Public Relations Tactics

Paper, plastic — or digital?

August 29, 2013

There has been fierce debate in recent years over whether supermarkets should pack groceries in paper or plastic bags. This is a debate that pales in comparison to the discussion about news and information: paper or digital? As a member organization that distributes a lot of content every year, we’re very interested in this topic.

With the rising costs of paper and postage, it would make a lot of sense for us to discontinue the print editions of Tactics and The Strategist — in fact, many organizations have already done something similar, and it is easy to see why. Such a change reduces expenses, and allows executives to shift resources to other programs. Cost considerations, though, are simply one factor in our decision-making process — we also want to understand our member preferences.

Against this backdrop, we’ve been trying new things and evaluating members’ reactions to those changes. Three years ago, we introduced an electronic flipbook version of The Strategist. Last year, we gave Issues & Trends a facelift, making it easier to read, custom-fitting resource links next to relevant news articles, and making it mobile-friendly. In July, we revamped the layout of the print edition of Tactics, changing the way we use graphics and color. 

Along the way, we’ve been listening to your feedback — both feedback that you intentionally provide through your emails and calls, and feedback that you unintentionally share, such as open rates and site visits.

And so, about nine months ago, using the information that we’d gathered from experience, we decided to try to answer a simple question: “How do PRSA members want to get their information from us?” For a simple question, the answer was complex: “It depends.” 

You’d be surprised how many members — from all age demographics — tell us that they want our publications in a paper format. They are frequent travelers, teachers and coworkers, and they like to toss the paper in their briefcase when they take a trip, post an article on the company fridge, or use an entire issue as a teaching aid in class. On the other hand, just as many members seem to long for the day when paper editions don’t clutter their world, and everything is on their mobile devices.

Opt-in, opt-out — and even more options

Since there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all answer, we’re unveiling a new set of options this month to give you more choices for not only how you receive our publications, but also how you receive the emails and news that we distribute.

Starting with the publications, you’ll now be able to get both Tactics and The Strategist as a mobile-friendly flipbook, with the functionality and look that you’d expect on a tablet. At the same time, we’ll be making those issues available to you as e-publications, similar to how we deliver Issues & Trends, with articles linking back to our website. And yes, in addition to the flipbook, email and website, we will continue publishing print editions of Tactics and The Strategist.

We’re also taking this opportunity to give you more options to select the type of email that you want to receive from PRSA, so you can choose among Issues & Trends, advocacy information, Jobcenter communications, webinar dates, awards information and other categories.

So whether you have a tablet, laptop, smartphone or mailbox, the choice is yours. In the months ahead, we’ll be listening to your feedback and working on what’s next. Our profession is changing, technology is changing and PRSA is changing.

What’s new?

  • PRSA National has increased the number of email options available to members so that they can fine-tune the types of communications that they receive.
  • If you are currently opted-in to any PRSA National email, then you will now be opted-in to all PRSA National emails, but you can quickly change these settings in your myPRSA member profile.
  • If you are currently opted-out of PRSA National emails, then you will continue to be opted-out, but we encourage you to look at the new options and make the choices that are best for you.
  • Beginning on Sept. 1, all members will receive Tactics in the electronic version and in the print version. You can change those preferences through your myPRSA profile to include or exclude the offered formats. (And as of Sept. 1, new members will receive only the electronic version of the publication by default, but can elect to receive the print as well.)


William (Bill) M. Murray, CAE, is the chief executive officer of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
Email: william.murray at


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