Paying it forward. One 2018 resolution at a time.

At Ipex I talked about how you ought to give back what you get. I offered mentorship during my presentation, but wanted to do more. (btw the Ipex video and presentation should be available soon, keep an eye out for their communication. And my offer still stands.)

So for this year's good cause, I decided to sponsor print:

1. I'm a big fan of fantasy. So I supported an aspiring novelist who wants to see her story in print. And it's a children's book, no less. Anyone who's trying to motivate the youth to read and learn, needs to stay motivated too. Can't wait for my hard copy.

2. A local charity initiative offering the coolest textile print. Every year, Belgian radio station Studio Brussel hosts "De Warmste Week" ("The warmest week") during which anyone can put in an extra effort to help those less fortunate. My home town launched the "Nienofs veer au lauif" initiative where they print token phrases in the local dialect on applications, like a sweater, lanyard, tote bag. Combining local dialect #wordlove with a cool application? How can I not support? This is downright brilliant, kudos to the marketing genius that came up with this. (To be fair Mister T started it) You'll soon see me sporting my "Lèrre" sweater or running errands with my "kommisjes" tote bag! (Lèrre is a local affectionate dialect term for a scoundrel, kommisjes means groceries)

Up next - practice what I preach. Improve my own SEO for a change. Stay tuned. 

So tell me, are you paying it forward and if so, what are your 2018 resolutions?

 

Facebook reviews - is the customer always right?

Facebook reviews – dreaded criticism or welcomed praise. What turn will it take? I’m not opposed to using Facebook reviews if you’re confident as a business that you’re continuously striving to deliver a superior product or supreme service and that you’re willing to enter in an open communication with your customers. If you’re not, do us all a favour, avoid your next rage fit and turn them off.

It’s Facebook, a biased momentum posted in the heat or enthusiasm of the moment. Think carefully how you want to go about.

Two years ago, my family regularly visited a restaurant not far from our home. Food was lovely, service OK, wine card excellent. We spent many a family evening there, left handsome amounts on the table, rarely hesitated to recommend to others and I liked the page on Facebook. One night, we waited over an hour without drinks, water, nibbles or even a welcome greeting. With a hungry four-year-old. We left and granted, in the heat of the moment, I withdrew my like and wrote my first ever mildly negative review. Months passed, no (Facebook) response. 

On a particularly busy Saturday night 1,5 years later, I had forgotten all about my review. I called, made a reservation under my name and thought nothing more of it.

As we went in, I got ambushed. Foul looks, nasty words uttered between clenched teeth in French in the supposedly Dutch-speaking restaurant as “the woman who posted the negative review.” 1,5 years of social frustration poured out and it was clear within minutes that a two-way communication was not possible. We left. They’re not the only restaurant, I’m not the only customer. There’s nothing more to it.

I just keep wondering why a restaurant would turn to social media to open their customer interaction, but then feel blatantly offended when faced with criticism? If you can’t handle the social heat, better stay in your kitchen. Or turn off your Facebook reviews. Despite me being a heavy supporter of local businesses, I no longer recommend them and I just booked a table to a business group of 20 in another (local) venue. They did not just lose the one customer, they lost my network.

Imagine this rant was posted by an unhappy customer in an international B2B environment. Would this digital squabble reflect your genuine commitment to improve customer satisfaction through unbiased two-way conversation?

If you always want to be right, you’ll most often be doing something wrong.

My review is still up. In the unaltered original format. My communication doesn't work that way.

Print 17 to LabelExpo Europe - the omnichannel event experience

When it comes to trade shows, you’re in it for the sales conversions. You want brand interest, booth traffic and post-show deal closers. And preferably all at once, as September buzzed with end of quarter expectations with Print 17 and LabelExpo Europe on the radar.

How to convert expectations into relationships? There's never a true sales conversion guarantee, but that shouldn't stop you from having some funnel fun along the way. The broadening of the communication matrix made sure nearly everyone is an influencer on their channel of preference. That's why an omnichannel communication strategy comes in handy - before, during and after the show. Target your leads, entice them with the right content at the right time on the right channel.

An omnichannel approach ostensibly places higher value on customer experience, with a network of channels working together and interdependently, with the goal of a more consistent (and hopefully positive) brand experience. - Gee Ranasinha
— https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6320562720420741120/

(pause for effect and applause)

What omnichannel tools are at your disposal?

