This year, I’m Thankful For a World with Paper because of the challenges I’ve faced. Whether those challenges were direct or indirect connections to paper, my professional career evolved in print and production. I’ve had some amazing mentors along the way who have played a pivotal role in the growth my professional career.

I surprisingly just recently came to the realization that my entire career has been centered around paper.  As a digital marketing professional, this realization came to me as quite a shock but a welcomed one. Have you ever stopped to think what role paper played in your life?

For me, I suppose it all started in high school.  I was the Editor for 3 years of the Year Book Staff and my English Teacher and Year Book Chief, Miss. Melissa Howell was definitely the influencer in my passion for print and publishing.

I went on to major in journalism and advertising with a minor in graphic arts from Appalachian State University.  What my advisers and professors failed to mention to me was that newspaper business was quickly declining and supposedly going completely out of business within 10 years.  My world with paper was looking very dim as a college graduate.

At least, that was the speculation as I entered the field immediately after graduation in 2003.  Close to 15 years later, although still in decline, we continue to subscribe to our most trusted news providers. Whether that subscription is digital or a printed hard copy, as consumers, we expect to have what we want when we want it.

Let’s admit it, seeing that newspaper lying in front of your door in the morning brings back memories.  For most, it was our first job as a teenager. For others, it’s simply waking up to our parents reading at the breakfast table.

During my time as Editor of the Lifestyle Section of the Kernersville News, my favorite part was going down to the press room and watching my stories come off the press. There were times when I had to go down to create the page negatives and printing plates myself for our grumpy pressman due to my last minute breaking news story.

I didn’t understand it back then but now, I am thankful to have been a part of the printing press and paper history.  It was truly an art watching our press guys operate that machine, running from one component to the next to ensure colors were aligned and images were as clear as possible. The hustle that needed to be done to ensure each page was printed without shadows and ink run off was unbelievable.

Shortly after, I moved to the big city and dabbled in different areas of sales and marketing.  I eventually ended up at Carolina Office Systems, a GIS Company, selling hardware for the printing industry, Xerox Copiers to be exact. As I reflect, I was again fortunate to have been a part of printing history —the color revolution for the office machine.

Despite the exciting spin that was portrayed to us street reps, I found myself in another declining market in this world with paper.

It was around 2010 and the office road map was said to be headed towards a paperless office environment.  No more printing and no paper. Today, it is almost impossible to find an office without a color multifunction.

My memories as a copier rep include hiding reams of nice premium paper in my drawers because I wanted to ensure my customer demos were printed on the best paper for the best color quality. Of course, that was Xerox Paper and Specialty Media with local offices and Cougar when I had demos with local print shops.

That brings me to current day as the digital marketing manager at Domtar Paper, one of the largest paper manufacturers in North America. (Of course, this is after a 7 year hiatus from paper and my shift from the hardware and paper industry to the digital world).

My digital career began in audio-video and ended with lawn and garden tools where I was a part of a team that built a completely non-recognizable brand through the digital platform against power brands as Husqvarna, Stihl and Black and Decker.

This was also the first time I was on the other side of that declining market.  Gas powered tools were speculated to be a part of the past and battery powered tools were the future; however, I was still faced the same challenges because I was marketing a brand, GreenWorks Tools, with no marketshare against brands that commanded attention.

When I received the call from the recruiter and learned that Domtar manufactured Xerox and Cougar Paper, the deal was closed before my first in person interview.  I am thankful to have received the opportunity to be a direct member in this world with paper.

As an insider of the paper industry, I have found a new appreciation and respect for paper.  I have tried to avoid printing in the past but now, I’m thankful to know I do not have to. I know my company will do its part in the restoration of trees after we have harvested them.

It is also comforting to know that our paper mills are one of many large employers in the small towns we are located in.  I’m also very proud to be a part of a team that owns some of the most premier brands in the paper industry—from Cougar, Lynx, Husky to Xerox, WillCopy and EarthChoice.

It’s not just about the credibility of our brands or our responsible manufacturing that makes me light up but the people I work with day in and day out. Most of our people, unlike myself, have been with this company for over 10 years and they still enjoy walking through the doors every morning.

After almost two years here at Domtar, I’m thankful for all the people I have met and the amazing journey yet to come.  My ironic challenge lies in telling this story of “A World With Paper” through digital channels, one I gladly take on.

My goal for 2018 is to provide insightful digital resources to our readers and customers to help grow your business and push through this rumor that paper is dead.

As a marketing professional, I do not believe any business can thrive using only one channel of communication.  It’s finding the balance for your business through all marketing channels that will set your business apart and it all begins by knowing where you target customers are.

Here’s to an integrated year in marketing and a world with paper!

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