With printed materials experiencing a decline over the past five years,there are only so many print jobs to go around. So, what does the evolving print industry mean for both in-plant and external commercial printers? And why does collaboration make sense?
I think it’s safe to say, we’ve all experienced the need be nimble in our current climate. We’ve had to learn new things, such as how to work a zoom meeting, what a break-out group means in the virtual world, and how to successfully support our clients when they’re working from their kitchen counters. At times this has caused frustration and fear, but alongside some of those feelings, I’ve witnessed something pretty incredible – a want for increased collaboration.
When I was approached to develop content for this platform, I didn’t really know what I had to offer; after all, I’ve spent my entire career on the external commercial print side. But since I rarely say no to an opportunity, I was forced to think long and hard about the message I had for you all and there were two points I couldn’t shake – the future of print is bright and we’re better together.
Since that dreadful day when we all realized Covid19 wasn’t going away any time soon, I’ve joined many zoom meetings, print chats, connected with many people who could potentially be considered my competitors – I’ve even had the opportunity to be a part of an industry sponsored panel where I was able to share my own personal journey and experiences within this industry. Throughout all of this, I’ve been in absolute awe of what I’ve witnessed as an overall increase of support, community and an overwhelming want to band together to help one another succeed.
Believe me when I say, it is not lost on me that we are an industry that’s built to withstand challenges. Honestly, we’ve been facing challenges for the past 10+ years. We’ve been exposed to new technologies at an ever-increasing rate, we’ve had to learn hip new lingo like CTA and PURL and wait, a QR what? We’ve had to accept vulnerability and learn new strategies for how to support our clients, and some of us have had to withstand those very uncomfortable moments of not being able to provide an immediate technical answer to every question our clients have asked.
While this has been a bit difficult to swallow at times, those that have learned to make education a priority, to not fear change, to offer an open ear to the next generation of “little printers” (however painful that is/was), and to those who have been open to collaboration – continuing to evolve and keeping pace to stay ahead of our client’s ever-increasing expectations has definitely been achievable.
Simply put, growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So if we are to continue to emerge on the other side of our current reality successfully, it’s so, so important that we keep this continued support for one another. That we focus on collaboration and being open to building strong partnerships with our peers; especially, between the in-plant and external commercial print facilities.
Which leads me to my next point. Trust me, we have more in common than we may like to admit.In-plant and external commercial printers both see different types of projects, fluctuate in size, and have various capabilities, which means we all have different insights about what’s working – and honestly, what’s not.
In-plant systems just like commercial print facilities all have different goals, values and strategies – whether our focus is on high static runs, short-run variable or a mixture of both, each of us grows and develops to support our customers in real-time. With this reality, we need to be ok with not being everything to everyone, all the time. Sharing learnings, inspiration and being open to mutually beneficial partnerships can only make us stronger. Learning to trust one another will allow us to be more for our clients; especially, in an ever-evolving industry that just spent the last ten years coming back from the grave.
So what’s next?Although some may have various reasons to disagree with the points I’m making today, I’ve always (since day one) held firm to a vision of this industry that works to supports its peers, that doesn’t have to read headlines of its own death (awkward) and doesn’t need to fear the unknown. An industry that’s proud of the continued solutions and inspiration it brings to its audience – and that continues to push the boundaries of print. Each and every day.
I truly believe the answer to this reality is simple, it’ll be up to us to band together, to continue to fight for one another and to show our true talents to build a future of print that no longer has to see statements like, “With printed materials experiencing a decline over the past five years…”
Whether you’re working in-plant or on the external commercial side, I think that’s something we can all COME TOGETHER to celebrate.
Angie is an experienced Account Executive in the Marketing Communications Industry, specializing in print and digital communications. Skilled in account management, sales leadership, business development and social media, her ability to see the big picture as well as the detailed nuances has given her a unique insight when diving into intricate projects, helping bring her clients’ visions to life.
Angie is a logical thinker and naturally empathetic, which makes her great at teamwork and communication. She has a passion for supporting the communications industry and has recently taken on a role to advocate for the future of print and digital communication. Good at remaining calm, she is known for navigating tough situations with grace and connects easily with people.
Angie’s current role is as an Account Executive at Seachange. Located in the Midwest, SeaChange is a print and technology company committed to Embracing Technology and Redefining Print. She’s always interested in making new connections, so please feel free to send her a note directly if you’d like to continue the conversation firstname.lastname@example.org.