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The PDF Format Is A Complete Marketing Resource

PDFs are the perfect medium for a variety of marketing functions

Adobe’s Portable Document Format, unveiled in 1993 and universally referred to by its PDF acronym, was one of the earlest benefits to grow out of digital publishing.

Before the web, HTML, and CSS, universal formating and artwork display were nonexistent. The PDFs introduction changed things dramatically, and its many unique advantages remain very much relevant.

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Although early adopters were hampered by molasses slow dialup modem downloads—think hours, maybe days, of imperceptible transfers, not to mention designing and publishing using prehistoric word processors that drove the introduction of dedicated desktop page layout apps—the excitement of being able to add formatting, typography, color, and images to resemble a print document was real.

The case study below illustrates why PDFs remain a powerful tool when configured to take advantage of both visual elements and hidden metadata.

PRSA Tampa Bay Newsmagazine Project

PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter March Newsletter

2012 PRSA Tampa Bay January February 2012 newsletter PRSA Tampa Bay March April 2012 newsletter download your copy
2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter jan-feb 2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter mar-apr 2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter may june 2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter july august 2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter september october 2011 prsa tampa bay newsletter november december 2011
2010 prsa tampa bay newsletter july august 2010 prsa tampa bay newsletter sept-oct 2010 prsa tampa bay newsletter Nov-Dec 2010

In 2010 I tackled transforming PRSA’s Tampa Bay membership newsletter into an interactive bi-monthly brand marketing asset.

For the next two years I designed, co-wrote, edited, illustrated, photographed, and produced Gulf to Bay, using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, InDesign, Acrobat, and Dreamweaver, to create a modern, multi-page, multi-format digital publication.

Media options for digital communications offer plenty of choices. PDFs are the most versatile for a variety of reasons. Anyone can produce a baseline edition, but optimized versions require the right tools and techniques.

Not Just For Restaurant Menus

Although most often viewed as clunky restaurant menu Word to PDF via desktop printer documents (dedicated HTML web pages are vastly superior, but require technical knowledge — even better, a WordPress site that’s CMS friendly) and product instruction manuals for everything from washing machines to lawnmowers, a properly set up PDF is perfect for both internal and external employee, membership, and marketing communications.

Because modern browsers are all capable of displaying PDFs, online financial statements are one of the most common uses of the medium. And there isn’t a medical practice in the country that doesn’t offer an often frustrating and woefully inadequate PDF intake form.

Read more about winning strategies behind digital communications formats here, explore my original newsmagazine campaign brand building for PRSA Tampa Bay here, and view promo illustration on Behance.