HOW TO GET BETTER PRESS

“More than ever, news releases have become tools used to communicate directly between your brand and your clients and prospects, as well as a way to captivate the interest of reporters and editors – the gatekeepers to traditional and online media outlets,” says Dick Pirozzolo, founder, Pirozzolo Company Public Relations.

  1. CHOOSE GOOD SEARCH WORDS. The people you are trying to reach likely have set up Google searches to receive e-mails alerting them to news that matters to them; include the search words prospective customers would use to find you on the Web in every release. Also, include your website URL and the URLs of any authorities quoted in the release, and post the release on your website. Pirozzolo says it’s also a good idea to create a virtual newsroom apart from your website as a go-to source for journalists to get any of your company news, access to experts, video clips and high-resolution photos.
  2. DON’T RUSH IT. Too many PR pros boast how quickly they can knock off a news release. Pirozzolo once spent a month on a single news release touting the health benefits of wild blueberries. “We wrote and rewrote and revised more times than I care to think about,” he says. Ultimately, that one release launched a campaign that generated coverage in Vogue, in Martha Stewart Living (magazine and TV), on the cover of Time magazine, and in hundreds of major daily newspapers. “The impact of that single release came from thinking about what we wanted to say, not how fast we could say it,” he says. 
  3. BE SPECIFIC. Read your press release about your new product, and replace the product name with the words “canned soup.” If the release still makes sense, then the language is too superficial and not specific enough to have much impact on journalists. Rewrite.
  4. WRITE HIGH-IMPACT SUBJECT LINES. Grab attention in the first four words of your subject line, or you have no chance, he says. Since the majority of news releases go out via e-mail, the subject line is the only shot to grab an editor. “Texting kills careers, study shows,” is a release subject line Pirozzolo’s firm used to generate press for a writing software company. 
  5. LOOK OUT THE WINDOW. Keep tabs on what’s going on outside of your organization that relates to your news. Tie your release into the latest current events, and watch your release readership increase.

Tip of the Day - Blogging Q&A

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tech TacticsIf you’re a blogger — or aspire to be one — this month’s “Tech Tactics” feature in Counselor magazine is for you!

In addition to tips, steps to success and a great case study, this edition also features a very informative Q&A with Douglas Karr, author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, about blogging. Here it is:

Q: What is the most common mistake you see corporate bloggers make?

A: They underestimate the effort that it takes. They may hire someone to help them design it and blog for a week or two, but if they don’t get any leads, they quit. You have to approach it as something that grows over time, so at the end of the year, you have maybe 250 topics that are valuable to readers, capturing a hundred different keyword combinations. Then you start seeing really great return on investment. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Q: Is it really worth it for a business owner to hire an SEO expert or outside consultant to help with blogging?

A: A few years ago it might have been worth it to hire an SEO consultant who would tell you what keywords to go after, but honestly, the algorithms that Google has developed recently work so well that really it is not necessary. If the content is compelling, it’s going to rise in the search.

Q: If SEO is not as much of a focus today, what should bloggers be concerned with?

A: Social integration with Google is huge right now – 30% of all searches are customized based on your network. You want to position yourself as a thought leader within your network so people you know are sharing your posts. Talk about your clients, so clients in your network will point to your article and say, “Hey, that’s us!” Then you’re all talking about each other, and a rising tide lifts all ships.

Read the entire Tech Tactics feature on blogging now. And as a supplement, here are three video tips for successful blogging. Enjoy!


Seven Cool Things to Do With a T-Shirt

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Wearables in the WorksThis month’s Advantages magazine has a terrific article titled “Wearables in the Works” that showcases four distributor case studies and their successful apparel-based promotions. From baseball battles to horror movies, there are some pretty creative ideas in this article, so check it out. And in the meantime, here are 7 cool things to do with a T-shirt, compliments of Advantages magazine!

  1. Queue Some QR: “I suggested a client put a QR code on the back of a T-shirt we were designing and printing for a community walk they were sponsoring,” says Jay W. Vandervort, owner of Proforma Nextidea Marketing (asi/300094).  “The code would link the walkers to the website the company was trying to promote. After testing it successfully, we went ahead and printed the T-shirts with the QR code on the backs, and the promotion worked very well.”
  2. Now You See it, Now You Don’t: “We called upon a nudist association and sold them T-shirts with an imprint of Michelangelo’s David,” says Mark Ziskind, COO of Caliendo Savio Enterprises (asi/155807). “We used light-sensitive ink to put a fig leaf over his private parts. So, inside you would see the naked statue, and outside he would be covered.”

