Today is Send a Card to a Friend Day and this blog is in heartfelt support of a good old fashioned greeting card.  Or any form of traditional printed communication. It saddens me when every Christmas we’re told that cards are no longer relevant.  And as someone who has just received a healthy supply of birthday cards (for a significant birthday, one with a big fat 0 on the end) I can testify to the warm glow they bring. To send someone a card means you’ve spent time thinking about them – to choose the card, write in it and post it all require thought and a little bit of your time.  And that’s what I really appreciate.

But digital is the enemy of the traditional card. Facebook even pops up with a useful reminder so that you don’t forget your friends’ birthdays, and sending an online message means there are no trees chopped down and no environmental impact.  It’s quick, easy and cheap.

And that’s a decision for us as a charity – should we print our materials?  Should we only communicate digitally, or is there still room for leaflets, posters and reports? The answer is undoubtedly yes.  A loud yes.  We have mixed audiences who need a range of communication channels. People like to pick up leaflets to take away and peruse at their leisure. Even online shoppers have been shown to prefer looking at hard copy materials first before purchasing.

A 2009 study conducted by Bangor University and branding agency Millward Brown used MRI scans to study the different effects of paper and digital media on peoples’ brains.  They found that physical material is more ‘real’ to the brain.  It has a meaning, and a place.  Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.

So, why not today send a card to a friend?  It’s a small gesture, but one that will put a smile on someone’s face – much more so than a DM on Facebook. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit old fashioned sometimes.