Print channels in decline
I was reading a recent issue of Strategic Communication Management this morning – a piece on Melcrum’s latest ‘Key Benchmark Data for Communicators’ study – and one of the many useful statistics jumped out at me.
According to the study, a whopping 45 per cent of the 1,300 communicators who took part in the study predict a decline in print spend over the next year.
Now given the state of our economy I guess that’s not surprising. But it is disappointing.
Print has a valuable and special role to play in the employee communication mix and it’s sad to see so many organisations ditching it completely and/or moving it online.
First off, print is portable and as such can reach the parts other channels can’t reach – like remote workers and those who don’t have regular access to a PC. It’s a great channel for telling stories, providing background and context and showcasing good practice. Done well print can be a visual treat – making far better use of design and photography than your average intranet or e-zine. Print has a shelf life – publications have permanence – whereas e-channels are usually more fleeting. Print often does a better job around emotional content – where e-channels are often weighted towards the rational. There’s also a demographic angle to this – while some people tell me Generation Y employees simply don’t read print, there’s no doubting that it is a channel favoured by less youthful employees.
Print may no longer be in vogue but the fact remains that, as part of an integrated channel framework, it can be both effective and efficient. I, for one, sincerely hope it doesn’t die out as an employee comms channel.
One of the issues that lies just below the surface here is that, despite banging on about the importance of research and evaluation over the last few years, so few practitioners have actually put their money where their mouth is and invested in decent research to assess the value and quality of their channels. As a result they can’t defend their publications when the finance wolves come knocking at the door looking for easy prey. So there, hopefully, is one useful lesson to come out of this recession – make sure you allocate some of your channel budget for channel research.