Fast Forward: November 2017

 

What’s The P@$3W0r&?
Complicated password rules make us less likely to follow them. The key to security, it turns out, is simple creativity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) lit a fire under IT managers with its 2003 guidelines, which called for computer passwords to contain a mix of letters, numbers and special characters, to be updated every 90 days. But it overwhelmed the average user, who often ended up forgoing the complicated combinations for passwords that could easily be compromised.

In the wake of newly issued NIST guidelines on passwords, the author of the original rules now says he regrets advising complex passwords. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, retired employee Bill Burr said the rules were based on a then 20-year old white paper, since there was no empirical data on password security to work from.

The NIST’s latest rules, issued in June, now recommend creating passwords out of long, easily recalled phrases. These types of passwords have been shown by computersecurity specialists to take longer to crack than passwords crafted of a mishmash of letters, numbers and characters.

Also important is the frequency with which passwords should be changed. Studies have found that changing passwords more often leads to users creating weaker passwords each time. The bottom line? Designing a password that’s less complex, and changing it less often, is more secure.

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View From The Top
Far-flung Faroe Islands take a page from Google Maps to show the company what it’s missing.

While the Faroe Islands are among the most picturesque destinations in northern Europe, their location between Iceland and northwest Scotland makes traveling there as much of an adventure as being there. So remote is the semi-autonomous Denmark territory that it didn’t show up on Google Street View—until recently.

In 2016, a member of the islands’ tourism agency, Visit Faroe Islands, wanted to show what Google users were missing out on, so she set out to document the Faroes herself—with the help of some woolly residents. Sheep View 360 enlisted five sheep to wear solar-powered 360-degree view cameras as they roamed the countryside with their 70,000 brethren.

The images were collected and uploaded to Google Street View, capturing five locations for viewers to “tour.” Google took notice, and sent Visit Faroe Islands a truck and more 360-degree cameras, which were lent to tourists through the agency and Atlantic Airways to capture more images and provide updates to the map.

Google SHEEP View, as it came to be called, received a gold Clio Award this year, in the Medium Innovation category. More importantly, the campaign drew more than 42,000 mentions on the internet and gained an audience of two billion.

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FIVE MINUTES WITH Sara Webb, InTandem Promotions

Green Genius

If you wonder what happens to all the extra products that end up in the hands of your clients, you’re not alone. Sara Webb, owner of distributor InTandem Promotions in Kennesaw, Georgia, wondered the same thing. So, she developed her own way of reducing the footprint that surplus promotional products have on the environment, while also helping to supply organizations in need. Webb spoke with PPB about her inspiration for the company’s Go Green! Get Green! recycling program and the multiple benefits it offers.

PPB What prompted you to begin a program to recycle unused promotional items? Are the items only from your company, or are you collecting/receiving items from other industry members or clients?
Webb I met a woman at a conference who was selling women’s bras. She told me she watched as thousands of these bras were being sold, and thought to herself, “What happens to all of the old bras that are being replaced by the newly purchased ones? Are they just tossed in a landfill?”  So she started exploring how bras could be recycled. She created a patented process where bras could be recycled and turned into carpet padding, and she is now working with retailers to create a drop point for women to turn in their old bras and receive a discount or credit with the store.

That genius idea got me thinking about opportunities that we should be taking in our own industry. And so, Go Green! Get Green! was born. The concept behind the program is that we take back any products from our clients that are stuck in their marketing closets—unused items, misprinted items, old branded giveaways, etc. We then distribute them to needy organizations throughout the United States. Currently we are only accepting products from our clients and prospects, but we are hoping to expand the program next year.

PPB What normally happens with extra product? What is the associated cost, if any, to recycling products as opposed to simply throwing them away or donating them?
Webb Usually our clients are so busy that the extra product just sits in warehouses, store rooms and closets. InTandem Promotions runs and maintains online stores for our clients, so many times we’ll go into an organization and hear, “We’ve over-ordered. Can you add this or that to the store and try to get rid of it?”

Many times we do, and we’ll host fire sales at our clients’ locations to help them with the liquidation. Other times products get tossed or donated. There are usually no costs for our clients to manage their extra or unused promotional products in this manner, and in many instances they do receive a tax benefit. But with everyone so extremely busy, most of the products continue to sit for months or years.

