The Power Of Print

Print is dead, long live print!

‘Print is dead!’ ‘It’s too expensive.’ ‘Why does it take so long?’ ‘Its content is out of date by the time it’s published.’ ‘Online publications will soon completely supersede print.’ For well over 10 years these have been the opinions of many, but it’s far from true. Look around you, print is absolutely everywhere!

I LOVE print. I know I’m biased, but there is nothing quite like seeing a finished publication that you have had a hand in making for the first time. Print evokes an emotional response and engages more of the senses than digital. The touch, feel and – believe it or not – smell of it; when you open a box of newly printed magazines, you can almost drink it in. The tactile nature of a printed product can be an antidote to the fast-paced consumption of the internet and apps. Print readers linger while digital readers scroll.

For a medium that is perceived as old-fashioned, print can also be innovative. 3D-printed prosthetics are a recent revolution in medicine and could help to drive down costs for those who otherwise can’t afford them. Experts have also developed 3D-printed skin for burns victims, facial reconstruction parts for cancer patients, customised hearing aid shells… the list goes on.

This is a far cry from the type of print that I organise on a regular basis, but it shows that print is still extremely relevant and how manufacturing is still important in a digital world. However, we need to be smarter about how we use print media, especially when it comes to content marketing and matching the right type of print to the campaign or client. Gone are the days when you could print more and hope some of it reaches your intended audience. You need a targeted approach that is data driven. There is no absolute in the marketing mix, and we need to stop pitting the different channels against each other; a multichannel approach is best.

The environmental and sustainability factors are also important. There is talk of ‘don’t buy print, save a tree’, but paper is an extremely sustainable industry: in Europe, 72% of paper and packaging is recycled into new products, while 60% of the energy used to produce paper and packaging comes from renewable sources. We need to promote the truth about sustainability in both print and digital. Our love of the internet also has an environmental impact, which is only going to grow. It’s estimated that 306 billion emails are sent daily, which has the CO2 equivalent of driving to the moon 12,000 times!

On Sainsbury’s magazine, we use paper from well-managed sustainable sources and carbon balance the carbon dioxide produced in the paper-making process. The magazine itself is 100% recyclable, while all waste ink and varnish produced at the printers (which is minimal) is held onsite in secure storage and collected at regular intervals, when it is taken and used to generate power. Elsewhere, we have minimised the amount of plastic packaging used, saving 6g of plastic per bundle for copies delivered to stores – when you consider that’s 10,000 bundles an issue, 12 times a year, it soon adds up to a decent reduction in single-use plastic. We have also changed our subscriber’s pack to paper rather than single-use plastic and are paper-wrapping newsstand copies where possible, making the pack 100% recyclable at kerbside.

In short, don’t disregard print because of the perception that it’s slow, expensive and difficult. It isn’t. The power of print shouldn’t ever be disregarded as part of a multichannel content programme. It can complement digital and social campaigns, get directly in the hands of your audience like no other medium, or work as a standalone piece of content done right. A lot of us spend all day looking at screens and maybe want a change. Forget your pre-conceptions about print, re-evaluate and go for it!

Print is dead, long live print!

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