Conference Question: Is Print Dead?
A FEW months ago, I was invited to participate in a panel at the State University of New York Council for University Advancement (SUNY–CUAD) conference, in Buffalo, N.Y. SUNYCUAD represents professionals employed in advancement areas at every New York State University campus.
John Heiser, director of Graphic Design and Printing Services at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., organized a panel discussion to address the relevancy of print media in an ever-changing world of technology. The session was provocatively titled "Is Print Dead?" and it sought to address whether social networking and digital content have killed the printed page.
Although there were seven concurrent sessions, the "Is Print Dead?" session drew a standing-room-only attendance of close to 60 people, most of whom were in-plant customers. The session itself became an open forum of discussion, questions and answers. Along with myself and John, the panel included Bob Russell, director of Enterprise Account Development for Océ North America, and Tracy Rammacher, director of Publications and Electronic Media at SUNY Cortland.
Concerns from the session attendees included pricing, quality and turnaround for print when compared to electronic communication methods. Some of the facts that were brought up included the unreliability of e-mail deliveries when compared to direct mail. An average of 21 percent of e-mails reportedly never reach the intended recipient. Print solutions such as targeted variable data printing campaigns were recognized as an effective strategy for customers.
Additionally, print buyers look for the in-plant to be a collaborative and knowledgeable resource for planning print projects, and rely on their print providers for suggestions in design, printing and mailing that offer savings in both money and time.
Another area of focus was the need for sustainable business practices, which is recognized as a very important aspect of an in-plant. Attendees discussed the needs and benefits of having specific in-plant sustainability certification standards that would be more economically viable than those that are commercially available, and which align with the sustainability efforts on their campuses.
Tom recently ventured out on his own and is now president of TNT Sustainable Business Solutions, a consulting firm that promotes and provides services for creating sustainable business practices, measuring and improving print shop effectiveness, and sustainability marketing. He is currently enrolled in the University of Colorado's Professional Studies program and is working towards earning certification in Sustainability Management.