That globe-trotting ambassador of the Printerverse, Deborah Corn (in case you haven’t heard!) rocketed into Sydney this week, to deliver a series of thought-provoking talks on … guess what … our industry!
But Deborah, being a child of the intergalactic Universe, sees thing differently from us mortals.
We can only see our industry ”as it is”. She, through her unique, celestial prism, can see our industry ”as it could be”.
All industries occasionally have the need to see themselves from a different perspective – particularly ours, which is still going through a dramatic, and occasionally painful, transition process.
Deborah’s talk contained many interesting themes; I shall attempt to tease out some of them.
One was, that printing companies should seek out their own niche, something we can now do with the onset of digitisation, which allows creative companies so many ways to add value – something not possible during the offset era.
Another message was that we need to reach out and collaborate with other stakeholders in print – and there are many, not just the printers. What about the designers, paper companies, suppliers of embellishment, providers of new binding processes (eg, lay-flat systems), providers of augmented reality – even 3D printers. The list is endless in the quest to understand our clients’ real needs.
Another theme which ”hit home” was the idea of a print association not just being for ”printers” – why not extend its membership to include print buyers? print specifiers? Print users?
For over 100 years our own print industry association has really represented only ”the printers” (and mainly offset printers, at that).
Things change. But have we? The industry is bigger than just ”printers”.
Deborah spoke of seminars she’s hosted across America, that attract 100’s of people – and printers are not even allowed in the doors (she conceded she relents if they are ”creative”!). These love-ins are not to enrich ”the printers”.
They are designed to be a ”market place” of ideas. Where suppliers, OEMs, creators of new print techniques, special-effects and finishes, can come together with representatives from agencies, designers, marketing consultancies and corporate end-users themselves, all hungry to exchange ideas about ”what do customers want” – and ”what products and services are available” to meet these new value-adding opportunities.
If this is not a hint as to what the PIAA should be offering as a genuine value-adding opportunity for its members, I don’t know what is!
To be honest, this approach is not totally new. The UK are going down a similar path with their breakaway print association, the IPIA, ably lead by that energetic fireball, Marian Stefani. Their theme is ”Connect (with like-minded people) – Inspire (via thought-provoking conferences) – and Amaze (by showcasing amazing products and services)”.
We thank Deborah for (if I may echo the IPIA’s theme) reaching out and connecting with us, inspiring us via her thought-provoking ideas, and reminding us what an amazing industry we’re in. If only we think creatively.