Our Duty as Marketers to #BlackLivesMatter and Beyond

Our Duty as Marketers to #BlackLivesMatter and Beyond

Last week, Adweek published a story from Lizette Williams—a long-time diversity champion and global head of vertical solutions marketing at Facebook—called “Your Black Employees Are Hurting. They Do Not Want a Tweet. They Want Real Inclusion.” 

Williams says: 

We, as a marketing community, have stood at the forefront of bringing forward perceptions of diverse people since the days of Mad Men. We are the storytellers; we literally hold the pen to craft the story of how the rest of the country sees Black culture. As we embark on yet another ugly chapter in our country’s history being written, it is our responsibility to do more. We must do more than release a statement, make a donation or craft a beautifully written tweet. This is our moment to drive true change for a consumer base that has served as the muse for aspirational culture for decades. From music to food to clothing, brand advertising has rested and built its success on Black culture and, in return, Black people have demonstrated their commitment to our brands.

The article, written in response to the death of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, really hit home for the whole KMB team as a firm that provides words and images that shape public iconography and imagery. Although our primary scope of work is for the trade, we also provide B2C messaging, content, and related assets for our clients to complement their marketing. 

Case in point, just a few days ago, our team was working on a direct-mail piece for one of our clients. We needed stock art that showed a family enjoying their home entertainment system. As we searched through the images available, we were confronted by picture after picture of white people pointing at television sets, with no BIPOC families to be found (BIPOCs being black people, indigenous people, and people of color). William’s article put a fine point on the issue, but more importantly, it outlined our duties as communicators, marketers, and advertisers as those who are helping to sculpt the image of the country. KMB is using this statement as a north star, of sorts. 

Now, the article also opens the door to questions about the AV industry as a whole. Why are AV marketers and advertisers not representing BIPOCs in their marketing and advertising? Why do photoshoots and videos primarily feature white actors or spokespeople? And beyond mere representation, do we, as an industry, have a true understanding of the demographic and can we represent this market while avoiding damaging stereotypes? How do we begin the process of change? 

Williams suggests a first step:

Commit to really understand and reflect these audiences through best-in-class work that elevates diverse communities. This includes investing in meaningful consumer research and going beyond surface-level insights to develop work that is truly resonant. For far too long we have rested on the same superficial insights that are reflected in the work—a portrait of Black families around a dinner table, a Latina mom doting over her multiple children, the cool brothers chatting it up at a barbershop or basketball court. Get into your diverse consumers’ homes with detailed ethnographies, spend the resources to get a statistically significant sample on your next brand equity study and develop multidimensional knowledge of diverse people the way you do for your other segments. 

This week, Adweek provided another helpful resource, a letter from more than 600 black advertising professionals demanding meaningful action from leadership that calls on agencies to take more than symbolic action. Some things they suggest are public commitment to improve Black representation at all levels of agency staffing; tracking workforce diversity data to create accountability; bias training to HR employees and all levels of management; extending agency outreach to a more diverse representation; and much more. Read the full article for the complete list. 

We recognize that this letter we are currently penning is in and of itself a “symbolic action.” Really, this note serves as our public commitment to improve, and education is the first step with content like these two articles. And we will hold ourselves accountable for this promise as we move forward in our work, because it is not enough to simply say we are committed to change. It must be followed by real and tangible action. We hope you’ll join us in the journey to do what we can to more accurately and completely understand and represent BIPOC families and people in our marketing imagery and verbiage. 

Take a look at your social feeds and your marketing collateral with fresh eyes. Who is represented and how? The problem runs so deep, you might not even be aware it’s happening. Do you have a consultant or someone on staff that can help with cultural awareness to make sure you are accurately addressing these concerns and to help educate your team? What can your company be doing at an HR level to ensure inclusivity — BIPOCs included? 

Discomfort is a catalyst. It’s necessary. Because now we are asking those hard questions, and educating ourselves so that we can answer them and begin to change our thinking at a foundational level. We appreciate the efforts of others in our industry who are taking a leadership position and applaud companies like Josh.ai, Leon, Cloud9 Smart, and others who are voicing their concerns about the way our industry has handled the situation, while sharing how they intend to change and evolve. Join us, and be the change we all want to see in the world. 



Addressing the Residential Tech Industry’s Race Problem

Addressing the Residential Tech Industry’s Race Problem

A call to action by Alex Capecelatro of Josh.ai

The residential tech industry has a race problem, and it’s time we talk about it.

