Ricoh has hosted the first in its new series of webinars, with BPIF CEO Charles Jarrold and IPIA CEO Marian Stefani discussing the problems and opportunities the industry faces during this crisis.

Hosted by Ricoh director Tim Carter, the webinar saw both participants address the impact the Coronavirus outbreak has had on the print industry and how their own organisations had conducted extensive research and lobbied government on print’s behalf.

The truly new content, however, was about how print will evolve in the wake of the pandemic and the discussion ranged from reliance on government support schemes to why print needs to communicate better with its customers, the need for increased innovation and even opportunities that have come about as a result of this crisis.

For Mr Jarrold some of the key issues included the re-opening of the economy and why the various government schemes need to stay in place for the time being, as well as why we need to accept the world as it is going to be, not as it was or as we want it to be.

‘When it came to reopening the economy,’ Mr Jarrold said, ‘One advantage our sector has is that it hasn’t closed entirely so we’re scaling back up, not strictly reopening. However some demand simply has gone and will take time to come back, even when all businesses are open again we might be in a different world.’

In turn Ms Stefani proposed that companies use this ‘paused’ time to reassess their operations and to learn new things. She said that the low margin, high risk work so popular in the industry might no longer be appropriate and recommended people research blockchain and smart contracts.

She also emphasised how the industry has for so long produced top quality work, but not always managed to promote this to customers. PPE was one example where Ms Stefani noted that print companies are able to produce vast quantities of equipment, but that not enough people would think to turn to a printer for PPE. ‘We are so much more than ink on paper,’ she said.

Both parties agreed that communication would be key and that staff, stakeholders and customers would all have legitimate concerns going forward and that print companies need to listen to and address these concerns. 

Other topics covered included the workplace guidance recently released by Westminster, the balance that needs to be struck between health and safety and getting the economy going again, and the importance of trust in print in accelerating our return to ‘normal’.

The webinar can be viewed in its entirety here: