Does the Print Industry Need a Makeover?

by Martin Aalsma

Print is dead? Not quite. Print is everywhere and, in fact, there is a greater need now for the printing industry than there ever has been before. Amongst all the digital talk, there is a very large void in the industry and it is about time that we acknowledge it. I am talking about the void of young people.

There is a misconception and a perception of the print industry that dispels young people. For one, they are told print is dying, a ridiculous notion. For another, they are scared away by the stand-up image of the white-haired suit and tie businessman. It is true that this has been the image of the printing industry for decades and change is never an easy thing. We are in real trouble if we don’t get our next generations involved. BIG trouble.

It is about time we stand up and take responsibility for the next generation in the print industry. Why? Because…

It is our responsibility to pass the torch – Here’s a fact. Did you know that Millennials prefer reading on print? Study after study has shown this to be true and yet the printing industry is lacking in the recruitment of younger generations? We can’t blame it on the digital age. Statistics do not lie. Young people love print! The problem does not lie with them. The problem lies with the industry. We are neglecting our responsibility to “pass the torch.”

It is our responsibility to propel print advancements – By refusing to pass the torch, we will bring the industry to its grave. It will always be just what it is; it will not progress with new, young, fresh minds. Is that what we really want for our industry? For our print community? For all the talent to go somewhere else? Who is going to be our next Benny Landa or some of the greats to me: the next Dwayne Black, Tommy Clifford, Paul Gardner, or the next Jimmy Vainstein?

It is our responsibility to create a new image to attract younger people – for years now the printing industry has stood true for appealing to a specific group of Middle-agers. There is no draw to young people in picking up a printing magazine. Why? It’s not appealing to them—the images and the articles do not relate to them in any way. There is little tech talk and it makes print smell of old iron and musty dark oak.

No wonder we have a lack of young people excited to join the print industry. It is our responsibility as printers, designers, and publishers to create a movement to change this image. In fact, our industry is the only one that has never changed that image. Not really.

I am not saying that there isn’t anything being done. With GRAPH EXPO next week, we will see certain initiatives to engage younger generations. What I am saying is that what we are doing isn’t enough. We need to get our industry leaders and publications on board. We need to engage younger generations. We want the Millennials to pick up a copy of Printing Impressions (which we all love) and see themselves in it. We want them to engage with the materials, to see possibility in the printing industry.

Stephen Hawking once said, “As scientists, we step on the shoulders of science, building on the work that has come before us – aiming to inspire a new generation of young scientists to continue once we are gone.” When it comes to engaging new generations, why should it be any different in the print industry? What initiatives are you taking to attract young people to your business?

Documation LLC is a 20-year old commercial printing company with clients all over the Unites States and Canada. We specialize in large volume printing for associations, publishers, and agencies in the direct mail and one-to-one communication market as well. Our staff includes creative designers and list management experts, and our capabilities include print on demand, mailing solutions, high-speed production inkjet printing, and variable data printing.


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