The events that transpired over the past week have shaken our nation and ignited a much-needed conversation about race inequality. The senseless killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have spawned protests in every major U.S. city, but sadly these are just a few of many similar tragedies the Black community has faced.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush responded with a cry for peace and empathy. Obama remarked, “You have helped to make the entire country feel as if this is something that’s got to change. You’ve communicated a sense of urgency.” Meanwhile Bush asked the long overdue question: “How do we end systemic racism in our society?”

The difficult part is that many of us aren’t racists. At least, we don’t think we are. The issues are so deeply ingrained in our society that it can be hard to see if you’re not Black. As someone relatively new to this industry, I remember my first CEDIA Expo in 2015, and feeling like it was largely a group of older straight white men. While that might not seem like a problem, as a gay man in my 20s, I certainly struggled at first to fit in. Now imagine if I were female, or Black, or trans – or all three. Would I have felt welcome? Would I have thrived? Or would I have said, “Forget this, I’m going to look elsewhere for work?”

At Josh.ai, we try hard to create a culture of inclusion. We’ve made diversity a core company value and authored articles on this topic, such as this one on diversity in the tech industry. When hiring, we think it’s important to focus on antiracism and allyship efforts, such as avoiding implicit bias from the places we recruit (here’s a great resource that Airbnb put together if you’d like to learn more). Further, CI marketing is often very focused on using white models in advertisements and collateral, and we’ve made it a goal to show more diverse models and actors. That said, we’re far from perfect and constantly strive to be better.

In CEDIA’s 2019 U.S. Market Size and Scope Study Report, the top challenge integrators said they faced was finding employees. As a community of mostly white men, we don’t always consider the extra steps needed to create a welcoming and inclusive environment to increase our industry’s diversity. For those who think this doesn’t matter, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. If we want our industry to grow and thrive, we need to be inclusive. We need to ask the hard questions and make this a place everyone is welcome, particularly the Black community.

So why am I speaking out? I know this will be controversial, and not everyone will agree with me, but now is the time to wake up and address the problem. If you look at social media posts from top brands including Google, Nike, and Amazon, you’ll see nothing but #blacklivesmatter and empathy in response to the current situation. Yet, on our industry’s social media channels, publications, and Facebook groups, you wouldn’t know anything was even going on.

Earlier this week, I was asked to speak on a podcast and was surprised that not only was nobody talking about this, it was business as usual. You would have guessed nothing at all was going on. This is exactly the type of action that exemplifies the systemic problems we’re talking about. We need to be willing to discuss this, to listen, and to effect change in order to make a difference.

Now you might be thinking, as I was during part of this week, that rioting and looting are wrong and protesters are taking things too far. Keep in mind that most protests have been peaceful. That said, consider for a moment how you would respond if you were being persecuted based simply on the color of your skin. I was certainly angry at the destruction done to my city in Los Angeles. But, while buildings can be rebuilt, lives cannot be brought back.

The real issue here is the injustice that has prevailed for far too long. Many Black people are tired of having to look over their shoulder, being uncomfortable walking down the street, fearful that what starts out as a speeding ticket could end up being their last breath. According to MappingPoliceViolence.org, police killed more than 100 unarmed Black people in 2015. This needs to stop.

So, what can we do about it? It’s a hard problem, one that many of us are trying to figure out. For starters, I suggest participating in simple but meaningful acts on social media and choosing to be an ally. Even when you aren’t sure exactly what to say, consider putting out a public message showing empathy and heart. Something is better than nothing. Discuss with your employees why this matters. Donate if you can to causes that help (here’s a link to causes worth considering). Get out and vote in November. But most of all, make a concerted effort to put yourself in the shoes of a Black person and examine how you conduct business, how you hire, and how your environment can be made to feel more inclusive. Here’s a great link if you’re not sure where to begin.

This is going to take time, and there’s no magic formula. While hopeful, if we don’t address this head on and get serious about equality and inclusion, I do fear for the future of our industry.

Note: I serve on the Board of Directors for CEDIA, but these views are mine alone and do not represent those of CEDIA.

 

Read on https://restechtoday.com/home-tech-industry-race-problem/

OneVison Resources Develops Comprehensive COVID-19 Guides to Help Integrators Strategize and Execute Action Plans

OneVison Resources Develops Comprehensive COVID-19 Guides to Help Integrators Strategize and Execute Action Plans

Publicly available resources address industry-specific concerns with plans of action for client relations, financial stability, employee safety, and more.

