Wait a Second … Print and Digital Support Each Other!

June 10, 2016

A few weeks ago, TSNN’s blog featured a post by Jay Tokosch of Core-Apps. His overall message – print is a waste of time and money, so stop printing and go digital-only, right now.

I say, wait a second, Mr. Tokosch. Before you kick print into the recycling bin, perhaps it might be worthwhile to look at this from a different perspective.

Though I must first congratulate him on reaching one of his objectives – he got my blood boiling, for sure!

As publishers of show dailies and other conference-related materials, CustomNEWS’ primary focus has historically been print products. But we recognized a few years ago that the landscape is changing – digital is here to stay, video is hot and social media is trending.

So CustomNEWS began looking for ways digital and print services can work TOGETHER. For example, could videography enhance a client’s onsite communications strategy? If so, we have experienced videography teams ready to start shooting. And we’ll incorporate these videos in the digital versions of our show dailies.

Or, looking to expand the reach of your show daily? Send out a daily email promoting each issue to your members and prospects. And don’t forget social media – article snippets, photos and show daily links will enhance your onsite social media strategy.

One of the first things we ask when speaking to a potential new client – do you have a mobile app? If they say yes, we suggest they look into ways to incorporate the show daily into their app. Another mobile app vendor that shares a few clients with us has created a news section in their app to showcase photos and show daily links each day. And don’t forget to use the first issue of your show daily to remind attendees to download the app. Adding new features to the app this year? Include a Q&A feature in the show daily too!

Ok, back to Jay’s post - I feel he was short-sighted with his observations about the ‘pros’ of a digital-only approach.

·         Immediacy and efficiency: Yes, digital components such as a mobile app can be updated on the fly. (More about this in a minute.) But show dailies are printed on an overnight basis – and will be another useful way to share program updates, publish updated exhibitor lists (most program books are printed before exhibitor and sponsorship lists are final) and reach those that may not be accessing their phones 24-7.

·         Going green: Don’t eliminate print materials, look for ways to print smarter. Rather than printing a conference book, look for other ways to share this information:

o   Move overall conference information, lengthy session descriptions, maps and continuing education information to the mobile app. Encourage attendees to download the app prior to your conference so they know where to find the information they seek.

o   Treat your show daily as part conference newspaper and part program book by turning your centerspread into a mini-program. Include daily schedules, an updated exhibitor list/floor plan and important reminders in this pull-out section, and remind them to turn to the app for session descriptions, etc.

·         Statistics: If your distribution team hands out 80-90% of the day’s conference newspaper supply, guess what:  it’s being read.

·         Less cost: Yes, print can be expensive. That’s why we try to show clients how they can combine materials to cut down on printing costs. 

·         Sponsorship Sales: We disagree 100%. Print advertising is still a big draw for exhibitors, and our projects’ growth supports this statement. Look for ways to combine print and digital offerings that complement each other. Thank your mobile app sponsor in an on page one of your show daily. Package show daily and email advertising together.

·         365-experience: Show daily content has a much longer shelf-life than you may think. Look at ways to repurpose the content in association publications, blogs and other social media channels and marketing materials. Use the show daily to show those not attending what they missed. We suggest creating an archive on your website that features digital links to your show daily, as well as stories and photos from each issue.

o   Quick tip: At the end of a session recap article in your show daily, include a small box that ties into a future event, webinar or publication on the same topic.

Bottom Line: rather than trying to eliminate print, we urge clients to look for ways to integrate print with digital. It’s a popular topic on our blog and something we brainstorm daily with our clients.

We are realists, and know that digital may be more appealing. But show dailies have a lot to offer too, such as onsite content curation (with our experienced reporters, videographers and photographers) and unique sponsorships (t-shirts on temps). Lastly, publishing a show daily will elevate the feel of your meeting.

Mr. Tokosch, you may have thrown down the gauntlet, but print is not going anywhere, I promise you, and definitely not without a fight!

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