Print's not dead, they tell us. It's not, but it's a different animal to the one presented by some in the industry, of some kind of lovable but near-extinct fluffy creature that we must all work together to preserve.
That we all need to ‘save print’ is a romanticised notion that ignores the commercial realities of print but also the incredible opportunities it offers. Campaigns to 'save print' in a wholesale 'it needs us' way ignore what print can do for us: it can deliver a message in spectacular fashion, if used the right way.
It's the message that matters, not the medium that carries it. It's the eye-catching imagery, it's the punchy headline, it's the informative copy. Whether that message is delivered via printed billboard, banner, poster, direct mail or magazine, or electronically via streamed video, social network, blog or email is entirely irrelevant. I repeat, it's the message, not the medium.
Print businesses across the world demonstrate on a daily basis what print can do to convey a message, using the latest technology. Printing hardware, software, inks, materials: the industry hasn't stood still while online media takes all the business, quaking like a rabbit caught in headlights. Constant research and development and – more importantly – innovative ideas keep coming, meaning every day there's a new example of print being used cleverly to reach customers.
By considering each application and market served by print, evaluating print's overall performance versus the alternatives, both its performance now and in time to come, businesses can take advantage of the real and lasting value of print. By applying that formula to drill down to the applications and markets that are best served with a printed product, that offer the best ROI for the longest duration, we focus not on merely preserving those print applications but developing them to their fullest potential and production volume.
Things survive on merit because they are the best available solution. 'Saving print' is a noble cause but, in the face of reality, keeping something alive for no more substantive a reason than a romantic notion of what it represents to us emotionally is nonsense – especially in business terms. I like horses, love them even, but I don't ride one to work. When compared to the available alternatives, a horse no longer stacks up as a viable mode of transport.
Print's not dead, but it faces challenges. The answer is not in attempting to protect print but to discover how it can win in a fight because it stands – now and in the future – as the strongest of all available options.