SJC shows why you should trust the printed word

Instead of telling people why it's important, the publisher of Maclean's asks people to think about print's value for themselves.

By Justin Crann

St. Joseph Communications is marking its 65th anniversary with a phased campaign designed to engage staff and readers and challenge them to consider what print media means to them.

The company is Canada’s largest privately owned print, media and marketing enterprise and publishes magazines including Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Quill & Quire – making the medium “a very important part of our mix,” explains Marta Tsimicalis, the company’s manager of marketing and communications.

As such, and given its anniversary year, the company wanted to reach out to both its audience and employees to “engage and remind people about the power of print today,” she says.

SJC_PrintIsTrust_Quill&Quire.inddThe first phase of the “What Is Print To You?” campaign was a general awareness effort focused on the word “trust” that launched on April 24 – Canadian Independent Bookstore Day – alongside an advertisement with the headline “Print is trust” that cited recent studies to make the argument that the medium is considered the most trustworthy for those who are seeking information.

“Print as a medium, with the time and attention that has gone into it, is more likely to have some serious thought behind it than others,” says Tsimicalis.

The launch was also a call to action that invited Canadians to take part by submitting their own single-word entries that reflected what the print medium meant to them. St. Joseph received dozens of submissions including 63 unique words such as “relaxation,” “influence,” “choice” and “joy.”

Those who submitted were entered into a draw for one of 25 print-themed prize packs that included a magazine subscription and $50 gift card to a Canadian independent bookstore of their choice.

The campaign’s second phase has now launched, led by an employee engagement effort, according to Tsimicalis. The company took the words submitted by participants in the first phase back to its staff and invited them to come up with creative representations of those words.

After those submissions had been collected, SJC created a microsite to showcase them and give Canadians a chance to vote on the one they like the most. Voting closes Aug. 31, and the winner will be featured in an ad that will run across the company’s magazines.

Focusing on trust has a common refrain for news, media and publishing outlets as people become more aware of misinformation. But a key difference in SJC’s approach, Tsimicalis says, is the goal of getting people “to engage in print in a fun and creative way.”

“Instead of just saying we think print is important and good, we really wanted to reach out, because a lot of times people have a personal connection to print and we wanted to get them to think about that,” she says.

SJC also sought to reinforce that message by publishing a number of articles on the topics of trust, engagement and sustainability, citing studies and making a strong case for the print medium, she adds.

While the company is celebrating its long history in the medium – it started in the basement of founder Gaetano Gagliano’s home in 1956 – SJC continues to have a vested interest in print. The company this year has launched a new redesign for Maclean’s and is relaunching Canadian Business in print.

The goal of the campaign is to show “the different ways print is meaningful to people,” says Tsimicalis, because “when marketers are thinking about print as a medium, they’re going to do so because their consumers are connected to it.”