Gez Butterworth, Author at Latcham

Going green – our electrifying trip to the IRRV

As part of our commitment to a carbon-neutral future, we upgraded our vehicles to a fully electric fleet.

Our electric vans are usually used to make local deliveries, but last week, our local government specialists Mark Skirton and Josh Armstrong were the first of our team to take our e-van for a longer spin to a live event – the @IRRV in Telford.

They discovered that this commitment isn’t without its drawbacks – as provisions for electric vehicles are early in their rollout, finding a charger wasn’t always as simple as it looked! Nevertheless, the van arrived safely in Telford, and the event was a success.

With four electric cars and two electric vans, our electric fleet is just part of our journey to become carbon-neutral by 2025. This commitment affects every area of our business, from large decisions about the suppliers we use and the technology we invest in, right down to the merchandise we give away at live events.

You can find out more about how we’re building a brighter future at our green communications portal.
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We’ve achieved ISO 13485 accreditation

We are pleased to announce Latcham has achieved ISO 13485 certification, further displaying our proven ability to handle and produce medical devices and test kits. This accreditation is just the latest step in our continuous expansion of our services in the world of medical test kits.

From our clean production area, we assemble and despatch custom barcode-matched kits to your exact requirements, working within your pre-existing systems, with full reports and data processing.

Along with our accreditations in ISO 27001 – information security and Cyber Essentials Plus, we’re leading the way in postal pathology, with even more ambitious plans in the pipeline.

Membership Excellence 2021

Join us at Membership Excellence 2021, The UK’s largest conference and exhibition
for the Membership and Association Sector at the Novotel, London on October 7th.

MemX is a packed day of talks, expertise, exhibitions, live sessions and success stories. Our Membership experts David Lonie and Garry Ford will be bringing their expertise to MemX, exhibiting Latcham’s services. They will also be presenting a session on how your membership organisation can rise above the digital noise and ensure your message is heard in a crowded digital environment.

To register your place, visit membershipexcellence.com. See you at stand 10!

Procurement for Housing Live 2021

We’re delighted to announce that we will be attending Procurement for Housing Live 2021 on the 7th of September at Manchester Central!

As nominated suppliers on PfH’s framework for print and digital communication solutions we will be exhibiting at the event, showcasing our services and answering questions.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Latcham partners with Tree Aid

The 17th of June was World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. On this day, the UN turned its focus to restoring degraded land into healthy land.

“Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security. It helps biodiversity to recover. It locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change. It can also lessen the impacts of climate change and underpin a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) is the only legally-binding international framework currently in existence that addresses the problem of desertification. On the week of June 17th, we met with Konna Beeson from Bristol charity Tree Aid, to discuss deepening our partnership with them.

Tree Aid works in the drylands of Africa, a region which is hardest-hit by the climate crisis. They work with local communities to tackle the effects of climate change and poverty, growing a sustainable future for people and the planet.

Their work also contributes to the Great Green Wall – an African-led initiative to restore and protect a mosaic of degraded land across the Sahel region that will also provide nutritious food and green jobs for millions living along its path.. Africa is hardest hit by the climate crisis, despite contributing to it the least. Even though it is home to 17% of the world’s population, the continent only contributes 4% to global carbon emissions. In contrast, the world’s richest 10% produce around half of global emissions. Tree Aid’s work here is helping to redress the balance.

Tree Aid focuses not just on planting trees but growing them, and the impact these grown trees have on the wider community. Often, there is a perception that tree planting is greenwashing or offsetting, and in some cases this is not far from the truth, as the lifespan and care of these newly planted trees are not guaranteed. Tree Aid doesn’t just plant trees in the ground, but trains local communities to take care of the trees. Tree Aid make sure communities have the training and tools they need for each tree to thrive for generations to come. Trees can then provide food and a sustainable source of income for local people, help restore land and protect the environment. As well as this, Tree Aid also focuses on regenerating trees. Tree Aid’s work provides a route to self-sufficiency for impoverished communities by planting crop trees, such as shea, and providing business training, so local people can derive sustenance and income from the trees.

In our meeting with Tree Aid, we agreed that with every piece of new or repeated business, we would support Tree Aid to grow new trees and contribute to the Great Green Wall. As a local charity with an international focus, Tree Aid is in a great position to act as partners to us. This means as the country opens up we will be able to participate in local events with Tree Aid, while helping to make a difference on a global level.

