Let’s talk about: Media podcasts for lifestyle inspiration

Picture Credits: Unsplash / CoWomen

Podcasts are booming – according to a study by Goldmedia, more than 10 million Germans over the age of 14 actively listened to podcasts in 2020, and more than 4 million even listened to at least one show every day. Especially podcasts by well-known German media companies are becoming increasingly popular, such as Das Thema from the SZ, Mal angenommen from the Tagesschau, Einspruch from the FAZ, or Verbrechen from the ZEIT, among others. Many of the so-called media podcasts are dealing with inspiring lifestyle topics – corresponding to the sections of their (online) magazines.

Most people have heard of the podcasts with the widest reach, but did you know that there is a podcast from LandIDEE magazine? We’ve found a few treasures in our podcast library that we’d like to share with you. Note: these Podcasts are in German. But we are sure, there are similar podcasts in English as well. Anyhow, these media podcasts might be inspirational in terms of realizing the range of different podcasts by well-known media and how they transfer their content from print to spoken words.

Brigitte BE GREEN

…is a sustainability podcast by Brigitte, or rather the relatively new magazine of the same name Brigitte BE GREEN. Editorial director Alexandra Zykonov talks to colleagues, influencers and other guests about sustainable lifestyle topics. The podcast is not about unrealistic claims and the perfect environmental saviour, but about the challenges that a sustainable lifestyle can bring. Topics like fair fashion, sustainable menstrual products, ecological beauty products or discussions about veganism and climate change with grandparents are touched upon humorously. Alexandra and her interview partners remain toughly honest and talk, for example, about the feeling of guilt that plagues us once we have consciously behaved in a non-sustainable way. It is precisely this honesty that makes the podcast so special. You can also listen to the other Brigitte podcasts such as Brigitte Bücher, Paaradox or What the finance, with topics around literature, relationships and the financial world.

Sofa so good

We love Schöner Wohnen’s interior podcast not only for the play on words in the title. Editor-in-chief Bettina Billerbeck and columnist Anne Zuber discuss the big and small topics of the living world in this format: open kitchens, tips for a better night sleep, wall colours, room scents, houseplants, pets, and and and… Funny insights, useful tips and cool DIYs improve our personal interior design skills. The life hacks can even be directly implemented most of the time. The result? Feel-good level 100 in the beloved home – especially in the current time (keyword: home office) more important than ever!

#twentysomething

…powered by GLAMOUR. In keeping with the spirit of the magazine, Lina Mallon talks about her everyday life and touches on all the important topics that interest those of us that still are in their twenties. She chats about being single, Tinder dates, booze ideas, spontaneous actions and everything she herself learned in and from her twenties. Lisa’s experiences make us laugh and ponder. She speaks plainly and we can find ourselves in one or the other situation or draw our own conclusions from her learnings. In any case, the podcast helps us to reflect, accept and grow. By the way: the topics are not bound to age! Even with 30, 40 or whatever the podcast is absolutely recommendable and inspiring.

Picture Credit: Unsplash / Kate Oseen

Verstehen, fühlen, glücklich sein

Meta-topics like fear, friendship, love and happiness affect us all. Sinja Schütte, the editor-in-chief of Flow, looks at the big feelings and relationship issues from the perspective of mindfulness. Her conversation partner is meditation researcher Dr. Boris Bornemann – inspiring thought stimuli are the result of the conversations. Instead of mere “psychobabble,” the mix of personal opinions and scientific facts really inspires us to think and question things we may not have thought about before. This mindfulness podcast is exciting and intense – we love to be enriched here.

Quatschen mit Sauce

Chatting – that’s what podcasters can do! And what’s the saying? The best chats take place in the kitchen! For the “Kitchen Talk”, Essen & Trinken editor-in-chief Jan Spielhagen and online boss Christina Hollstein invite celebrity guests such as star chef Tim Raue to chat about food – what else! Restaurant experiences, recipe ideas and small sins: The podcast makes you crave for more. #foodspiration guaranteed!

We are in a podcast frenzy and hope to inspire you with our tips. Now it’s time to open your ears, turn on the podcast, and give the rest of the world a break!

New Year – Still me: Our anti-resolutions for the new year

At Zucker. we accept our imperfections and vices with a list of well-intentioned anti-resolutions – for more goals achieved and positive vibes to end this year.

Eat more chocolate

Because let’s face it: we can’t do without chocolate! Why should we give up something that makes us so happy? Why suffer when there’s another way? We say yes to the sugar shock and buy rather one bar too many than too little. Who’s in?

Sleep in instead of getting up early

The early bird can go to Hell! We don’t care about no worms! We want to stay up late and sleep in! A big advantage of the home office is the possibility to stay in bed longer. We take advantage of that and let the sun wake us up. Unless it’s raining. Then the alarm clock is a good backup plan – but not before it’s light outside! Stress in the morning brings sorrow and worries – sleeping in doesn’t.

Expand the sweatpants collection

Who wears sweatpants has lost control over his life? Unfortunately, we have to disagree with dear Karl Lagerfeld. The sweatpants have finally earned their rightful spot as an it-piece in the home office and contribute significantly to our well-being. Fashion is following the trend and currently offers us a huge selection of cosy, stylish favourites – we’re happy to be part of this trend!

Valuing online shopping as a hobby

Which brings us right to the next topic, “So, what do you do in your free time?” Uhhhm… online shopping! An absolute legit hobby, enriching in many ways: inspiration, ownership, experience… Just a bit of a financial burden, unfortunately. But hey, others play golf, sail yachts or collect cars. Online shopping is peanuts compared to that, right?

Picture Credits: Unsplash / Tamas Pap

Let the chaos be chaos

Tidy up? What for? Tomorrow it will be looking messy again anyway… “The chair” grows and grows – thanks to our new hobby. We prefer to invest our energy in our work in the home office instead of fighting against this natural mess. Here some clothes, there a few books – so, what? The wildly scattered items can also serve as inspiration. Brainstorming session for our interior clients?While looking for ideas, the eye falls on old magazines, further on the pile of books next to the bed and then lands on a patterned blouse on the floor. Wanna bet that this combo gets your brain in overdrive and gives birth to completely new ideas? Photos, words, patterns and types of fabric – Um, who doesn’t see a connection here, please?! (Whether or not that makes sense is open to question…) We can clearly use the time for tidying up better, for example for a well-kept streaming session. As Albert Einstein once said, “only the stupid needs order, the genius masters the chaos”. There’s nothing more to say.

Accept binge-watching as a sport

Jogging or serial marathon, sore muscles or stiff neck – potato (po-tay-to), potato (po-tah-to)! Fitness comes in many forms, so binge-watching is considered endurance training and therefore a sport, right? McDreamy and McSexy get us all sweaty on Grey’s Anatomy, while our F.R.I.E.N.D.S. work out our abs with each laughter, and the nasty superheroes from the Amazon Prime original series The Boys motivate us to run (away)… Workout plan at its best – it can be that easy. We can save ourselves the gym membership.

Eating whatever I want

Green smoothie here, Super Bowl there – of course a balanced diet is important for our health, but it’s not just about our body, it’s also about our soul. Besides fruits and vegetables, comfort food à la pizza, burgers or mac’n’cheese is also good for us. When it comes to food, we listen to our gut. Pasta! Uh, basta!

Beer, champagne, wine – totally fine

Toast with limonade? Possible, but there are other totally fine (alcoholic) options as well. Nobody can forbid us to enjoy the cold after-work beer, the classy glass of wine or the sparkling prosecco. No alcohol is no solution either. It’s the measure that counts…

So, cheers to the new year! Stay healthy, stay joyful and stay hopeful.

Picture Credits of the title image: Unsplash / S O C I A L . C U T

Which home office type are you?

As we’re rushing toward the end of the year right now, we briefly want to sum up: 2020 was a crazy period in (Zucker.) history. From one day to the other we had to leave the office in March and work from home until further notice. It’s strange at first when the team doesn’t buzz around anymore, when video calls replace meetings in the conference center and small talk has to take place via chat instead of the Zucker. kitchen. But we have mastered this sudden change in the best possible way! What was previously considered a privilege has now become the new normal: the home office has proven to be an integral part of our everyday work and will continue to accompany us in the future. With the time, a wide variety of home office types have emerged among us. From Sweatpants-Susan and Pilates-Paul to Chef-Charlie – which home office type are you?

“Hated it, now love it” / Sceptic-Sarah

Then Nay, now Yay: Such a quick change in the daily work routine brings doubts and skepticism among many colleagues with it. How is that home office thing supposed to work? Can I still separate my private life from my job now? I don’t even have a real workplace at home… Let’s be honest, we all had some second thoughts, didn’t we? But the fact is that many Sarahs got used to the new routine and even became true home office lovers. Reality has shown us that productivity and motivation in the home office really does work. So, if our worries are unfounded, we can look at the many advantages of working from home: no more squeezing into the crowded train in the morning, no more cycling through the cold in winter, generally saving time by eliminating the way to the office, which we can then use for sports, cooking or reading…

“First come, first served” / Morning glory Max

In the work culture has changed a lot at Zucker. since March. The general start of our working days at 9:30 a.m. and common end at 6 p.m. has given way to a more flexible variant: Everyone can decide for themselves when he or she can work best – the only condition is a reliable team coordination. All Max’ know how to get things done and prefer to start checking their e-mails as early as seven in the morning so that they can use the afternoon for some private activities. Tough, you Maxis, who feel addressed now, tough…

“Binge-watching is kind of a sport too” / Nigh-owl Nina

Clubbing has not been an issue this year, but the night-owls have found other ways to stay true to their sleeping rhythm: binge-watching or Tik Tok-scrolling all night long, five hours are gone so fast! No problem, thanks to the home office all Ninas can sleep in the next day. Who can relate?

“Showering is overrated” / #wokeuplikethis-Wes

Rise and shine: just rolled out of bed, right on time for the first meeting in the morning. Considering the time and prioritizing of the longest possible sleep (because sleeping is important for your health!), showering, teeth brushing and even breakfast can be skipped – nobody smells or sees it anyway, right? Unless a customer call is pending, in which case a morning shower is something to think about. Guilty…

“Shirt + Sweatpants” / Styler-Sam

The perfect home office look does not exist? Ask Sam! Shirt and sweatpants? Seems legit, because although Karl Lagerfeld once said “those who wear sweatpants have lost control of their lives”, the Sams among us can prove quite the opposite. Why squeeze into uncomfortable pants when we’re much better off with the comfy look? Isn’t a good mood and a comfortable work outfit more important than any bourgeois etiquette that spreads bad vibes and prevents us from doing our best? At least that’s the thought…

“Keeping up with the agency – thank God for video calls” / Gossip Girl Gerry

Some Gerrys need the small talk and exchange among colleagues like they need water and fresh air in order to continue working with even greater concentration afterwards. It’s a pity that the quick coffee break in the Zucker. kitchen was hardly an option during the last weeks. But the Gossip Girl Gerrys know how to help each other – Video-Call is their magic word. They like to start a round call in the morning or afternoon to find out how their colleagues are doing and always stay tuned regarding the latest gossip. Always nice to hear from you, dear Gerrys! #hitmeup

“Changed diet – Chocolate is now on the left side of the laptop” / Sweets-Sandra

You just can’t keep your hands off the snacks! Whether chocolate, potato chips, vegetable sticks or nuts: Our Zucker. sweet tooths need the snacks for their concentration. Fair enough, so everyone has their little helpers…

“Who wants to talk to me anyways” / Ghost-Gabby

What was the name of the colleague again, who, before March, always sat at the left desk in the corner behind the kitchen? As flexible working hours become commonplace a few colleagues disappear from the scene – or rather from the screen. Secretly and silently, the Gabbys do their job without anyone noticing anything. Fortunately, Zucker. has a video etiquette so that we can regularly see the pretty faces of our colleagues.

