DIY Disaster Survival

Each year, it seems that more and more disasters hit with increasing severity. September 11, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Katrina, Sichuan, Haiti, Japan, Sandy. Society has not been able to prevent their devastation, and the impact of each is still being felt today.

Public-sector-led preparedness is the best defense, but all individuals should be ready as well.

To that end, Equip Supply has come up with a little list that may be able to help you survive a disaster. While the neat-o tips on the below infographic may not all be the first agenda items to memorize before a catastrophe hits, keeping the milk jug lamp and battery converter in mind may help get you through a troubling time.

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The Risks of Social Media: How Third Party Marketers Can Pose a Liability

As social media becomes more important to brands, companies have learned to embrace the marketing tool as a necessity. But many organizations don’t have the time it takes to build an audience of followers on Facebook and Twitter. This is where third party marketing agencies come in. But, as evidenced in recent legal headlines, the liability is enormous.

A recent piece in the International Business Times cited the case of a nonprofit organization that used a third party marketing agency to establish and maintain the nonprofit’s social media presence. But when the nonprofit was late on one payment to the agency, it found that the passwords to the nonprofit’s Facebook and Twitter account had been changed. It was a simple message: if you don’t pay up, you lose your account. And there are several examples of third party marketing agencies not complying with laws and regulations regarding advertising.

A white paper on the inherent legal risks associated with marketing through social media, published by Venable LLP, a New York-based corporate law firm, states:

Companies that have relationships with third-party affiliate marketers should ensure that those affiliates comply with advertising and marketing laws in marketing the companies’ products or services through social media. Businesses should have agreements with affiliates requiring the affiliates to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations; it may be prudent to include specific representations and warranties by the affiliate with respect to compliance, with specific references to significant laws such as the FTC Act. The agreements should also have a provision whereby the affiliate agrees to indemnify the company (either though a mutual indemnification or otherwise) from liability arising out of the affiliate’s conduct – preferably with a provision requiring that the affiliate carry sufficient insurance to fund the indemnification should it be triggered.

On a related note, confidentiality provisions and related provisions ensuring data security have become increasingly important in the current legal environment, particularly in agreements involving cross-border activities where consumer personal information is collected online. Additionally, businesses should, to the extent it is feasible, monitor the advertising and marketing practices of affiliates and review their marketing materials before they are disseminated. A company should take similar measures with respect to third parties who market through social media outlets operated by the company.

But socia media marketing risks are found in-house, too. Take the case of blogger Noah Kravitz and tech blog PhoneDog. When Kravitz began work at PhoneDog, he created a Twitter handle, @Phonedog_Noah, which eventually amassed 17,000 followers. Kravitz left PhoneDog on good terms in 2010, changing his handle to @NoahKravitz but keeping the password and, hence, his followers.

Things turned ugly when he filed suit over back pay. PhoneDog then countersued, claiming the followers of @Phonedog_Noah make up, essentially, a corporate customer list — their corporate customer list. In a remarkable move, they also demanded $2.50 for each of the followers over an eight-month period, which adds up to $340,000.

The PhoneDog vs. Kravitz case ended in negotiation in early December. So, without a legal ruling on this modern matter, we are still left with the question of who actually owns certain Twitter accounts? That’s a question we will undoubtedly see more of in the future.

But for now, during this legla limbo of social media laws, there is a large amount of helpful information on the web that companies can use to analyze social media marketing and create their own social media policy, such as, which offers a section with 218 different social media policies. And this site lists six steps to creating a social media governance board. But the most important things to remember when putting your company’s social media marketing efforts in the hands of someone else, either in-house or outsourced, are:

  1. Will the third party/employee do a better job than your staff/yourself?
  2. Does the outsourcing company/employee understand your brand completely?
  3. Do you have a thorough and specific contract in place?

And please, feel free to share your thoughts. Does your company use third party social media marketing or do you keep this aspect of operations in-house? What are the risks your company has faced with either option?

The DOs and DON’Ts of Company Holiday Parties

Holiday parties can be a company’s best day of the year — or its worst. Usually, it falls somewhere in the middle, but all executives and human resources personnel need to make sure to avoid some key risks to ensure their day of merriment doesn’t turn into disaster. The following four guidelines from Jay Starkman of Engage PEO will help.

1. Keep the Festivities Non-Denominational

It is better to have a Holiday Party than a Christmas Party, a Hanukkah party, or a party that recognizes any specific holiday. This way, all employees can feel involved and the Company avoids projecting the image that it prefers one religion over any others.

2. The Trouble With Alcohol 

As we all know, alcohol can lower inhibitions and lead to questionable judgment, which can be an unfortunate combination.

So how should you attempt to manage these inherent risks?

