Print and Web

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Creative Services is a new young organization built from the former publications office combined with the former IT web team. One of my new responsibilities is to develop short-term and long-term strategies for print and web at William & Mary. In my view, it’s not as simple as an either / or decision. Instead, there are many factors: cost, immediacy, audience, and purpose. And certainly, the commonly-used “print versus web” reference gives a feeling of competition between the two.

This may go without saying, but William & Mary is not in control here – W&M is not going to “get rid of print,” the world will take care of that for us. In some ways, this takes the pressure off. We’ll follow the lead of forces outside of the academy. We’ll use print, web, and other communication tools based on our goals and the preferences of our constituencies.

Cindy Baker and I have been talking about the use of print and a sentence in one of her recent email messages to me caught my eye – “Print has become a luxury reserved for only high-end jobs, jobs meant to impress.” I like this.

We haven’t figured all of this out but here’s where we are after my first four months:

  • my management strategy is to reduce my budget for print by at least 10% each year and reinvest that 10% into some other communication or marketing endeavor
  • many campus departments are already thinking about their use of print and web – understandably, they are evaluating what they print based on a commitment to sustainability and due to dwindling budgets.
  • I’ve been systematically meeting with administrators at W&M that use creative services to print major publications and we’re thinking alike. Here are just a few examples:
    • Tribe Guide
      Under Mark Sikes’ leadership, this critical orientation piece is distributed to all new students. In early May, and for the first time, we will offer it “all online.” (Note: a printed version will be made available by request; my guess is that less than 25 will request a printed version.)
    • Student Handbook
      Dave Gilbert determined a strategy to gradually reduce the volume of prints for the handbook. This summer, we’ll be working with him to create a companion online version of the student handbook as a foundation for eventually eliminating the print version.
    • The Undergraduate Catalog
      Sallie Marchello has a clear direction for this major publication. The catalog is not only a contract but a tool well-used by students and faculty (Sallie’s copy looks like a well-loved reference complete with bookmarks, highlighted text, and notes in the margins). For now, the catalog needs to be printed – the convenience offered by a print version is the most important factor at the moment.
    • Ideation
      Joe McClain has much planned for Ideation and the print issues are compelling and of high quality. We’re working with Joe on a couple of fronts – print and web (surprised?) Our work on this award-winning research mag enough substance for a separate post – there’s a lot happening. Stay tuned.

Your comments, feedback, and best thinking on this are encouraged. Let me hear from you.

– Susan T. Evans