A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: What are your thoughts on taking orders from clients that are politically or religiously “charged?” Would you accept an order that called for an imprint that was the opposite of something you personally believe in?


There are a lot of things to consider, such as if it’s ongoing work or if it’s just a project with the possibility of reorders. There have been jobs I haven’t really been too enthusiastic about pursuing, and as a result, I didn’t try too hard to keep them and they ultimately went elsewhere.

Daniel Gardner
Blink Marketing, Inc.
Franklin, Tennessee

The only things we won’t print are hate speech or copyrighted images. I have printed yard signs for opposing candidates in the same election before.

Michael Cohen
Vice President
Emunah Graphics
Huber Heights, Ohio

I would take an order even if I had to hold my nose. Very few of us agree with everything and everyone but I would not jeopardize my business by refusing to do business

Gay-Louise Waye, CAS
Sales Consultant
Five Star Promotional Advertising
Edmonton, Alberta

It’s freedom of speech. I have taken jobs for causes I don’t believe in and candidates I wouldn’t vote for—even some politically charged shirts against some of my candidates or beliefs. I look at it as my job as an American to support freedom of speech. Money really didn’t play into the decision.

Sharnay Gillespie
Sales Support
Darling Promo
Austin, Texas

As long as they don’t demand that I change religions or political parties to do business with them, I’d do almost all work for these types of organizations.

Andrea Georgeson
Branded Merchandise Specialist
APP Imprints, LLC
Eureka, California

Be cautious with how you refuse business. Depending on who it is, it could end up costing you in the event they pursue a lawsuit. And, even if you win the lawsuit, how much will it cost in legal fees, time away from your business and potentially negative media coverage? Years ago I had a call from a hate group—they weren’t shy about telling me that over the phone, but were polite. I have no idea if this was a real sales inquiry or whether I was being “tested,” so to speak. I took all their information about what they wanted, and my final question was, “When do you need this product?” After getting that information, I thanked them for calling and considering us to do their work but told them we just signed on a major client that was going to have us printing ‘round the clock for the next 10 weeks to ensure we didn’t miss their deadline. I said, “I wouldn’t want to tell you I could get your job done and disappoint you.” They appreciated my “honesty” and I dodged a bullet. Always be cautious and make it appear like you’re looking out for their best interest.

Chris Davis
Advantage Screen Printing
Tuckerton, New Jersey


It’s hard to stay on top of the influx of emails that come in every day. In fact, it’s overwhelming. How are other distributors keeping their inbox under control?

A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: I’ve been spending a ton of time cleaning out my inbox. It’s been a challenge to keep up with the influx of emails, which include promotions from suppliers and other unsolicited emails. Dedicating time to filter these emails is taking time away from my business. What are some of the strategies other distributors are using to keep their inbox organized?

I have also dealt with an overwhelming number of inbound emails from customers, promotions from suppliers and distributors of our products, and general spam.

I started my organizational efforts by creating folders and moving the emails into the folders as they came in based on what kind of email it was. When those became just as messy as my inbox, because I wouldn’t go back and sort through the ones that weren’t urgent or customer questions, I added a second layer of sorting rules. I use Microsoft Outlook and it has a handy feature called “rules,” where you can set up criteria to process your emails automatically into folders. This was the key time-saver, because once you set up the rules, it becomes an automatic process. You don’t have to do the manual sorting anymore.

My first rule is to separate internal company communications from external sources. All internal emails go to an “internal communications” folder. I have additional subfolders to sort out general questions from resources I need to keep for long term and reference. This leaves communications being sent directly to my inbox. My second rule is to set up to move commonly sent promotional emails, based on the sender’s email address or a word or phrase in the subject, to a “promotions to read” folder. If I receive promotions, I would commonly just delete them, or if they aren’t relevant to me, I use the “unsubscribe” button. The goal of my rules are to move outside resources, such as update articles on programs I use, and publications, such as PPB Newslink, to folders labeled for that topic. This way, I have all the resources in an easy-to-find location, but they aren’t clogging up my inbox and I can focus on customer requests.

I use the “categories” and “flags” features in Microsoft Outlook for emails that I need to do something with. For example, I’ll set up a flag to follow up on a RFQ on a certain day and will categorize this as a RFQ as well. This way, when I search through my inboxes, I can quickly find what I’m looking for.

Katie Titus, PMP
Sales coordinator
Orbus Exhibit & Display Group
Woodridge, Illinois

If you don’t run your inbox, it will run you. The good news is it’s quite easy to regain control of your inbox. First, you’ll want to unsubscribe from every email that doesn’t provide value. Be ruthless. Unsubscribe always. Next, you must create rules. I personally use Outlook. My inbox can easily go from 100 messages to 1,000 in a matter of minutes. I move only the emails that are worthy of being included to my inbox, which is basically my to-do list. Get over your fear of missing out (FOMO) and start unsubscribing and filtering your emails. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by thousands of messages.

Bret Bonnet
Co-founder and president
Quality Logo Products
Chicago, Illinois


A Distributor Asks: I’m sure I am not alone in getting these constant questions from clients: “What’s the next big thing?” “I want something nobody has seen.” I receive catalogs, marketing emails and search the larger supplier sites on a regular basis to find new products. Is there a better method to find the latest and greatest products?

Email your responses to DanielleR@ppai.org.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.