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Print is Not Dead

It started as a faint expression of hope, a push-back against the digerati's received wisdom that print was dead. Practitioners huddled in dark corners at industry conferences, asking each other, "What are you doing about print?" and, "Is it dead?"

Then a scattered few practitioners went public, saying their utilities had moved too far, too fast in their embrace of digital. They were bringing print back.

Finally, it was validated by market research: print is not dead.

"If you want to reach everyone in your service area, the reality is you'll have to do it with print," said Chris Gent, a vice president of communications with KUA (Kissimmee Utility Authority).

Added another veteran utility communicator, "Sure, print is expensive, and you can't update it as quickly and easily as you can with digital. That's why we stopped printing annual reports and customer newsletters a few years ago. But we found we could not get satisfactory results using a digital-only approach. So we've cautiously stepped back into print."

Juggling Chainsaws, our market-research summary, shows a growing percentage of utility communicators and marketers are still trying to find the optimal blend of digital and print to reach their stakeholders -- including customers, other external parties and employees.

I don't expect an eternal, one-size-fits-all approach will be forthcoming anytime soon. These comments from your peers demonstrate a durable truth for utility communicators and marketers: no one approach works equally well for every constituency and in every setting. For utility communicators and marketers, aligning your key messages, audience's interest, and media platform/delivery channels is like solving a Rubik's cube. And as soon as you have it all figured out, an invisible hand (new technology, changing customer preferences, new laws, etc.) will sneak into your office and jumble the cube.

Read the first two articles in the series "Are You Planning to Fail?" & "How Are Your College Interns Performing?"

photo Credit: iStock 

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