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.

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

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  • Henry

    Why bother with a press OK? If you have an approved contract proof, just match the proof. End of story.

    If you can’t match the proof, then that would indicate there are other issues which need to be addressed.

  • Catherine

    It will be great as long as it works. Once there is a really expensive mistake, someone will have to pay for a reprint. I would find it too risky, even if the client agreed to accept full responsibility for an error, because once there is a loss, the losing side will be very unhappy and will never want to do business with the other party again.

  • M. Mahoney

    We are doing far less proofing, than before.
    Some of our customers have opted to have a very short run of around 500-1000 pc’s sent to them overnight for approval. That may sound expensive for them, but after you factor in all the costs involved in sending 1 to 3 people thousands of miles, they come out way ahead.

  • Helen Hughes

    Scary for some companies, OK for others right now. This depends HUGELY on the technology level of both the printer and the vendor…not to mention the IPhones in house. I can definately see te advantages of this, especially in packaging where I have seen press approvals go WAY wrong and take days never mind hours. Savings on flight changes and hotels alone would be big. On the other hand, just because a company is not technologically advanced enough for this, does not mean they hsould be knocked out of the market because they may in fact be a better Hard Printer than the ones with the Soft Preprint advantage.

  • Robert Bloecker

    If your a g7 printer, and have your proofs properly calibrated, then in all honesty, why not just use a web camera on a laptop? or cut a part of the printed sheet and run it thru a fax machine. this just seems like a silly way to proof if quality matters enough to do a press proof. There is no way that the 4+ color process your printing, translates accurately thru a iphone camera then displayed on either another cell phone or someone’s out of calibration monitor. In all honesty it seems like it would mess up the printed piece more than improve it.