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The Soap Box

Shaking things up in 2019

Genevieve Lewis listens to print’s most influential trade associations and bodies as they consider key industry challenges and the steps print companies can take to secure a successful future

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Marian Stefani, CEO of the IPIA, will launch the Everything's Possible; Integrated Communications (EPIC) campaign in 2019

Join an epic print alliance
Brendan Perring,
General manager,

It is a little strange writing a column for Print Monthly, no longer as its editor, but as a contributor from one of its partners in the ceaseless effort to ensure that the print retains its rightful place at the top of the visual communications and marketing industries.

I am overjoyed though to be back in the land of print after a brief sojourn to the world of corporate PR. What particularly makes me happy is that I am now joining the team at the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) working with its chief executive officer Marian Stefani and its immensely experienced and proactive Council chaired by Mike Roberts, director of PMG.

Marian has been a passionate advocate for our industry for most of her professional career and attending its Christmas Networking Lunch in December, I was highly impressed by the momentum she and the Council have generated over the last few years with initiatives such as its Everything is Possible in Print (EPIP) conference and its range of business generation-focused events throughout the year – not to mention its myriad of member-led initiatives to stimulate industry growth from the grass roots.

To be honest, my own love and passion for print was of course not ignited instantly as I took the deputy editor chair of Print Monthly back in August 2010. Although from my time as a newspaper journalist from 2004 to 2010 I certainly gained a grounded understanding in the power and efficacy of the printed word.  It was not until I attended my very first exhibition, Northprint 2011, that the fire was started. I have always been mechanically inclined, and to see these amazing machines printing, folding, cutting, stapling, gluing, embossing, collating and decorating caught my imagination. I was hooked and have thoroughly enjoyed my addiction ever since.

I thus feel very proud and lucky to be at the IPIA, with direct responsibility for not only looking after the interests of our members and aiding their growth ambitions, but for helping raise the tide of print and all the ships that sail on her.

We have trained our customers to buy on price, which is why we started the EPIP initiative to ask the brands and agencies to engage differently with the printing industry

In 2019 the vision of the IPIA can be summed up succinctly in the words of Marian at the aforementioned Christmas Lunch: “We have trained our customers to buy on price, which is why we started the EPIP initiative to ask the brands and agencies to engage differently with the printing industry, and to show them to think differently about innovation and the support that we can give them. Most people joining agencies are digital by default. We need to show them that the printing is part of marketing.”

I strongly agree with this statement, especially as I have just spent six months working for a major international marketing agency group. The fact is that print is the most sustainable, effective, and emotive form of marketing there is. It has a connection to the human psyche that spans thousands of years during the rise and progression of the modern world. But too many marketing agencies have lost sight of that fact – mesmerised by the cheap and blunt instrument that digital marketing and communications can be.

In order for it to be effective, digital has to be used as part of a multi-channel and integrated approach that has print at its heart. And that is why in 2019 EPIP is evolving into Everything's Possible; Integrated Communications (EPIC), which will work with stake holders across print to educate the marketing industry of this message and expose them to the rainbow of vibrant opportunities print represents to deliver better results for their clients. Come and join the alliance.

New Year’s resolutions
Charles Jarrold,
Chief executive officer,

For many people, the prospect of the New Year can be both daunting and exciting. Fortunately, there are simple resolutions you can take as a business to seize opportunities when they arise and put yourself in the best possible position when challenges occur. In order to succeed, it is important to take stock of what you have, but also, in this changing market, be switched on to what products, services and advice could be beneficial to you and your business in the future.

It’s essential to be aware of what’s happening in the industry. Brexit draws closer, and while at the time of writing, quite what it will look like remains uncertain, it’s important to be prepared for the potential impact on your business. Have you checked tariffs on imported goods? The tariff for paper, board and most printed products is 0%, but printing inks have a 6.5% tariff and most printing machinery a 1.7% tariff. It’s worthwhile checking contracts too.  With concerns about supplies making their way through customs following Brexit, it’s prudent to check business interruption clauses and insurance, equipment maintenance contracts and any long-term supply contracts.

Purchasing management is vital to controlling costs and boosting profits, but purchasing is seldom seen as a core activity for many printers

Keeping on top of costs is also something to keep in mind as we head into the New Year. Purchasing management is vital to controlling costs and boosting profits, but purchasing is seldom seen as a core activity for many printers. Organise your accounts and stay informed of your financial position. Be proactive and chase outstanding invoices. Ensure your employee pensions and retirement benefits are up-to-date and take time to consider your sales forecast and budgets for the year ahead.

New Year’s resolution: to keep on top of costs

Moving away from finances, build up and maintain a strong HR strategy in 2019 and prioritise training. By developing your employees, not only will they feel valued but will be able to contribute even more effectively to your business strategy and if you have a skills gap to fill, why not take on an apprentice?  

Make a difference
Sidney Bobb,

The beginning of any year is when many review the previous year’s achievements and explore ambitions for the forthcoming months. Plans are drawn up, meetings held, staff announcements are made showing the team how the business is going to “take over the world”. New higher sales and production targets are revealed, and everyone sets off, full of enthusiasm and focus.

Typically, by around month three the usual complacency takes over and if an analysis took place it would reveal that nothing has really changed and the business battles on to service a world that is really experiencing change. The print industry certainly contributes to that change, yet its input does not fully benefit from its efforts.

The great and the good from within our sector draw everyone’s attention to change but it seems that we are slow to react to the words of wisdom emanating from some very wise mouths. It may well be that people have heard this message coming from the same old sources too often and it is therefore ignored.

Perhaps what is needed are new, younger, more vibrant voices to really shake things up and make us listen to some radical views

Perhaps what is needed are new, younger, more vibrant voices to really shake things up and make us listen to some radical views. Unfortunately, this cannot happen if people don’t step forward and expound their views.

Regretfully the usual day-to-day commitments and routine often get in the way and very soon the drive to influence and improve the industry goes into neutral – with the same old people appealing to others to introduce change and bring us up to date. The fact is that if we do nothing then that is what will happen – it only takes a few short steps to make a difference.

If you appreciate how great this industry is and believe that it can be even better please do make contact with the BAPC, or indeed any other industry body – you will certainly be made most welcome and will enjoy knowing your efforts will have a real impact.

Public Notice:

  • Print is a definitive part of the marketing mix
  • It is essential to be aware of what is happening in the industry
  • New and vibrant voices are needed to shake things up

To find out more about the issues discussed in this article please contact the relevant organisation via their website: www.bapc.co.uk, www.britishprint.com, www.ipia.org.uk


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