Friday, November 30, 2007

Shiny newsletters?

Thanks to a concerned supporter who raised the issue of those shiny new brochures that went out with our year end letter.

From a supporter in Arizona:

Today I received via snail mail a request for support which I am more than happy to do (it will be in the mail in a few days). However, I do have a concern and that is with your brochure. It is lovely - very shiny and bright - but is it environmentally sound? Nowhere did I notice the words recycled paper or soy-based inks, etc.

Our (embarrassed) reply:

I would like to address your concern over the brochure. You're absolutely right -- it's a horrendous shiny mess of environmental no-goodness, and we're more than a little bit embarrassed by the whole thing.

We've worked with four different print shops since our inception, always looking for a balance of timeliness, quality and a fit with our values. We've struggled over the question of who to give our money to: the local one-man shop who is less environmentally savvy or the out-of-town printer with all the right inks and papers. We thought that we found the perfect balance with a print shop in Traverse City. They deliver quality material on paper with a high recycled content, are excellent communicators, and are on the way to a bunch of errands we run once or twice a month out that way. They're not perfect, but they're getting there.

Imagine our horror, then, when they farmed out this last job - 1000 brochures printed just for this last fundraising appeal - to a national print company without checking in with us. The box was delivered directly to our house and contained the slick, shiny brochures that you've since seen. They were not what we had ordered.

We initially talked about demanding a reprint and re-educating the print company about our print needs. However, we realized that the brochures had already been printed - to throw them away in order to produce new, greener versions would be less responsible than simply using them. We decided to make the best of a bad situation by utilizing what we were given, though we realized and accepted we could get some PR fallout from it.

You can BET, though, that we're in conversation with our printer, and with other printers around the area. This incident has pushed us to more clearly define our needs, values and demands when working with a local printer. It won't happen again!

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