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Printers' pointers.

Quick tips on how to work smarter as an association publisher.

Would you like to cut printing costs, improve the quality of your publications, and work more efficiently with printers? ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT contacted printers across the country and asked them to share their insights into how association publishers can work more effectively and obtain better services. The following tips suggested by eight printers will enhance your overall knowledge of such areas as technological advances, production processes, and mailing options.


* Don't ever assume an advertising supplement is usable. Put the printer in the planning process for all supplements. Not everything is bindable in your publication the way the advertiser wants it. Let the printer talk to the designer and printer of the supplement. Have the advertiser send your printer a dummy or blueline for adding its binding requirements. Many times a supplement cannot be used or it requires tipping or special consideration, which causes additional cost that sometimes cannot be charged back to your customer.

* Identify ad pickups precisely. Quite often an ad will have a minor change, such as in a telephone number, making the visual difference between an old and new ad very difficult to discern. If you know of a detail that could be difficult to recognize, highlight it on the copy you send.

* Involve your printer in planning special inserts and "gimmicks," such as pop-ups or product samples. Your printer can help you stay within printing and mailing specifications, which can save you time and money.

* Investigate the possibilities of increasing your ad revenues by including brochures, conference and trade show supplements, and special advertising supplements in your publication. Find out if your printer can add the supplements as inserts, stitch-ins, tip-ons, or onserts and still comply with standard postal regulations.


* Support and enhance the production process, don't hinder the process. Turn in your column on time. Don't make changes after bluelines that should have been made earlier. listen to your publication staff's concerns about equipment, materials, schedules, and suppliers - then act on their recommendations.

* Keep your page counts to multiples of four, preferably 16 or 32. Many printers use standard layouts for signatures of 32 pages and 16 pages. Any time a request is made for an odd-number page count, even signatures would be broken, which would result in additional trimming and, possibly, paper costs.

* Increase your production flexibility and efficiency by working with a printer that can produce varying sizes and formats and handle special binding and gathering needs - all in one shop.

* Use low resolution and swap out halftones. Send in your black and white and color halftones in advance of the page output. This will allow the printer to scan and return the scans as low-resolution images for placement in your office. It also gives you the option of resizing, if necessary. Be sure to use an identifier for the images that are used throughout. The printer needs this information to swap out the high-resolution image when the page is finally output to final film.

If yon are comfortable with an IRIS proof (the trademark name of Scitex Digital Printing, Inc., for a continuous-tone color proof produced from a computer page file through inkjet technology), order one for each color image when the low-resolution images are returned to you. Film is not needed to make IRIS proofs, resulting in savings of about 50 percent over the costs of laminated color proofs produced from original film and used by publishers to check color. Swapping out the low-resolution image for a high-resolution image will save you the stripping cost for each image. This savings could be very substantial for multiple images on a page.

* Design problems out of your publication by occasionally reviewing the basics of good publication design. For example, the use of color bars and tint combinations on consecutive pages can be subject to slight variations due to shifts in ink flow or paper surfaces. One way to solve this is to use the pantone matching system (PMS) to print the color to ensure uniformity. Other problem areas like reverses and run-acrosses should be handled carefully. Giving samples to your printer will clarify any problems.

* Become knowledgeable about color placement. Get a plating imposition from your printer that shows the page layout for each printing plate. Use the maximum amount of color pages if you can support the costs for stripping the color pages. The press cost does not change if you add more pages of color. Only the ink and stripping costs increase. Don't place only one color page on a plate. This will cost you the most.

* Place your inserts between complete signatures whenever possible to save substantial costs. Otherwise, you end up paying for broken signatures. Ask your printer where the best breaks fall for inserts.


* Work with the most qualified and knowledgeable person. Some printers rise their customer-service people as the technical support and others use the sales staff. Some hand off to the actual department - electronic prepress, prep, press, bindery, shipping, and so forth. It's better to have one contact if possible, but if he or she is not adequate, ask for a more knowledgeable person. Don't hesitate to tell your primary contact if you are not pleased with his or her experience level and ask for someone else. Remember: You are paying for the experience of the company to accomplish your printing needs.