PRE-SHOW - digital

Mailers. A powerful tool when wielded properly. Alert your audience that you’re coming and illustrate what you have on show for them (segmented databases people!), where they can find you and what would be the best time for that visit. Insert a clear call-to-action, slap on a catchy subject line and make it worth their read. Reading time wasted = slot booking miss.

PRE-SHOW – in-house online content

In-house - Most research is still done online, people will look at your website. And you may have a nice, responsive design, but are you feeding the pages with content properly? No value, no people, no clicks. So, add a blog, upload news on the news section, update the career page and make sure to add pictures from your recent events. 

DURING - social

There is little time for checking your mails or doing some in-depth website research when you’re roaming the halls. But somehow one always finds the time to check Twitter and/or Facebook (Wi-Fi/4G willing).

-       Work the FOMO – use the show hashtag to promote your services.

-       Work your social referrals. Someone is promoting your guest presentations? A simple thank you and RT can prove very effective in drawing in others. Plus, it could be the start of new contact relationship.

@printmediacentre is an avid promoter of all her event speakers on her social channels. She built a #printerverse community on the interaction she established with peers. And it worked - full house at her #print17 booth all day long.

Full house at the Printerverse - picture courtesy of Deborah Corn.

Full house at the Printerverse - picture courtesy of Deborah Corn.

- Work those partners - put your social buffs together and make them work the channels harder.

-  Work customers passing by. Thank them for the support, don’t pass on the photo opp!

Blanks USA Andy Ogren dropped by for a quick hello

AFTER - print

- Make the experience a lasting one - get it in print.

As the total number of printed editions issued declines, its intrinsic value increases. Opt for a key clipping for your sales to show potential prospects. How about some coverage in the Print Daily - surely the experts can’t be wrong? The press is your key catalyst to your audience – proper information, key visuals and a regular outreach may put you on the agenda of some of the industry’s leading influencers. And might get you in a lasting tactile print experience. (my bag was overweight because of the paper I brought back – a small price to pay to the print gods.)

Blanks USA featured in first #print 17 Daily edition.

- Got some marketing budget? Go for a personalised beer bottle to wish someone a happy birthday.

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James Matthews-Paul always has a LabelExpo birthday - that calls for a dedication reward.

James Matthews-Paul always has a LabelExpo birthday - that calls for a dedication reward.

The efforts may seem scattered, but I assure you they were not. Each activity served the event ROI.

So, you see, you’re not just “participating in an event”. You’re engaging with the community, raising your profile, forging relationships - one activity, one channel, one handshake at a time.

Visiting both a US and European trade show in the same month felt as a blessing. I had the most rewarding interactions with people, some of them I had yet to meet face-to-face. I rushed the halls, but taking the time to meet/greet people has enriched the whole experience and sparked new conversations that in turn generated new opportunities. That is the kind of ROI that warms the soul, feeds the mind and pushes the drive forward.

Dave Hultin put it beautifully in his #print17 wrap-up: There’s a real person behind every online connection. The pleasure was all mine, Dave.

More of this. Soon. Please.

Raising your profile? One face at a time.

Public relations is all about a personal outreach. No matter how digitised your outreach and efforts, it is the personal impression your stakeholders have of your brand that will mark your relationship with them. How to establish those relationships? Get up close and personal. Time to reassess some of your outreach options.

1.     In-house company events – the bustle to your hustle

Hosting a customer event or setting up a customer visit work miracles for any customer/prospect retention intention. After all, it’s the perfect way of showing people why they (should) love you. And when invested in successfully, the long-term benefit is substantial. Spread love to get it. It can be that simple, albeit time and budget intensive.

Need a cheat sheet? Check this guideline blog by Cindy Van Luyck (CHILI publish).

SPICYtalks17_Macarons.jpg

2.     Press initiatives - be in it for the long haul

Austrian magazine 4c organises a yearly Printtour. For the 2017 edition, the editor-in-chief decided Belgium was the place to be. With a mixed audience of 13 C-level people attending, the program had to be as varied as possible. With a little advice from a local resident, participants to the tour visited industry suppliers (likes of Kodak, EFI, …), software innovators (CHILI publish), associations (VIGC, CEPI), but also actual printing houses (Symeta, Grafische Group Matthys and 3Motion) and even a substrate supplier (Squid). Variety spices the appetite and it did the trick just fine. The C-level participants indulged in the information flood and were surprised at the high level of graphic expertise and ingenuity in this little country of ours. Participating in a press set-up can look daunting to companies unfamiliar to dealing with the press, but open communication will get you far. It will even get you nice coverage along the way for you to repurpose elsewhere. Content and all, you know.

