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Even in the Toughest Times, Our Industry Shows its Strength

TOM JACKSON, JACKSON MARKING PRODUCTS
AWARDS AND PERSONALIZATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT

 

(June 2020) As I started writing my column, it was with the hope that when this issue hit your mailboxes, things would be very different. We’d be back to “normal”—able to freely see our family and friends, to open our shops to the typical traffic, to turn on the news without hearing the word “coronavirus.”

Of course, we’re not there yet. But even as the industry struggles against an unprecedented challenge, proof of the creativity, passion, and kindness of awards and personalization professionals surrounds us. It seems like everywhere I look, I see the silver linings our industry is creating and capitalizing on—and each one gives me hope that no matter the circumstances, we will find a way through:

We’re discovering a new talent for innovation.
So many of our retailers and suppliers have given their resources, skills, and time to the cause, creating personal protective equipment for frontline workers like face masks, face shields, and protective barriers; tools to help all of us stay safe (and distant); and products to help anyone who needs recognition, inspiration, or even just a good laugh feel a little better. At my own company, we were able to laser cut fabric for 500 masks being sewn by a local woman.

I am always proud to be an awards and personalization professional, but it’s times like these that show me just how justified that pride is. It has been incredibly heartwarming and uplifting to see industry members use their skills and equipment to help in the fight.

We’re taking advantage of remote learning opportunities.
Awards and personalization professionals have always been willing to offer their insights and advice to their colleagues—our association’s busy Member2Member Forum is proof of that—but now, we’re educating each other more than ever.

Since the requests that we all stay at home started, the Awards and Personalization Association has been sharing free weekly webinars on topics ranging from improving your social media outreach and adding new personalization processes to your business to CorelDRAW tips and improving your value equation. All of these webinars also are available for streaming (again, for free!) on the Awards and Personalization Association website at awardspersonalization.org/Education/Webinars.aspx.

Thank you to the Awards and Personalization staff, and all of our industry educators, for pulling together content to keep us learning and improving our businesses even when our doors are shut.

We’re updating our websites, workspaces, and procedures.
Whether it’s to include new COVID-19-relevant products or updating our social media to ensure we can keep up with customers, many of you are taking this time to review how your employees will work in the future (especially as we build more effective work from home processes); improve how your customers shop, both in store and online; and create efficiencies for when things start to look a little more “normal.”

We’re still far from that point, and I know our businesses haven’t rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels. But it is valuable—and in our nature to—celebrate the good things happening around us. As you read this issue, reflect on the ideas you see that could help your business and on things you do well that you could share with other members. The way we get through tough times is together. We’re better by association.

So, if you aren’t already doing so, engage with great retailers and suppliers like you to stay inspired and survive until we can all thrive again. We look forward to celebrating when we’re all through this difficult time.

Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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