The easiest way to avoid the potential problems that come with alcohol consumption is to have a party where alcohol is not served. This may be an easier decision to justify if the party is held during the day, as opposed to the evening, when drinking is generally more socially acceptable. But if the company does decide to serve alcohol at the holiday party, consider hiring a professional bartender instead of permitting employees to serve themselves. This person can manage the amount of alcohol in each drink and notify a manager if an employee appears to have had too much to drink. Managers should also be alert and aware of any employee who may be overindulging.

Additionally, alcoholic options can be limited to wine and beer, and the company should be sure to provide plenty of nonalcoholic beverage alternatives. Food should be available throughout the party when alcohol is served. You can also consider utilizing a drink ticket system to limit individuals’ consumption.

Most importantly, consider stopping service before the party officially ends. Cutting off the service of alcohol at least one hour before the end of the party may lessen the impact of the alcohol on those who consumed during the party before they depart. It is also a good idea to continue food service during this time period.

3. Prevent Inappropriate Behavior

When workplace and social interactions intersect, there is a possibility that inappropriate behavior may result. It is a good idea to take steps to prevent harassment or similar inappropriate conduct.

One thing to consider is inviting spouses or significant others to the party. Employees may be more likely to be on their best behavior in front of these individuals.

Secondly, no mistletoe! This holiday symbol is an invitation for employees to engage in behavior which is inappropriate for the workplace (and, by extension, the company holiday party).

Be sure to remind all employees that the company’s workplace standards apply at the holiday party – harassment remains strictly prohibited. Make sure that everyone know that, even though the idea is to have a good time, misconduct at or after the party, including harassment, can result in disciplinary action. Also, remind managers that they must enforce Company policies at the party, even if it is held after work and away from the workplace itself. It is also important to remind managers that they must lead my example.

4. Enjoy Your Holiday Party!

This is supposed to be fun. Makes sure everything is on the up and up, but remember the ultimate goal. The team building and camaraderie built while co-workers get to know one another outside of the office can be invaluable to creating a great work environment.

IICF Annual Benefit Dinner Draws Stars and Money for a Good Cause

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) held its annual benefit dinner last night at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The star-studded night for a good cause featured several speakers, including:

  • David Brinkman, chairman of the board for IICF
  • Paula Zhan, host and executive producer of “On the Case with Paula Zhan” and co-host of “NYC-ARTS”
  • Hank Watkins, president of Lloyd’s America, Inc.
  • Mark Teixeira, first baseman for the New York Yankees
  • Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations
  • Brian Duperreault, president and CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies
  • Mike McGavick, CEO of XL Group

David Brinkman opened the evening with remarks about the foundation’s year of giving, noting that the IICF has __ 16 grants in the tri-state area in 2012 and was able to raise an astounding $50,000 to be given to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. “What the general public may not realize is that, in addition to claims paid, our industry is generous with philanthropy,” said Brinkman.

Paula Zhan entertained the crowd with stories of her years spent interviewing notable world figures, including Fidel Castro, Princess Diana and Pete Rose. On a more serious note, she explained how Alzheimer’s has affected her family and how, through her work with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, she is helping to raise awareness for the dibilitating disease, which costs the U.S. more than $200 billion annually.

Hank Watkins took the stage to announce that the dinner raised more than $1.3 million. “With this night, we’re able to help thousands of people make their way through challenging times,” he said.

Mark Teixeira gave the crowd a good laugh by mentioning the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert happening at the same time as the IICF benefit dinner (and just a few blocks away). “If you guys want to spend $500 to see a bunch of aging stars, just go to a Yankees game.” Well done, Mr. Teixeira. Having captured the crowd’s attention, he talked about his foundation, DreamTeam25, which has partnered with Harlem RBI to “provide inner-city youth with opportunities to play, learn and grow using the power of teams to coach, teach and inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams,” he explained.

Joe Torre was welcomed by Yankees and Red Sox fans alike as he told the crowd about his Safe at Home Foundation, which educates to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives. Torre explained how he witnessed his father’s physical abuse towards his mother and emotional abuse towards himself and his siblings. The experience inspired Torre and his wife to create the foundation in 2002.

Closing out the night was Mike McGavick of XL insurance — the honoree of the night. McGavick accepted the award on behalf of XL and reminded those in attendance that giving, and being a part of a community, is what life is about. “As Adam Smith asked, ‘How can self-interest be married to the communite’s interest?’ Or as David Hume said, ‘We must do well by others or we will eventually be harmed.’ Those ideas are perfectly merged. We must look to our community. Because of our [industry’s] peculiar focus on the nightmares in this world, we truly understand the pain and need that’s out there.”