3.     Trade shows - face-to-face one-on-ones to close the deal

In today’s lead generation driven society, it is still the firm handshake that closes the deal. Because despite all variety and the cornucopia of solutions offerings, we still rely on word-of-mouth, reputation and recommendation. We’ll explore the website, click the clickbait e-mail titles, read the brochure - but at the end of the day, business is to be conducted with people. Invest in trade show participation - when you invest wisely in a traffic track, you’ll see people will seek you out, find you and get to know you.

Invest in the people you hope will invest in you. It’s a two-way track.

And despite the bigger options I mentioned above, never ever underestimate what one single act of interaction can cause. A kind word in a mail could result in a personal call, which in turn, could turn into a sales meeting, a deal-closer and with a bit of luck, a customer for life. 

Be present where you need to be present and whom you’d like to be presented too. It will work miracles for your reputation.

On that note, I hope to meet you in person at #print17. Enough sitting behind the desk, time to practice what I preach.

Reach out to me via Twitter or LinkedIn - happy to meet up and get blown away in the windy city!

Tactility - wash with care?

I confess. I'm touchy feely.

That is to say, I will touch anything you put in my sight. At shows, to be clear. For years, I've collected T-shirts or printables from attending print and textile shows. When returning from the last Fespa in Hamburg, I brought home five T-shirts.

For my collection? No, to prove a point. Four ended up in the bin - one washing cycle was all it took to ruin both a T-shirt and the print technology it was supposed to show. And believe me, I use a delicate cycle, the good detergent and I am the queen of ironing. (It's my thing.) You may have seen this statement elsewhere. It's true - this is me.

And I must insist. If you're showing your field of expertise and the excellent print quality, why do you use inferior substrate material to show it on? Four out of five did not hold their own, regardless of detergent usage. A pity, not to mention a missed opportunity for your technology.

Why settle for less? Your customers won't. In Dutch we say "buying cheap will cost you more in the long run." In this case, a long-term customer. Can you truly afford that?

Things that did make the cut?

- A fair price for the perfect sublimation print of a teacher's farewell box. Last-minute picture, help with the design AND a killer deadline? For that kind of service, I don't mind the price. (Which was still fair enough. Thanks Printermezzo.)

Printermezzo_SublimationBox
SublimationMarleen

- The good tradeshow mug - lucky to have some of my favourite industry ladies at the Sawgrass booth where the team was nice enough to immortalize the moment. (it has survived no less than 30 dishwasher cycles up to now, no matter which detergent I throw at it. Now that's impressive!)

FespaMug

 

- My Willie Nelson shirt from drupa 2016. Willie takes me through the good, the bad and the ugly. (aka nap time, sick time and gym time) He holds his own, keeps his print and folds seamlessly. Printing technology? I think Epson US, but correct me if I'm wrong.

WillieNelsonDrupa

 

- The unicorn shirt - the one Fespa survivor. Perfect pink, perfect unicorn and perfect #5yo sustainability. The family hearts, this one's a keeper! Who printed it? Alas, the brochure did not survive laundry day. Let me know if it's yours, happy to acredit!

IMG_7169.jpg

 

- My love/hate shirt. I stood guard for 30 minutes, fending off the 10 high school students at the Kornit Digital booth at the Sign Kortrijk 2016 show for this one. And for just cause. Excellent fabric quality for a matching print. It's been worn, washed, ironed and we still fit perfectly. (This pic dates from last weekend's ironing session. It's been washed and ironed at least 15 times over the last 1,5 years.)

IMG_8342.jpg

And last but not least. I finally took that screen printing course, thanks to Bobbinhood. Back to the printing roots with some inky fingers - what's the point of coming clean if you can't get a little dirty first? A pop-up store in my hometown set up a screen printing workshop. And again - quality prevails. Same ink, same template and it's the substrate that made the difference. Inferior linnen - smudgy. Good quality cotton - screen newbie print perfect first attempt. Love the ink, smell and the old skill - in with the old, out with the standardisation. Took the workshop, bought the gear, I'm hooked! Stay tuned for more. (My Instagram is @mayastaels)

The thing is, print is all about tactility. Don't go cheap if that's not what you're selling. Quality will prevail.

