Apr 2, 2009

Of Dinosaurs & Digitization: When Print (Still) Works

This month, the 100-year old international news rag, The Christian Science Monitor, makes history by replacing its print edition with several digital editions: its website, RSS feeds, and handheld PDA and e-mail subscriptions. Founded in November of 1908, the newspaper has won 7 Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, and touts a non-partisan stance on global affairs. Its decision to reach audiences solely through digital means in the year 2009 (and beyond) comes at a time when a number of newspapers are struggling—or folding—in the face of adversity.

It isn’t just economy pressures that push the envelope for newspaper budgets. When I entered college as a journalism student in 1991, the internet was a little-known portal dubbed “the information superhighway;” praised by forward-thinkers, but mystifying to many others. Even then, visionaries were proclaiming “the death of the daily newspaper”: Glossy magazines were more appealing to the color-television generation of the day.

Now, with the myriad of technological advances in business and society that continue to occur each year, today’s news audience has little time to thumb through the newsprint as in days of yore. Fast receipt of information is top-of-mind to most businesses—including newspapers—in this fast-paced world.

But there are some times when print pieces still succeed over their digital counterparts. While print journalism struggles to remain valid in the current electronic age, print advertising continues to have a home. As electronic communications sources become prolific, tangible items are a valuable commodity—especially to the younger set, who are more likely to have fewer print pieces on-hand or in their homes.

Whether you choose e-format or print versions of your communiqu├ęs, consistency is key: Studies show that the more successful ads are those delivered on a regular basis, from daily blogs to monthly mailers. And don’t forget to weave your promotions into your information, so that your product or service is always a major takeaway—even alongside any educational info. you may provide (such as in white papers, newsletters and magazines). Marrying the two formats is still a valid option. With the right design, e-mail and print newsletters can consistently share the same information with similar-to-identical looks and feels.

Small businesses, along with groups and organizations with low budgets, particularly benefit from local mailings. The Toastmasters speakers' club I belong to in Chicago succeeded in more than tripling its membership with a year-long campaign that included publishing a newsletter, where print pieces were given to visitors, as well as left behind in area offices, coffee shops, and gyms. The dual electronic component of the newsletter (PDF downloads available on the club’s website) provided the right tandem push to excel the campaign. Furthermore, direct-mail industry giant The Ballantine Corporation reported via blog in 2008 that the local auto, retail, and hospitality industries were just a few that could directly benefit from direct-mail campaigns—especially when both print and electronic options were available to audiences.

Has your print marketing campaign gone the way of the dinosaurs? KiKi Productions, Inc., offers newsletter creation to individuals, non-profit organizations, and businesses of all sizes, featuring both print and online formats that fit your solutions. Talk about timely!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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