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Enciby Enci

Print vs. Digital – Part 2: Promotion

I remember when I was about 16, I got a job in Germany to pass out fliers for events and businesses. The company I worked for gave me a huge box of fliers, provided me with route info, where exactly to drop the fliers off and I got paid by the run regardless of how long it took me to distribute. One day during my route, I passed a dumpster that had a lot of fliers dumped into them and I was speechless about the wastefulness of these fliers and I quit the next day.

When I came to LA years later, every club or street happening I went to, people handed me fliers about their events, their political agendas, their promotions and most of the time, I took the flier and tossed it in the next trash bin.
Times have changed and today, we are not only handed fliers, but we are also bombarded with emails, Evite, Facebook and MySpace event invites, cell phone text messages, tweets, and more and now most of the time the flier ends up in the trash without me taking the time to look at it and the emails are getting sent in the trash bin.

With the digital age, our promotional outlets have become much more available, but also much more complex and we have become much more wasteful. We are now doubling and tripling our invites because we have the tools accessible to set up various events online as well as printing, texting, etc. and of course, we need to “hit” people with our event invites at least 3 times for them to attend. We do it all because we can, but it’s important that we understand the impact of our actions.

I became a website designer out of the desire to promote myself and my work. I signed up with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and many other networking sites and I learned the ins and outs of these sites to be good at it all and I’m loving the opportunities that are out there for us. I love exploring, learning new codes, about new sites, new trends, etc. But I’m also still loving the old fashioned way of connecting to people and finding out about stuff.

When I go to an event, I always look at the postcards in the lobby or on the bulletin board. I still pick up the fliers or brochures at the fair. And at the same time, I import various event calendars via Google Calendar, I RSVP as a “maybe” to interesting events on Facebook, I save emails just in case I can make it to the event and I sign up to newsletters online to keep up to date to the various going ons.

But when we start promoting our events, how do we figure out when to do what? How do we best promote what event? How can we be cost effective and sustainable and at the same time get the message out?

I’m sure there are many answers and I’m doing my best to change my behavior to leave less behind and at the same time, not having to compromise because no matter what we do, we are ending up leaving footprint behind if we want to promote our business, our art, our journey. Even smoke signals left a footprint. Whether we create print promotional materials or online promotional material, we either cut trees down or mountains, we use energy and water, we use chemicals and metals, we create waste that goes down into the gutter, into the ocean and into our animals or our own digestive system.

But I thought of a few things that could help reduce our footprint:

  1. printing postcards/headshot/brochures
    • print on matte finish, not glossy
    • print double-sided
    • print less regardless of the price difference
    • print on smaller paper/cards/business card (4 or 8-up if you print from home)
    • print on recycled paper
    • print on thinner paper
    • reuse old paper (scripts, resumes, board meeting papers, etc.)
    • create images that use less ink (PowerPoint Presentations, website printouts, postcard designs, etc.)
    • hand them out to people who you talk to instead of leaving huge stacks at places
    • leave just a few at venues
    • make the invites unique or multi-functional so they become keepers, not trash
    • print local and pick up by walking or biking to the shop or combine your driving trip with another errand
    • when mailing to CDs and Agents your production postcard, team up with the cast and devide up the list and mail once every two weeks. It will help you all financially and the CD or Agent won’t receive 4 cards of the same event
    • print with soy or other sustainable ink
  2. posting events online
    • post on sites that you know are popular
    • post on sites that are local to your event/venue/work
    • invite only your local friends (for example create a local list on Facebook and add only them to the invitation)
    • create a website or a webpage that people can go to for information
  3. newsletter/emails
    • don’t harvest your friends emails and spam them -> ask your friends if they want to be on your email first
    • email once a week instead of every other day
    • BCC (blank carbon copy) friends to avoid their email being added (harvested) by your recipients
    • email people who are interested in your event, not everybody in your address book

Throughout the years I have reduced the amount of paper I take home because I end up feeling guilty for “creating” more trash and I hope to motivate companies to print less, if they end up with a lot of their printed materials at the end of the day. I also don’t like to see all the paper in the gutter at the end of the weekend after the clubs have closed and the parties are over.

I created several lists on Facebook to target my audience and I don’t send out an LA event to my friends in Chicago or Europe. Before I send out a newsletter, I ask on Twitter and on Facebook for emails if someone is interested being added to my newsletter. And the last big event I worked on, the postcards were handmade and people ended up keeping them as a gift/souvenier. I also carried these postcards with me everywhere, so when I bumped into a friend, I could hand them an invitation.

Both worlds, digital, as well as print work, well together but nothing works as good as face to face contact. And regardless of whether you invest in paper or take advantage of inexpensive digital communication or pursue a combination strategy, memorable messages that demonstrate creativity and innovation are always of the greatest value.

Enci is a working actress and also a writer/director at her company Rebel Without A Car Productions.

Enci is the publisher of the theatre site Bitter Lemons, the Co-Founder of the Bike Writers Collective, she’s on the board of Bikeside, on the Cyclists/LAPD Task Force, on the SAG Conservatory Committee, and she works with government entities to make Los Angeles more bike-friendly and bike-conscious.

Contact Enci with article suggestions or find her on Twitter, Facebook and other networking sites to connect. When contacting her, please introduce yourself and tell her you read her column in the Networker.