 

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree - your cardboard red delights us

What do you do when Twitter deals you a winning hand? Get into the Christmas spirit I say. 

As I look back on 2016, I count my blessings to have been supported by some marvelous people. Together, we’ve travelled down a road they knew where it would lead me before I even did. I paid dues, I got some. Time to pay it forward.  

The background of this intro? A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Twitter contest. Not in the hope of winning. In Dutch, we say you’re unlucky in the game when lucky in love. That and I thought the campaign was brilliant and I seldom pass on an opportunity to promote print. (sorry, my love J)

“Get into the Christmas mood – follow our account, RT our visual and you might just win.”

And win I did.

A 1,80m cardboard tree. An original take on a lasting Christmas decoration in your home. Cat can't cause too much damage, you can personalise the print with Christmas balls pictures of family members, no needles on the floor - not to mention a great piece of POS. Outstanding latex print technology, precision perfect cutting, printed by one of the most promising Belgian creative companies – 3Motion. All mine.

What to do with it? Pay it forward, of course. Time to put the 3 in Motion. (see what I did there?)

The school of my #5yo goes at great lengths every day to bring our multicultural community closer together. They invest, they care. And it works. I’m amazed at how close we all are – children, parents, school. So, when I saw how much effort they were putting into the school’s Christmas celebration to make it an interactive experience to bring people together, I knew what I had to do.

I donated the tree to the school. Surely they’d be able to enjoy it for far more years than I would. Not to mention I wanted to say thanks for the unceasing selfless efforts their teachers and even substitutes put into our children.

3Motion luckily loved the idea. Altruistically, they pushed their deadlines to make it happen in just 2 days’ time and fixed a broken-down lorry to make it to the church on time! They personalized the tree with the school’s logo and their delivery guy even helped us set it up in the church despite looming delivery deadlines. Now that’s service.

Again, my apologies to the ones who have been kept waiting. I’m not much of a church-goer myself, but I’ll put in a good word with the Man Above.

And it fitted perfectly into the nativity scene of the school’s Christmas play. The principal, teachers and most importantly, the kids absolutely loved it. Warms my heart to see everyone enjoyed it so much, the tree would have withered away in my living room.

Here’s to print – may it entertain many more generations to come. In cardboard or any other form.

Thank you for (y)our Christmas miracle, 3Motion. I’m sure we’ll enjoy this environmentally friendly Christmas memento for many years.

Have a wonderful Christmas time everyone. Best 2017 wishes from my family to yours!

Maya

Stay weird. The podcast turnaround.

I’ve never done a podcast in my life. But I do run.

So when someone recommended I listen to a business podcast series, I thought I’d give it a go on my next run. Or how a routine 3 mile run turned into an epiphany.

After 20mins I was podcast hooked. I found myself chuckling during the run, contemplating my options. I wanted/needed to hear more. So instead of completing my routine run in 10mins, I decided to turn around. That would buy me another 20 minutes of podcast fun.

Well, I sure got more than I bargained for. While listening to phrases like “one out of three business will not succeed, be the weirdo” I found myself actually lost on a route I routinely run on a weekly basis. I could run it blindfolded, just not the other way around.

And then it dawned on me. Instead of always looking forward, why not look backwards?

A lot of companies have grown so much over the last years. Or they haven’t and they stabilized. Whilst focusing on maintaining or growing their business, they forgot all about the efforts it took them to get there. Because when the time is right to start addressing old, exisiting or new prospects again, how do you go about? What is your success formula?

Do wat your momma said: retrace your steps. What was your initial goal when you started the company? What was your mission tagline, your elevator pitch? What were you selling and where did you want to be in 3-5-10 years? And are you? If yes, what got you there? If not, how come and do you care?

Up is not the only way to go (sorry Pixar!). And this definitely holds true when it comes to your company brand and communication.

Retrace your steps, you’ll discover items along the road you may have neglected in the past, but are now easy to revisit and make the most of. (who here has a newsletter that runs as smoothly as it should?) You needn't necessarily reinvent your communication reel. Find a professional to help you assess the past and present situation. They’ll find the right tone of voice and channel that will work for you at this particular point in time.

I always look to the right when I’m running. As I got "lost" on my run, I came accross a wild mulberry bush to my other right. New perspective is gained by daring to reiterate.