BOSTON, MA (March 24, 2020) OneVision Resources, a leading provider of client service and support solutions for home technology professionals, announces the availability of a set of comprehensive, industry-specific resources to help home systems integration firms deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. Home technology professionals, like other businesses, are grappling with how to keep their operations afloat during these uncertain times. Maintaining relations with clients, colleagues, and their own employees; prioritizing time and establishing policies for staff; and mitigating financial hardship are a few of their major concerns. Moreover, integration firms are faced with the challenge of helping their customers live with a sense of normalcy during these unprecedented times by staying productive and engaged. It’s a lot to digest and remediate, and with no concrete answers on which to base decisions.

To help the integration community strategize effectively, OneVision Resources (OneVision) has developed an online “Data Room” full of detailed COVID-19 resources geared specifically for the systems integration business. Available guides address everything from financial preparedness to customer engagement, regional considerations, and more.

“There’s an overwhelming amount of information available about the current business climate, but none that is specifically geared for the home systems industry,” says OneVision Resources’ founder and CEO Joey Kolchinsky. “Dealers are the lifeblood of our industry, so we’ve made it our mission, through industry-geared information, advice, and suggestions shared in the COVID-19 Data Room to help dealers survive and prosper.”

The COVID-19 resources are available now to not only OneVision partners but all integration firms and are divided into three main categories: Client and Contractor Relations, Internal Policies, and Economic/Financial Risk Mitigation Strategies. Focusing on both short- and long-term initiatives, the Data Room will be updated regularly as new information is acquired and analyzed.      

“The Coronavirus outbreak is challenging all of us, forcing us to deal with new and unpredictable problems as they arise,” says Todd Jarvis, owner of Sterling Home Technologies. “But thanks to our partnership with OneVision, we are not alone in the fight. Through their leadership and shared resources, we know we’re looking at the situation through a comprehensive framework. We are all in this together, and together we are stronger and better prepared to deal with whatever comes our way.”

As an example, OneVision’s Client-Facing Response plan helps dealers adjust operations and align client, employee, and company objectives while continuing to service the client. “One of the biggest objectives with this plan is to give integration firms detailed steps to protect the well-being of their clients and employees and to position themselves as a valuable resource to clients who now need these services in the home more than ever,” Kolchinsky explains. Some of the recommendations include specific measures for maintaining cleanliness and social distancing at clients’ homes and how to conduct remote appointments.”

The Internal Policies section details the creation of safe, productive working environments. Included are frameworks to classify employee risk, policies to ensure the safety of employees/clients during on-site appointments, and contingency plans should an outbreak occur in their office or the surrounding community.

The Internal Financial Response plan outlines the potential financial impact of the pandemic and steps to protect the short- and long-term success of the business. Dealing with labor shortages and inability to finish projects due to illness, strategies to generate revenue in the economic downturn, and preparing for disruption in the supply chain are thoroughly covered. 

Integration firms or individuals who are interested in accessing OneVision’s Coronavirus Resource Book can visit https://www.onevisionresources.com/covid19. Questions regarding the information can be directed to jason.griffing@onevisionresources.com.

 

About OneVision Resources

OneVision Resources’ comprehensive platform empowers home technology professionals, giving them the services, processes, and technologies they need to provide round-the-clock support, avoid burnout, and build a more sustainable and profitable business. OneVision’s comprehensive service delivery model combines the latest in service technology with a world-class remote support team, allowing them to not only monitor, manage, and secure their clients’ home environments in a seamless manner, but scale rapidly and profitably. OneVision and its growing network of partners support more than 25,000 connected homes across North America. For more information, visit www.onevisionresources.com and follow us LinkedIn.



Media Contact

For interviews please contact Katye (McGregor) Bennett of KMB Communications by phoning (425) 328-8640 or emailing katye@kmbcomm.com.

 

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.

COVID-19 – Is there a Silver Lining?

By Randy Stearns, CEO, D-Tools, Inc.

Entrepreneurs are optimists and opportunistic by nature. As such, even in the face of adverse conditions such as those presented by the Coronavirus, it is natural for us to try to look on the bright side. For business leaders, the business lockdowns thrust upon us by COVID-19 create severe challenges. But to those who subscribe to the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, it also presents a new and unique opportunity. What you ask is this silver lining?

Over the past weeks, the clients of most system integrators have shut down their job sites and facilities completely or, at a minimum, limited access in order to reduce the risk of contamination. As a result, talented team members are sitting on the sidelines waiting patiently for the storm to pass. Most are “working from home”, but working on what? 

