Thought Stream: The McAdams Blog

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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Widtha Grayne

Now that the Christmas shopping season has passed, I am awaiting the credit card statements to start appearing in my mailbox.  Unlike the political mailers that I have missed so much, this is possibly the only batch of mail that I can live without but find necessary to file.  As I am checking my mailbox day after day, I ponder…why have I not received any?  Has the credit card company forgotten about me?  While the thought of it sounded great, let’s be realistic…that could never happen. 

So, why is it that I have not received any of my statements?  I look up my account online.  The last time I had paid was online with my bank.  In looking at account preferences, I was automatically signed up for paper-free billing.  Well, I didn’t plan to make all of my payments online.  I hate it when businesses assume these things.  I look up the FAQ area for more information in case this was a mistake.  It states “Electronic payments automatically enroll an account in paper-free billing.”
That is weird especially when it was not paid within their web site.  Further, I find that “Electronic Banking (authorizing bill payments at your bank’s Web site)” constitutes as paper-free billing.  Great, how do I fix this?

As you may not know, I like to file certain items such as credit card statements… My four drawer filing cabinet in my home office is not just there to look pretty or make me feel important.  Now this switch from paper to electronic statements makes me wonder why a company would just automatically assume to stop my mail.  Is a transfer of costs the answer?

If you think about it; not only am I as a consumer to pay for the amount on my statements, I am subjected to spend monies towards the paper and ink toner on my laser printer so that I can file my much needed documents in my filing cabinet.  Is this really a convenience to me…or a pass of costs to the consumer?  Your thoughts, please?  In the meantime, I am switching back to paper bills…and saving myself some money to pay for what I have on these statements.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Widtha Grayne

In light of the Christmas season, I went out shopping.  As I am waiting in line at the store, I wonder what could possibly be taking everyone so long to check out.  After waiting for about 20 minutes…Finally, it’s my turn.  I place my items including gifts for me, a Portable Charger & Backup Battery for my tablet and a box of Christmas cards to send in the mail, on the conveyor belt.  As I swipe my credit/debit card, the usual comes up on the screen…credit or debit?  I clicked credit, signed the signature line and then patiently waited for my receipt.  The clerk politely informs there is one more prompt…I look back down at the little screen and the question baffles me.

Do you want the receipt emailed or printed?  With this question in front of me,
I stand there in a gaze with questions flooding my mind.  Am I opening the flood gates of emails?  How would I know if my email account has a qualified spam filter?
I mean, the amount of spam that comes from this scheme could be limitless.  To avoid finding out the answer, should I request to cancel my transaction?  I can only assume that when I sign for e-receipts, I am opening myself up to receive special offers and shopping recommendations thus the process is merely a backdoor way to track me as a shopper with its presentation of being “convenient and environmentally friendly.” 

As I stand there baffled at the question with what appears to be an enlarged thought bubble over my head, the clerk reached over and pressed the print button, thus popping my thought bubble.  She, like most people already know the benefits of having the receipt in hand and the knowledge that really the concept is merely a tool to track my shopping habits.   So, I ask the clerk about what happens if I were to just click the e-receipt option.  She states that after giving an email address, I would receive a little printed receipt anyway with nothing on it except for a barcode and a date. 

As I am walking away from the register, a growing thought bubble appears.  How is the little printed receipt making it easy to return an item? In about a month, I would not know what was checked out with the little piece of paper.  So, that leads me to believe, that I must use my own printer and ink toner at home to print the detailed receipt so that I have an idea of which items are against it.  How is that “convenient and environmentally friendly” for me as a customer?

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Widtha Grayne

Last night, I came home to my usual routine.  I back the car in the driveway, grab my things and check the mailbox before getting in the house to glance over any damage that the pets have left me.  Found none; yippee!  Without hesitation, I go through the mail. 

I first sort the mail into different piles…bills to deal with later; catalogs to look at during supper; magazines to read before bed for the fear of falling asleep with my e-reader still on my lap; and finally, the miscellaneous.  With the dust settled on this political season, my miscellaneous pile isn’t quite as big.  I find my favorite Kohl’s direct mailer with the discount card within, 30%; guess who’s shopping this weekend!   I also had a credit card offer and a post card with a coupon for a local gym.  In light of last Thanksgiving dinner, I will hold on to the coupon.  What was missing was all of the political mailers. 

Thinking back, the political mailers actual spoke to me in a gentler way unlike the constant TV Ads, which drove me insane.  Naturally, right when a good part happened in one of my shows, a “screaming” TV ad bursts on my screen.  How long is this one going to take, I wonder?  It made me realize the printed word is truly a more human and quieter approach, but no less effective approach to marketing.  At least with a direct mailer, I can look at it at my leisure which is not during one of my favorite TV shows.  While finding the perfect time to look at my political mailers, I had my convenient tablet with me enabling me to do further research on the things mentioned within the mailers.  This truly made me believe in the power of direct mail even more.  People; take a lesson from politicians by incorporating direct mail in your marketing efforts; it’s the one thing politicians got right. 