Be weird. Stay weird. Give the podcast a go.

Taken from a token youth favourite movie - The Craft.

#IPD16 - print does.

On #IPD16 we celebrate print. But what is print?

Print is business. Print is personal. Print does.

Here's what print did to me lately. What did it do for you?

The mega of micro – 3D dental care

I have this thing with 3D. A few years ago, it was a vague concept labelled “additive manufacturing”. At drupa 2016, I was amazed at the first 3D applications. And although I fully support a 3D idea that can be commercialized and monetized (jewelry, figurines), I’m intrigued by how 3D can also better our everyday life.

So when I found out that iMakr, a leading retailer for 3D printing hosted a “3D printing - a dental revolution” session, it was time to cross the pond. 13 attendees, including 1 actual dentist, 2 students graduating in dental healthcare, 3D engineers and yours PR truly.

Key learnings? Dental healthcare is quite advanced. Automating the digital workflow in dental healthcare drastically cut back manufacturing time, while also reducing the human error rate in production (e.g. crowns). 360° mouth scanning equipment is meticulously accurate. And dental CAD software is advanced enough to allow for both free yet reliable open source software as well as highly specialized medically approved software licences. The 3D printers are up to par. Micron accuracy is crucial – a crown fits or it doesn’t. A halfway fit will only cause more damage. Dental 3D cannot go below perfection.

And it doesn’t. To illustrate, iMakr printed a 3D mouth model based on a stone model scan to see if a half plate would fit both the stone model as well as the 3D print. It was an exact replica. The half plate fit both models perfectly.

The stone model iMakr scanned to replicate in 3D - with fitted half plate.

The stone model iMakr scanned to replicate in 3D - with fitted half plate.

Above the stone model without crown, below the 3D printed replica with fitted half plate.

Above the stone model without crown, below the 3D printed replica with fitted half plate.

A close-up to illustrate the perfect fit of the half plate on the 3D print model.

A close-up to illustrate the perfect fit of the half plate on the 3D print model.

Imagine the added value of 3D dental prints for research, testing, experimenting, teaching future generations. For the half plate example alone - if dental labs could be made aware, they could seriously up their production level and reduce delivery terms. Manual jobs would be trimmed down, but only to create room for the more specialized tailoring works. (one 3D dental printing lab produces up to 4000 individual models per day and says they now have more time to perfect the expert tailoring jobs that require human intervention!)

Take it one step further and we're talking a showcase of lean manufacturing and sustainability. The on-the-spot printing allows for a decentralised manufacturing process, while also eliminating the need for an elaborate production chain. You'll cut back on logistics, because you're printing where your customer is. Spare parts and stock shortages could be avoided, as this clever chap in the 3D printing group on LinkedIn points out. The knowledge society needs but a blueprint and voilà, instant gratification. Simplistically put, I am aware, but there is a potential here to solve some pungent issues.

Why my interest in dental healthcare? I have a mouth guard and I loathe cast-making. The oversized metal that somehow manages to outsize your mouth, the yucky metallic orange fluid that kills your taste buds, the horrible joke the dentist makes every single time pretending he can’t release me from the mould (and I love my dentist, I really do.) How much easier would dental life be if a 360° scan of your mouth could be made to produce a 3D cast? Quick scanning, live printing, instant mouth guard.

And all you need is a dentist with a 3D scanner, and a lab that has a CAD software and a 3D printer.

Price should not hold people back, neither should the maintenance of the equipment. And although 3D print takes rapid strides in advance, the 3D printer itself does not outdate easily.

It just needs some PR at the right time with the right people.

So my dear dentist, when you read this. Please consider talking to your lab and getting that 3D scanner. You scan, they print the model and create my mouth guard. Delivery in a few days instead of one month. My husband will be ever so grateful.

Tell me - when 3D can print so micron meticulously, what else can be done? What’s your favourite 3D print application?

I’m particating in a 3D print pop-up course in Aalst on September 3rd. Stay tuned, I’ll most likely blog on that one too. 

Mini-You - the ultimate selfie. This one is meta even - figurine man holding the 3D figurine in his hand, in his hand, in his hand.

Mini-You - the ultimate selfie. This one is meta even - figurine man holding the 3D figurine in his hand, in his hand, in his hand.

Content repurposing - the #happydrupa effect

Happy is as happy gets. And although I try to take back a little bit of happiness from every show I visit (Fespa, drupa), sometimes it takes an extra special - or should I say happy - surprise to keep the feeling going.