“Washing clothes while working” / Multitasking-Mike

Writing emails, media outreach on the phone, preparing lunch and starting the washing machine – Multitasking-Mike prefers to do his tasks all at once. In the last few months he has got the hang of how to manage household and work at the same time. Until now, nobody has complained… Go for it, Mikey!

“Better Together” / Coworking-Carmen

Home office makes lonely? Not with the Carmens! Whether it’s family, roommates, partners or friends: Carmen has become a huge fan of co-working and regularly meets her loved ones for work dates – safety distances and hygiene rules are always observed. Potential for distraction? Not at all! The co-working experts are efficient with their time, but look forward to a lunch or coffee break together.

“Triple-screen for triple power” / Tech-Theresa

As far as the technical equipment is concerned, the agency is divided into two camps: “Laptop is enough” versus “without the second or third screen, nothing works”. While some home office workers initially complain about the missing equipment, the tech-Theresas don’t even know what the problem actually is. There is certainly no lack of screens… The latest high-tech mouse and must-have keyboard are part of their private inventory. Very progressive!

“Start your day right” / Positive-vibes-only-Peter

From bed to screen? May be an option for #wokeuplikethis-Wes, but not for the Peters among us. They like a healthy work-life balance – with emphasis on balance. Because the Peters have developed a new routine in the home office. Before work, they treat themselves to a yoga session for a nice start into the day. With this energy they can do whatever they want – inner peace rules!

“Master of Desaster” / Chaos Queen Caroline

Fortunately, there is an option to change the background in the video call. Nobody wants to see the plates piling up behind Caroline. Well, that’s the consequene of turning the living room into an office. But don’t worry: The Carolines already know how to deal with their chaos. Show must go on: At least at working she’s very organized. #masterofdesaster

“A little party never killed nobody” / Thirsty-Theodor

Cheers! The Theodors among us know how to manage the classic Monday crisis in the afternoon: A little shot in the tea never killed nobody, right? Well, let’s hope that your boss doesn’t notice anything. Otherwise there’ll be trouble… The beer tastes much better after work anyway.

“Same same – no difference” / Expert-Elle

Whether living room or office – for the Expert Elles it makes no difference. Either way, they sit perfectly styled and in unaltered routine at their computer on time in the morning. The external circumstances won’t bother them. The focus lays 100% on the work. Respect!

Half kidding, half seriously, each of us can certainly identify with at least one of the named home office types. Maybe there are other characters as well? Or even mixtures of different personalities? Either way, after a certain amount of time everyone at Zucker. has come to terms with the home office and has learned their own lessons from this new way of working. So: Let’s get to work!

Picture credit: Pixabay / JoshuaWoroniecki

Tech on the job – Keyboards

A blogpost by our dear colleague Pierre

When you spend most of your days typing on a computer keyboard, you need to find the right peripheral for you and your hands, as the health of your fingers and wrists might depend on it. Even your productivity might be impacted by it. Even though Zucker. describes itself as a lifestyle agency, we pride ourselves in being somewhat geek and nerdy: we are always on the look-out for the latest technologies on the market, not only because it is important for us to stay relevant, but also because this might help our employees in their daily worklife.

At the moment, the market is all about mechanical keyboards, but other criteria than the sole type of keys should be taken into account before picking up a keyboard for your newly setup home office. Ergonomics are still an important factor, because your keyboard should fit your hands, yes, but new factors such as portability also have become more prominent. In case you are wondering “But why should I carry around my 60cm long keyboard?”, well, give us some time to demonstrate. But first a two-minute intro on what is a mechanical keyboard.

What are these mechanical keyboards everyone is talking abpout?

If you ask around the Zucker. office, everybody knows what a mechanical keyboard is. Or at least what it sounds like, because one of our employees has been testing the latest innovations in that field in the office and some mechanical keyboards can be extremely loud on purpose, for the users to get a clear note that their input has been taken into account. That’s one of the main reasons why these keyboards are particularly popular amongst gamers, who were, as always, the primary target of that innovation in the field of PC peripherals.

This type of keyboards has a lot of advantages for anyone who spends a lot of time typing, be it for writing a concept, proofreading a press release, translating advertising material or coding an app or a website. If we were to name only three, we would point out accuracy, typing comfort and fast key return allowing for increased typing speed. But what’s the difference with the good old basic keyboard you used for years? Without going too much into details, your keyboard , which should be a so-called membrane keyboard, has each and every single one of its keys connected to one of the domes of a single membrane, meaning that all your keys are somewhat connected to one another and sending signals through a single channel. On the other hand, on a mechanical keyboard, each key is connected to an individual switch that sends its own signal independently of what happens around it. These switches are at the core of the marketing battle between hardware manufacturers because they can be customized and changed based on the needs of the user.