And here are 5 more clever ideas from Marsha Londe, owner of industry consulting firm Tango Partners:

  1. Flip the Script: “Print the graphic upside down so when wearers hang their heads, they see the art. It’ll make everyone else look, too,” she says. “I saw such a shirt recently: On the back, printed upside down, it said, ‘If you can read this, pull me into the boat.’ And, because it was upside down, I focused on it to read it.”
  2. Fold and Roll: “Take the shirt, fold and roll it, and stand it on end to turn it into a figure. As a display at a convention, shirts were rolled and put into a standing position,” Londe explains. “Sunglasses were put at eye level, and they were topped with a hat as the giveaway. It was a great presentation of gifts to attendees or trip winners, and a fun use of a shirt gets everyone in the mood to party, celebrate and enjoy.”
  3. Supersize It: Londe suggests making T-shirts oversized for wearers to use when sleeping, or as a beach or pool cover-up. “A comfortable cotton tee could be a hit with a sleepy recipient,” she says.
  4. That’s a Wrap: “Use a wraparound imprint to attract attention,” she says. “People can’t help themselves; they have to walk around the wearer to capture the full message.”
  5. Bright Idea: This concept is perfect for kids on a field trip, adult groups on a hike, or a club. Suit up everyone in the same bright color – think neon pink or squint-inducing yellow. “It makes it easy to spot another member of the group. You can even add a number on the back of the shirt, so it’s easy to know who’s missing,” Londe says.

5 Fashion Items the Industry Needs Now

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My colleague C.J. Mittica, Wearables magazine editor and recent newlywed, takes on an interesting topic in this month’s cover story - 5 fashion items that are begging to be added to the industry.

It’s a fascinating, and bold, read, if I do say so myself. Why bold? Well, when you see the five items C.J. discusses, it’s just difficult for me to imagine the promotional apparel industry offering such products. But, oh boy, wouldn’t it be nice?!

The following are the five items, along with a teaser explanation on what we’re missing with them, as well as my take. For the complete story on five items the industry needs now, click here.

FOOTWEAR

  • What We’re Missing: Peruse the footwear selection on ESP and you’ll find plenty of golf shoes and flip-flops. But despite all appearances, the majority of the world is doing more things than playing a round of golf or hitting the beach. Not only is footwear an essential part of a uniform, but it’s a defining proclamation by the wearer. So what could work? Consider a branded partnership with an iconic footwear style – something like what Dickies (asi/49675) has recently done by partnering with Converse and its Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Chucks offer instant brand currency and consistent retro cool.
  • My Take: Since I golf and go to the beach about as often as I watch Lifetime TV (not that there’s anything wrong with it), I gotta say footwear in this industry just, well, doesn’t do it for me. Chuck Taylor’s, on the other hand? Gold! Of course, I say YES!

BOLD PRINTS

  • What We’re Missing: Plenty of people are content going through life with a solid-colored wardrobe. But for those who want to let their personality shine, bold prints can certainly do the talking. Styles like florals, polka dots, argyle and tribal add a dose of visual pop without being too over-the-top. Plus, they are constantly in vogue among the fashionistas and trendmakers.
  • My Take: As a guy, I’m all about solids and the occasional pinstripe, but my personality shines just fine without any bold prints, thank you very much. But that’s not to say I don’t like them - just not on me. In my humble opinion, there’s nothing more beautiful than a woman in a nice floral print, preferably on a sundress. So I say YES!

FASHIONABLE JEANS

  • What We’re Missing: There is nothing more all-American than a pair of blue jeans. And when it comes to clothing that is worshipped, the cult of denim is unmatched. So why is it so hard to get a pair of leading-edge fashion jeans in this industry? For one, the durability of denim is unmatched. Plus, jeans have emerged as a tried-and-true casual uniform alternative – something that can be dressed up with a blazer or dressed down with a T-shirt. Offer them at a sensible price tag (compared to what some people pay for jeans) and you’ll have people in blue heaven.
  • My Take: Here at ASI we not only have casual Fridays, but casual Mondays as well. And on every Monday and Friday you can count on me wearing one specific apparel: blue jeans. So, of course, I say YES!

LADIES’ BOTTOMS

  • What We’re Missing: It’s the great unexplored territory in the branded apparel industry, and it’s time that bottoms (especially for women) got their just due. We’ve covered jeans, but there’s a whole world of additional options out there – everything from skirts to trendy shorts to capri pants to high-end corporate apparel pants and more.
  • My Take: As a big fan of ladies’ bottoms, I give this a resounding YES! (And the garment ideas ain’t bad either!)

WIDER VARIETY OF MATERIAL

  • What We’re Missing: The modern classy dresser is a material connoisseur. They pay attention not only to looks, but texture and feel. So while industry manufacturers (rightly) love cotton and continue to push the limits of technical fabrics like polyester, bamboo and rayon, the classic fibers and weaves are left behind. Linen is a staple of summer cool and unique construction. Khaki has emerged as a versatile all-purpose fabric, ready to be deployed for down and dirty work or as an alternative trendy suiting option. Tweed is a winter favorite of men and a supremely durable choice. Chambray can be used for more than everyday workwear. It’s time to take these materials off the bench and insert them into the starting lineup.
  • My Take: There’s only one fabric for me, cotton. And it’s a big — albeit, expensive — part of the industry. You can keep your khakis and tweeds, and definitely linen. That stuff wrinkles when the wind blows. So, NO on this one.

–FashionVINista


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