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From the Editor: Redefining Your Purpose

December 2012 By Bob Neubauer
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I was walking the venerable halls of the U.S. Government Printing Office last month with a few university in-plant managers—getting a close look at the web presses, digital printers and even a pair of typesetting machines—when a discussion broke out about the importance of print to the government.

Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks had just given the keynote address for the Interquest Digital Printing in Government and Higher Education Forum (held at GPO) and explained how GPO has transformed from a printer to a provider of information via mobile apps, e-books and other digital methods.

Yet print is still a critical part of GPO's mission, we agreed. One big reason is the need to archive documents in a format that will be easily accessible decades from now.

"Why not PDFs saved on a CD?" ask the skeptics, forgetting that CDs are merely today's version of a 5-14˝ floppy. (Tried to read one of those lately?) And can you be absolutely sure future versions of Adobe Acrobat will still open the PDF files you're saving today? So print remains a crucial way of preserving government documents.

Still, the voices calling for less printing are loud, as you well know, and people continue to replace printed invitations and brochures with e-mails (and tweets) to save money. Some of them, after seeing their response rates take a nose dive, have been smart enough to return to print. But clearly print alone is not enough in today's world. Smart in-plant managers are finding ways to blend paper and digital communications.

"Put a QR code on an invitation, and now I have a map to get me to the event," observes Richard Beto, director of Document Solutions at The University of Texas at Austin, giving one example of how print and digital can work together. By linking a printed piece with online resources, QR codes add value to the piece. This also means designers no longer have to cram lots of information onto post cards and flyers, since the QR code links to those details. This allows the piece to be more eye-catching and creative. Advise your customers of opportunities like this and they'll start to see the in-plant as a provider of solutions, not just printing.

 

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