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    Carla Foote Email: carlacfoote (at) gmail (dot) com
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Packaging Matters

As an editor, it is easy to stay focused on the importance of every word written or spoken in a project. I am a word person and crafting clear and compelling content is my specialty. But I have to admit that words are not the only component of effective communication. Graphic design is essential in engaging readers in a magazine or brochure. However, the words and images are delivered in packaging – either physically printed or electronically displayed. Today, I want to focus on the physical packaging that delivers content to end users.

Rather than recycle advertisements that arrive in my mailbox, I often use them as object lessons in communications. Recently I received a fancy brochure from a local realtor trying to convince me that I should call him if I was interested in selling my home. I’m not interested in moving, but I was interested in the packaging for his brochure. It was poly-bagged with a glued flap. The only problem was that the glue on the flap was so strong that I couldn’t actually open the packaging without finding a pair of scissors. Packaging is tricky – for a mailed brochure, the packaging must survive the postal service processes. But having an end-user actually open the packaging to read the brochure is important.

My suggestion to the realtor (if he is interested) is that the next time he invests money in a mailing, he should ask his mail-house and print vendor for a sample of the packaging. Descriptions of USPS approved poly-bagging are impressive, but actual samples that a project manager can touch, feel and open are important.

As an editor who manages a variety of projects, I can’t be an expert in everything, but I can surround myself with other experts. I enlist graphic designers who create compelling images; and I work with printers and mail-house vendors who advise on best-practice packaging and provide samples of mailing materials. Because if the content is excellent, the design is excellent, but the customer can’t open the package to receive the information, or if the package is ripped in the mail, then the communication is incomplete.

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