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July 12, 2016


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This is brilliant. Truly.

I can find things more easily online. However, online never inspires me -- never gives me the sense I have received a balanced view of a place, a company, an initiative, etc. the way print did.

We've traded an encyclopedia for a card catalog. (Boy I am mired in the 20th century, aren't I?)

I agree, Jeff. When I research a company or any other institution online, I find the spirit of curiosity begins to drain from me, because the place seems less and less real—and the only way to revive my spirit is to talk to people who actually work there.

That wasn't true when you read back issues of their print publications (if those publications were any good at all). They only made you MORE curious about what the real place is like.

Why? Because you knew someone at that institution had taken the time and put the ink on the line.


I agree with Jeff Herrington. Your observations are indeed brilliant. The mediocre publications of the Print Era each had an individual look and feel and smell.

Of course the dreary worker-bees in operations are glad to see the indistinguishable offerings of the intranet under lock and key behind the firewall Finally the written word can do no more damage--to them or the company. No one on the outside can read the employee email newsletter--or cares to.

The intranet has deepened the unknown-ness, the mystery of the modern corporation, not thrown light on it.


There were three reasons for the transition from print to intranet, David:

1) Because we can
2) Because it costs less
3) Because we can add interactive elements to an article

Only the third is legitimate, and it STILL doesn't justify the transition if that's the ONLY benefit we get from it. I once had a consulting gig with a company where I was told we couldn't recommend print because the VP of communications was opposed to the environmental damage done in the paper pulping process. How's THAT for a strategic approach to communication?

I wish somebody would find data from an internal communications audit conducted in the pre-intranet days and compare it to similar data from today. I wonder if employee understanding of company strategy and other important topics is better or worse today.

BAM! Murray strikes again!

@Bill: Right on.

@Shel: Good thoughts. I'd be willing to wager that employee understanding of company strategy might be holding steady. But as we know, humans don't engage with strategy alone! I think employee publications contributed more to the cultural stuff, helping create an emotional and spiritual attachment to a human institution and its leaders and its people and a sense of it as a REAL THING as opposed to a vague idea.

Should some organizations go back to print? Maybe, but at this point, they'd have to do some seriously good stuff to justify it, even to the employees who receive it. (Readership rates were never anything like 100 percent even in the heyday of print employee publications, whenever that was.) I wish someone would give some talented editor and writers the chance!

All: What's the best print employee publication in the world today, that you know of?

Good stuff, David. Print carries with it the aura of responsibility and history (and history+responsibility=consciousness), whereas online is ephemeral by nature. It's hard to imagine a blog or intranet as a serious morale-raiser or team-builder. -- hii

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