We believe publications – yes, even printed ones – still have a vital role to play in communicatons programmes.
In the 1980s, as computers became more affordable, more companies started using them to store information and plan work schedules, and then the Internet with websites and email offered even more opportunities to reduce paper use.
Now social media has taken communication a step further, enabling real dialogue between organisations and their customers.
So there’s no need for leaflets, newsletters or company magazines, right? Wrong!
Let’s clarify something before we get accused of being old stick-in-the-muds: we’re big fans of social media – we have our own Twitter feed and Facebook page, of course; we manage social media for clients; and we take a keen interest in how social media is used and develops (take a look at some previous blog posts, like this or this).
In other words, we are big fans of social media. But we recognise that new media can’t do it all – at least not yet. That’s why many of our clients still want us to produce newsletters, magazines and other publications, as part of a communications programme. Sure, these will be available to read online, but they want printed versions too.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone an organisation wants to reach has access to the Internet, and many of those who do still like the convenience of being able to pick up a magazine or brochure to read.
Yes, there are hand-held devices for reading, and e-magazines offer fantastic potential for embedding video, links and more.
But anecdotally, the evidence at the end of 2010 suggests totally paperless communication is still a long way off. We hear of a major UK sports governing body (not one of our clients) which ditched the print version of its magazine, but is now printing again because hardly anyone read the online version.
It applies to business too, and politics: Cardiff councillor Jayne Cowan is an enthusiastic Twitter user, and with her Rhiwbina ward colleagues has a website, but the one communication tool that prompts a surge of contact from constituents is a leaflet drop. “We still feel the paper copy is essential,” she told us. “Many people are still not on the internet and people like colour glossy newsletters.”
Okay, we acknowledge the decline of newspapers, of course, but there are specific commercial reasons for that. Also, we know there are environmental implications associated with printing.
But, the fact remains, the most effective communication needs to use a variety of media. Social media may be the future, but it will be a long time before it consigns the last printing press to the museum – or recycling plant.
Paperless office? No sign yet.