Last week I received a intriguing enveloppe with my address details written by hand. Hand written snailmail? Consider me pleased as punch. Would it be a wedding invite, a ‘new baby in the framily‘ announcement or a party invite? None of the above. Turns out it was one of the best DM I have received in years.

Hand written address details - the personal touch does the trick.

At drupa, Ed Boogaard introduced 2 figurines he kept as a memento from drupa 1982. He now took them back to the future, aka the Messe fairgrounds of drupa 2016. He captured their key visits in quirky snapshots that got posted on Twitter alongside the #happydrupa hashtag. Their arrival, first German food, meeting Mr. PrintPakt, meeting Mr. Landa, work hard party hard – you name it. 2 weeks of little Playmobil people fun.

Cute. I confess I tuned in regularly to follow their adventures during the show.

So what a wonderful surprise to see that Ed had turned their social wanderings into a small printed booklet that he sent individually to the #happydrupa followers. How’s that for keeping the social online conversation going?

The boys took the #happydrupa followers on a tour of #drupa2016 highlights.

I’m a big fan of repurposing on site and on the spot generated content. It will have served its purpose ad hoc, but that does not mean its meaning should remain confined within that moment. Repurposing your social content in a digital or print manner afterwards is a wonderful way of stretching your communication momentum just a little bit longer. A good quote, a fine image or a fun story in this case, can last longer than its 140 character life on Twitter.

Keep good content alive. The #happydrupa was generated on social, repurposed in print. And now promoted online in this blog.

The only remaining question is: did they touch the future? What did the Marty McFly’s think of the future of print? Stay tuned... 

Maya Staels

#drupa2016 – I ain’t seen nothing yet.

It’s the inkjet drupa! It’s the nano drupa! Isn’t drupa what you make of it? For me, it’s about inspiration, application and commercialisation. If I were a printer, I’d like to find a solution that either optimises my current business model (but don’t get me started on automation just yet) or opens up new money-making opportunities for me.

We all saw the Highcon flowers and dresses, the Landa show (well, I haven’t actually, but I saw plentiful pictures) and Xerox hiring the Ministery of Sound to beef up the stand. Impressive to say the least, but I went looking for the little things that make users aware of the greater good print has to offer us and our margin. Little things, such as...

1.     Personalised purses? Shut up and take my money!

The ladies on the Agfa Graphics stand in Hall 8a sported cute waistpurses. I couldn’t resist and asked where they got those. Tailor-made in-house print. Imagine finding the pattern of your dreams and being able to transpose it to your bag. This could revolutionise the fashion industry even further. No tacky-looking plastic cheap handbags. The high quality can take fashion personalisation to a new level. Curious to see what they’ll be displaying at InPrint 2016 in Milan in November. Last time they displayed the personalised shoes. What will they do next? (I’m a 36, @agfagraphics, just saying. And looking for a mint green purse btw.)

Personalise your bag. Seriously. Shut up and take my money!

Personalise your bag. Seriously. Shut up and take my money!

2.     Going to the drupa and we’re gonna get ma-ha-harried.

This couple caught my eye. It’s a pity of the reflection in the image, but these tiny people were so life-like, I was baffled. How wonderful is it to get scanned in your wedding attire beforehand (all relaxed and groomed to perfection), so you have the perfect figurine on the wedding cake and a lifelong memory of your special day? I also saw some other 3D applications, but this I love. If ever I get married, I am so doing this. (If you're the exhibitor, let me know, so I can accredit you, I lost my flyer!)

A memory to treasure forever - and a piece unique on every occasion. (Hopefully.)

A memory to treasure forever - and a piece unique on every occasion. (Hopefully.)

3.     What’s that smell?

I noticed the advert of Schubert International in the drupa daily. Although I love the smell of ink and machinery anytime, the whiff of peppermint oozing from the drupa daily was refreshing. So when I passed by the stand, I was even more impressed with the other solutions. Children’s books with everyday smells to get them acquainted with their senses, inviting them to explore further. It was a pity there was not a small give-away or even the possibility to buy an application on stand. I would have definitely purchased then and there. On the look-out for the Belgian distributor. I want. And so would my #5yo.

Stimulating the senses is everything for the little ones. Let's not forget smell, an essential survival skill. Love how print can stimulate this.

