This last Friday I had the opportunity to take part in an Advisory Committee meeting for the Graphic Communications program at Illinois State University. I had graduated from Illinois State back in ’78, and since then I have stayed in touch with some of the instructors (although several have since passed), and also with the program itself by taking part of the Advisory Committee on two different occasions. This most recent meeting ended up taking somewhat of a turn from what the original agenda was, although at the end everyone would agree that it really was quite interesting and engaging.
What began as the typical introductions where each member shares who they are and what they do, evolved into everyone giving somewhat of a talk on what their companies were doing and how they have “morphed” over time. There was a good variety of organizations represented, from one of the industry’s largest – RR Donnelley, to regional and even much smaller companies like my own – C L Graphics. A couple of trade groups were represented – IDEAlliance and the Great Lakes Graphics Association, and other schools such as Rock Valley College (where my wife Julie teaches) and Stevenson HS. Even trade suppliers were present and shared their views on what was changing within the world of print.
Everyone had some examples of the impact of the past several years, a stark reminder of what many of us have endured, and not just within the printing industry. In addition though, each of us also had some positive news about what their organizations are doing. In fact, Dan Wilson the lead program Chairperson at Illinois State, relayed that over the last two years they have had great success in placing graduates and interns within the industry. Businesses are hiring again!
Which brings me to the point of my blog post tonight. As I sat and listened to each member of the committee share their story, I realized that whether your company is fairly small like C L Graphics, or much larger, we are all facing similar challenges. The industry is changing rapidly and it really is only those that look to keep up and push themselves that will survive. We are all much different in the clients we serve or the materials we produce, and yet we all face the same issues.
One of those issues that became evident as well, was that our business really is much more than print now days. From producing digital publications for online distribution, to specialized packaging, social media and even video services, each of us are helping clients communicate and market themselves in ways that work best for the audience they are speaking to. We are truly in a cross-media platform.
In the end, the discussion we had helped offer insight not only to the Graphic Communication’s program at ISU, but also I believe, to each and every one of us that participated. Thanks for the invite Dan – I look forward to the next meeting!