Though closer inspection reveals the evidence is far from uniformly negative, few would argue that print has not been, to some extent, displaced by digital media. In the news domain, for example, it seems to be widely accepted that live, ‘breaking-news’ stories are largely the preserve of digital formats, with print media battling for a share of the in-depth background stories and the more-detailed types of investigative journalism.
Despite a definite drift towards digital dominance, businesses must not forget that print media still retains a unique presence which can often be effectively deployed to commercial advantage.
Print products have an undisputed tactile appeal: attractively textured pages containing pin-sharp matte or high-gloss graphic imagery and photos offer a comfortably familiar and thoroughly cohesive reading/viewing experience – a premium example would be the world-renowned National Geographic magazine . Furthermore, and equally significant, print material is entirely portable, adapts well to a number of consumer requirements, and requires no peripherals whatsoever. In addition, it is not unusual for print-format items to have an intrinsic artistic/creative value – treasured artefacts are often destined for bookshelves and/or coffee tables, and their value may even increase over time. As advertising material, print has also proved itself supremely flexible in matters of sizing, with everything from small and personal business cards right up to towering billboard statements having a recognised place and unique promotional function.
For business, it is also important to understand that print sends public messages which are conventional and well-understood. Such media offers personal engagement and promises almost effortless interaction. Importantly, research consistently reports that print pieces carry an aura of credibility and trust which is often lacking in comparative online text sources. Perhaps this is a reflection of the perceived permanence of the printed word – after all, one of the much-vaunted ‘virtues’ of online text is the ease with which it can be overwritten, and then deleted with a single click.
It seems clear from the above that there are a number of basic and essential functions which printed items perform exceptionally well, and which do not seem to have been at all diminished by the advent of new media. So maybe a sensible strategy for business advertisers would be to conceptualise print- and digital media not as rivals but as different tools, separate channels, and occasional collaborators.
In business, the impact of everyday print media can sometimes be overlooked. Company letterheads and personalised, business-identity cards with printed logos have the opportunity to create a vital first impression, and every recipient will naturally assume these items reflect an underlying corporate ethos and identity. Good quality work here by graphic designers and professional printers can thus be used to signal, care, quality and consummate professionalism. In the past we have used Moo for our own high quality printing. Printed materials can also be a great way to generate online reviews by using a short link to an online survey.
As regards business promotion, print products lend a personal and physical presence to your advertising presence. For example, a leaflet through the letterbox is real and memorable, whereas an online advert can often seem much more ephemeral. As a result, it’s often very effective to use media in combination – for instance using QR (Quick Response) codes on printed material to facilitate various kinds of digital interaction. Likewise, in the digital world it is quite common for online popularity to drive print spin-offs, and readers of magazine articles may later wish to Google various topics, facts or notions discussed as a means of gathering, and then maybe sharing, supplementary information.