Our work with Tree Aid is just one part of our commitment as a business to clean air, carbon reduction and environmental restoration. For more information, visit our Green Communications portal.

Welcome to our new Specialist Client Director, Gordon MacKinnon

We’re continuing to expand our team here at Latcham with the appointment of our Specialist Client Director for the finance sector, Gordon Mackinnon.

Gordon joins us with over 20 years of financial services experience, working in multiple roles within the sector with a focus on driving change and continuous improvement.

After moving to the supplier side in 2006, Gordon has worked in many client-facing roles including project management, technical account management and account director/relationship director, with clients including some of the biggest names in financial services, such as Barclays, Santander and Zurich Insurance.

Our Sales Director, Les Keen said “Gordon’s range of experience in both financial services and our own sector will be an enormous asset to an already successful team. We’re happy to say that we’ve continued to expand ambitiously, even within the challenging conditions of the pandemic. We’re looking forward to working with Gordon to expand our offering within financial services, and are delighted to have him on board.”

Print matters: how the pandemic, home-working and digital saturation is reinvigorating print.

Much has been written about the rise of digital technology to keep people connected to each other and working during the pandemic. More and more people are facing the reality of working and, more recently, socialising, predominantly online. Covid has accelerated the adoption of digital technology considerably, and now people are spending longer than ever looking at screens.

The Telegraph reported in 2018 that people were spending 24 hours a week online, twice as long as 10 years prior. During social distancing, this has increased even further. According to The Independent, a poll of 2000 Britons found that this had risen to 59 hours; a clear consequence of people being forced to socialise distantly and stay inside.

With many people having to isolate due to the COVID crisis, and initially bingeing on digital communications, there is a growing sense of digital fatigue. Streaming services are starting to see higher than average churn, perhaps the result of too many options, and showing a level of disengagement with a now ubiquitous digital environment. Far from digital communication being more important than ever, we believe that that print matters; that the point has arrived where people will welcome engagement by organisations through non-digital means – and those organisations that do will stand out from the crowd.

It isn’t surprising that many organisations, and indeed our own government, are switching to a digital first strategy, sending communications via email and other electronic means primarily, with other forms of communication being used secondarily. Digital communications are inexpensive and fast, and can reach people whether they’re at home or the office. However, in light of the fact that the average office worker receives on average 121 emails a day, is this the right tactic?

It may not be. According to new research commissioned by Royal Mail, “The limits of digital channels are becoming clearer: 2 in 5 people1 have reported suffering digital burnout. Consumers crave real, tangible and ‘human’ interaction.”

Royal Mail’s research discovered that 40% of people polled agreed or strongly agreed that being in lockdown made them realise how important mail was to them. Only 20% disagreed.

As digital-first strategies grow, and digital fatigue builds, there is a risk that organisations which rely heavily on digital communications may find differentiating themselves harder – with increased difficulties in creating deep, lasting and loyal relationships with the people they’re trying to connect with. In addition to this, some have found a renewed connection with mail during the pandemic.

“During the first lockdown, people liked to find some kind of routine. Getting dressed for work (at least from the waist up), maintaining regular meal times and taking time to exercise have all helped people keep hold of reality. Mail is part of this routine. People have their own rituals about processing their post, but our research has highlighted the widespread appreciation for the rhythm of the postie’s arrival and the reassuring thump of the mail onto the floor.” – Royal Mail.

The consequences of digital fatigue

In an event with The Debating Group, a parliamentary forum for media and marketing debate, our Managing Director Mike Hughes challenged and helped to defeat the motion that “digital communication is more important than ever.” As Mike pointed out, most people consider most unsolicited digital communications as spam, and most internet browser updates include sophisticated ad and spam blockers. Excessive screen time has health implications, and has been linked with lack of sleep and stress.

In this crowded landscape, it’s easy to see why people are experiencing digital fatigue.

Bloomsbury reported a half year profit increase of 60 percent in 2020 – its highest first half earnings since 2008. Despite e-readers, and increasingly, e-books accessed via smartphones, it’s long been recognised that there is something special about the experience of a physical, printed book. The ability to combine touch with sight creates an entirely different, more tactile, multi-sensory experience that interacting with media solely through the eyes misses out on. And with more and more time being spent looking at screens, these experiences will take on greater value for people.

