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Cincinnati State's Promotion Puts Some Life Back into Printing

October 23, 2009
CINCINNATI—October 2009—Back in Gutenberg's day, printing wasn't considered a job, but an art. By the time Ben Franklin's era arrived, it had been relegated to "profession" status, but a highly skilled and honorable one. The reason is simple: Most printers in Colonial times were also the publishers of all newspapers or broadsheets, and often represented a community's only source of local, national and international news.

Although printing still touches our everyday lives in terms of the printed material we view for business and pleasure, the industry itself hardly receives the respect and recognition it once did. In spite of the numerous advances made in processes and equipment, and that printing is the 3rd or 4th largest industry in the country, many today see it as a field where practitioners do little more than sweat over noisy presses and come home covered with ink. It's this fairly common belief that has led to a decrease in the number of young people entering the printing profession.

"Life revolves around Print," a program developed by Professor Kathy Freed & Gary Walton of Cincinnati State is designed to not only motivate printing students, but interest other young people in finding out more about the profession. Its main objective is to instill students with pride in the printing industry; so much so that they'll tell others about it. "We want to let students know it's a high-tech, money-making industry," Walton says. Currently, the program is only being offered at Cincinnati State, but Walton has plans to market it on a wider basis.

The program, which is still in its infancy, kicked off in fall 2009, and included the use of promotional products which are inexpensive and simple, yet still quite effective. Upon entering the classroom on the first day, Cincinnati State’s printing students are given note paper and a type face ruler bearing the message, ""Life revolves around Print,"  A number of other promotional products to carry the "Life revolves around Print," " imprint, such as bookmarks, book covers, playing cards and T-shirts, and a board game call graphology are currently in the works.

Walton hopes to be ready to take the program nationwide by next summer. This summer, he presented it to the International Graphic Arts Education Association (IGAEA) at a conference in Richmond, KY. The response from the 150-plus printing instructors present was, "fabulous" He was invited back for the 2010 conference, where he plans to hand out complete informational packages, perhaps including a few specialties.

Walton considers the specialties he uses to augment the program as multi-dimensional, explaining that while they function as motivational rewards, they're also effective as recruitment and advertising tools. He ultimately hopes to generate interest among printing companies, in backing the program in their particular communities, including the funding to produce various promotional products. This, he says, will be much easier to accomplish if the program is spearheaded by the IGAEA. Another idea Walton has is for individual instructors and students to have their school’s names imprinted with the slogan, so students who receive the products can act as recruiters for that class. "They'll become walking billboards," he says.

The first year's results of "Life revolves around Print,"  have been encouraging. Day and evening enrollment in our printing program is the highest it's ever been in ten years. The printing students are more motivated to work in class. Walton believes the program has made a definite contribution to these advances and sees the potential for much more in the future. "It makes young people aware of the opportunities in printing," he says, adding that he hopes to see the industry brought back to at least a portion of its former glory.

With the program-and a little help from good PR specialties-who knows?


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