Does Anyone Read Printed Materials Anymore?

June 30, 2022  •   LPi

printed bulletin opened

You may have heard the claim that print media has gone the way of the dinosaur. Clickbait article headlines love to spotlight statistics about diminishing returns for newspapers, shrinking publishing practices, and the average consumer’s dwindling attention span.

But before you plan for a paperless future at your parish, remember that’s only half the story.

Sure, digital content is surging to prominence in every medium, from newspapers and books to church bulletins. And while your parish is likely — and rightly — putting a high priority on effective digital communication, don’t make the mistake of forgetting about printed materials entirely.

Think of the apostles and the gift of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to communicate with different populations. In that same way, parishes must be able to communicate the same message across all platforms, digital and print alike.

When it comes to ministry, the question of print vs. digital isn’t an either/or dilemma — it’s a both/and solution. Here are four reasons that print remains an integral component of your parish communication plan, even while you prioritize digital outreach.

The bulletin is an institution.

LPi’s research shows that 97% of Catholic parish bulletins are taken home every week, while 85% of parishioners report hanging on to old issues. The Catholic parish bulletin is more than just a flyer or a handout — it’s an institution! It’s a relationship you can hold in your hands, pin to your bulletin board, dive into in the morning coffee line and even save for posterity. It is less easily ignored, skimmed, discarded or “clicked off of” than its digital counterpart.

Print reaches your demographics.

Your methods of communication have to be as varied as the backgrounds and circumstances of your parishioners. Forgetting about the potential of print communication can essentially mean forgetting about a large demographic of church-going adults. While millennials, Gen Z, and even Gen X are smartphone-savvy and accustomed to consuming digital publications, studies show that younger generations favor reading printed learning materials and trust print publications more than digital media. Their grandparents who grew up without digital landscapes, also appreciate the longevity and reliability of a print piece.

Print still has power.

Even though digital avenues of advertising are increasing in popularity, print hasn’t given up the hold it has on our collective consciousness. Research shows that print advertising is associated with stronger consumer retention and action, and when it comes to reading books, the preference for print is much stronger than the preference for digital.

Digital can only do so much.

We all came to understand a strange paradox during the era of livestreaming Mass at the pandemic’s onset: digital relationships can connect people who are separated by a thousand miles, but they are not able to truly bring them together. After all, there is a reason we must be present in-person to receive the sacraments. There is a reason that gathering in community for the sacrifice of the Mass is preferable to watching it on television. There is a certain sacredness to the physical that is reflected by print media in a way that digital media alone cannot replicate.

If you’re ready to save time and money with a combined solution for your print and digital communications, then it’s time to check out LPi’s ePub Design.

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