Picture credit: Pixabay / geralt

Bleu, blanc, rouge for Bastille Day

Because yes, the needs of the users are at the heart of the switch technology and different types of switches are meeting different sets of needs. They are separated in color groups, each with singular benefits or meeting specific needs. Two companies, Cherry and Kailh, are dominating the market at the moment, but both companies make sure that the color code between their products remains coherent to avoid the same colour being used by the first company for a hard and clicky switch and a soft and quiet one by the other. They are also sorted in three different sub-categories: clicky (which are rather self-explanatory: those are the ones your colleagues will blame unfortunate life-threatening office accidents on), tactile (a moderate press is sufficient to activate the key, you do not need to press it all the way) and linear (switches you need to press all the way to register the stroke, similar to the feeling of a membrane keyboard).

Let us introduce some of the most suitable colors for the office life.

Black switches are particularly popular in business environments. Due to their high resistance (you need to apply 60g of pressure to activate the switch), they reduce the risk of typing characters inadvertently because of an overly sensitive key. They are also on the rather quiet side of things. However, if you are really spending eight hours a day typing walls of text, they might not be the best fit for you, as they can end up causing finger fatigue more quickly than other switches.

Brown switches are very popular, especially because of how versatile they are. They are the most neutral switches on the market and are well suited for tasks that require a lot of writing. They fall in the category “Tactile”, meaning you do not have to press the key all the way to register your hit, making for a great tool to increase your typing speed, at the price of typing accuracy as it is easier to activate the wrong key. The low resistance of brown switches, especially the Cherry ones with less than 45g, reduces finger fatigue and not having to press the key all the way makes it quiet enough to be used in offices without disturbing colleagues too much.

Red switches are the most used. These linear switches only require a force of 45 grams to be activated, making them an excellent choice for writing. The keys are also very quiet, especially the Silent Red variety available at Cherry, which enhances their ability to blend in with a work environment. Your colleagues will never know what hit them.

Picture credit: Pixabay / fancycrave1

But what do you recommend?

That’s an excellent question, and you might be surprised after that lengthy introduction but we will not only recommend mechanical keyboards. They are great peripherals, do not get us wrong, but they do not necessarily meet every single need one can have in the office or even in a on-the-go office situation. Moreover, membranes keyboards have been around forever, and the mechanical trend is not here to make them irrelevant just yet. In the end, it’s all about what you need! Therefore, here is a selection of keyboards that can be all be relevant under different circumstances.

For the most prolific: Das Keyboard Model S Professional Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard

This is widely recognized as one of the best typing keyboards out there. Many reviews describe it as a typist’s dream come true. This version uses brown switches to make sure your typing is on par and doesn’t bother your colleagues (be careful, there is also a clicky version with blue switches!). With a price point at around 150€, this is a high-end keyboard that will last you for years if you take good care of it. It is part of the design: we all know the pain of a key fading away to the point you can’t read what’s on it, Das Keyboard engraved their keys with a laser to make sure this never ever happens to you.

For the clumsiest: TOMOKO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The most interesting thing about this keyboard is probably its very affordable price; it’s the perfect example of “good-looking, efficient, qualitative cheap”, which makes it the ideal keyboard for someone who wants to try writing on a mechanical keyboard without spending too much money. It is also liquid-proof, which can come in handy if, for example, you tend to spill your coffee a lot – it even has a drain integrated in the casing to evacuate the liquid spilled into the keyboard more easily. Please note however that it sports blue switches, which are on the clicky side, but this might be a necessary sacrifice for the clumsiest employees to avoid driving their IT guy mad.

For the most optimizing: Kinesis Freestyle Pro Quiet

 You might be wondering why we showcase this monstrosity here. Well, for a very simple reason, it might open your eyes on how bad your posture in front of the screen is. Splitting your hands to type definitely will lead to some days of rewiring, but the result will be extremely worth it as you will realize that some of your shoulders and back pains were connected to you cramping your hands on a tiny keyboard.  The Freestyle Pro exists with brown switches, but the Quiet version rocks the Silent Red switches that are barely making any noise. The price point is high for this keyboard, as equipped with all the accessories necessary to use it in the best conditions (wrist rests, tent module), it costs over 200€, but trying it is such an eye-opener that you will not regret the investment if you regularly suffer from shoulder or upper-back pain.

For the most addicted to their tablets and smartphones: Logitech K780 Multi-Device

This is a membrane keyboard, but its use is so specific that we couldn’t find a mechanical equivalent. Some people work mostly on their phones and tablets, as they are always moving around an office and taking their laptop with them. That somehow thin and small keyboard allow them to connect up to three devices, including a PC or Mac, with a wireless receiver or Bluetooth, allowing them for instance to take meeting minutes on their tablet while responding to emails on their phones in parallel. Switching from one device to another is extremely easy, with keys dedicated to that effect directly implemented on the keyboard. Only downside in our view would be the fact that it runs on standard AAA batteries, that need to be regularly changed, generating a bit more waste than it should.

For the most nomad: Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard

A personal favorite that has travelled with us around the globe and will be a faithful companion for hopefully many more years to come. It is very similar in spirit to the Logitech we mentioned just before, except it cannot be connected to a proper PC or Mac. You can only connect it to a Bluetooth peripheral, such as a phone or a tablet. It is meant to be carried with you everywhere, it fits easily in every backpack (it is only 5mm thick when folded) and will quickly become your best friend to write longer notes on the go, on a plane or train ride for instance. This keyboard itself made it possible for us to simply ditch carrying around a laptop  and to work only from a smartphone. This is also a membrane keyboard, but ours has seen millions of strokes over the course of the last few years and is still in top shape.