System integrators have been riding the wave of economic prosperity for several years, with a seemingly never-ending backlog where 100% of the available hours are spent on project work. The intense focus on fulfilling demand has, for some, come at a price. Suddenly having access to idle resources creates a tremendous opportunity for business leaders to work on the business instead of in the business (as proffered by Michael Gerber in The eMyth). Just think of the long list of internal projects that have continued to slip down the priority list for months, if not years, while project work takes precedence. Examples include updating policies and procedures, conducting technical and product training for your staff, and implementing or updating software to simplify and streamline day-to-day operations.

How many of you have said to yourselves, and even promised your staff “as soon as we get a break from this constant flow of back-to-back projects, we’ll…[fix what’s broken in the business… and train our people]”? Guess what? That time has come. While we sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the scientific community to develop a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic (i.e. work slowdown) have delivered an antidote for those trying to find time to focus on sidelined internal projects.  Now is the time to build the business infrastructure required to guide your business successfully through this new decade! Make a list of projects, prioritize them, assign team members, and get to work. As soon as the Coronavirus releases its grip on the economy, hopefully you’ll find yourself energized and excited about running your redesigned business as a newly well-oiled machine.

 

AtlasIED Strengthens Support of Security Integrators Through Partnership with New Manufacturer’s Rep Firm

AtlasIED Strengthens Support of Security Integrators Through Partnership with New Manufacturer’s Rep Firm

Seasoned audio and security manufacturer’s rep firm ASR Enterprises delivers additional support and service to AtlasIED dealers in the Mid-Atlantic. 

PHOENIX, AZ (March 3, 2020) – AtlasIED, a global electronics manufacturer providing comprehensive audio and security solutions for commercial markets, announces ASR Enterprises as a new manufacturer’s rep firm, effective April 1. 

With more than 25 years of experience supporting audio, video and security dealers with a wide line of proven products and outstanding customer service and support, ASR Enterprises will help AtlasIED broaden its position as a leading manufacturer of audio and security systems to markets including healthcare, corporate, education, and retail. ASR Enterprises will deliver AtlasIED solutions and support to dealers within its Mid-Atlantic region, including Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

“ASR Enterprises has developed close connections and deep-seated relationships with some of the top audio and security dealers in the Mid-Atlantic. As our new technology partner, ASR Enterprises can promote AtlasIED products and expand our reach to a new base of dealers who are interested in providing innovative security and audio solutions to their customers,” says Michael Peveler, AtlasIED Vice President of Sales. “It’s important to the growing success of AtlasIED to have the backing and support by a distributor with outstanding expertise and knowledge of audio and security technology, at ASR Enterprises delivers this.” 

“ASR Enterprises is very excited about the partnership between our two firms. AtlasIED is a brand that ASR has always respected, and their innovative solutions and wide offering of products will bring tremendous value to our customers,” says Josh Logue, CTS, Partner, ASR Enterprises. “We aim to deliver simple solutions to our customer’s problems and the seamless integration of the AtlasIED portfolio is geared to do just that. We look forward to a long relationship between our two firms.”

To learn more about AtlasIED go to www.atlasied.com, or follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. For more information about ASR Enterprises, visit https://www.asrenterprises.com/.

 

About AtlasIED

A global electronics manufacturer providing comprehensive audio solutions for commercial, corporate, educational, healthcare, retail, transportation, and government environments, AtlasIED brings together the legacy, engineering skills, and legendary service of Atlas Sound and Innovative Electronics Design. Offering industry-leading mass notification, life safety, VoIP, background music, paging, and sound-masking systems, AtlasIED delivers product lines that span wide and deep, with more than 2,000 innovative audio solutions for businesses of every size. Combined, Atlas Sound and IED products have been installed in more than one million businesses over the past 80+ years.

With nine locations and a network of manufacturer representatives and distributors around the world to provide superior support to dealers and customers, AtlasIED’s customer service is an industry benchmark that competitors strive to match. AtlasIED is family-owned, with manufacturing operations in the United States that hold an ISO9001:2008 Quality Standards Certification to ensure consistently high-quality products, service, and support.

 

For more information please visit www.atlasied.com or contact us at support@atlasied.com.

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.

 

AtlasIED Media Contacts

Gina M. Sansivero, AtlasIED, (516) 901-8542, gina.sansivero@atlasied.com

Katye (McGregor) Bennett, KMB Communications, (425) 328-8640, katye@kmbcomm.com

ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing Supports Collaboration of Dealers, Architects, and Designers Through Comprehensive Dealer Training Events

ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing Supports Collaboration of Dealers, Architects, and Designers Through Comprehensive Dealer Training Events

Recent dealer training events for Colorbeam and Barco hosted by ByDesign VSM inspires integrators to explore new design-friendly applications of controllable lighting and video projection technology. 

