A Distributor Asks: How do you politely ask an employee to dress more work-appropriately during Zoom meetings and other video conferences? Does anyone have an updated employee handbook that includes information about wardrobe in a work-from-home environment?

One can be direct and polite at the same time. Perhaps sending a reminder message/email to all can get the conversation started so no one feels targeted. If they do not comply, gently inform the individual privately to always be their professional self, even while working from home. Suggesting options like business casual or something as simple as a full-coverage, unbranded t-shirt paired with a cardigan from the waist up is the expectation on these calls. I hope this helps and good luck with your employee.

Danielle Steinberger
Formerly of Koozie Group
Tampa, Florida
PPAI 114187, S13

Any company can implement a dress code. The trick is to apply it equally and be sure that it doesn’t target any one gender or person. You also have to be sure that if you want specific clothing to be addressed, you address it with anyone who breaks the new rules.

Andera Georgeson
Sales, Northern California
APP Imprints LLC
Chico, California
PPAI 486015, D3

Our office requires a work-accepted attire on all conference video sessions. We have in our handbook acceptable attire and reinforced the policy when we started working from home. I like to point out to our people, “you are a representative of our office at any time during the workday, as a matter of fact, even after hours, so conduct yourself  accordingly.”

Edward Burton
CST Worldwide
Dallas, Texas
PPAI 38729, A3

I echo those saying to be direct. No reason to send mass emails when everyone knows who it is. I just don’t think anyone appreciates passive-aggressive comments or non-direct communication. You don’t have to be a jerk by any means, but I see nothing wrong with telling them the need to make some adjustments. If that creates an issue with an employee, you have much bigger issues to deal with. Providing something branded is also a great idea, but you still need to tell them it’s required or set expectations.

Josh Robbins
Vault Promotions
Henderson, Tennessee
PPAI 547406, S3

Are these Zoom calls internal or with customers? If with customers, insist they wear company-branded apparel on the Zoom call as another way of showing what your company can do and to put forth their best-case professional selves. My company provides several pieces of apparel to all employees at no cost as long as we put our logo on it. Lastly, if this is an internal meeting, I’d question why you’re having them in the first place, and how important it actually is to see everyone on the call.

From a commission-only salesperson’s perspective, company meetings are the biggest waste of time unless they’re with factory reps showing new items. Even then, no one needs to see me on those calls. It tends to be trending since so many businesses went to virtual meetings in 2020, but every meeting I’ve ever sat in, regardless of the sales gig, could have been handled with a simple email.

Craig A. Kohler
Sales Representative
Treetop Enterprises
Hillsboro, Missouri

Many businesses are updating the remote work policy and having employees sign-off for just this reason. I have our clients enact policies that require neutral Zoom backgrounds, no hats or caps, and employees must wear company logo apparel or business casual when on calls.

Lauren Choiniere, CAS
Senior Project Manager
Millennium Marketing Solutions, Inc.
Annapolis Junction, Maryland
PPAI 159584, D3

It’s still a job. You should feel comfortable in asking an employee to look presentable or, at minimum, wear business casual for meetings (in-person or Zoom). This includes what’s behind them during virtual meetings as well. You can always create a virtual company background for employees to use. If you want, let them get creative, but it should be approved by the company. They should understand that they are representing your company.

Patrick Eppert
Arch Marketing Solutions
Saint Louis, Missouri
PPAI 603788, D1

Say, “I want to talk to you about work attire  while participating in video meetings. There are times when your attire is not appropriate for our professional work environment.” Then list your expectations, ensuring they are equitable for everyone in the office. The standards cannot be more strict for women than men or for certain groups.

Sara Knepper
Managing Partner
Jumping Ink Promotions
Portland, Oregon


A Distributor Asks: I know this is becoming uncommon, but I’m thinking of opening a showroom for products and idea-sharing. What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have a showroom space and, if so, how is yours set up and what has been your experience so far?

I think they are crucial. Mine isn’t very fancy, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve won a client over by saying “I have products you can see and feel in person.” Especially when it comes to apparel, 95 percent of people want to know exactly what they’re buying.

Dexter Renter
Stay Sharp Embroidery
Omaha, Nebraska

I did it and recently sold the building. Never looking back. It will tie you down and yes, you will attract people that just want to look around while you can be spending time focusing on bigger and better things.

Craig Stephens
Owner and Founder
Imprint Logo
Marblehead, Ohio
PPAI 286186, D3

I do not have one. I am a small employee (me) business. I wish at times I did just so I could separate my business from home and the other business (my husband’s) that runs out of my house. But my clients seem to like that I go to them. And an added benefit is I don’t have that overhead, especially since my business dropped over 50 percent since the pandemic hit. 

Laura Mizell
Mizell Marketing & Designs
Oxford, Alabama

I love mine and it helps up my sales. I meet by appointment only. When a client comes in looking to order pens, they end up buying apparel, pizza cutters, caps and more. My average order increased three times. Plus, I no longer get charged residential fees from FedEx. At 100 boxes per month, that basically paid for my showroom. Plus, I now have salespeople using the showroom. It’s good all the way around.

Hans Abbey
Purple Snow Promotional Products
Billings, Montana
PPAI 533522, D3  


Do You Have An Answer? 

A Distributor Asks: Has anyone paid for a freelancer to do market research for them? If so, what sorts of information did they provide and was it worthwhile?

A Distributor Asks: Is anyone involved with the development of promotional NFTs? It’s a relatively new and emerging area, but I’d love to get my feet wet, or at least be more informed. Do you have any go-to sources for learning more about this opportunity from a marketing perspective?

A Distributor Asks: What should you do if a decorator loses your product, if you have proof of delivery and they claim they never received the items? 

Email your response(s) to Question@ppai.org for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.