For the most sustainable (with a touch of patriotic fiber): Cherry Stream Keyboard

Peripherals are always a problematic topic when it comes to having a sustainable approach. They are greedy in resources, they are made of plastic, they can be extremely fragile, replacing parts is often impossible. However, some manufacturers are starting to develop a different approach and to look differently at how they produce and handle their products. We could have mentioned ZSA, an American company specialized in ergonomic keyboards that doesn’t subcontract the build of its keyboards but has some of their own employees, based in Taiwan, assemble the keyboards. But we found something a bit more local, and not just anybody: Cherry, the manufacturer of the switches we discussed at length earlier, is a German company that has been working with several entities specialized in sustainability to develop a more conscious approach to the design, the life and the after-life of their products. Some of their peripherals have received the seal of the Blauer Engel, proof that they are actively trying to change things for the better, from green procurement to environmentally-sound and energy efficient production, to near-complete recycling of the products at the end of their lifecycle. The Stream is one of these keyboards: it is definitely not the most fancy one, it doesn’t even use the mechanical keys its manufacturer is known for, it is definitely on the affordable side of things with prices oscillating between 20 and 30€. However, it does the job for office life, with all the necessary keys and functions you might need, including the useful multimedia keys to keep control of your “Work work work” playlist at your fingertips. On top of that, you can even pick either a black or a white version of it and the strokes are extremely quiet.

Final words

So yeah, now you know a bit more about keyboards and you can potentially go complain to your IT manager with some slang to justify your claim for a better keyboard that actually aligns with your professional needs, your physical necessities or your personal opinions. We presented to you only a few of the thousands of keyboards available out there. You might find a better fit on your own, you might already have found the keyboard of your dream. In France, there’s a saying that goes “You recognize a good worker at their toolbox”. It is no different for your peripherals.

This was only the first of a series of tech articles presenting a 2020 status-quo in terms of office peripherals. Keyboards was only the beginning; we still have to discuss mice and screens at the very least!

Picture Credits: Pixabay / bogitw

Singletasking is the new Multitasking? Tips and tricks for efficient working

You know these days when all customers call in at once, each of them adding a new to-do with deadlines set to the day before yesterday? Where to start when everything has to be done at the same time? 135.000 mails in the inbox and the phone ringing for the third time – good morning y’all! Before this stress turns into madness, we must take a deep breath, have some coffee and cleanly write down every To-Do. In the following article you will find tips on how to organize your To-Do list. Now you can structure your day ahead. One thing at a time: Singletasking is the new magic formula! #getshitdone

Singletasking – What is that?

Singletasking definitely has nothing to do with being single – just to get that out of the way. Singletasking is a working method that focuses on working on one task after the other. The full concentration lays on one To-Do only. The longer the To-Do list, the more important it is to keep your head clear. Now it’s about prioritizing tasks… What if everything is equally important? Well, then the choice is yours: which task are you most motivated for at the moment? In case of doubt, consulting with colleagues or the boss will help – how do they assess the priority of different tasks?

One thing after the other…

Let’s say, we work for 20 minutes on task that is at the top of our to-do list and concentrate solely on that topic, the quality of the result is likely to be very high, simply because our working method was maximally efficient and focused. We are mentally focused on one topic, on one client. This way we do not run the risk of mixing up customers, ideas or contact persons. Since efficiency is also a matter of time and we don’t let ourselves be influenced, stressed or distracted by other to-dos while singletasking, it is also quite possible that we might not even need a full 20 minutes for this first task. Every minute we won’t need can be used for the second task – with emphasis on “first” and “second”, one after the other (we can’t stress this often enough).

By completing only one task at a time, we prevent absent-minded mistakes and achieve a much better result. Thanks to high concentration and little distraction, our efficiency increases. We prevent stress by keeping a clear to-do list that will prioritize for us the tasks that we need to execute, which directly leads to improved productivity with less churn due to human mistakes. Last but not least: checking off a To-Do is simply a great feeling! So far the concept…

Do it, but do it now – How to become a Singletasker

Becoming a professional singletasker isn’t that hard – in fact, it is quite easy. Here too, one step at a time.

  1. Write a To-Do list
    The key to successful singletasking is a structured To-Do list. Write  bullet point after bullet point in anorder that makes sense to you and your tasks.What is the most important? What can be done the fastest? What am I most motivated to take care of? The logic is up to you, your clients and your deliverables. But a helpful keyword in this context is definitely motivation: super important to complete a task efficiently.
  2. Avoid unnecessary disturbance
    Who can relate: we’re knee-deep in a task, we have an epiphany, we finally get going and then someone comes around the corner for some small talk. Nice in terms of team building, but unfortunately very disturbing for our concentration and efficiency in singletasking. How can this be avoided? First of all: home office. No colleague can just barge into the room (roommates are warned not to disturb you). But since home office is not always possible for everyone, please let your colleagues know before starting to work on a to-do that you do not want to be disturbed for the next half hour. Surely everyone will understand. Maybe your office also has a kind of “quiet room”? Incoming mails or video calls, among other things, can also come in your way. Therefore, second point: set up a blocker in your digital calendar (for example via Outlook). This way, everyone can see that you are currently unavailable, while the blocker also helps you with your personal scheduling. Close all programs that you don’t need to complete the task at hand. Third: put on headphones, block out the noise around you. The headphones not only silence the office noise, but also signal visually: I don’t want to be disturbed at the moment!
  1. Get the boost
    Sometimes it takes little helpers to boost concentration, motivation and thus productivity. What these little helpers look like, each person must decide for themselves. We know best  what helps us to concentrate. Here are a few examples: classical music, delicious coffee, drinking lots of water, having eaten enough beforehand, putting your cell phone aside… If you really can’t concentrate at all, write down what is on your mind. Even if it is a private matter – writing it down helps to put the thought aside for now. Here you will also find more tips for productive work with a focus on the home office.
  2. Check off task
    The most important thing in singletasking is the actual completion of a To-Do. Finish the task and then check it off in your To-Dos list. You will see that checking off makes things easier – out of sight, out of mind. Now there is more room in your head for the next task. Take a short break and then continue!