LONG BEACH, CA (March 2, 2020) — The home technology market is a moving target. What’s new and fresh one day is old and antiquated the next. To inspire, encourage, and poise dealers to stay ahead of the home tech curve and develop new revenue opportunities, particularly within the design community, ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing (VSM) regularly hosts comprehensive, hands-on training of its extensive “best in class” line of products. 

Earlier this year, ByDesign VSM offered certification training for Colorbeam’s low-voltage lighting system, and on March 5th ByDesign VSM will host a one-day training session for Barco Residential. The goal of each dealer-focused event, says ByDesign VSM founder Joaquin Rivera is to introduce dealers to new, innovative home tech categories and applications. 

“For example, we think lighting, especially with the recent focus on human-centric lighting applications, is going to be one of the biggest sources of revenue for dealers going forward,” says ByDesign VSM founder Joaquin Rivera. “Our Colorbeam event exposed dealers to a new way of thinking about architectural lighting, as a low-voltage solution that is installed in place of traditional electrical lighting system. Through Colorbeam’s unique, end-to-end approach to lighting, which provides dealers an opportunity to include fixtures as part of their lighting package, dealers can be a part of the budgeting process from the beginning of a home construction project and can be more directly involved with architects and designers.” 

During the event, Mike Teolis, Colorbeam’s President, discussed with over 40+ attendees the basic and intermediate skills required to develop and implement a low-voltage-based lighting design, the certification requirements in different states, and the advantages, from a business and a performance perspective, of providing the residential market a low-voltage lighting solution. 

“Using a single Cat-5 wire to power and control lighting may not be the standard approach now, but it’s definitely going in this direction,” Rivera comments. “As a manufacturer’s rep, we need to be part of a booming business and we expect our Colorbeam line—and the dealers who carry it—to grow exponentially over the next few years.” 

“Residential lighting is a home systems category that has huge market potential, and as a systems integrator it’s in our best interest to explore innovative technologies that can keep us ahead of the curve,” says David Arellano of Signals Audio Video, Inc. “ByDesign allows us to stay on the cutting-edge by hosting events for innovative lines like Colorbeam.”  

Dealers interested in expanding their knowledge and skills of video projection technology, and develop partnerships with architects and designers, can join ByDesign VSM and Barco Residential on March 5th in Los Angeles. During this one-day session, Barco will introduce to dealers its latest product developments and support structure for the custom installation channel, as well as provide product demos and hands-on sessions featuring several of Barco’s projectors and LCD video wall solutions. Some of the scheduled topics of discussion include, “Barco Residential Strategy and Value Proposition Update,” and “The Architectural Digital Canvas: Hide Everything but the Experience.” 

“The biggest point we hope to get across,” says Rivera, “is that Barco projectors are extremely smart and flexible, which enables them to be easily integrated into a wide variety of home designs and that won’t conflict with the architecture. We want to show dealers that Barco projectors will never give an architect or designer a reason to say “no” to the technology.” During the day-long event dealers will learn how to optimize the features of Barco’s line of projectors, how to overcome common design challenges, and new applications to explore, such as outdoor entertainment, digital art, and edge blending. 

Interested dealers can register for the Barco Residential educational and training event by going to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/catching-up-with-barco-residential-registration-92376054265.

 

To learn more about ByDesign VSM, and its line of Colorbeam, Barco Residential and other product lines, as well as training opportunities, please visit bydesignvsm.com and follow us on Facebook @ByDesignVSM, and on Twitter @bydesign_vsm 

 

About ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing

Established in 2014 by Joaquin Rivera and Benito Joaquin, ByDesign Vision & Sound Marketing (VSM) is a manufacturer’s representative of best of brand audio, video, and lighting systems serving the custom home systems integrators in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. Dedicated to providing integrators with stellar service and support, ByDesign VSM helps the home systems industry grow and prosper, while promoting innovative applications of technologies in custom homes throughout its distribution territories. 

 

Media Contact

For more information about ByDesign VSM please contact Katye (McGregor) Bennett of KMB Communications by phoning (425) 328-8640 or emailing katye@kmbcomm.com.

 

All products, product names, trademarks, and registrations mentioned are the property of their respective owners, all rights reserved.