Information on the internet is fleeting – ads are scrolled past in news feeds, and emails can quickly be judged to be irrelevant and ignored. In contrast, printed materials are being interacted with more than ever. According to Royal Mail, “The average item of mail is interacted with 4.51 times and reach is up 4%: both metrics are at their highest level ever.” In addition to this, “Engagement with mail is higher than ever at 96%

We believe that It is now more important than ever to diversify away from digital-only strategies, and for organisations to look beyond digital communications if they wish to create more impact and deepen engagement.

This is not to imply that organisations should stop using digital means to communicate. Instead of ‘print vs digital’ , think ‘digital plus print”.- the best of both worlds.

Perceived value of print over digital

Digital communications are often perceived as being of a lower cost than print – but this isn’t necessarily true. There is no upper limit on digital marketing budgets, and some platforms, such as LinkedIn, can be particularly expensive to advertise on.

When examined in terms of perceived value, print feels premium. Well-crafted printed communications leave a fantastic impression. In addition to this, print is increasing in bang for buck: Royal Mail has reported huge growth in YOY interaction with all mail types, particularly ad mail and door drops.

Trust and credibility of digital media.

“What arrives on the doormat is also inherently trusted. It feels as though a person has thought about it and invested time, effort and money in getting their message across. “It must be worth reading” was a common sentiment among respondents.” – Royal Mail research.

Recent documentaries, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, have shown that the public’s perception of digital media is shifting, and has brought the manipulation of digital media to the public’s attention.

Print is trusted: printed media such as newspapers were the second most trusted source of advertising after television, with digital sources such as websites and social media falling far behind.

Royal Mail correctly points out that 87% of people consider mail to be believable, compared to 48% for email. When the government wanted to communicate the importance of the first coronavirus lockdown, it sent a letter – and that mattered. “It is remembered to a remarkable degree and demonstrably affected people’s behaviour. By writing a letter, 66% of people who recall receiving mail from the Government said it had an impact on their behaviour.

They were literally bringing the message home.“

In 2019, showing a growing mistrust in digital communications among younger people, Vice published something quite remarkable: some millennials and Gen Zs are making the decision to get rid of their smartphones, replacing them with older models such as the Nokia 3310. These cheaper phones allow you to make phone calls and send text messages but not much else. Over on Reddit, people discuss their experiences ditching smartphones, advise each other on the best low-tech phones and swap tips on moving away from constant connection. Devices that strip smartphones of a lot of their distracting features, such as the Unpluq, are starting to emerge on the market.

Speaking to Vice, young people reported feeling freer, more present and more comfortable when they were more able to choose when they went online, rather than being constantly connected. Privacy concerns were also cited. Young people are aware that their data is being harvested and used for marketing purposes. Switching to a non-internet connected phone allowed these young people to regain a feeling of control about how their data was being used. Data is the new oil, and for a considerable segment of young people, there is a growing sense of outrage at giving away such a valuable resource for free. Consider also that according to Royal Mail, “It’s not just older age-groups that are responding more to mail. The biggest rise in engagement with mail came from people aged 18 to 342 – potentially because of the relative novelty of receiving post.” Could it be that the generation referred to as ‘digital natives’ are actually interacting with digital and print media more thoughtfully than expected?

Information retention

Studies have shown that printed material outperforms digital for recall and attention in recipients.

A study by Temple University found that people are more likely to remember an advert (and where they saw it) one week after viewing it when the advert was seen in print rather than online. In 2009, Bangor University studied digital and print media and the effect it has on the brain side by side, using brain imaging. They found that the brain perceives physical material as more real and thus has a better connection to memory – and also provoked a greater amount of emotional processing, suggesting a greater internalisation of the information presented in printed material. Once this information has been retained, there are studies that suggest the information can be recalled and used more effectively too. According to the International Journal of Educational Research, students who read texts in print scored significantly better on a reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally.

When you combine personalisation and print together, the results can be extremely powerful.

The power of personalisation

The capacities to personalise mailed communications are becoming more sophisticated. Personalisation now does not mean just text. Communications can be tailored to be as unique as the person receiving them. Imagery can be changed on the communication matched to the recipient: information such as favourite colour, location and occupation can be used to make the communication feel personal to the recipient. An organisation can use imagery related to the member’s job title for instance, or, communications can even be changed depending on a member’s favourite flower or colour, as demonstrated with our work with the Royal Horticultural Society.