If this working method appeals to you and you would like to try out singletasking yourself, you should consider the following: be consistent, don’t let anything get in the way “just this one time”, learn to say “no”. Explain to your colleagues and your boss beforehand how you work and why you rely on singletasking. Maybe this blog post will help you with your argumentation.

Conclusion: In the end, everyone has to find their own optimal way of working, there is nothing such as the one perfect method or strategy. Whether singletasker, multitasker or something in between, the most important point is that you find a rhythm in which you can complete your tasks in the best possible way. Singletasking is certainly very useful in some situations, for example when it comes to tasks that really require high concentration. But the “good old” multitasking has its advantages as well. Nevertheless, we hope that this blog post will inspire you to try something new or to think about your working method.

Picture Credit: Pixabay / Free-Photos 

Attention, please: Zucker. bets on Visual Relations

We have something new in our repertoire: Visual Relations. By this, we mean XXL advertising spaces on houses, walls etc. which, unlike ads in online or print media as well as on TV or the radio, are literally impossible to miss.

More attention thanks to Visual Relations

This has been confirmed by a current trend analysis of the Fachverband Außenwerbung e.V., which found out that the advertising effectiveness of posters experienced a significant increase compared to the initial survey period in 2013. According to this analysis, size and design are decisive for the attention paid to poster advertising; they attract the most attention and are largely responsible for the information and purchasing behavior of consumers after the poster contact. Currently, 62 percent of poster viewers have already reacted to classic poster advertising at least once by investigating the advertised product or by purchasing it (compared to 49 percent in 2013). The reason for the significantly higher perception and effect of posters is the trend of mobility and the high spread of smartphones and tablets, which immediately leads to follow-up actions on the digital devices.

What Zucker. means by Visual Relations

By visual relations, however, we do not understand classic poster campaigns, but creative XXL posters or painted/sprayed murals with a wow effect. For example, motifs that change due to sunlight and look different in daylight than at night, or so-called hydrographic motifs that appear black in dry weather and only become visible in the rain. We also develop interactive cross-channel campaigns, in which the motif is only created with the participation of the target group or in combination with events, promotions or pop-up stores on the surface, enabling holistic communication.

One thing we can promise in any case: every picture will be really big! Like the picture of this blog post (see above): for LEGO® GmbH, we have mended a broken heart with more than 60,000 LEGO® bricks together with thousands of fans at a height of 12 meters as part of the “Rebuild the World” campaign.

Curious? Contact us!

Blumenbüro Holland x Zucker. – 10 years of flowerful cooperation

Credits of the bodypainting picture (on the top on the left): Tom Wagner

Time for a little party: We are celebrating 10 florishing years of flower- and plant-campaigns in collaboration with our client the Blumenbüro Holland! 10 thousands of botanical clippings, 10 millions of reached flower-friends and so many blooming memories… The past 10 years have been incredibly enriching. That is why we want to share some of the best impressions of the past with you in this blogpost. While remembering all these good old times, we can already feel the burst of our creativity-bud! So: We are looking forward to a flowerful future and a lot of fun working together with the Blumenbüro Holland!

These pictures speek for themselves – no words needed. With green spotlight on, we sproutly present our “Best-Of-Blumenbüro Holland-coop”:

Augmented reality in PR – todays storytelling & media contact

Credits: Pixabay / Mimzy

The term Augmented Reality (in the following abbreviated as AR) describes a computer-assisted extension of reality by certain elements or information. It’s not about creating a new virtual world that can only be experienced with certain glasses, for example, but rather complements reality in a clever way. A well-known example of this was the Pokémon Go trend. Players can search, find and collect certain Pokémon  items in their surrounding via app. The characters and elements are not real, but virtual and only visible through the app.

A second, very well-known example are the life-size animals, displayed by Google Search. Anyone who owns a smartphone can view the 3D animals virtually in life size via Google Search. The only condition: Google is set to the region USA and the language English. If you are looking for a penguin, a scalable, animated model of the animal will be displayed next to the images in the info box. You can view this model in 3D, so that the penguin can be placed life-size in your room by using AR technology. Wow! Who hasn’t always wanted to have a penguin as a guest in their living room?

But AR doesn’t only provide fun and enjoyment in your free time, it’s also very interesting on a professional level. We will show you, how it can also enrich the marketing and PR branch in a meaningful way and what is possible with AR regarding storytelling, branding and media contact!

Use Cases of AR-concepts (selection)

Whether from the beauty, fashion, technology, lifestyle, interior or tourism sector – AR can be used by and for (almost) every product or offer. The eyewear retailer Mister Spex, for example, uses the extended reality in its online shop: the glasses can be “tried on” online before the customer orders them to avoid mispurchases. In 2018, Adidas enabled digital try-on of the then new model Ultraboost 19 running via snapchat filter. In collaboration with Modiface, beauty company L’Oreal developed its own app in which new make-up trends and hairstyles can be tried out virtually to find out what you like before you buy anything. Modiface had previously worked for Estée Lauder and Sephora, but was then taken over by L’Oreal, so the AR specialists work in-house now. The cosmetics label definitely recognized the potential of AR quickly and seized the opportunity. The furniture empire IKEA also launched a free app called “IKEA Place” in 2017, where you can virtually place pieces of furniture within your own house – so to speak, we ourselves become interior stylists. This selection of successful AR examples already shows the extremely versatile application possibilities. When it comes to application, it should be essential that the technology itself is not the main focus, but rather the customer’s experience with the product or the range of products.