So I’d like to thank both the winners and losers in the political races for their support of the USPS as well as the paper and printing industry with all of their direct mail marketing campaigns.  Now if we could just find a way to ban those monotonous political TV ads so they don’t interrupt my favorite shows then I would have one more thing to thank politicians for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Widtha Grayne

I was watching the original Ghostbusters movie in spirit of the Halloween season. 
I can’t take any movies scarier than this.  Anyway…in the middle of film, I had heard something that was even scarier than the movie itself.  Dr. Egon declared to the secretary as he was fixing the front desk computer “Print is dead.”  It came to me as a shock that I had to pause the movie…rewind… and replay the part.  I thought to myself, just maybe he really stated “Printer’s dead” even though I didn’t see a printer …after the short moment of rewind, replay, and tuning in with the volume slightly higher than before…, he really did state “Print is dead.”  At this point, I grabbed the case to go find the date.  To my surprise, this movie is from 1984.  And here we are today...presses are still running. 

This made me wonder if there were any other movies earlier than this stating the death to printing.  I went to my handy Tablet.  To my dismay, I did not find any.  Maybe I wasn’t placing the words correctly in the search engine to get more distinguished results.  However, I did find a recent article from Forbes stating print isn’t dead.  Take that Dr. Egon! 

I have found that print still maintains its stance as a powerful and necessary component of ad campaigns because of its tangibility and credibility.  It helps businesses build brands; target markets, and engages more customers.   The best part is that a business can stand out even better today seeing that there is less print ads.  How about that kind of marketing advantage!   Companies moving to the Internet only may just be hurting themselves.  Finding the right balance between print and electronics is important in increasing sales and maintaining customers.  Why not even use a technology based item such as a QR code to bridge the gap between print and web.  

To those who think “Print is dead,” you’re denying yourself the advantage of using as many channels as possible to reach every corner of your target market. 

Monday, October 29, 2012
Widtha Grayne

I was enjoying a good E-book just the other day, I apologize to my fellow printers, but these E-Readers are such a nice convenience.  Anyway, I began to wonder about the impact my handy little device has on the environment as compared to the printed books I’ve enjoyed.   I also wondered how many of us printing types are still fighting the fight by refusing to own one of these slick electronic devices.  If you are an owner, how many of us could turn our backs on these handy devices, whether a Smart phone, tablet or notebook/laptop computer.   I’m in the printing industry and I don’t want to lose the convenience and connectivity these energy eating gadgets bring to my life.

With my curiosity scratched, I did what any of us in the printing industry would do, I went to my tablet to explore the Internet and paged through a few printing trade titles to find some answers.   I found a lot of the usual stuff such as paper is earth friendly because it’s bio-degradable.  Paper/trees are a renewable resource that creates jobs in both the planting and harvesting of.   And trees, as well as other plant life are carbon warehouses, absorbing carbon and releasing oxygen.  The opposing side talks about how paper waste contributes to landfill and the harvesting of trees for paper destroys forest and animal habitat.  Sound familiar?

But here’s a little something I learned which helps our team.  Perhaps you’re familiar with “data-farms.”  For those that are not, listen up. These are large complexes that hold data servers which require vast amounts of energy to hold all of those items we post on our Facebook page, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media sites.  Now that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Imagine the servers in operation at the Federal, State, and City governments or in the banking and insurance industry.  How many servers are running 24/7 at your place of business?  Most of these data-farms have backup systems which need to be powered 24/7 and generators standing by should the power go out.  Isn’t that a lot of coal burning at power plants across the world and I haven’t even plugged in my tablet yet?

I’m not suggesting these data-farms should all be turned off and we go back to paper, pencils and a postage stamp to handle all our needs to gather and share data.  The world today needs these “data-farms.”  Perhaps, I’m suggesting to those that see paper and printing as damaging to our planet is to step back, take a breath and look around.  Just because print is one of those things that is always in front of you, it doesn’t mean an electronic based environment is greener than it.  It means that both print and electronics, which both move life and business forward, can each have their place and live within a carbon footprint.  Thanks for reading and now I have to go plug in my tablet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Widtha Grayne

As I find various nationally recognized holidays passing on my calendar each month such as “Parent’s Day” which past about a month ago or “Grandparent’s Day” coming up a month from now, I wonder if I will ever find “National Print Day” on it.  I decided to check to see if there was a national day of recognition for the paper and printing industry.  An interesting fact is I found 31 days.  The month of January is considered “International Printing Month.”  I ask of you, do you know of any other days, weeks, or months that recognize our industry…why aren’t we already actively celebrating…and who knew we had a month that unites us as an industry? 

Speaking of united, Toshiba inadvertently united our industry with their “National No-Print Day.”  As more and more people learned about what Toshiba was up to, the voices of our industry became more united and louder.  Obviously, loud enough for Toshiba to back down with apologies.  As Toshiba’s marketing mishap united us as an industry… I wonder if there are other ways of uniting our industry besides
the month of January.

I’ve got a great idea; we can all start celebrating everyday starting today by adding a simple positive tagline in our emails promoting the pride we have for our industry.  If not in emails, why not shout out “Print is Alive!”  OK, maybe not outside your bedroom window but I hope you get the idea.

