PCP’s Marketing Manager Emma Ball talks to valued customer Matthew Stokes, Creative Director of Rail Creative; the creative arm of Rail Media, about his views on print.

Rail Media publishes two industry-leading magazines and runs the largest job site in rail. It also organises a busy programme of conferences and awards.

Rail Creative offers creative expertise to customers ensuring creative strategies reach business goals whilst making a good return on investment.

Matt, the most recent publication you’ve printed at PCP titled ‘Rail Engineer’ had a reticulated varnish applied to the front cover, what was the thought process behind applying this special finish to the cover?

Rail Engineer has gone through a number of iterations in its lifetime, applying different exciting finishes to the front cover. We’ve had various stock types with different spot colours but we had never arranged to have a finished product with a targeted affect. We get – and take our own – breath taking images so, after speaking with Richard Kibble at PCP and being shown an array of creative print solutions, we got very excited and felt it was time to make more of our imagery. We had just gone through a migration process to PCP so we decided to stretch ourselves and the reticulated varnish gave us a whole host of creative possibilities. The first time we used the process it was a little nerve-racking but the results were better than we anticipated.

Can you tell our followers why it’s important to invest in printed media when there are so many other digital and some would argue more cost effective means of communicating?

If only I had a pound for every time I had heard that print was dead… Having been involved in print and design for almost 25 years I have seen how print has evolved, especially with the explosion of digital media and the advent of cheaper information technology. In my experience, print has evolved to be something far greater than it used to be. Yes, it’s not as prolific but today a business that has a great print product will stand out from a company that primarily uses digital media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not for all businesses, but I would argue that even smaller companies that have good, well designed printed material produced to a superior standard will be the companies that are here for the next 20 years over those that overlook print opportunities.

How much importance is placed on print by your customers when you are developing a strategy around delivering a range of visual communications?

Our primary medium for delivering information to our readership is print. We have digital as a complimentary media source but not as the lead. Our websites are well read and are pushing to ever higher readerships but it is still small fry compared to the readership levels of the magazines. In the end, even on the go, people still like the tactile nature of print. 

Our readership is also diverse in: gender; age; employment level, etc… yet they all get something from the printed material. Surprisingly enough, in my own experience, it’s the younger generations that are happiest to get their magazines delivered to them, rather than through an app or a website. 

And finally, what is your view on digital V’s print? Do you think digital media will eventually replace traditional printed media?

I’m not sure digital will ever replace print. I imagine in the future digital communication will become so varied and advanced that it will have a big impact on printed material but the fact is print, in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years. Using PCP’s different creative finishes the possibilities are endless and the results breathtaking. Just look at our Rail Partnership Awards book that PCP has printed for us for Network Rail or the reticulated varnish effect to the cover of Rail Engineer magazine. Our magazines are read the length of the country and at a recent show in London visitors were flocking to the stands for their copy.


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