Show Preview: PRINT Gets Personal
SOME PUNDITS have argued that we are quickly transforming into a society of narcissists, as evidenced by the growing attraction to so-called social networking Internet applications like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. Regardless of whether they’re fast-burning fads or phenomenons that are here to stay, they’re shining examples of the weight that personalization carries in the 21st century.
Well, the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) has decided to capitalize on the trend with its myPRINT theme for PRINT 09, the Olympiad of printing shows that comes to McCormick Place in Chicago September 11-16. As anyone who has attended a major printing exhibition can attest, the experience is a bit overwhelming; like a track and field meet, everything seems to be going on at once. But GASC seems to have come up with a solution that allows attendees to better identify those 600-odd exhibitors and numerous educational opportunities that most closely speak to their individual goals.
“We’ve sliced and diced the content so visitors can log onto the PRINT 09 Website, identify who they are and find out the pavilions that will be of interest to them,” notes Debbie Vieder, director of communications for GASC. “And not just the educational opportunities, but also some special free presentations that are being developed for the segments.”
The GASC has grouped attendees into 11 possible segments, six of them pure printing (commercial, quick, in-plant, transactional, package/specialty and wide format), two printing and publishing (books, newspapers), two ancillaries (mailing and fulfillment, creative services) and one for print buyers. In a matter of a few clicks, attendees can fully map out their agenda for the Windy City event.
New online networking forums also provide attendees with the opportunity to kick around ideas and ask questions to fellow printers and industry experts, as well as to foster preshow communications between exhibitors and potential customers.
The educational element of PRINT 09 has been portioned efficiently, with 90 sessions spread across 14 categories—all tailored toward specific levels of a visiting firm’s hierarchy (management level, production, IT, etc.) The educational sessions will feature specific knowledge categories: business building and diversification, mailing and fulfillment, sales, color management, executive management, production and sustainability.
Two specialty pavilions will debut at PRINT 09:
• A package printing pavilion, aptly titled PackPrint, is described as “a trade show within a trade show, with one badge access to PRINT 09 and PackPrint,” according to Vieder.
• GREENspace will provide a plethora of environmental sustainability products and services, as well as extensive educational consultations that will take a closer look at what green printing entails beyond the certifications.
Incumbent pavilions focused on prepress/design software, press/finishing, mailing/fulfillment and wide-format printing return with live demonstrations and special applications that will enhance attendees’ production capabilities and profit centers. FuturePrint will examine the trends and technologies that will drive print in the coming years, from printed electronics to RFID.
Taking a cue from the federal government, GASC made a preemptive strike to ensure that exhibitors would be sufficiently persuaded to not downsize their booths and to bring a full arsenal of “heavy iron” to Chicago. The PRINT 09 Subsidy Plan provides qualifying exhibitors with limited and unlimited material handling options at the show, providing a savings of up to $165,000. From an attendee point of view, there will be fewer phone booth-sized displays and more big-ticket equipment on the show floor to inspect up close. In all, the GASC expects to offer about $3 million in credits through its Subsidy Plan.
The GASC has worked hard to build PRINT 09 but, given the still-dismal state of the general economy, will the printers come? Bill Lamparter, PrintCom Consulting Group president and proctor of the Executive Outlook preshow conference, has two questions for those printers who say they cannot afford to attend:
Are you crazy? How can you afford not to go?
“I’ll hear printers say ‘I don’t know if I can stay in business. I certainly don’t have the money to buy anything, so why should I spend the money to go?’ ” Lamparter relates. “I tell printers that if they want to stay in business, they better go to know what’s going on and learn, even if they don’t intend to buy anything. It’s the only way you can keep up to date.”
The educational opportunities are a critical, often overlooked, element of the show, according to Lamparter. “A printing company ought to send its owner and chief production person. As much as anything, it’s an educational event.”
Lamparter is, of course, partial to the list of Must See ’ems, a crowd favorite during every Executive Outlook conference, which takes place on September 10, before the first day of the show. The day-long program culminates with the announcement of the Must See ’ems technology and product award recipients. The highest-ranking technologies on the list were IT as a core technology, MIS systems and Web-to-print, according to Lamparter, with digital printing and workflow also performing well.
One aspect of technology that seems poised to steal the show is software, predicts Clint Bolte, principal of C. Clint Bolte & Associates in Chambersburg, PA. “The whole software segment of the print-specific applications are so far ahead of what the industry is accepting and applying,” he says. “The problem printers have is that they don’t have the infrastructure, training, knowledge, and customer service, sales and IT folks to put it all together and make it happen.”
Leading the way is Web-to-print software, with at least a couple dozen vendors on display last year at Graph Expo, Bolte notes. “You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on Web-to-print. The less expensive solutions have enhanced their offerings.”
Implementation of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) is a popular topic heading into Chicago, though it may be pressed to gain traction. Small- to medium-sized printers and mailing service providers, lacking the IT perspective and control of the mailing list, may find this to be a challenging area, adds Bolte.
The show is coming at a fortuitous time, with some indications pointing to an economy shifting gears toward a more positive direction. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Vieder says.
“We’re hearing that there are signs of life out there. While it’s tough for a lot of folks, some are saying that business is good for them at the moment, and that there are signs of pent-up demand. Printers who aren’t ready to buy at the moment will still be coming to PRINT 09 to look and learn. We expect to have the numbers there.”
For more information and registration, visit www.print09.com. PI