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FREE: The Print Council: Gutenberg's Last Laugh

by Gail Nickel Kailing September 30,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: September 30, 2003

by Gail Nickel Kailing September 30, 2003 -- To a room full of “family and friends” the Print Council, a business development alliance dedicated to promote the greater use of print media, announced its formation and presented a few of the Council's founding members for comment. Formed by industry leaders across the spectrum of the graphic arts industry, the Print Council's goal is to influence and promote the greater use of print media through education, awareness, market development, advocacy, and research. In addition, the council will work closely with industry associations, ongoing initiatives, and relevant user groups that share common goals. Jeff Hayzlett, President, Hayzlett & Assoc., introduced Michael Makin, CEO, PIA/GATF, who kicked off the meeting by emphasizing the size and value of the graphic arts industry. He exhorted the industry to demonstrate its strength and work together. Graphic arts companies have generally considered their competition to be other graphic arts companies rather than other media. Printing companies have positioned themselves as alternatives to other printers, but not as producers of one of the best alternatives for communication and promotion. And the graphic arts industry – as we all know – is extremely fragmented and segmented by production method: digital, web, sheet fed, flexo, etc., as well as by product: direct mail, magazines, books, newspapers, etc. “We need to stop listening to the prophets of doom who say print is dying,” said Makin. “Print is alive and well because it is effective!” Three of the Print Council founders took time out of their busy Graph Expo schedules to comment on the alliance. Paul Reilly, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO, Mail-Well, Inc., spoke encouragingly of a rebounding economy and the growth of direct mail and print advertising. At Mail-Well for example, advertising drives about 50% of their business. Reilly also reiterated that, despite recent – and certainly temporary – setbacks, telemarketing will decrease. The Reilly family's participation in a Colorado-specific “do not call list,” has reduced the number of the calls the family receives from as many as a half-dozen a night to less than one a week. In fact, the DMA announced over the weekend that they are recommending to their members not to call people on the list. Dollars will move from telemarketing and the Internet back to print. Said Reilly, “We are on the verge of a new and significant growth pattern.” “The new media appears more glamorous, more sexy, and more effective, but that's not the case. Print has been proven very effective,” noted Catherine Monson, President, PIP Printing, Inc. “This is a very needed initiative. We need to position print as an alternate media, not position ourselves against each other.” “Since the advent of print, alternative communication vehicles have come along trying to usurp what we do,” Roy Grossman, President and CEO, Sandy Alexander, Inc., pointed out. “Radio couldn't kill print, TV couldn't kill print. In the early 1980s, the PC didn't kill print, and most recently, the Internet hasn't killed print! Our industry has a tremendous future in front of us, and I am very proud to be a part of it. In announcing the consolidation/termination of AOL Time Warner's digital book operations due to lackluster consumer demand and high costs he said: Perhaps Mr. Guttenberg has had the last laugh here.” First things first, according to Ben Cooper, PIA's E xecutive Vice President for Public Affairs. Getting a group started means deciding what it is you want to do, who you – as a group – are. The initial step is a mission statement, and the Print Council statement reads: “To promote the greater use of print media.” As part of the strategy to do just that, the Council is looking to expand a relationship between the printing industry and the USPS. Very simply, about 45% of all printed products end up in the mail stream. The USPS also collects mountains of data about the use of mail. How people react to it, what they read, how they respond to mail offers, what they buy, and more. Part of the Council's vision is to use that data to promote print and direct mail. Jeff Hayzlett gave an overview of the Council's focus, structure, and calendar. The Print Council will focus on the printers' customers – the decision makers – to increase the slice of pie to either replace or complement other media. In the first quarter of 2004, the alliance will begin to take its message “to the people.” While focusing on decision-makers about the purchase of print, the Print Council sees the PrintIT campaign as a complementary program. However it is time to stop selling to ourselves, and to focus on print buyers. The organization is “lean and mean” and is clearly a business development council, not a trade association. While a creative council drives the agenda to get the word out, there is no office space and no staff – a true virtual organization. Membership is open to print companies, allied graphic arts companies including manufacturers and suppliers, and trade associations such as the NAPL and NPES. As a first step, service providers initially formed the alliance, and the reach has been extended to the trade associations. Membership is open to any company, any association, and any individual. The geographic focus, at least initially, will be North America. However as a member-driven organization, the Council is also a member-supported organization. The founding members each contributed $25,000 and in the future there will be levels above and below that to engage all who want to participate. To be effective, the Council projects they will need a minimum budget of about $5 million, though that number may be closer to $7 million. That's a significant sum! And the final word from Michael Makin, PIA: “For our detractors out there, and there are some within “our own family,” we say instead of poking holes in an initiative that is getting unanimous support in the industry, let's focus on the message that we have to be carrying. We've had numerous times in the past where we've had campaigns to pat ourselves on the back, and they're wonderful. But we've never gotten together, put the egos aside, and done something for our industry. That's what we want to do here. We want something that will demonstrate the value of print to those who make the buying decisions. Not just the print buyers, but the ad agencies and the creatives who are choosing the best way to communicate their messages. That's the difference of this campaign. We're very excited. It's a non-partisan, non-political, all open concept that is going to really position print. We've got a fantastic industry with fantastic leaders and we just need to get together and do something.”

 

 

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