Elections Printers — Power of the Press
THERE HAS been some erroneous reporting going on. Not by Printing Impressions, but by another industry publication, which stated that 135 printers were gearing up to print election materials for the 2008 Democratic National Convention being held in Denver this month.
There might be 135 printers on the Vendor List of the Host Committee’s Website, but only a select few made it through the “requirements process” and got the work.
Touted as the “greenest presidential convention in history,” the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) was seeking a few environmentally friendly printers. But, that’s only the half of it. The other major requirement of the DNCC was that the printer be a union shop. Considering that there are not many union shops these days, the DNCC’s order seemed pretty tall. A green, union shop. How many of those could there be?
Enter a little-known printer that quickly made big-time news.
“Companies Gain Exposure from Dem Convention Work” reads the headline in the Rocky Mountain News February 7, 2008, edition. The article continues: “BC Printing doesn’t know how much revenue it will glean printing letterhead, stationery and other materials for the Democratic National Convention Committee. But one thing is certain: Working with the DNCC will provide a significant boost for the Denver-based company in other ways. BC Printing and a handful of other local companies are finding that prestige, exposure and connections gained by working with the convention are almost as beneficial as the additional revenue it provides.”
Who would think that a tiny union print shop (with only six employees) could end up being the “preferred print provider” for the DNCC?
BC Printing, for one. Well, at least, it hoped so.
According to owner Dan Linn, “We bought the shop eight years ago, partly due to its niche in elections work, which is a big business every other year. There’s a significant increase in volume/revenues during election years.”
In 2007, Linn met with the DNCC, when it was looking for a Denver-based printer to produce work for the 2008 presidential convention. The DNCC required that the printer be green, as well as unionized.
“Green” being one of the main requirements, BC Printing had already made its mark. It had recently completed the PIAMS Environmental Results Program (ERP) which requires compliance with OSHA and all federal, state and local environmental regulations. Through this process, PIAMS established a green verification program that also includes requirements for recycling programs, implementing pollution prevention strategies and creating sustainability action plans, leading them to becoming PIAMS Green Members. Those companies are also in the process of becoming “Colorado Environmental Leaders” through a special state program.
“Only six or seven printers in the entire state of Colorado completed the program and are considered to be verifiable PIAMS Green Members, initiated by their participation in the ERP. We’re one of them,” Linn explains. “And, we’re union, so we stood out as a main contender to get the DNCC work.”
BC Printing has been a green shop for several years, using soy-based inks and, most recently, Superior Ink’s new no-VOC ink (which BC is currently testing for Superior). The printer also runs alcohol-free, recycles all of its paper (including office paper) and offers recycled paper with higher post-consumer waste content.
Not that the DNCC required elections printing experience, but BC had plenty of that, as well. So, between being green, a union shop and an elections printer, Linn’s operation was ranked in the top spot, making it the DNCC’s “preferred print provider.” As such, BC prints the organization’s letterhead, stationery, envelopes, note cards, business cards, etc.
With its four presses, including a five-color Komori and a two-color Heidelberg, BC Printing produces state/local campaign door hangers, brochures, direct mail, signs, posters (two for Barack Obama), business cards and so forth, usually in run lengths of 10,000 to 50,000 each.
“Elections materials are always very short turnaround,” Linn notes. “Rarely do we get projects that have more than a two-day deadline, and those are usually direct mail pieces with more complex messages or other requirements. We get a lot of last-minute work, as well, like when a candidate wants to respond to an allegation or smear tactic from his opponent, and needs to create a quick direct mail piece or simple brochure/flyer.”
Much of the elections material Linn mentions is printed for local city, county and state races. The printer does this type of work every election season, and it’s a biannual mainstay of the operation.
“Getting to work with the candidates and their staffs can be eye-opening,” Linn adds. “They’re usually very altruistic; they’re in this business because they have strong beliefs about things and want to effect change. It’s exciting to see them in action for their cause.”
