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EVP, Marketing at Specialty Print Communications

Against the Grain

By Dustin LeFebvre

About Dustin

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC


Phoning in Press Okays - Literally

Sabine: “I need your iPhone right away!”

Dustin: “What’s wrong with your phone?”

Sabine: “I need yours. I have a press okay right now and I need it.”

Dustin: “I know this new 4S is pretty sweet, but why do you need it for your press okay?”

That was part of a conversation I had recently with one of our sales reps. Sabine needed my phone because her out-of-town client, a very sophisticated direct marketing agency, had examined the press okay process, jettisoned accepted assumptions, and along the way demolished the model entirely. Air travel, hotels, a loupe, D50 lighting, heck, even dots. Who needs any of it?

This client had become tired of all the costs and the inefficiencies of on-site press approvals. The company was tired of the time variability of press schedules, the flight changes, and productivity losses as its people had to be out of the office for days at a time.

Why did Sabine need my iPhone? It has an 8-megapixel camera; her phone’s camera is less powerful. Her client, through trial and experience, had determined that 8 megapixels are needed to be certain its quality standards are being met.

So, here’s what happens: We makeready as usual. When we believe the sheet is ready for approval, we snap some photos, email them to the client, and walk through a discussion of the project on a call. It’s the same conversation we have during all of our on-site press okays: “a little too blue here… let’s put some life into the flesh tone… do we have the right compromise in a particular ink channel?” We talk through a line-up and ensure that everything is properly backed up.

You may be leaping from your seat with anxiety over this new process, and I have to agree. Yes, color management from screen-to-screen is imperative, and other pitfalls certainly exist. I’m not fully comfortable with it, yet. It’s a new process for us, and we’re still getting acclimated.

But I love the fact that a customer shattered the paradigm of a press okay. The company saw something not as it is, but as it could be. It dug deeply to unearth the real value of the press okay itself. Its buyers asked the important question: “Does the value lie in a human being’s physical presence on press, or is the value the ability to verify that your project is being produced to your satisfaction in real time?”

We’ll see over time whether or not this method proves superior, and I’m sure we’ll hit pitfalls along the way. But as technology continues to evolve, paradigms will be broken, new methods will develop, and those with imagination will be the first to reap the rewards.

What do you think about this new technique? What are the pitfalls, and would you consider trying it out?

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