Stimulating the senses is everything for the little ones. Let's not forget smell, an essential survival skill. Love how print can stimulate this.

4.     The book that binds.

You can print just about anything digitally, but it’s the binding that makes the book. I got a quick demo of the process at CP Bourg and was surprised at the speed of it. In a mere few minutes, pages were cut to the desired size, bound and delivered. It can handle about any size and bind type. Wonderful solution for a quick remake of literature favourites, such as Alice in Wonderland. And with the digital print combo, there is great potential for book on demand, dedicated prefaces or limited editions for events. Even in the shortest of time spans. Curiouser and curiouser indeed.

What else will they get out of the rabbit hole next?

What else will they get out of the rabbit hole next?

5.     Print is everywhere.

If you didn’t visit the Kodak loft, you surely missed out. Strolling through the interior all the while thinking “really, this is printed”? Kodak made sure to inform you what was printed using which technology. Very informative and hands-on in an entertaining and non-invasive manner. I’d go for the printed table-top with my favourite picture. Personalise your house, love it.

Printed - all printed! So many prints!

Printed - all printed! So many prints!

Alas, time is limited. Which is why, even after a full week on site,  I feel like I’ve seen nothing yet.

Help me out here. What was your biggest find at the show? Where do you see the potential of print?

See you at #drupa2020.

Maya Staels

No one on the #drupa2016 red sofa couch? I couldn't resist. Thanks for letting me hijack it guys!

No one on the #drupa2016 red sofa couch? I couldn't resist. Thanks for letting me hijack it guys!

 

 

Before drupa the deluge

The anticipation build-up towards drupa was huge. Whereas the previous edition was marked by a sense of caution, instilled by the crisis, it seems the market is ready to be bold(er) again. drupa communication picked up like it hasn't done in years, companies were looking for the right tone of voice to make sure they could "unleash" print at this year's edition. (I've seen quite some unleashing references, I think it might be the drupa word du jour.)

Yesterday I roamed the halls to get acquainted again with this massive show. (I get lost easily and my navigation skills suck. Ask anybody who knows me.) Bumped into some journalists to secure some interview slots. USBs are ready, so are the flyers and the briefing documents. All this anticipation and here we are. Moment of truth.

Yesterday the fair cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne got just about flooded with the rain. What a metaphore for the drupa theme. It flooded our lives the last few months and now it will flood the cities for the next two weeks. After drupa, no deluge. It just marks the beginning of another three year cycle.

I'm ready. Release (unleash?) the Kraken.

Maya

P.S. Most likely I'll be around halls 7, 8 and the press centre. Always willing to get lost or take a detour to talk communication.

My view looking out of the car window as we drove back to the hotel. #Aquaplaning anyone? #drupa2016

My view looking out of the car window as we drove back to the hotel. #Aquaplaning anyone? #drupa2016

Print along if you feel like a room without a roof

Today is the International Day of Happiness. And as I look back at some of the latest happy moments in my life, I noticed quite a big chunk of it involved print. And some Fespa tokens.                                            

What makes me happy?

1.     Finding kids' street art in Amsterdam en route to Fespa.

Fespa Amsterdam Street art

2.     The beautiful calligraphy of the names of my household, courtesy of Better Letters. Worth the wait at Fespa. Adorning my wall and admired by all who visit our house. “What a neat idea to have all your names together instead of just a family picture!” My thoughts exactly. Combine it with some simple truthful words on a random poster on a street corner and you'll find me counting blessings at my kitchen's counter.

Calligraphy Poetry

High tide, low tide

Low tide, high tide

As it comes

So it goes

Sometimes someone just has to print it out for you.

3.     When traveling it is hard to bring back something your kid will love enough to make up for the absence. But when I saw this grocery bag, fabric by Georg + Otto Friedrich GmbH, I knew a little someone who’d think the world of me. And did she ever. Fespa superhero mom got a smiley on the happiness indicator.

grocery bag by Georg + Otto Friedrich
Happiness Indicator

3.     Taking the #4yo to the circus and having a fab time enjoying this artistry. She did not want to shake the hand of the clown, until she learned that would earn her a colourful flag. She has held onto the flag all day long, proud as punch. Tomorrow we’re taking it to school. Nothing lasts like a printed memory to put in the memory treasure box.

