If You Can Read This, Thank a Printer

When I first began doing print production I was at Foote Cone Belding (FCB) in NYC working on the Citibank account, and it was very unofficial.

My official role was traffic manager. But more specifically, I was the traffic manager for Citibank Investment ads, and even more specifically, only for newspapers and only in five markets. Even within those parameters, I could easily release 40-60 ads per week—if not more.

My life pretty much revolved around media plans and the SRDS, composite sizing, versioning, veloxes, and making sure the correct ad with the correct legal and interest rates went to the right paper in the right city in the right market.

Working in traffic pretty much means you are one of the last people out the door for the day, and more often than not, it’s way into the night when that happens. It’s not uncommon at all for others to ask you to help them so they can leave, since you are staying anyhow. And that is how I began to learn about print production.

The print production manager I worked with taught me about specs and releasing files so I could cover for her when needed. She could have left it at that, but I was lucky and she would also let me tag along when she routed proofs to the team. I remember how cool I thought the light box was, and making comments with China markers. I definitely saw the creative aspects of print production and working with the creatives to make art was very appealing. I wanted in!

Not every story has a happy ending, though. FCB lost the Citibank account and poof most of the 40 people working on it were reassigned or let go. I moved on to traffic at Deutsch first, then Ammirati, Ogilvy, Showtime and Y&B Advertising—all before landing at Stein Rogan + Partners in 1999, which was an interactive ad agency. That, ironically, was when I first started doing actual print production.

Deborah is the Principal and Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr which provides topical information and resources to the Print & Integrated Marketing community, with some fun in the mix! She also is the founder of the Print Production Professionals Group on LinkedIN and works behind the scenes with several print organizations and companies helping with their marketing and social media efforts. With more than 24 years of experience in print production, print buying and project management, Corn has worked for some of the largest and most influential ad agencies and has played an integral role in projects that have won ADDY, CA and other advertising award honors.
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  • Carole Maclean

    I could not agree more! Actually, that is my favorite part of my job – helping people understand more about their print projects, and helping them with ideas to make things go more successfully, more smoothly, etc. It is very difficult for me today in dealing with clients who have no interest in learning, and/or see no value in working closely with their print vendors to make their projects go more smoothly. I relish those relationships that have resulted from buyers who have allowed me to be more involved and offer what I can to help them!!

  • CanonKelly

    Oh Deborah Corn, You complete me! Thanks for saying all of this!

  • Mary Beth Smith

    Well said, Deborah – the best printers and sales reps position themselves as valuable resources, and forge longlasting relationships that benefit everyone involved.

  • Kevin Keane

    Terrific story Deborah, personal history mixed with haute parable. Great wisdom young lady. Gollee I haven’t thought about veloxes in 20 years or is it 30? Thank you!

  • Rick

    Your story made me smile. When I first was a production manager, I depended on the printers who were nice enough to answer my myriad questions. They got my work. Later, I switched to print sales. I remembered what it was like in production, so I determined to go out of my way to help clients when I can.
    Rick Rainey