While we profess that our companies are defined by certain attributes, there are times we contradict this by conveying something different altogether through the medium we use and the way we use it. For example, we may claim to be ‘progressive, innovative, dynamic and tech savvy’ and then communicate via a vanilla A4 printed document. While A4 may be the right choice in many instances, in others it isn’t.
Marshall McLuhan claimed “The medium is the message”. Couple this with the concept that “Perception is reality” and we have an interesting communication challenge. Or opportunity. When it comes to reporting, the format in which we place our message can be strongly influenced by perceptions stemming from the medium.
The paper on which a report is printed is an interesting case in point. There is a wide perception that uncoated earthy-looking papers are better for the environment, and they are currently very popular in corporate reporting. However, whether a paper is coated or uncoated does not relate to its impact on the environment.
In the same vein, the printed medium says traditional, not progressive and tech savvy (which could instead be achieved through an interactive, dynamic digital experience). Moving online may seem a scary prospect, but we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and miss the plethora of opportunities afforded by online communications. However, in some instances, print is absolutely the appropriate medium, in line with the desired message to be communicated.
Remember to utilise all aspects of communication available, and not to forget the impact of the medium on the message. Consider the size, paper type, shape, colour, text, images and delivery channel (and perhaps other aspects such as sound). They all speak to the audience, and different approaches resonate with different audiences. Give your message the best opportunity to be heard by strategically considering your approach.