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Cutting costs, not communication.

Cutting Costs, Not Communication

In March 1990 the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries-International (AWCI), Alexandria, Virginia, moved all production of our four-color monthly magazine Construction Dimensions in house. Since then our production costs have dropped roughly 25 percent. Meanwhile advertising income for fiscal year 1991--July 1, 1990-June 30, 1991--was 41 percent higher than for fiscal year 1990.

At AWCI, reducing expenses was a must. The sector we represent was being hit hard by a recession economy, and while we needed to maintain professional-looking and timely communication with our members, we also needed to save money.

Our 60-page magazine, mailed second class to 20,000 wall and ceiling subcontractors, was costing us approximately $2,000 for production, $10,000 to print, and $3,000 to mail each month. In addition, we were spending an average of $1,000-$2,000 per month on the production of house ads and other materials, now produced in house.

Our switch to desktop publishing--of the magazine as well as two monthly six-page newsletters and a six-page quarterly newsletter--with two stand-alone computer terminals and one printer--has brought us economies that you, too, might effect. 1. To justify the purchase of a desktop publishing system, calculate how quickly you will recover the expense. In our case the system cost about $10,000. We recouped our expenses within three months. 2. Whatever desktop publishing system you purchase, it works most efficiently when it's compatible with the rest of your association's computerization. That way, for instance, if someone from another department is writing an article for your magazine, the article only has to be keystroked once. At AWCI we attempted to use a modem to communicate between the main computer (a Xenix-based mini) and the desktop system, but in the end we found it was easier to copy documents onto a disk and transfer the disks physically. Interfaces such as Apple Cross-Talk are now available that allow Macintosh, IBM, and Unix-based computers to "talk" to each other with relative ease. 3. Train more than one person (both the publishing assistant and I had desktop publishing experience) because you're always going to need a backup. PageMaker, Quark, and Ventura training courses are readily available. Your software vendor can refer you to authorized training. 4. Memory-intensive programs such as PageMaker and Ventura can significantly reduce the system's processing speed, so buy sufficient memory and speed to handle the workload. We use an IBM with four megabytes of RAM (random accessible memory--it drives the system) along with 80 megabytes on a hard disk (it stores your work and programs) and a speed of 20 megahertz. This lets us efficiently process roughly 70 pages of text and page layouts each month--and gives us room for expanding. You can store approximately 600 pages of text and page layouts on 40 megabytes of memory. 5. Sometimes less is more, and we've found that to be the case with desktop-produced graphics. We've received positive feedback from our readers by keeping the appearance of our publications simple and readable. 6. Agree on a standard for the look of your in-house produced periodical. We compared the look and cost of type generated by an in-house printer with that produced by a service bureau on a Linotronic L-300 typesetter and decided we could live with the less expensive in-house version. We're using an enhanced-image Hewlett-Packard LaserJet III printer, which costs around $3,000 and produces type with the appearance of a resolution of about 600 dots per inch. Resolution enhancement--a feature of the LaserJet III printer--refines the print quality of characters and graphics by smoothing the fine gradations along the edge of the printer image, thus making the resolution appear like 600 dots per inch.

The move to in-house desktop publishing has brought lots of change and has made us reexamine other aspects of production as well. One of the most cost-effective purchases of recent months was a Canon EOS 35-millimeter autofocus camera with a 35-80 millimeter zoom lens, all for less than $400. We find it easy to use and we're pleased with the photos it produces. And we've eliminated the cost of hiring professional photographers to shoot association events, including our annual convention.

While we may not win awards from the art director's club, we've cut costs without sacrificing service. Our members can appreciate that.

David A. Ritchey, CAE, is director of communications for the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries--International, Alexandria, Virginia.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries-International publishes its monthly magazine in-house to reduce costs
Author:Ritchey, David A.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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