* Remember that both parties - publisher and printer - need to be well-informed and knowledgeable about the other side of the business. The publisher and his or her staff need to know what the steps are for printing their products - this must be an ongoing part of the printer-publisher relationship. On the other hand, the printer must know how the publisher functions.

* Visit your printer. You benefit by not only meeting the people who serve you, but also by better understanding equipment capabilities and efficiencies. You will be smarter after a plant visit, and that means you will save money and time as well as avoid needless stress.

* Get to know key players at your printer. They are more likely to help you out in a crisis if you treat them better than "hired help."

* Teach your printer about your publishing operation. All organizations are different. Just because your printer works with other associations, don't assume the company understands your goals, problems, and expectations.

* Think of your printer as your partner. Be straightforward with your needs. What results do you want to achieve? What is the intended look and end use of the publication? Often, simply providing specifications is not enough. Consulting with your printer early in the design and layout stage will help you make wise paper stock, design, and varnish application decisions.


* Check out bulletin boards - a computer used exclusively to transfer and store customers' files via a modem and telephone line - which many printers offer for downloading pages. This service can cut shipping costs as well as give you more time in the production schedule because the printer doesn't have to wait for next-day packages. Bulletin boards can expedite last-minute changes and can be used, as well, for swapping low-resolution images. Always make sure the printer has adequate technical support for a bulletin board service. Ask if the printer has a backup bulletin board and dedicated phone lines. For massive high-resolution transmittal, ask if the printer has a T1 line - a high-speed, dedicated transmission telephone line to transfer data from computers via modems to bulletin boards. Always make sure the printer has adequate technical support to help you.

* If you produce a publication, such as a directory or catalog, that requires using large numbers of photos, save the images to a disk or CD format. The next time you produce or update your piece, you will not have to pay for rescanning those images you reuse.

* Recognize that electronic page makeup (desktop publishing) can become very complex and that without proper software usage and file linkage, what you see on screen is not necessarily what you're going to get during film imaging. Communication between client and vendor technicians regarding technical parameters is vital.

* Consider using electronic data interchange to communicate page file data and distribution instructions to your printer. It can save time, improve quality, and increase efficiency.

* Make sure that your data are keyboarded and graphics are scanned in formats that are portable between your typesetter and other forms of information delivery, such as CD-ROM and online applications.

* Provide all pertinent information with electronic files. Laser proofs of your disk file, even in low resolution, are helpful to the printer to ensure all elements are present and complete. While printers will put your disk through an initial checking process, it's your responsibility to have all fonts loaded and all illustrations or photographs scanned at the appropriate line screen. If you're new to desktop publishing, talk to your printer often to make sure you're proceeding properly.


* Plan ahead so that you don't get caught in a paper panic. Many publishers and printers gouged the paper market by panic buying, which increased paper prices and lowered availability. Alert your printer in advance of your plans to add new product lines or additional printing not covered under your current paper options. Four weeks to six weeks advance notice is sometimes necessary for paper ordering.

* Discuss the paper situation monthly with your printer. Mills are changing the standards for paper. Some paper weights and quality standards are being eliminated. Ask your printer to offer assistance with his or her mill representative or paper brokers. Paper savings today are predicated by trim sizes, paper quality, and reduced page counts - options that are not always satisfactory to a publisher.

* Ask your printer to suggest alternate papers in times of paper shortages and increased prices. Paper allocations and the availability to get the poundage required may limit the printer's ability to get the paper you want delivered on time. Your printer can suggest a paper at a lower cost and comparable quality that can fit your needs.

* Take advantage of your printer's buying power, especially with paper. By using house stocks, you may find paper prices cost 50 percent less than a comparable special-order paper. You will probably also guarantee availability. Not only have paper mills increased prices, but they have also actually decreased production and deliveries on some papers.

* Ask about leftover stock. Many printers have available stock they would love to sell at discounted prices. You may even be able to choose from a few brands.

Mailing options

* Take advantage of all postal discounts. Carrier route sorting and bar coding your lists offer significant savings even for short-run publications. Make certain your printer has the latest software to properly sort and code your tapes.

