Just under half of all adults who have never been online live in social housing, so perhaps it’s time to recognise the role of print
As social landlords face increasing pressure to save money and justify budgets, axing traditional print publications such as tenant newsletters may seem like a great idea.
In a digital world where social media dominates communications teams’ discussions, why waste money on reams of paper no one reads? After all, we can all spread the word with tweets, Facebook updates, blogs and videos.
But spare a thought for the people who must be the focus of any successful communications strategy – our audience. Let’s get back to basics – what does the customer want? Consider a few statistics.
Almost half of the 8.7 million adults who have never been online live in social housing. In November 2012, only 68% of local authority tenants and 64% of housing association tenants had internet access. Other figures show that, in June 2013, just 67% of tenants had internet access – and only one in 10 of those without access were interested in getting online.
Although no one can deny the advantages of digital technology in campaigning, perhaps it’s time to recognise that traditional print publications still have a role to play.
The fact that the anticipated paperless office never transpired says something about our appreciation of something tangible you can pick up and flick through – without the need for a power source or broadband connection.
We produce videos, infographics, websites, blogs and tweets for our social housing clients but, time and again when we talk to their customers, tenants overwhelmingly ask for a printed version of publications such as annual reports and newsletters.
And – as value for money remains everyone’s focus – the feedback, letters, article ideas and newsletter competition entries we receive in response prove that they read them.
The vast majority of social housing tenants I have talked to – even those who use Facebook to keep up with their friends – just don’t want to interact with their landlord in this way.
So, before we spend masses of precious resources on going digital, let’s remember there’s a place for print in a world that should value all modes of communication as part of the bigger picture.
Mark Thomas CEO