Community is a word that gets watered down through overuse in the print industry, but there is honestly none better to describe Dscoop. These are passionate, innovative, and creative people working towards a collective common goal – forging a path to a successful print future.
I was in the moment Dscoop called to work together for Edge Rockies March 6-9, in Denver, Colorado.
I did attend the event, helped promote it beforehand, shared real-time info from Denver, hosted the International Women’s Day Breakfast Panel, presented a session, and did some on-camera interviews with exhibiting partners under a contract, however, this article is not a deliverable or sponsored content. I am writing it because I want to share my experience with you.
This event was smaller in size than pre-Pandemic Dscoop gatherings. The attendee count is reported at 800+. From the Edge Rockies site, “The attendance number included owners and employees of more than 350 different companies from 22 countries. About 200 different print service providers were represented.”
Smaller also applies to the exhibition area. HP did not bring presses – except for the HP Page Wide XL 10000 that John McEntyre proudly showed off in a back corner. (Listen to my podcast with John). They did however bring all their services, plenty of inkspirational samples, and a very cool hybrid live/virtual press demo hosted in Denver with a real-time broadcast from their Customer Experience Center in Atlanta.
The absence of HP presses running in the hall didn’t deter more than 40 partners from taking a space and sharing their products and services with attendees. I spoke to many attendees who said they were able to have more meaningful conversations with exhibiting partners, and they had come to the event specifically to see them in one place. Several partners I spoke with echoed attendees had done their research prior to arriving and were making final decisions on the floor.
On top of the information and education being shared and the buying and selling taking place, for 3 days I was surrounded by smiling, enthusiastic, and optimistic people. Edge Rockies had taken on a “we are back” theme and while a sliver of that was related to being able to gather, the bigger meaning applied to ‘we are back to business.’ On that Dscoop delivered, and then some.
Now big questions loom, of course. How was success measured and was it achieved by Dscoop, HP, and the exhibitors? Did the hybrid presentations of presses and live customer panels work for the attendees? Did HP get the same results they would have if they had been able to ship in presses?
It will be interesting to see how any of this is qualified. Measuring against Dscoop events from 2019 and prior is hardly apples to apples due to Covid and the continuing chaos it presents. From my unique perspective working at the event and experiencing it as an attendee, I would like to see this as a starting point to build upon versus a comparison to what was.
For example, I have been to many Dscoop events in the US and in Europe. I have never seen a press demo until Denver. There is usually a crowd pushing to see inside the press, it’s hard to hear the presenter, and there are a lot of secondary conversations going on amongst printers, and amongst printers and salespeople that distract from learning.
Sitting in the theater changed all of that. Everyone was quiet, everyone could see and hear, you could ask the host or the presenters in Atlanta questions. And the best part? There were samples of materials provided, printed on the press you were learning about from the demo or the customer panel.
This set-up worked for me, and it was working for the printers I surveyed in the theater area that also hosted HP customer panels. No one I spoke to felt slighted there was no press in front of them. They felt very confident that HP would get them in front of a press if they requested it.
I hope to see more events working like this. Having presses and virtual demos in the same place is also a unique opportunity for attendees to shop and learn as they want. Optimizing the attendee experience is crucial to getting the industry back on the floor. Creating an opportunity for those who can’t attend events to participate and engage from wherever they are should be a priority.
The press demo I saw came through Zoom. Were others invited to watch online – even if only Dscoop members who couldn’t get to Denver? If it remains a closed system, we haven’t learned anything over the last 2.5 years.
Along those lines, it was evident that Team Dscoop made a conscious effort to be more inclusive through session topics, conference imagery, and the International Women’s Day Breakfast Panel I hosted. However, the conference hosts and keynote speakers were all gentlemen, the customer panel opening night were all gentlemen, and except for Betsy Davis the Edge Rockies Conference Chair, and Kathy Wise who won the Jack Glacken award, no other women or any people of color beyond Team Dscoop and the Board graced the main stage.
More of an effort needs to be made to bring diverse voices, stories, and perspectives to the industry. Visibility on the big stage, matters. Events have to do better, all of them.
Edge Rockies was my first gathering since 2019 with more than 100 people. Full disclosure, I did test positive for Covid when I returned home. I am mentioning it because this is the reality in which we find ourselves. A trip to the grocery store or an industry event could have the same result.
Everyone must make decisions that account for this possibility, and while these decisions are still required, events truly need to provide remote/hybrid options for the good of the industry and the health of its members. ROI comes in many forms. Get creative!
Edge Rockies is over, but Dscoop is just getting started. Check out their offerings throughout the year and get involved as much as you can. They have regional offices around the world, and legions of loyal members to meet and connect with.
Next up for me… ISA’s Sign Expo in Atlanta, May 4-6; AMPLIFY Print in Minneapolis, June 14-16; and America’s Print Show in Columbus, OH August 17-19. Hope to see you there!
Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™ at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and blogger, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, the cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Girl #1 at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock.
Deborah has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer. She currently provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through PMC and works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers, and achieve success with their sales, social media, and content marketing endeavors.
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