Leading Your Business Through a Crisis | Park

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Covid-19: leading your business through a crisis

alison-300x300A message from Alison Branch, Park Managing Director, to any business facing hardship as a result of Covid 19.

Like many other businesses, the task of troubleshooting Covid-19 continues to be the top priority at Park.

We’re open for business, but working in ways that once would have seemed unthinkable.

Staff have agreed to have their temperatures tested on the way into the building, and visitors are being asked to do the same.

Desks have been moved to maintain a safe distance of two metres between colleagues.

Everyone’s keeping to their own pens and pencils. Machine touch points, handrails etc. are being sanitised multiple times a day.

It is, without doubt, a unique set of challenges.

But one challenge is not entirely unprecedented. In 2008 and 2011, almost every business suffered. These economic shocks were less unnerving and sudden than coronavirus, and more protracted, but they still had serious consequences for many.

In those earlier crises, Park particularly noticed the impact on creative industries, as brands shifted budgets to what – then – was perceived as the ‘safe haven’ of digital media.

Many companies did not survive. Those that did, found themselves forced to adapt to an evolved business environment, compared to recent years.

This prompts the question: what learnings are there, in those recent crises, that could be useful for businesses facing hardship as a result of Covid-19?

A question of timing

I gave a second thought to publishing this.

Given that coronavirus poses a direct risk to human life, some may consider it too soon to talk about the business impact.

But as a business owner, it’s impossible to see the business and human risks as separate.

We bear great responsibility to our teams – and further, to their dependents, to our suppliers, and to the clients who rely on our business in order to carry on in theirs.

Client-side, responses have been varied.

One of the interesting things about working at Park has always been the perspective it lends on very many different industries: from cottage-industry indie mags, to global corporations.

Events have been hard hit as public gatherings are curtailed. In financial services, print deadlines must be met for legal reasons.

One response that has stood out is that by creative industries. Marketing professionals mostly continue to work from home, and we’ve already had a few conversations about how print can help brands ‘be there’ without employees actually being there.

In light of news of surging orders at Amazon UK, postal marketing may become a key tactic in the coming months.

The impression is of a business culture, particularly in marcomms, which is now shaped around rapid and far-reaching change.

Everyone has their favourite example of a company which did not adapt quickly enough – or one that radically changed its fortunes by thinking ahead of the curve.

Blockbuster clung on until 2014, at which point, 4,000 jobs were lost; but few remember that Netflix launched as a DVD rental service in 1998, before migrating into online streaming.

Today, these memories, combined with real and rational fears, are stimulating very sensible and timely conversations about the change that may play out over the next few years.

An eye on the trends

The Economist earlier this month said that Covid-19 will have ‘…a lasting effect, accelerating trends in business organisation that were already under way’.

It delves into supply chains which, for sustainability reasons, had been becoming more EU-centric for Park for some time. Our suppliers had also increased UK stocks to prepare for any distruption cause by Brexit. This has shielded Park from global disruption, and this month, it has made it easier for us to stock up on paper, ink and spare parts as a precaution.

But for our clients, the more important trend is the changing role of print media in the marketing mix…

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Sustainable Magazines | Content for Park

10 indie magazines tackling sustainability

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Independent magazines have always pushed the boundaries of culture.

This hasn’t always been to their financial advantage. More often a labour of love than a business, they’re typically side projects alongside somebody’s day job. Sadly, many are too short-lived.

But this is also part and parcel of what makes the indie mag. With principles and identity before profit and scale, they’re uniquely adept at capturing cultural shifts ahead of the curve, and tackling complex, even controversial issues with intellect and sensitivity.

Unsurprising, then, that many have taken up sustainability as a cause.

There are some similarities in their approach. Few use recycled papers (though many would like to), due to the higher cost and budgetary restrictions. Many have chosen rough, uncoated stock for its natural look and feel, and as a fitting carrier for candid, smartphone-style photography and unapologetically intellectual prose.

But the indie mag scene is most remarkable for its diversity and innovation in approaches to sustainability, and not just in the range of subject matter (titles in this review cover art, cooking, politics, sports and more).

As more brands increase investment in their environmental creds, it’s worth examining how these mags have harnessed sustainability as creative pivot, and uncovering ideas which may be useful print inspiration for businesses in every industry.

We investigated 10 magazines currently tackling sustainability, from America and the UK. 

Thanks to Jeremy Leslie of MagCulture for providing the mags.

1. It’s Freezing in LA

I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total and very expensive hoax!’

Donald Trump, 2013

With its psychedelic colour palette, and a title borrowed from America’s President, your first assumption is that It’s Freezing in LA! is a direct product of America’s west coast.

Actually, the organisation is a UK-registered non-profit, and the mag is a superb example of how it’s possible to harness a tight budget as a source of creative inspiration.

IFLA screams counter-culture.

Many features, which might be rejected by higher-end mags, are deployed by IFLA as a clear part of its identity.

A bargain at £7, with its handy compact dimensions, and running to only 60 recycled, uncoated pages, the mag feels half-way between magazine and political pamphlet.

Our copy isn’t quite fully folded, springing slightly open along the saddle-stitched spine. Whether that’s intentional or a consequence of the mag’s promise to ‘sell all misprinted copies’ doesn’t really matter; it only contributes to IFLA’s hipster identity.

Inside, margins are so left so thin, that the shouty, oversize type of the editor’s note appears to protest being confined to the page.

The choice of content is right in step.

In ‘The Future of Freshness’ (pp. 35-38), the correspondent delves into our perceived dependence on carbon-hungry refrigeration as a means of food preservation.

“This cold chain has completely altered our collective conception of freshness and, more importantly, our perceived right to consume fresh goods.’

A fitting observation from a magazine which, perhaps not inadvertently, alters our conception of what constitutes ‘quality’ in print…

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Sustainable Printing | Content for Park

What do you mean, ‘sustainable printing’?

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Collaboration with your printer is key to meeting sustainability goals.

Requesting a “sustainable” production from your printer is a bit like requesting a “nicer” haircut from your barber.

No problem. Where would you like us to start?

In the last couple of years, sustainability has become a boardroom buzzword. And like many buzzwords, it belies the extent of its implications.

Most people probably think first of sustainable materials such as recycled paper.  But paper is a complex issue in and of itself – and this only part of the story.

In the printing industry, due to the wide variety of materials and processes involved, and our complex supply chains, many long-established norms have been overhauled as we’ve sought to rein in our environmental impact. The process is still ongoing.

Client-side, ‘sustainable’ is not a fixed term. A production considered sustainable by one business may be unsatisfactory to the next.

For some businesses, emissions are the prime focus. For others, it’s reducing carbon footprint, for others it is reducing landfill through use of recyclable materials or materials that can be recycled. Increasingly, today, the agenda is led by plastic and petroleum products.

For us, this is all in a day’s work.

A good printer should be prepared to discuss and consider a client’s business goals and marketing objectives in order to come up with the perfect formula. Sustainability is just one more dimension to be factored in.

For the best chance of success, bring your CSR goals and budget to the table right at the beginning, and arrive armed with questions to test the limits of your printer’s sustainability credentials.

Environmental certifications: no easy solution

If you’re shopping around for a new supplier, it may be tempting to rely on industry certifications. But while some industry certifications can be used to create a shortlist of suppliers, they won’t give the answers you need.

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