Wed, Aug

As I write this no-one from the Graphics and Print Media Alliance (GPMA) has come back to me in reference to a press release from the BPIF updating ‘UK Printing - The Facts and Figures’. Given that the GPMA was set-up to provide the industry with a single voice, I find it interesting that the data - which the BPIF has said it will “be sending it to all MPs and Lords so they can see the value that the printing industry has to the national economy” - has not come from that umbrella organisation to which it and other print associations (including the Fespa UK, BAPC, IPIA, Picon, Apcom, Two Sides etc) belong. I worry that we are still not presenting a coherent voice to Government. Is that just me?

Are you managing to find the designers you want to employ in your business? As more and more PSPs seek to build their design capability the question has got to be, ‘as an industry do we have the right image to attract the right creative talent?’ Does print as an industry need to ‘rebrand’ to do that – it’s what I’m hearing time and again. But how to do that???? 

What are your thoughts these days on the use of third-party inks in your large-format inkjet printers? I ask as we’re bound to see many new developments at Fespa 2017, no doubt each supplier promising that their inks are ‘fully compatible’ with printheads and machines from various manufacturers. Is it a chance worth taking? 

Given that it’s Easter weekend coming up - yay! - there will be a day of enews rest on Monday, so normal service will resume on Thursday 20 April. Hope you get the chance to enjoy the April showers - I mean sunshine - over this mini-break! 

It will be interesting to see if Roland stretches the concept it’s exploring with Custom Gateway into large-format territory. We’ve been talking for many years now about how large-format PSPs have great personalisation/customisation capability, but to fulfill the potential they need either a W2P portal to reach the huge potential consumer customer base – or for them to have the nouse to forge relationships with retailers that can act as the 'middle man’ - showing consumers the possibilities and taking orders instore but perhaps having professional PSP ‘partners’ doing the production. What do you think?

Yes, you can tell we’ve just had Sign and Digital UK and that Fespa 2017 is just around the corner because the substrates suppliers are bombarding us with new media updates. The possibilities they now afford the digital large-format print sector is mind blowing – but are there areas where you would still like to see more innovation? 

You’ll see I’ve flagged up that the first Global Digital Signage Conference takes place in London next month. I’ve done so because in my conversations with PSPs it seems few are yet integrating print with moving screen technologies, despite what seems like an obvious diversification. If you want to prove me wrong I’d be happy to hear from you.

I see that Printdesigns has introduced a ‘Best Price Promise’ price guarantee to corporate customers buying printed display stand products. The company is inviting customers to email it a link to any retailer openly offering any of its products for a lower price. Once verified, the Printdesigns will lower its prices to match - or do a better deal. I thinking I know what many PSPs will say about such ‘initiatives’, but isn’t it just what we should expect in a competitive market?

So, here we are amid another show season and all the associated jostling for position in what is an increasingly competitive sector. You’re likely heading to Sign and Digital UK as this issue lands, and we’ve got Fespa 2017 just around the corner too. But what other shows/events will you attending this year? Anywhere your customers will congregate?

I’m currently putting the final touches to the Widthwise Report 2017, and yet again it’s clear that when it comes to environmental concerns, PSP’s views - and actions - vary wildly. From an editorial standpoint we continue to take the view that where customers lead, suppliers must follow, so it’s interesting to see environmentally-friendly Stormboard clinching the M&S Big Innovation Pitch at Ecobuild 2017. We hear a lot about the sustainability of paper-based print projects, but there must be plenty of ‘green’ jobs that use other substrates. If you have handled anything of late that matches that criterion I’d love to hear from you.

Have you branched out into packaging? If so please get in touch as it’s an area I’m exploring in terms of large-format PSP diversification. Looking forward to hearing from you

The Two Sides and Print Power ‘Essential Knowledge Day’ takes place this Thursday - 23 March - at the iCon Centre in Daventry. One of the topics being covered is the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect next spring. If you send emails as part of your marketing strategy, you will be affected by this new regulation. So, is your own business ready? Are you able to advise and help your clients? If you’re wondering what the changes will mean to your operation it may be worth checking out the event, where Jason Cromack of MyLife Digital will explain the potential impacts of the new GDPR and what measures your business must take in the next 12 months to be compliant. Click here for more information and registration

The Association of Creative and Print Managers in Education (ACPME) is looking for input from large-format hardware, software and consumables manufacturers and suppliers at its annual conference, which this year takes place in Glasgow, 4-7 June. If you’re interested, get in touch with Darren Lewis. Details at: http://www.acpme.ac.uk/index.php/glasgow-2017/

Have you recently completed any really unusual large-format digital print jobs that you are happy to share in the Image Reports and Think Bigger galleries of work? If so, please drop me a line or two about the project and a high res picture that I can print in an upcoming issue – of course it will go online too – the intention being to help stretch people’s imaginations about print possibilities. Cheers