By Lance Cherry, New Mexico Dept of Game & Fish
Sometimes discussions at the ACI Annual Conference are more relevant than one can imagine at the time. Little did I know how on-point the hard discussions about agency considerations on going digital with rules and information books would be for us in New Mexico this year.
Unlike past years, we started early on our highest demand publication, the Big Game Hunting Rules and Information Book, critical for customers applying for our annual draw hunts and responsible for the lion’s share of our annual revenue. The primary reason for the early push was an exciting decision by our department to provide all future publications in both English and Spanish.
As we prepped to send our publication off for printing and distribution, we discovered an unexpected crisis. The print companies we have long depended on were now struggling with paper shortages and skyrocketing costs. They could no longer commit to our desired quantities and our tight deadlines.
As we dug deeper, we learned there are three major issues currently plaguing the print industry:
- Paper shortages and rising demand for shipping products caused by extended lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Hiring challenges, including labor shortages and wage increases by competing warehouse companies such as Amazon; and
- Transportation issues including driver shortages and a lack of dedicated delivery trucks.
Each pose long-term challenges too great to be resolved in time to meet our needs.
Faced with this reality, we find ourselves at a crossroads – To risk missing our application window or to rethink our entire approach. For those of you familiar with how we roll in New Mexico, you know we are rethinking our approach and embracing digital.
To ensure customer involvement in our endeavor, we will embark on a strong, repetitive communication campaign to encourage our customers to embrace the future of digital publishing early. We will focus heavily on improving the ease of readability and utility of our publication across various devices and platforms, and we will work to include our partner organizations in helping deliver our message. We focus on point-of-sale displays directing customers online to view and download our new rules and information books and to ease the burden on those who simply can’t make the transition, print an extremely limited quantity for our regional offices to use.
So, hold my beer! And watch us step off into the unknown this coming year.