Back to reality…if we, the paper and printing industry stopped Toshiba’s effort, we should be able to make an impact in promoting how green and beneficial paper and print is.  Even though print is under siege from both the green movement and from electronic based media, Paper and Print will survive.  The world needs paper and printing.  Take pride in what we do!  So, each and every time you have an opportunity, let the world know why.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Widtha Grayne

In a sense, I was actually looking forward to having a “National No-Print Day.”  It would have essentially been a day off for me as well as everyone else in my company considering that we print on paper.  So, in hopes to find another interesting “holiday” to share with my fellow colleagues, I had come across the “National Print Day” found at www.nationalprintday.com.      

WOW, I wish I had thought of that!  Oddly enough, it runs on the same day as the preconceived “National No-Print Day” but this one is even better!  It promotes what we all know as printers, “The Printed Medium is vital to communication… printed products are both environmentally and socially responsible.”

Now, sadly, I will not be able to have a day off as I would have with “National No-Print Day” but I can at least share the interests with other people in the printing and paper industry with this newfound “holiday.”

Who’s in? 

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Widtha Grayne

So, I come in on a beautiful Thursday only to see some disturbing news on my desk.  Found in Printing Impressions is an article protested by Two Sides describing Toshiba’s “National No-Print Day” on October 23, 2012 campaign.  How can a company that sells electronic equipment, ink, toner cartridges and even a printing press promote such a campaign; will it not be placing them out of business?  How can anyone forget that paper is based on wood which is a natural and renewable resource?  It has been said to me once, place an electronic product and a piece of paper in your backyard…Check on it in a year and see which one will decompose?  I can guarantee that the battery acid will thus destroy my grass and the piece of paper will become part of the earth. 

Has anyone actually seen Toshiba's video portraying the lifestyle of a tree?  First of all, was it noticed by anyone especially Toshiba that the alarm clock in the forest which looked like a form of trash will never decompose and secondly, why is everything that the tree is touching made of wood? 
A skate board, a table, a pool cue… when will those be construed as unsustainable?

I kindly would like to thank Printing Impressions and Two Sides for bringing these unfortunate measures to our attention.  As a family member of the paper and printing industry, I encourage
you to read this link (Two Sides Accuses Toshiba of Greenwash with ‘No Print Day’ Campaign)
and pass it along to help promote the benefits of print and paper.

 

Friday, May 25, 2012
Widtha Grayne

“I feel the need…The need for speed” is a popular line from the movie, Top Gun.  The need for speed can be a thrill as well as a necessity.

 Whenever people come to visit our plant, it’s always fun to see the amazement in their eyes, as they see our in-line finishing in motion.  The machines fold, glue, perf, die-cut and personalize at speeds up to 1,000ft. per minute.  At the beginning of the process is a huge roll of paper, while at the end, folded and addressed pop-ups are being boxed!

Here are a few options of the amazing creations that in-line finishing can produce: 

  • Personalization.  Allowing wide latitude in personalizing direct mail, catalogs, and other publications, variable imaging creates multiple versions on the fly.
  • Unique die-cuts.  Uniquely shaped die-cuts tracing the outside of a graphic image, odd-shaped or postage-sized windows, L-shaped order cards, and pull-tabs are just some of the possibilities. 
  • Pop-ups.  Created as self-mailers and personalized on press, pop-ups include a 3-D die-cut shaped logo or graphic that moves or pops up when the consumer opens the piece.
  • Formed envelopes or stepped inserts.  By using business reply envelopes, you can get your responses back quickly and efficiently.  And, you can stack your message with a stepped insert.
  • Peel & Stick.  An alternative concept to what a magnet can do! Just “peel and stick.”
  • Booklets.  By spine gluing the pages, many different page counts and sizes of booklets can be produced.  Booklets can also function as self-mailers.  Plus they can incorporate the convenience of order forms and envelopes as well. 

    In direct marketing, creative options can really add effectiveness to a piece. Condensing the web printing and bindery process into one continuous operation, in-line finishing not only provides creativity but it also satisfies the proclaimed “Need for speed.”  Moving at quick speeds, in-line finishing can be much more innovative than just printing ink on paper.   

 

Friday, May 18, 2012
Widtha Grayne

I see it here, there, and everywhere…THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT!

What am I really to think about?  Perhaps I can think about some of the very basic facts involving the recycling efforts and the benefits of paper. 


  • For example, since paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product, one can reuse, recycle, and repurpose what is used on a daily basis. 

  • Add to that, growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. 

  • Not to mention, because the pulp and paper industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of forests, we actually have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago!! (Think about that!)  It is these working forests that are good for the environment because they provide clean air and water as well as wildlife habitat and carbon storage.

Even though many people discourage the printing of emails, the technology behind it has an environmental cost.  It was reported that an average person wastes 2.4x more electricity powering a single computer than on the energy used to produce the paper they use in one year.

To compensate for the energy lost by reading and re-reading your email on the screen, realize it is
OK to print (when you “Think Before You Print,”) because you may, in fact be helping the environment.