Receiving mailings from an organisation with this level of detailed personalisation speaks to the recipient as an individual.

Harnessing a multi-channel approach

The ways you can communicate with your audience are numerous, and encompass many channels. Using solutions such as on-demand and digital printing, eServices and hybrid mail, you can get the mix of communication approaches that helps you connect with the maximum number of people. For an example of this blended approach, see our work with Unite the Union.

As Royal Mail notes, “mail and email work on different levels, but in ways that complement each other. Email is ideal for delivering messages that have a short impact and lifespan. Mail has a longer-lasting impact and helps build a positive relationship.”

Want to take your communications to the next level? Our expertise in intelligent fulfilment solutions mean we can help. Learn more about our consultancy-led approach or get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Elections are over – but our work with local authorities continues

As the dust settles on a busy election season at Latcham, we spoke to our elections specialist Mark Skirton about one of the most challenging election seasons to date.

Election season is always busy for Latcham, but this year was even more challenging. With the government’s announcement during the pandemic that all elections run alongside this year’s May elections, a backlog of by-elections made an already busy time much more complicated.

We printed over 1.5 million documents, including poll cards, postal voting packs and ballot books for the Police & Crime Commissioner Elections and County Elections. As well as this, there were numerous by-elections and Neighbourhood Planning Referendums that needed to be served.

After the close of nominations, our elections team sprang into action. We have a dedicated team of electoral specialists, who have the knowledge and expertise to deliver this complex work. Headed by our elections specialist and Association of Electoral Administrators member Mark Skirton, this team spans data and client services as well as production.

Every morning there was a production meeting, and every morning was different. Key members of our data services team were involved, along with four members of Client Services: Neil Taylor, Amber Armstrong, Ashley Plant, and Shaun Piper, our elections account managers. Over in production, our team are now old hands at this sort of work, with staff able to quality check work on the fly due to their familiarity with the material. None of our election printing is outsourced: everything is done by our staff in-house.

Our staff have been working in this space for the last 6 years. As this type of work requires legislative and specialist knowledge, it is this dedicated team of experts that our customers depend on to get the job done; accurately, securely and on time.

Reflecting on the hectic last six weeks, Mark said:

“One of the most challenging elements of election printing is the last-minute nature of the democratic process. It isn’t known until close of nominations how many elections will be contested, meaning a lack of visibility right until the last minute. This year, 75% of the elections we were notified might happen ended up happening, while 25% didn’t happen. In addition to this, the many types of elections run concurrently brought other challenges. By-elections might be smaller printing runs, but from a data point of view are just as complicated as setting up printing for a large election. Our factory was continuously printing documents for these elections for 5 weeks.

As the results rolled in, I felt a sense of relief, accomplishment of a job well done, and immense pride at those at Latcham that helped in the process.”

With more by-elections still in the pipeline, Mark and the team can’t rest on their laurels. The busiest period may be over, but our work with local authorities continues.

Want to know more about how we support local authorities? Visit our sector page.

What’s the future of the membership card?

Our specialist membership director Garry Ford on the future of membership cards.

The future of membership cards

Last year, in February, I asked what the future held for membership cards. At the time of writing, none of us were to know the radical global shift that was awaiting us. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated our adoption of digital solutions, replacing physical processes with digital ones much more quickly than we anticipated.

Many membership organisations were moving to app-based membership cards before the pandemic, but Covid-19 has accelerated this change. Amongst the suite of on-demand, digital services that member organisations have adopted, digital membership cards are on the rise. The benefits of this, particularly in a post-Covid environment, are obvious. Digital membership cards are fast; a member can receive their card within minutes of signing up, and, with the rise of home-based work, they can receive it wherever they are. As well as this, digital cards are always with you, eliminating the need to carry a separate piece of collateral to enjoy your member benefits.

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of covid transmission through posted items meant that many organisations chose to reduce what they posted to the absolute minimum. We now know that this is not a way that the virus spreads, and that posting materials to members poses little to no risk, but this did force a lot of organisations to quickly rethink sending physical items to members. This is not the only factor which has had an impact on the physical membership card. Concerns about the environment, unnecessary use of materials and a new, younger generation of members who expect green issues to be a default concern have also caused member organisations to examine the role of the membership card.