AR approaches in PR

Especially in live relations AR solutions are convincing and stay in the mind of the target group. Whether it is a product launch or an event: AR brings products and brands to life, creates a special experience and lasting memories, for example through photos with specific filters and backgrounds, which are staged especially for the the product or event and react interactively. Likewise, the product itself can be visualized live by AR technology and individually staged by the target group or media partners. A story is no longer told, but created together with the target group! Storytelling becomes storydoing and listeners become actors! In addition to filters, QR codes or special apps are also used in marketing. In the tourism industry, press trips could be enriched with interesting information and elements that can be visually accessed at any time and any place via QR codes, apps or even AR glasses. In this way, media partners get to know the destination in a playful and individual way, for example in form of a rally – based on the Pokemón Go search.

The social media also offer a variety of possible applications for AR. The most obvious example would again be a photo filter for Instagram or Snapchat, tailored to specific topics, products or brands. This filter could be used for influencer cooperations and generate emotions and attention from their followers.

But AR does not only help to address the target group emotionally. Especially for brands and products with a need for explanation or, for example, technical background, AR concepts are very helpful and a rewarding opportunity to demonstrate or let media partners experience them in a creative way.  QR codes could be integrated into a press releases. When the product in question is called up, the AR technology is used to visualise it so it can be applied and staged by the journalist. This is particularly interesting for a product launch, whereby the virtual product can already be made available to editors before the official launch. Ultimately, however, the interaction is also interesting for the readers of the media, so that journalism was and is also revolutionized by AR. Several German media, such as Die Welt, have already used AR solutions in the past. The article came to life while reading it on the smartphone, so that infographics suddenly appeared in 3D.

We summarize: The extension of reality and digital interaction arouse emotions, provide fun and have a lasting memory value. This effect makes AR extremely interesting in PR, marketing and journalism. We are also inspired by the unlimited possibilities of AR solutions…Be curious, we have some ideas in the petto!

Influencer and Artificial Intelligence – you need to know these AI personalities!

Photo Credits: Pixabay / geralt

Influencer Relations have become an integral part of marketing and PR: with a focus on Instagram as a social media channel, influencers make their way in our daily lives with posts of appetizing recipes, the latest fashion must-haves, creative interior designs, travel snapshots or sports trends. As public figures, they are all at once trendsetters, opinion leaders and role models for their community.

Nowadays, the influencers don’t even have to be real people, because artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in this part of modern work and life. V Influencers created on a computer celebrate great success and stand out from the masses with their follower numbers and renowned partnerships.

You haven’t had any contact with AI influencers? No problem, we will introduce you to three successful AI content creators. What is the with the virtual personalities and who stands behind their names? What makes a cooperation with them so special?

  1. Lilmiquela

    With 2.4 million followers, Miquela Sousa aka Lil Miquela is the queen of the AI influencers, so to speak. She was created by the Californian IT company Brud. Since 2016, the Los-Angeles-based half-Brazilian is successfully active on Instagram. Since 2017 she also publishes her own music. Born as an artificial characterfigure, she has developed into a significant influencer in the fashion and lifestyle sector, working with high-end brands such as Prada, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Porsche and Diesel. She has already been photographed for various covers of renowned fashion magazines such as ELLE and was voted one of the 25 most influential people on the internet by TIME Magazine in 2018. She also got involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Photo Credits: lilmiquela / Instagram

  2. Noonoouri

    Cute, curious, couture – that is how Noonoouri describes herself. This attitude can also be found in her Instagram Feed. The posts are aesthetic, artistic, stylish, creative and versatile. Amongst those, you will findactivist posts for Black Live Matters,  climate protection or animal welfare . The influencer has 360,000 followers on Instagram, she posed (virtually) with stars like Kim Kardashian and she works regularly with high-end magazines like ELLE, Vogue or L’Officiel. As a fashion influencer, she lives – surprise – in Paris, where she partners up with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Fenty and Tom Ford. Her creator, the graphic designer Jörg Zuber, comes from Munich. The fictional character is his dream come true. Starting as a child, he has been fascinated by the creativity and glamour of the fashion world. He combines fashion with freedom – this is exactly what Noonoouri is supposed to embody.

    Photo Credits: noonoouri / Instagram

  3. Bermudaisbae

    If you don’t know any better, you might think that Bermuda is a real person and possibly part of the top model clique around Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner & Co. – that’s how authentic her appearance on Instagram is. In fact, the pretty blonde is friends with Lil Miquela and regularly shares posts with her or their mutual buddy Roland Blawk – he too is a well-known virtual personality with 156,000 followers on Instagram.  Both Bermuda and Blawk are other creations of the start-up Brud, the “parents” of Lil Miquela. The 256,000 followers of Bermuda enjoy colorful, sometimes controversial lifestyle, beauty and fashion pictures. Bermuda’s appearance is confident, sexy and provocative. The “Robot Queen” also entered the music business. Besides joint music projects with her BFF, she successfully released a cover of “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    Photo Credits: bermudaisbae / Instagram

Who created them?

Behind the virtual personalities you often find innovative tech companies, visionaries and creative people. They saw the creation of 3D avatars as a personal challenge, a sign of tolerance and freedom in our modern world. However, now, there are also AI influencers that were created by companies specifically to act as brand ambassadors or campaign faces. One of them is Colonel Sanders, created by and for KFC in cooperation with the agency Wieden + Kennedy for the #secretrecipeforsuccess campaign from 2019. The Colonel was not created to act as a bold advertising face but as an authentic influencer for their own social media channels. By the way, his person is only half invented – “Colonel” Harland David Sanders is the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, who died in 1980 at the remarkable age of 100 years.

