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Relevance Is The New Black

Jayne Merritt - FMC Technologies


I was sitting in an InDesign class not long ago with some of my fellow co-workers and we were at the point in the class where we were discussing how to set up documents and measurements. The instructor noted that among the choices available in the dropdown menu were picas – “a measurement term that used to be used in print production but isn’t relevant anymore.”

WOW – now that set me back! I got to thinking – what do people think today when they hear those outdated terms that at the time were integral to once-critical processes?  And how about those processes and subjects that meant one thing back then but are now imbued with entirely new meaning as they relate to newer forms of technology?

When I joined the workforce, the computer was just starting to make inroads into the business world. Used mostly for the creation and storage of data, IBM supplied businesses with their mainframes, huge contraptions contained in freezing rooms that whirred mysteriously with large rolls of tapes that were stacked like platters. If you worked for a company that was even slightly progressive, as I did, you might have first worked on a computer with MS-DOS – pretty much the equivalent of writing code.  Getting my first Mac, which had capabilities we now take for granted, opened up whole new vistas for creation.

I remember taking a print production class where we took a field trip to one of the major print production houses in Los Angeles. The production artists worked deftly with layers upon layers of acetate which when assembled together, provided you with a composite that illustrated the complexities of four-color processing.  But what was truly exciting was that this company was in the process of computerizing their production processes, and we stared in awe at the triptych visual display that – based on the dashboard of a military jet bomber – was the absolute cutting edge in print technology.

It all seems so quaint now.  Today, I can manage those same processes and more right from the same laptop that I’m using to write this blog.  I can plan a preflight or create a digital publication while I’m sitting at the airport, then review it with a group of associates who are all on different continents. OK, maybe not Australia.  They don’t like to stay up that late.

The point is, technology has permeated all aspects of our lives and has changed our approach to everything.  There are people in the workforce today who don’t know what life was like before computers. Yet there is an even bigger demographic – the baby boomers, many of whom still struggle with the concept of Pay-per-click and Twitter  – who are active and involved and still demand to be heard.

For us marketers, this begs a number of questions. How do these differences affect how we approach the market? Are the millennials that much different in their needs from the baby boomers?  How much of the back story do we need, and how can we keep all groups relevant?
And finally, is it true that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

I welcome your comments.

Photo - Jayne Merritt - FMC Technologies

Jayne Merritt, Marketing Communications Manager


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