Do you qualify for a printed card?

I have been receiving a mixture of electronic holiday cards and printed cards and it has left me thinking, What factors determine which type of card I receive?

When I make a choice between sending a card via print or electronic usually it is based on time. Do I have the time to send out the full-blown printed card or is it more important to get an acknowledgement out? Thinking that through, is that the right criteria for the choice? What determines the right medium to use? Is it different for professional contacts? Clients? Employees? Friends? Relatives? Is there a chart needed to determine the right thing to do?

After conducting a number of futile Internet searches on the subject, I have come to the conclusion there is no protocol associated to this topic. There is plenty of information on the etiquette of sending printed greeting cards, including information from Emily Post & Martha Stewart. I even went so far as to ask Hallmark through its website if it has or knows of protocol for electronic cards.

Hallmark message

Perhaps our industry should create and market the protocol, in essence, take the bull by the horns. This might be a very helpful thing when selling printed cards and mailings to clients. It is always nice to point to something official. Even add a case study that accompanies it. Bottom line is that when someone does a search for the appropriate etiquette on the Internet, the printing industry’s definition should be the first result. It should be an honest and useful tool.

I didn’t give up on the search with Hallmark. My next step was to seek answers using LinkedIn. Luckily there were a number of threads around the subject and I was quickly able to ascertain that while no one had a definitive rule, most people preferred printed cards vs. electronic cards.

Brian Regan, President of Semper International, was born with ink in his veins, running everything in his family’s small printing company from prepress to finishing. Brian helped finance his degree from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and his struggling music career by running a printing press, ultimately becoming a pressroom supervisor.  In 1996, he joined PressTemps (Then PrintStaff now Semper International, the leading placement firm for temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire help in the graphic arts and printing industry), overseeing West Coast operations. Brian moved to Boston as Chief Operating Officer managing the recruitment process, overseeing hiring and training, skills testing, and conducting statistical analyses to measure success. He also helps manage the company’s sister company,, the industry’s leading job board. Brian has been a speaker and contributor on the subject of staffing challenges facing the graphic arts industry. Parlaying his interest and intuitive learning skills developed from video games, he is also a member of the Video Game Association, actively consulting firms in the business merits of using the Virtual Worlds for business and training as well as other Social Media tools such as Twitter and FaceBook.
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  • http://MichaelMakin Michael Makin

    Very well said Brian!

    Printing Industries of America is working on developing a Green Tool Kit for its members which addresses the environmental side of your issue — where customers are choosing to forgo printed cards and other printed matter because it will supposedly save the environment. The tool kit will provide sample letters to the editor, point-by-point stats on how environmentally friendly printing actually is and talking points for sales people who may run into these challenges on the street. We all can do our part and I thank you or doing yours!

    Michael Makin
    President and CEO
    Printing Industries of America

  • http://MichaelJosefowicz Michael Josefowicz

    Assembling the etiquette for a printed card is a nice idea.

    My two cents is that it’s the very nature of the Print medium that it can be shared. As you say in the post “the whole purpose is to share.”

    By the nature of the beast an email is 1 to 1. That means it’s talking not sharing. Print on the other hand by it’s mere presence as an object creates a sharing moment.

    With all the marketing talk about 1 to 1, this unique property of print has been overlooked.

  • http://DarrenMyers Darren Myers


    I don’t think this is what I would call an “either or” issue. There is nothing that compares to the personal touch of a printed card, and if you are a printer, and offer no other services, then a personal, warm greeting, on a well-designed card is a showcase of your abilities. If you business offers other services, especially web-based one, then the card vs. email discussion is missing the point.

    The greeting card creates a physical presence in your client’s office or home. Many people hang there cards up and leave them up for weeks. Again, if print is all that you do, then you are showing your customer that you care, and hopefully what a creative organization you have (in the printing and design). If your organization does more than just print, then the greeting card becomes an anchor point from which new relations can be forged.

    For example, this year our company designed an amusing card that depicts all of our employees on the same sled. Many of us were asked to “ham it up” for the camera and the results were comical. Inside the card, in addition to the signatures from the people who work on the customer’s account, there was a URL that led them to an online sledding game that our interactive department created.

    There was no sales message, no talk of our capabilities, just a simple message that we appreciate the relationship between our companies and here is a gift to brighten the holidays: Enjoy the game.

    Happy New Year!

    Darren Myers
    Print Production Manager