Cooperations with AI-Influencer

Like human influencers, virtual avatars are sought-after cooperation partners. It is not only the phenomenon of the artificial personality that makes a cooperation so exciting and attractive, but also the many possibilities offered for staging and controlling the marketing of a specific product are a great benefit for many companies. Scenes and backgrounds can be mounted and adapted as desired – according to the wishes of the cooperation partner. Of course, the preparation and production of theposts take some time and effort but it is worth it for most clients – the curiosity to work with computer-controlled influencers wins out. Even German companies are already using virtual models: the car brand Smart has worked with the plus-size model Brenn, created by the agency Diigitals, which specializes in virtual models. This is intended to make the technical topic of electromobility more “lifestyle” and accessible. The French luxury fashion brand Balmain also ordered AI models from Diigitals  for their #balmainarmy – one of them is Shudu. These collaborations are definitely causing a stir.

The avatars find great acceptance and sympathy in the community. Their followers and fans obviously know that they are fictional characters. Nevertheless, Miquela, Noonoouri and Co. have managed to develop a character that seems real, authentic, interesting and credible – a good basis for a promising cooperation.

We are excited to see how Influencer Marketing will develop in the future. One thing is clear: we will certainly hear more about artificial influencers.

Stop the flood of mails: Tips on how to handle your e-mail business

Photo Credits: Pixabay / Pexels

Can you tell right away how much time you spend checking, organizing and editing e-mails every day? As useful as digital messages are, they can be distracting and confusing. With our tips on how to use e-mails more efficiently, you’ll be more organized in the future while making sure that no important message slips through. You can then relax and invest the time saved in other To-Dos. Sounds good? Then let’s get started!

This article first appeared (in pre-Corona times) on Smartworkers.net and has been slightly revised.

1. Fixed time slots for reading and answering e-mails

We regularly catch ourselves checking the mailbox during breaks or while working on (important) tasks. Now, the problem is that break times aren’t used for recreation and checking  your mails distracts you from tasks at hands. But how can you avoid this? Schedule fixed time slots every day to organize your mailbox! The amount of time slots depends on how often you receive mails that need to be processed immediately. If you’re not in customer service, two to four units spread over the working day should be enough.

2. Smart organization of your inbox

This sounds logical and simple at first. Of course, you are familiar with creating folders and using smart filters. However, most people often find it difficult to create a logical folder structure where no e-mail disappears while the inbox remains clean. Generally, e-mails can be classified into the following categories: Newsletters, to be answered today, To follow up and important background information for the archive.

As far as the organization of newsletters is concerned, intelligent filters can be used to make the mail flood disappear directly into a folder. Here you can read them when you have enough time. Everything with the label “to be answered today”, you can do it within the scheduled time slots. Make sure that you only touch each mail once and move it to the archive afterwards. Check the follow-up folder once or twice a week to keep an eye on future tasks and projects. The archive is best organized by projects and/or customers. Pro-Tip: If you prefer many subfolders, you should use an e-mail program with a good search function, such as Microsoft Outlook, in order to efficiently find even older conversations in a short time.

However, those who are totally opposed to the folder structure can also be happy when working in the inbox. Work with markers, for example, or tick off your mails directly after completing the to-do. As far as markers are concerned, we recommend different colours. With reference to the categories mentioned above, this could look like this: Red for newsletters, blue for to be answered today, green for follow-up and yellow for important background information for the archive.

Photo Credits: Pixabay / Pexels

Photo Credits: Pixabay / Pexels

3. Choose the right subject

Does it often happen to you that your e-mails are not answered or answered later than you ‘d want? Then you should check your wording, especially in the subject field. A meaningful subject line is trumps. It is best to write it at the very end to emphasize the essentials of the e-mail as clearly as possible. If you need feedback urgently, it should be made clear in the subject line.

Here is an example: [Project name]: [Contents] with the request for release by [date].

What you want and by when this email needs to be answered becomes clear at first glance to customers, service providers and colleagues. You can also emphasize urgent agreements with the help of a corresponding prioritization. But be careful: such a prioritization should be used sparingly, because if you permanently set even less important mails on “high priority”, you might not be taken seriously anymore and cause the exact opposite effect – a delayed response or, in the worst case, even no answer at all.

4. Keep it short and precise

Mails should only be as long as necessary – the shorter the better!  Put yourself in the recipient’s position: iis the topic of the mail clear or do you need further information for a better understanding? Is the content well structured? Otherwise you not only make it difficult for the reader to understand the message, but you may also delay their answer. A good structure is not limited to  the content, it should be visually supported by paragraphs, lists and sparingly used highlights. The aim is for the reader to understand the relevant content by just skimming the text.

Another important part of the mail comes right at the end: the closing. A study by the software provider Boomerang shows that e-mails ending with “Thank you”, “Thank you in advance” and “Thank you very much” achieve a much higher response rate than those that only send “Best regards”.

5. Reduce your e-mails

Yes, you can! Start by unsubscribing from (all) unused newsletters. This takes some time, but there are services like unroll.me that support you and automate the unsubscription process to a large extent. It can also be helpful to simply unsubscribe from all newsletters and afterwards decide what you really need and want to read.

Another tip from us is to read your answer to an e-mail thoroughly before you send them. Ask yourself if you have really answered all the sender’s points and if all your questions are clear before you press the “send” button. This way you can avoid unnecessary answer loops.

In addition, switching to other media can help to reduce the mail traffic. Is it possible to clarify an issue over thephone? For internal communication, it is also a good idea to switch to a team chat, for example via Microsoft Teams or Slacks.