Print vs. electronic communication

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Having worked in this business for more than 15 years, I have seen communications vehicles, such as newsletters, swing from predominantly print pieces to electronic and back again. My previous employer had even been sending one of its newsletters by fax before I took the job (that was more than a decade ago).

I recently met with a law firm to discuss creating a newsletter that it plans to send to its clients and business contacts, and we decided together that print was the preferable medium for the firm’s needs.

Electronic newsletters and e-mail marketing pieces still have their place, of course, but it’s helpful to consider the benefits of each medium before proceeding:

Benefits of print communication:

Visibility and readership
I checked my own e-mail inbox and counted no fewer than two dozen different senders of e-newsletters and e-mail blasts. I requested each of these subscriptions, and they all contain material I want to read. In reality, though, I read maybe three or four of those communications each week – and only on weeks when I am not crazy busy. In fact, this week’s headline on one of those issues is “9 Ways to Get Your E-mail Opened” (and I do intend to read that one).

The print magazines and newsletters I receive, however? I read every issue.

Reader-friendly layout
No scrolling. No browser-specific layout glitches. No words smashed up against photos. All the information is laid out in easy-to-digest sections.

Professional feel
Paper quality, high-resolution photos, layout and color schemes help create a professional feel. In addition, print often allows for more in-depth coverage of issues. For some industries, such as the law firm I mentioned earlier, those professional touches go a long way.

The coffee-break test
Unless I am meeting with a friend or client, I rarely take a lunch or coffee break without reading material. Sometimes that material is on my smartphone or Kindle, but more often than not, it’s when I take the time to read my magazines and professional newsletters.

Benefits of electronic communication:

Without print deadlines to consider, e-mail communications can be sent almost immediately, especially if minimal graphic design is required. E-mail marketing systems make it easy to lay out and send a marketing piece or newsletter immediately and often.

Depending on the size of your business and e-mail list, using an e-mail marketing system can be quite cost effective. Graphic design services and flipbook software for sending high-quality, larger pieces like e-magazines, can get more pricey.

If one of your primary objectives is to drive traffic to your website, an e-newsletter can be a simple way to link your readers to more content there.

Ability to track readership
E-mail marketing systems allow you to pull reports on number of e-mails opened, links clicked, content shared and more. That information can be invaluable for future marketing and communication efforts.

For most businesses, a mix of both print and electronic pieces makes sense. Which one do you tend to use more and why?

Amy J.V. Atwell is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor. She works with businesses to grow their brands through high-quality copy and content. Read more at


2 responses to “Print vs. electronic communication

  1. Thanks. Good pro/con eval. I too don’t read 1/4 of e-newsletters, but l do read a of my print. Might pull out my print newsletter port folio and do a little prospecting.

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