Thursday, 27 August, 2009

Building the community

As at most of the IFRA India conferences, the hottest topic is how newspapers need to adapt and change. Years ago, at one of these events N Murali of The Hindu in his speech spoke about the need for daily newspapers to build “communities.” This is not an easy concept for a daily newspaper and it is still not clear how Indian newspapers will do this in a way that strengthens or protects their business.

Of course the implication was that there should be more interaction with customers and readers but whether it meant helping to organise sports and cultural events or taking part in local education or developing readers as reporters beyond the letters columns was not exactly clear. There was a subtext that the Internet and the cellphone would play a role, and these were part of “cross-media” and “convergence” as concepts and technologies. However it is still not clear whether or how publishers can monetise new media. And ultimately the idea of building communities is also not clear. This seems to now mean for the most part, social networks on the web. Even blogging, which seems to have caught on in India, seems to be growing without much link to the local publishing industry except that it borrows and leans on published content.

Our organisation of course is smaller than the smallest newspaper in the country but since it tries to cater to the printing, publishing and packaging verticals, it is ideally poised to try and create a community. It does this by holding seminars and conferences such as the recent Monsoon Summit for process standardisation and ISO 12647. And it can also do this with its websites; weekly email newsletters, and a new set of three blogs – the Print Asia blog, the Print Experts Asia Pacific blog and the Content and Media Asia Pacific blog. Have a look – comment – and let us know if you would like to join the blog team. See links and web addresses on contents page 5.

Delhi Book Fair
Beyond this we will be taking part at the Delhi Book Fair together with Quark in an effort to meet the more than 200 book publishers there. Apart from demonstrating software, Itu Chaudhuri will speak at our stand in Hall12A on Typography and Book Design on 1 September at 4pm. On 3 September NS Manku will speak about Excellence in Book Binding at 4pm. Other activities at the stand include valuable prizes for the Best Book and Cover Designs. Come by to Stands 15 and 16 in Hall 12A for a chat, and to submit your entries for best designs. We will also write and produce together with Quark on the stand for the most part, two A4 show bulletins called Content & Media. These will be dated and distributed on 31 August and 3 September.

IFRA Expo Chennai
Further, at the IFRA Expo and Publish Asia conference in Chennai in late September we will together with IFRA India publish the IFRA Gazette on 24 and 25 September. This will also be an A4 publication containing all the show news and some feature articles and interviews generated at the show. We also hope to develop the Content & Media blog at the IFRA Expo.

IPP XII The Wake Up Print Conference
Our main effort at building the community over the last 8 years has come from IppStar our industry-supported organisation for standards, seminars, and conferences. This year IppStar will hold its 12th Conference on 19 December in Mumbai. IPP XII will be a one-day event on Marketing Strategies for direct mail, transpromo and digital print. New print marketing strategies for the new consumer are required. The Indian printers too must re-invent themselves and they must become part of the print buyer’s marketing strategies aimed at the new consumer. This event is planned as a “thought leaders” or a “wake up” print conference. This is our way to take part in the building of our community.

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