* Cost-certify your mailing list. Your post office or mail house can add ZIP plus four and bar codes that can provide you with discounts for mailing. Savings could be quite substantial for larger mailings. Also ask your post office to approve mailers and business reply cards (BRCs) before sending your pieces out.

* Evaluate the feasibility of adding more postal entry points. Depending on your circulation size and breadth of distribution, you may benefit by delivering your magazines to postal facilities in multiple zones. With reclassification, editorial and advertising content may qualify for discounts.

* If you polywrap, consider using a polypropylene wrapper, which the U.S. Postal Service may soon approve for bar coding.

Postal regulations

* Study the effects of postal reclassification on your distribution program. Your printer's sales representative and/or postal experts should be able to advise you on strategies to maximize or minimize its effects.

* Clean up your mailing lists. Better address hygiene will help with better sortation for postal discounts. This will become even more beneficial if reclassification passes.

* Predetermine the weight of your publication, which must weigh under one pound for third-class mail. Your printer can determine the weight before even going to press. The printer can suggest alternative stocks, such as opaque, to help keep weight down.

Training and equipment

* Provide your production staff with proper equipment and training. As more associations take advantage of new technologies, work with your printer to make sure your technology is compatible and that your training is appropriate. As with most things in life, when it comes to cut-rate software, fonts, hardware, and training sessions, yon get what you pay for. Do it right the first time.

* Keep in mind that today's technology demands hands-on training. A workshop conducted at the printer would be more advantageous than all classroom training.

The bottom line

* Understand value, not just price. In times of tight budgets, it's easy to focus on the bottom line. Value, however, means that you get more than a competitive price. You get expertise, flexibility, professionalism, and results that match expectations.

* Manage your reprint operation as a source of revenue. Offer customers more flexibility in terms of quantity, turnaround, and customization by working with an on-demand printer.

* Consider using printers' house stock sheets to save money. Printers usually get discount pricing when they buy large quantities of brands that remain on their floor at all times.

* Check your binding options. Subscription cards and other often-used materials requiring different stock than your publication should be treated as separate printing jobs. Therefore, you'll see cost efficiencies because of printing higher quantities (print subscription business reply cards that will work for a year) and then having them blown into your publication. Work with your printer on storing inventory.

Quality control

* Keep abreast of your printer's capabilities. Ask capability questions, especially with regard to a printer's prepress and desktop publishing capabilities. Know if your supplier has in-house electronic prepress capabilities to ensure quality control of your publication from beginning to end. Precious time may be lost if the printer has to rely on a subcontractor for color reproductions or to output computer disks for proofs.

* Meet with your printer on a quarterly or semiannual basis to review the current production process, making sure that your publication is being produced in the most cost-efficient manner.

* Meet with your account executive (production person) to make sure your publication is flowing through the plant without any problems. If there are problems, it could be costing your association valuable time and money.


* Von Allen, account executive, The Ovid Bell Press, Inc., Fulton, Missouri

* Eileen Bok, marketing manager, Automated Graphic Systems, White Plains, Maryland

* Steve Brody, vice president, sales and marketing, Intelligencer Printing Company, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

* Ken Buohl, customer service manager, Fry Communications, Inc., Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

* Fred H, Morefield, regional manager, William Byrd Press, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia

* Michael Phillippe, vice president, sales and marketing, The Mack Printing Group, Easton, Pennsylvania

* Bob Savin, senior vice president, specialty publishing, R. R. Donnelly & Sons Company, Chicago

* Richard J. Verplank, executive vice president and general manager, Sundance Press, Tucson, Arizona


The following resources are available from ASAE. Phone: (202) 626-2748. Fax: (202) 408-9634. Text telephone for people with hearing impairments: (202) 626-2803.

* Getting It Printed, by Mark Beach (North Light Books, 1993); catalog item AMR210127; $29.95 for ASAE members, $35.95 for nonmembers.

* A Guide to Periodicals Publications for Associations; catalog item AMR216716; $49 for ASAE members, $78 for nonmembers.
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:tips from printers
Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1995
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