paper trends: Paper, Blogs, Apps and Vids, Oh My

While traditional print communications—and the use of paper—have lost some ground to new media, new media can also be a communications channel about the virtues of print and paper, and how to deploy them more creatively and effectively in the Digital Age. Moving beyond the essential corporate Web site, which usually focuses on products and financial news, some paper companies are expanding their cyberspace presence by offering a wider and more varied range of information and tools for printers, designers and others involved in graphic arts production. These include “apps” that can be downloaded to the iPhone and Blackberry, and even humorous videos to demonstrate the unique capabilities of paper.

Wausau Paper, Mosinee, Wis., launched a forum targeting both designers and printers at www.WausauPaper.com/DigitalSpace. Jeff Fox, director of marketing at Wausau Paper, describes the site as an online community of people involved in all aspects of digital printing, and invites participants to add comments and to submit their projects at the site.

Regular bloggers on the site include Printing News columnist Heidi Tolliver-Nigro as well as Leslie Tane, the creative director of Leslie Tane Design Studio, and Mark Potter, the publisher of Canvas magazine, which is directed to print sales and marketing professionals and others.

Although at the time of this writing, only about a half-dozen blogs had been posted, they covered a range of topics, such as working with non-profits, green design and printing, moisture content in paper and a report on the recent PODi conference in Las Vegas. The blog pieces are brief enough to read quickly, and all offered information presented in an informal and highly readable way.

All too often in the graphic arts, designers propose but leave it up to printers to dispose—that is, to figure out how to produce something that matches the concept. Wausau Paper’s Digital Space serves as a forum to discuss projects from both perspectives, and to explore the possibilities of digital print media. Participants may leave comments, and may even submit a blog of their own. The site is definitely worth a look.

Neenah Paper apparently has fully embraced new media and telecommunications. The company has developed two “apps”—Think Ink Color Unleashed and the newer Eco-Calculator. Though the apps can be downloaded on handheld devices, they also can be used at their Web sites. Both can be accessed through www.NeenahPapers.com.

Think Ink Color Unleashed is primarily for designers, but is also useful for printers who want to assist customers with color and paper selection. In designing a print project, users can upload a graphic or photo, then select a color to use as the basis for a palette for the whole design.

The color palettes come in four categories—Subdue, Pop, Traditional and Blend—using the Dewey Color System personality test. Pick the appropriate mood or tone for the piece, then apply the color palette to the design. Users can see what photos, text and color blends will look like using the suggested palette, and they can select a matching Neenah paper color to see how that will impact the printed piece. RGB and CMYK equivalents are included.

Neenah’s most recent app is the Eco-Calculator. Users key in how much paper a job requires and the paper’s basis weight, and the Eco-Calculator tells them how many trees are saved using 30- to 100-percent post-consumer waste and other similar data. Another segment shows how much energy is spared using sustainability in the paper’s production. At the Web site, the user can put together a presentation highlighting these details. A second page defines environmental terms and certifications, and following pages display the results of the Eco-Calculator. Both apps are free to download and use.

Finally, and just for fun, a Swedish paper company called Grycksbo Paper launched a Web site at www.gprint.com/en/PAPERAID. Subtitled “Working for Paper Awareness in an increasingly paperless society since 1740,” the site, written in English, promotes paper through tongue-in-cheek humor as well as hard facts.

The tab titled “The Competition” leads to six brief videos illustrating the unique characteristics of paper. For example, in one video, an office worker designs a paper airplane on his computer screen, then hauls the monitor to the roof of the building and tosses the monitor over the edge, trying to get it to fly. Another video features a worker pursuing a pesky fly to swat it with her laptop computer.

The Internet, iPhones and digital printing are here to stay and now share the communications marketplace. If much of direct marketing, catalogs, and even personal correspondence are moving to electronic media, using those same channels to publicize paper and printing can be highly effective.

Jeanette Clinkunbroomer, a freelance writer, can be reached at Jclink@aol.com.

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