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Bright Rays of Hope Amid Negative News --Michelson

April 2009
BLAME IT on the around-the-clock cable news channels, the endless talking heads appearing on financial talk shows, and negative articles in daily newspapers and on popular Websites, which seem to post one doom-and-gloom story after another. Industry publications, including Printing Impressions, can also be taken to task for playing up news of plant closures and head count reductions—even though PI’s printing company profiles (check out this month’s cover story) and columns highlight successful companies and provide sound business advice. 

Some economists argue that our nation’s current recession, credit crisis and plunging stock market are being exacerbated by an irrational collapse in consumer and business confidence. Given that Americans today are bombarded with information overload, the constant, pessimistic headlines and media coverage make us believe that the sky is falling. Perception, then, truly does become reality.

Yes, times are tough—as any recently laid off worker, homeowner under water or 401(k) retirement plan participant will quickly attest. But, we must still keep sight that this recession, too, shall pass eventually. The printing industry—most likely evolved, but not defeated—will prevail, just as it has through past periods of major economic and technological upheaval. Still feeling the need for a little pick-me-up? Below are just a few nuggets of positive news gleaned from the editorial pages in this issue:

• In a must-read Q&A article, K/P Corp. CEO Susan Kelly (who will also be one of the keynote industry speakers at next month’s Offset and Beyond conference in Las Vegas) reveals why she remains bullish that the printing industry will transform and grow. Kelly points out that, as advertisers reduce budgets, they’ll shift dollars to comparatively “cheap media” like print, online and direct marketing. And, as consumers shun high-profile companies getting federal bailout money (AIG, anyone?), or those that publicly announce massive layoffs and closures, the trend for marketers will be to lower their public profiles and rely on direct marketing campaigns to connect with clients and prospects. As poignant examples, she contends: How can bailout recipient Citibank spend hundreds of millions for the new Mets stadium naming rights? Or how can Caterpillar, while laying off thousands of employees, sponsor a NASCAR racing team, when many of those now-jobless workers are NASCAR fans themselves? 

• In another piece, contributing columnist Suzanne Morgan reveals results from recent Print Buyers Quick Poll surveys, which note how the recession is impacting printers’ customers and, in some cases, changing the dynamics of printer-buyer relationships. She provides practical tips on ways that printing establishments can thrive, not just survive. Likewise, columnist Harris DeWese comments on how some salespeople waste time as a way to tune out all the bad economic news. In his typical tongue-in-cheek style, DeWese serves up the “Mañana Man’s Great Time Waster Hall of Fame.” Compare how many of these extracurricular activities you’re guilty of doing to appear busy at your desk—rather than remaining focused on prospecting for new business and building existing customer relationships. It’s classic DeWese, so be sure to chuckle your way through his lighthearted column that carries a serious message.

• Coverage also appears on three recent, well-attended industry events, validating that—despite cutbacks and travel restriction policies—printers will still attend focused conferences and exhibitions. The Print UV conference in Las Vegas attracted a big crowd, confirming printers’ continued interest in the UV printing process. I was among the nearly 4,000 attendees at the Hunkeler InnovationDays in Switzerland, a bi-annual mini trade show geared toward high-speed, continuous-feed digital printing and in-line pre/post paper handling and finishing. Some 1,300 people also flocked to Orlando for what was viewed as a very upbeat Dscoop4 HP Indigo users annual conference.

All news can’t be cheerful, obviously; but if we can all look for, and latch onto, what’s positive, our core attitudes will improve. Perceptions of hope may then become reality. PI

Mark T. Michelson


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