Curtain up for Koenig & Bauer WORLD

“Paths arise where people tread”, as author Franz Kafka once said. And that was also the guiding principle adopted by the Corporate Communications team at Koenig & Bauer when budgets were reduced and all manner of events and fairs were cancelled due to the pandemic. Everything was subjected to close scrutiny. This reappraisal resulted in numerous new measures which – viewed with hindsight – will actually have a lasting positive effect. One of them is this online magazine which bears the name Koenig & Bauer WORLD. To start the ball rolling, we spoke to CEO Dr. Andreas Pleßke and communications director Dagmar Ringel to learn more about the decision to produce an online magazine, the topics our readers can look forward to in the future, and the balance sought between digital and printed communication. 

Read time: approx. 6 minutes

Dr. Pleßke, the pandemic has left its mark on many branches of industry. In such situations, it is common for budgets to be reduced – also in corporate communications and marketing. How did Koenig & Bauer handle things?

AP: Well, first of all, our prime concern was to guide the company through the crisis safely – without placing undue pressures on our liquidity and with a clear objective in mind. There was never any intention to call our broad portfolio into question, or to take resources away from our work on the development of new machines. But yes, corporate communications was set the task of becoming more efficient – with a smaller budget!

Ms. Ringel, more communication with less money. Is that really possible?

DR: Exceptional circumstances sometimes speed up the development of new ideas. And as in many other areas, the pandemic naturally required some fast reactions in our communication and marketing activities. It was not just a question of savings, however, but rather about genuinely future-oriented approaches and how to make the best use of our budget accordingly. Where major intervention is necessary, change will follow. It was all about a new way of thinking.

How do you manage the balancing act between corporate and product-specific topics?

DR: The analogy of a motorway fits quite well. Corporate communications sets the crash barriers which keep topics moving in the right general direction. Overarching corporate topics then travel straight ahead along the main route, while product-specific topics are able to turn off to our customers who belong to a relevant target group. In this way, cross-section topics such as digitalisation or the broad field of packaging printing can also share a common platform.

Or to put it another way: the task for corporate communications is to present the company in a good light to all stakeholders. This is achieved though the various forms of corporate publishing, for example the website, press releases, our social media activities, image brochures or the magazine “Report”, which many of our customers know well, I am sure. 27 years have passed since the first issue was published. The time therefore felt right for something new.

But what brings a press manufacturer to produce an online magazine?

AP: It goes without saying that, as a press manufacturer, we naturally carry the banner for printed media. Credibility, quality and longevity play important roles here. And, of course, print delivers proof of the boundless capabilities of our presses. But even so, up-to-the-minute topicality, the interactions of different media formats such as videos and other images, and possibilities for social media integration are convincing arguments for a communication mix which is both analogue and digital. The media have often described the pandemic as a catalyst for digitalisation. Applied to communication, that means new processes, tools and the correspondingly necessary mindset. 

What exactly have you changed? 

DR: We are in the process of introducing a digital asset management system to enable our sales team to offer customers not just a brochure, but instead a whole collection of media tailored precisely to their needs. This also allows us to reduce the number of brochures. The Koenig & Bauer product portfolio is so broad that it is simply not sufficient to present just an excerpt. We supply our customers with a whole spectrum of workflow solutions and finishing options for the most diverse substrates. It is thus appropriate and important to spotlight applications and not merely the products of a particular business unit. 
Another factor is the shift in communication expectations. Nowadays, “plain” facts are rarely enough to rouse meaningful interest. People want stories and background, with variety in terms of media formats and possibilities to “like”, “share” and add their own comments. Koenig & Bauer WORLD is intended to offer just that. And an important aspect in all this is measurability. If we know which topics are especially interesting for our readers, then we can adapt our focus accordingly. 

Who are you addressing with the magazine, and how frequently are you planning to add new content?

DR: Koenig & Bauer WORLD is aimed at all customers worldwide, and naturally also at everyone else who wants to know what is happening in the company – whether as potential buyers of our machines, financial analysts, competitors or the local community, for example. This diversity can be covered well via an online channel. The various headings are clearly structured, and everyone can pick out the content which matches his or her interests. We are planning to publish between 20 and 30 articles each year. We will thus always be up to date. I am also pleased that the articles will be supplied by colleagues from all business units and departments. That will ensure authenticity. Of course, everything will follow the usual process steps of editorial planning, copy editing, translation, approval and so on. Talking of translation: readers will be able to access Koenig & Bauer WORLD in both German and English.

What can the readers expect in terms of content?

AP: As an engineering company, we will naturally be placing exciting technical topics in the foreground, for example the latest innovations, promising partnerships or best-practice reports. Our portfolio is immense. But we will also be looking beyond the boundaries of our own specific market segments, to consider the bigger picture of what is moving the industry as a whole. One thing is clear, of course: the reading interests of our customers differ significantly from those of potential competitors, for example.

What are the topics which will be of interest for competitors or for the local community?

AP: Here, too, there is a wide diversity, I believe. Take sustainability. Competitors today look very closely at how responsibly other companies treat the environment or society as a whole. Ours is a conscious and structured approach, but as a machinery manufacturer, this was not necessarily something we were used to talking about. The topic of diversity is a very similar case. As a global player, we attach great importance to a diverse workforce. It is a prerequisite for a lively, open culture in which innovation can thrive. Through a variety of measures to promote the compatibility of family and career, we would like to make Koenig & Bauer even more attractive for female employees. And demographic change is another key challenge. We must find or train the next generation of talent in good time, and we must ensure that our focus remains up to date. Our factory training school is a big advantage in this respect, and we are even thinking about offering a new training specialisation in software programming. But that is still just an idea for the future at the moment.

Why the new name?

DR: First of all, a new project deserves a new name. At the same time, the old name “Report” is less than ideal for the new medium in the English-speaking regions of the world, as it could easily trigger false associations with formal publications such as the annual company report. It is also important for us that we maintain a balance between the online and offline worlds. Therefore, we have decided to produce a special almanac edition each year – in a high-quality design, with sophisticated finishing, and printed on our own machines, of course. This almanac will contain a selection of the past year’s most interesting articles, along with an outlook for the year to come. What is moving the industry, and thus also Koenig & Bauer and its customers? After all, it is the customer who stands at the focus of all our activities. The “&” symbol in our logo already hints at the way Koenig & Bauer brings different aspects together: Tradition and innovation, inks and substrates, approachability and professionalism. With this format, we are bringing together the best of the online and printed worlds. And what already functions well for events, namely a hybrid approach, is also a perfect fit for Koenig & Bauer WORLD.