Greetings Citizens of the Printerverse and welcome to week 3 or 4 of Corona lockdown. I have stopped counting the days to keep some of my sanity and hold on to the hope that one day I will again roam freely and unmasked with other humans.

Hope is a wonderful thing. It gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Brings all those half-filled glasses of optimism to the table, elicits thoughts of lights at the ends of tunnels and clouds with silver linings. Cue the music… crescendo…. isn’t this wonderful!?! Yes, hope is a wonderful thing, but hope and reality have to meet up for it to be more than wishful thinking.

essential industry during COVID-19

I am going to add a little disclaimer here before I go any further out of my genuine and long-standing respect for Mr. Michael Makin, and everyone involved at PIA and SGIA who lobbied to have print deemed an essential service in the United States. Your work has kept print shop doors open and food on tables. Thank you!

That said… let’s very specifically clarify the reality of ‘print is essential’ and the dangerous victory laps the industry is currently taking.

Print is essential – in a PANDEMIC. Even in that, NOT ALL print is essential in a pandemic.

As well, looking at the list of essential industries you start to wonder if everyone got an essential industry participation trophy. Guitar Center locations, Michael’s, Joann’s Fabric and Sears department stores are ‘essential’ and open in some US states per the NY Times. Pet stores and landscapers are also ‘essential’ per Bloomberg. The context is important.

Without a doubt, the role print plays in the US during Corona is essential. Print is saving lives through education and signage, and crafty printers and industry suppliers have shifted some of their operation to manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It is amazing to watch and I believe pride within our professional community has never been stronger. And that is my point here.

Do not fall down the rabbit hole that ‘print is essential’ means everyone needs print – or wants it or loves it. Right now SOME print applications are essential to keeping people safe and the world functioning in the midst of a pandemic. Most print customers are not buying print, many printers are closed or closing as the hand-washing and social-distancing sign market gets more crowded, some are contemplating if they can re-open and a few have already closed for good.

The economy is driving the future of the industry, not a designation during a crisis.


Essential is defined as absolutely necessary. There is no greater need right now than helping your customers and community stay in business – whether your doors are open or not. Here are a few ideas to think about:


At some point stores and restaurants will open. How will they tell everyone? Come up with a plan and a print package that includes a menu of items for a generic grand opening, and then drill down to specific verticals – restaurants, realtors, hair salons and so on. Come up with a marketing program, bundle mailings and/or create materials that are shared by a row of stores or stores that share a street. Make your business essential to your community.


Money is an issue, but not for everyone and especially if health and safety are involved. There has NEVER been a better time to talk to restaurants about substrates for menus and placemats that are washable and can be sanitized with rubbing alcohol. Domtar brought samples of Xerox NeverTear to Project Peacock and the creatives loved it – especially for HEALTHCARE APPLICATIONS. Get a sample of this substrate (or find a similar one) and back in applications and customers to talk to, now. Make your products essential.


Customer loyalty more than likely went to the side during Corona lockdown. Decisions drilled down to a retail store being open regardless of it being your preferred store, or if you could get a product delivered regardless of brand. When reopening’s roll out – proposed in phases with guidelines here in the US – there is an opportunity to help businesses reconnect with customers in a big way through a branding campaign, or as small as a thank you note in a food take-out bag. Make your community relationship building essential.


Now is the moment to rethink your staff, your customers, your prospects and strategize who you want to be when this all ends. Now is the time to look at your local competition and figure out if a merge makes sense. Now is the time to assess your equipment and software – it’s critical to future-proofing your business in a pandemic or not. Now is the time to assess your print shop and office space; keeping remote workers can help you downsize and save some cash. Now is the time to discuss every idea to survive and let go of everyone and everything that relies on the past and past ways of doing things to define your future. Keeping your business open is essential, too.

Print being essential in a pandemic is now a given. Print being an essential tool for keeping businesses and communities alive is not.

Only by operating lean and mean with appropriate workflow efficiencies including Web2Print, relevant post-pandemic print applications and service offerings, and the right salespeople to sell them will we get through this, together. I am hopeful it can be done!

ps… I am presenting “Reinvention in Recovery” on April 30 at 2 PM ET in partnership with Graphic Media Alliance, Printing Industries Alliance and Printing Industry Association of the South – join us and register here.


Now Playing: Podcasts From The Printerverse Pandemic Playlist

Dr. Joe Webb: Print, Disaster Planning, and Pandemics

#PrinterChatPodcast: Print and the #COVID19 Pandemic

Optimizing LinkedIn During Lockdown with Nigel Cliffe – REGISTER for our ZOOM May 6 at 10 AM ET / 3 PM GMT Maximizing Your Results on LinkedIn with Nigel Cliffe and Deborah Corn

Print Buying #UKvUSA: Survival After The Corona Crisis

#PrinterChatPodcast: Getting Print Prepared for After Corona

DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah 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, cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Head Girl in Charge (H.G.I.C.) at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday at 4PM ET on Twitter, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock. She is the recipient of several industry honors including the 2016 Girls Who Print Girlie Award and sits on the boards of the Advertising Production Club of NYC and The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi.

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 social media and content marketing endeavors.

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