Wilie Nelson Circus Flag

5.     Last but not least, snuggling up in the couch in my new fave T-shirt, courtesy of DTG printer M&R Print. I passed by the booth at Fespa and saw Willie Nelson staring at me. Exceptional quality in terms of DTG print. I fell in love instantly, with both the print and the image. Got their business card for my friend who is a screen printer, kept Willie all to myself.

Three cords and the truth – that’s what a country song is. – Willie Nelson

Looking forward to drupa to source some new happy moments!

I hope you had a happy day too. What made yours?

Fespa, drupa and the end of print's beauty sleep.

As children of the crisis (if you’re my age and no, I’m not telling), we entered the job market a couple of years before the print market got hit. Then we suffered through the budget cuts, the bankruptcies, the company consolidations. And listened to the tales of good times passed.

We focused on the moneymaking tasks, did hard sales, forgot about the softer communication skills. The market and media got hit. Hard. Companies and publications disappeared. Talented people left the industry. Valuable knowledge got lost. PR learnt the hard way too. Do more with less. Less advertising budget, less copy budget, less market knowledge. We survived, got creative and never lost hope.

And then drupa 2012 happened – new technologies paved the way towards an uprise in the market. People dared believing again. They dared stand up to the “print is dead” cries from the digital community. Print was not dead, it was taking a beauty sleep. Only to rise like the phoenix. Reinventing itself.

Fespa 2015 made it clear change was knocking on opportunity’s door. Hopes and spirits went up. And so did the creative juices in the industry. New allies were formed, new markets got discovered and new technologies emerged. You could just feel positive vibes oozing through the hallways.

By embracing the new technologies, the PR scene discovered new media and channels to convey the message of customers. Visual storytelling, social strategy research, digital sales lead generation. Old school got out, new school was in session. PR truly got 360° by reinventing the print, digital, online and social wheels. I, for one, feel envigorated already.

And as we kick off the first day of Fespa Digital 2016, online communication makes it clear that disruption took place. Now it is time to transform the business. Communicate on what you have accomplished and what you’re planning to do. Get your content straight. And make sure the market finds out about it. Choose your content, channels and partners wisely.

See you at the shows.

Maya

P.S. You'll find me at Fespa Digital 2016 March 8-9. Drop me a line/tweet/ext if you want to meet up.

 

PR - it’s a work of (he)art.

When I ventured on the PR path in 2006, I had no idea where it would take me. I knew communication, I knew marketing. But PR?

Mind you, after all this time, my parents still don’t know what it is I do. Something about writing and talking to the media. (I’m not  kidding) Well, that flag sure does not cover the load.

I’ve come to love PR, and the international technical B2B markets where I have been able to practice my trade in particular. Technical professions produce gems of fine technique, advanced science and sometimes trivia of sheer genius. Throughout the years, quite some renowned brands have entrusted me with communicating their message to their audience, preferably via the media. It sounds simple enough, but it turns out it isn’t. And as I look back upon this new venture in my life, I realise how much the communication business has changed.

When I started out, print was all the rage. The rise of the online paralel universe quickly shook things up as internet speed accelerated. (I still remember a former contact assuring everyone this online thing would merely be a fleeting faits divers – hm.) Onwards and upwards nonetheless as online and print struggled to find an equilibrium. Digital emerged and social came in guns ablazing. And here we are at a cross-media intersection, with print, online, digital and social all looking for a place on the communication spectrum. Sharing the cookie(s), one community content piece at a time.

Every PR person has it personal preference when it comes to choosing the channels and platforms. I don’t – you choose the platform in function of the content message. Make it work however it should be working.

In presentations, you mostly see B2C references when it comes to big brands communicating wonderfully with their communities. That’s not right, there are many B2B companies who are also doing wonderful things with sometimes limited resources. But more can be done, let’s get real.

Or get reel on board. Because that is how I intend to keep it, whether it’s developing a reel to roll out your story, or reeling in new business for you (or me).

Versatility, diplomacy, patience and some gut feeling – my key traits. I know these trusted counsellors have helped me realise some wonderful projects.

What I tell my parents it is that I do?

I PR things.

Does this enlighten them? Sadly, no.

Is it an exact science? No, it’s a work of (he)art.

The experience comes at a cost, the love you get for free.

Yours,

Maya

P.S. This blog was written on the flight back from Milan, Italy, upon my return from the renowned ITMA 2015 textile show. Torn between the pit and the pendulum, I found myself. I hope it will reel you in too. Get in touch when you’re ready to PR things too.