In our webinar with MemberWise, Maximising member engagement in a post covid era, we asked attendees “If you could fast forward two years from today can you see your organisation still using membership cards?” Our attendees said overwhelmingly “no.” 81% said they can’t see their organisation providing membership cards. Both the impact of covid and environmental concerns are at play here: 98% of the participants polled said that environmental concerns were of at least some importance to their member.

All of this seems to call the future of membership cards into question, and suggest the total adoption of an app-based solution. However, it’s not quite that simple.

While many organisations are moving away from an annual membership card, our webinar panel acknowledged that many members still want tangible proof of belonging to an organisation. Membership, especially for members in professional associations, is proof of knowledge and expertise, and a physical card can be a point of pride. In some cases, members are being sent a digital/passbook card but are then making contact with their organisation and asking for a physical card. They’re proud of the organisation and what it represents, and still want that physical proof of being a member.

For this reason, many organisations, such as The Royal College of Midwives and The British Psychological Society are adopting ‘cards for life’ – undated cards that only need to be replaced if the card is lost or damaged. This allows the member to retain the tangible, physical evidence of their membership but avoids sending out thousands of new cards every year unneccesarily.

For organisations who want to retain the physical membership card in this way, we offer two more eco-friendly options. Biodegradable plastic cards, made from a plastic that’s 57% sea salt and 43% crude oil, are far less dependent on oil than any other plastics. The PVC in the card is produced with an additive that makes it degrade in organic compost. The additive accelerates the degradation of treated plastics in microbe rich environments, such as a biologically active landfill. It attracts microbes to the product, allowing them to colonise on the surface of the plastic. Once the microbes have colonised on the plastic, they secrete acids that break down the polymer chain.

Another environmentally-friendly alternative which avoids plastic altogether is our paper-based card, which is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and responsibly manufactured. This is a board-based product made of highly compressed paper with a high-quality finish, retaining the premium feel of a plastic card. The CIPR have adopted our paper-based cards for their physical membership cards.

Environmentally-friendly cards have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and your members will likely have difficulty telling the difference between traditional plastic cards and eco-friendly options. As a result, you may want to make sure your messaging reflects this. Let your members know that their new card is printed with the environment in mind, so they know that environmental concerns are as important to your organisation as it is to them.

In the future, a more measured approach is likely to be adopted for the membership card. Organisations will be weighing up the actual benefits of sending their members a physical card and taking a more mixed approach.

Whatever your strategy is with membership cards, we’re here to help. As experts in membership cards and on-boarding packs, our years of experience and consultancy-led approach mean we can help you pick the best options for your members. You can learn more at our membership portal, or by dropping us a message below.

We’ve been named as official MemberWise partners for 2021

Latcham has been named as 2021 partners by MemberWise, one of the leading networks for membership professionals in the UK.

We have also been named as an approved supplier by MemberWise in the categories of marketing, print and fulfilment, and quality, reporting and measurement.

Throughout 2020, we have worked with MemberWise to deliver best practice seminars in member value and retention. We also collaborated with MemberWise to produce their Ultimate Guide, which was mailed to membership professionals throughout the UK.

MemberWise partners are “leading suppliers who have a commitment to supporting the membership sector, a strong focus on best practice, and a year-round alignment to working with the MemberWise Network.” As recognised experts within the membership sector, Latcham is proud to be recognised as an approved partner for the second year running.

Our Managing Director Mike Hughes said “We’re delighted to be recognised by MemberWise and by the wider membership community once again. Despite the challenges of 2020 for the membership organisations, we have seen the sector bearing up well, showing flexibility and adaptability to a changing environment.

We have been extremely proud of our work delivering best practice seminars and thought leadership to MemberWise’s network of 6,500 membership professionals, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work closely with them in the year ahead, helping membership organisations to address their challenges with engagement, retention and value.”

MemberWise’s Richard Gott said “‘It is great to see Latcham step up for the second year as an Official Partner. Right now it is critical for membership organisations to rise above the “online/digital noise” and effective print/fulfilment is essential for this task. Latcham have a deep understanding of the sector and this insight is helping many high profile organisations retain and recruit members. We look forward to a year of solid activity ahead”.