This is where our Go Green! Get Green! Initiative comes into play. We first hosted this initiative in April, when Earth Day is celebrated, and it prompted organizations to clean out their offices and, in return, receive a discount on their next order with InTandem Promotions as well as a custom, limited edition water bottle. As a result of us simply sending them a shipping label, they were getting rid of the product, felt good about it and received an immediate gift for doing so.

PPB What’s the final outcome for recycled products? Are there items that can’t or shouldn’t be recycled?
Webb The products that we have received are all recyclable products: notebooks, bags, children’s toys and pens. This year we donated those items to local schools. Now there is such a need for hurricane victims that I am sure we’ll be evaluating the status of Puerto Rico and the island territories to see where we can help. Additionally, we also have a number of clients in Mexico that can use assistance. InTandem Promotions will start evaluating the locations that are in the most need and, depending on the products that we receive for the donations, determine our next steps.

PPB How can other companies implement a similar project? The Kids In Need product collection event is held at Expo every year, but in what other ways can companies recycle extra products?
Webb InTandem Promotions isn’t doing anything that other distributors or suppliers can’t do. It’s a simple concept—create a campaign, send out shipping labels or create a drop site, and offer a benefit to the customer for donating the products. We felt good that our clients’ offices weren’t loaded down with imprinted products that they can’t use, the products were donated to organizations in need, and we received the benefit of future and additional orders.

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A Beautiful Friendship
Even as other industries abandoned free premiums, health and beauty brands carried on the gift-with-purchase tradition.

Best Soap manufacturer B.T. Babbitt struck customer gold when, in 1881, he offered lithograph posters free to consumers who purchased his soap. Adding value to a purchase that otherwise seemed an inexpensive necessity boosted its perceived value among customers—something companies in other industries took notice of and soon followed suit. Beer manufacturers gave away bottle openers and coasters; cereal makers included prizes in their boxes; and banks gave toasters to new customers.

In the early 20th century, cosmetics were considered by many to be a luxury, and cosmetics companies shied away from the free gift practice, believing it would downgrade their products to the everyday status of other personal-care items. But it was Estee Lauder who saw that gifts with purchase could elevate the value of a brand and its products—specifically, her makeup, which she was eager to sell to postwar consumers.

Economic highs and lows have turned non-beauty industries off the idea of offering free premiums, but marketing experts believe that as competition heats up, premiums will have new appeal.

“Premiums are attractive because they change the value equation without changing the price of the product,” marketing professor Laurence Minsky told shopping and beauty news website Racked. “I think if the economy really tanks or gets competitive again, the bigger premiums will come back. It’s smarter to add value than merely discount [an item].”

Beauty brands have built steadily upon Lauder’s strategy since the first powder compacts were given away in the 1960s. Now loyalty programs reward frequent buyers and beckon prospective customers online and in stores. The idea that a pricey, unnecessary item could be yours for free (even if you had to spend $50 to get it), is keeping the gift-with-purchase game alive.

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Flip The Switch
Learn to turn off work mode when your office is in your home.

Work-from-home warriors, congratulations— you’ve now got science in your corner when it comes to convincing the boss that telecommuters are just as productive as workers who show up to the office. A study from the University of Cardiff in Wales found that more than a third of the homebased workers surveyed reported putting in more hours than their office-based colleagues.

Whether telecommuters work more to keep peers from believing they’re slacking off, or because they aren’t distracted by the watercooler culture of an office, was not determined by the study of 15,000 British workers.

A separate study published in April by UK-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that home-based employees have a more difficult time transitioning from work than their office counterparts; almost one third of survey respondents reported feeling they could not switch off during their personal time.

To create a more distinct separation between the work day and the rest of the day, follow these guidelines, shared by time management expert Rashelle Isip with news site Moneyish:

1 Switch up work locations once in a while, such as moving to a café or a coworking space in the afternoon.
2 Don’t check personal email during your established “office hours;” conversely, turn off notifications from your work email account once you’ve clocked out for the day.
3 Create a routine similar to what you’d have in the office—make a cup of coffee, review your daily agenda, and eat lunch or take periodic breaks away from your home office.
4 Close out the work day by reviewing the next day’s agenda, cleaning up your workspace and sending out emails that don’t require an immediate response.

 

Jen Alexander is associate editor for PPB.

filed under November 2017 | Fast Forward
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