Denver-based National Hirschfeld LLC is printing the nightly Democratic National Convention newsletter for the National Journal, which is a highly read political publication out of Washington, DC. National Hirschfeld (NH) was contacted by the Journal because of its printing capabilities that include conventional sheetfed and heatset web offset, as well as digital printing presses.
The Journal’s newsletter comprises a 16-page, self-cover publication—6,000 copies of which are produced each night of the convention (total of four issues). The required turnaround time is four hours from receipt of files to product delivery.
“The entire newsletter will be produced print-on-demand. What is unusual is that it’s POD on a heatset web press,” says Steve Wilson, vice president of sales and marketing. “We have scheduled one web for the week, so it will be idle while we are not producing the newsletter. And, we also have two other heatsets in case we need them for backup.”
National Hirschfeld’s executive team spent a lot of time looking at the best way to produce the newsletter in order to guarantee the delivery.
“We have iGen and InfoPrint 5000 digital technology, but felt the heatsets would give us the fastest delivery of the product,” he says. “We also installed the latest version of Kodak Prinergy, which will enable us to go from file to plate in the time necessary to make the delivery.
“The schedule will be very tight. We will only have 11⁄2 hours to go from file to hanging plates. The press will be pre-makereadied, so we will complete the printing in 30 minutes. This gives us one hour to stitch and one hour for any problems that might arise. It should be a very exciting four days!”
Exciting, indeed. While having done local/state elections printing in the past, National Hirschfeld has never printed material for a presidential election. It’s also the first time NH won’t be responsible for the physical delivery of an extremely timely product. Wilson explains: “The National Journal will be handling the delivery to the convention because of the security challenges.”
In business for 89 years, Globe Publishing has done its share of elections printing, producing brochures, postcards, flyers, labels, name badges, door hangers, campaign cards, etc., for candidates running for local, city, county and state elections. According to Bill Horst, president of the small, union shop, Globe Publishing is busy with commercial work year round, but gets extra work during election cycles.
Even though the Republican Convention is being held in St. Paul, MN, where Globe Publishing is located, the company isn’t doing any presidential elections printing. But neither are many other Twin Cities printers, at least not that could be readily found.
Printing Impressions invoked the help of the Printing Industries of Minnesota (PIM) to find printers doing work for the Republican Convention. PIM sent out a message to 12 of its members that are listed in the organization’s Buyers Guide as specializing in political printing. Of those 12 inquiries, only Globe Publishing replied.
“We can produce short-run color printing with our union label at a very cost-effective price with our DocuColor printer,” says Horst. Much of that material is turned around in the same day via Globe’s digital capabilities. PI
(Editor’s Note: At press time in early July, PI could only locate a few printers that had been contracted to do work for the national presidential elections/conventions because the events had not yet kicked into full gear. Other companies were hoping to get printing contracts as the convention dates drew near.)
The ‘Green’ Convention
In March, the Printing and Imaging Association of the Mountain States (PIAMS) hosted a “Green Printers for Greenprint” workshop aimed at helping businesses in the Denver area and across Colorado create sustainable businesses practices in preparation for this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
Participants at the workshop went through a four-hour training program designed to educate graphic design studios, prepress facilities and service bureaus, printing companies and other related businesses about short- and long-term programs they can implement to reduce their impact on the environment.
“I am thrilled that the printing industry was invited to participate in the workshop series and to showcase our industry’s best practices,” said Kathy Lauerman, PIAMS president. “Working with all the co- sponsors of the event has confirmed that our industry’s efforts are in tune with the expectations of the all- encompassing greening efforts in the state of Colorado and, more specifically, Denver and its [Democratic Convention] Host Committee.”
A panel of green experts from Unisource, Johnson Printing, Vic Barkin Consulting and Digital Frontier led a lively discussion on best practices in the printing and imaging industry, and helped participants create green action plans for their companies and certify themselves as green businesses on the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee’s vendor directory.