Archive for the ‘Pre-media General’ Category

Do Your CSR’s Drive New Business?

February 5, 2010

Ever wondered what is being said to your existing clients?

Are your customer service representatives fully aware of your company’s capabilities?

Have you joined the dots between your business units?

Does your business development team understand the end-to-end processes?

Do your staff development plans tie in with your business strategy?

Does your branding really communicate what you do?

These seem pretty simple questions right? Well in my travels I have seen so much political action within companies that the answers to the above questions aren’t as positive as you would expect.

Since my post is actually about Customer Services teams I’m just going to spend a few paragraphs explaining why your CSR’s are the front-line of your business and how, with very little effort and a little reward, these business peripherals could win you more business from existing clients.

First of all and most critically your CSR’s have daily if not hourly contact with the customer. If they don’t have a clue of the full range of capabilities within your business (and I mean more than the one day tour of your facility when they joined) then how the heck are they in a position to recognise additional business opportunities with your client. They may only be an interface to say artwork origination, yet the customer may also be dealing with the marketing communication and thus have a requirement for multi-channel output. Well wait a minute, your CSR’s are working for a pre-media company who deals directly with multi-channel communication…!

Your CSR’s inevitably get very close to the customer and I’ve even know a couple that got married from a client/supplier relationship that went a little further! They go to business meetings, socials, drinks and events together, places where your CSR’s could leverage your clients friends or connections to sell your company without even breaking a sweat! Look at the statistics for Facebook or LinkedIn and see just how incestuous our industry is. Look at mine as an example; connections in every type of supply chain vertical for our industry and I am always getting asked to make introductions for new business opportunities (should really take commission, but never do!)

(more…)

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Digital vs Physical – Convienence or Appreciation?

January 26, 2010

The other day I wrote about how in the UK at least the digital asset of music seem to have become more expensive that the physical assets you can buy in-store or online (how many of you have bought 3 CD‘s for 20 quid at HMV??) and how the consumer losses a lot of the appreciation factor of holding a physical item in there hand and placing it into their CD player….

This morning while flicking through a magazine, I read a short article about how Microsoft will be offering games via it’s Microsoft Live service, yet again the digital media supplied via a download service is more expensive than buying the physical copy online an having it delivered for free….

So why would people do this? I can completely understand the convenience factor of going to an online service such as Microsoft Live and downloading the digital copy directly onto your PC or Games Console, but were is the appreciation of the of the physical printed parts, the junk that they ship with the copies (you know the A5 leaflets about stuff you don’t want to know) and the booklet that contains the story of the game…. How does all the work the marketeers, copy editors, pre-media companies and printers get appreciated in a digital download?

With games there is also a resale value with the physical copy, not only do you pay less, but when you have completed it you take it back in-store and get a discount on your next purchase (or sell through marketplaces like ebay, Amazon and Play!)

So suddenly the print volumes are declining, the replicators are screaming and the manufacturer (software houses) are laughing all the way to the bank…. or are they? If we remove the physical packaging as our ability to purchase disposable consumer items like music, film and video games there is also the knock on effect to the retail stores, these stores spend millions in our pre-media market on advertising with point of sale material and their own pre-media advertising channels such as TV, Radio and Publishing, now the software houses can do that themselves and reap the rewards of a higher slice of the cash. I really don’t need to spell it all out to you, especially if you have been affected by this already and your business has suffered at the hands of digital download.

As a consumer though, I like to touch something I have purchased, even if it is just a 5 inch silver printed disc and a piece of packaging that will clutter up my house, it gives it a sense of meaning, something I can account for when I wonder where all the cash in my bank has gone.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this, I’ve illustrated in my first post about how in the UK it is affecting the sales of physical media in Music, now I’ve shown the same in the Video Games market, not that digital downloads of Movies has taken off yet, but you know it will at some point (how BT is going to manage it’s stupid fair usage policy when consumer Movie downloads hit the big time I have no idea, when you consider a HD movie is around 10gig you will soon have your bandwidth throttled to 1 meg after a couple of viewings!)

For the last 6 years I’ve been purchasing Norton Internet Security, wow what a business model they have, annual subscription that you have to renew to stay current, now these guys produce plenty of software and plenty of packaging which equals plenty of design & print. But I wonder if as part of their wonderful business model they actually keep the price of online subscription renewal higher than going out and buying the boxed product? Is there some sort of deal they have with the retail network that gives them the ability to push the product? Each year when my subscription is coming up to renewal I pop down to PC World and pickup my new version for under £25 where today online renewal is £54.99 – ouch over double the price for a renewal over a new boxed copy!

At the moment the artificially inflated digital prices are playing into print & pre-media hands all the time the printed packaging is cheaper, but at some point that will change as the next generations of youngsters only use download services providing a new paradigm of business opportunities.

For those companies currently diversifying their service offerings make sure you consider how your target market is moving in these digital times.

Author: Gary George

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Jack of all trades?

December 23, 2009

You know what, with all this talk about pre-media and the diverse channels of media that need to be addressed that fall into it’s scope, I thought we ought to look at the types of skills a ‘pre-media specialist’ should hold… This has really come about after a discussion and then one of those lovely google alerts coming in for a ‘pre-media specialist’ job in London.

Firstly lets take a quick look at what this job wanted the candidates to be able to do:

To be considered for this role, you will ideally have:
Commercial experience in professional graphics software applications including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, QuarkXpress and Dreamweaver
Sound working knowledge of HTML and CSS
Data processing experience, preferably gained in MS Excel or Access
A demonstrable track record of working to client briefs and interpreting requirements.
Knowledge of variable data mark-up for digital print and knowledge of digital workflow in a print or online production environment
Any experience gained in XMPie, DirectSmile or Yours Truly designer VDP extensions is highly desirable, but not strictly essential as full training can be provided.

My god they should have thrown in Video Editing in Final Cut Pro just for good measure!… I’ve just exaggerated the keywords there for them to jump out at you, this is a pretty good job spec and to be honest if anyone could demonstrate commercial experience in just Photoshop they would probably be in for a 25k a year job, but these guys seem to want you to be a jack of all trades here, and to top that their owning willing to pay between 20-30k a year… Now hold on, I know we’re living in desperate times, but to me there is 4 distinct jobs outlined in this spec…. An Artworker capable of page markup and image composition. A web designer building pages in HTML and CSS. A data processing/VDP person and last but not least a workflow guy. Now, I’ve been around for some 20 years in this trade and met some pretty clever people, but none of them have that sort of diversity and if they did know a little of each, they were by no means a specialist.

So are we now expecting too much for our money?

http://www.sillydaddy.net

Cartoon by Joe Chiapetta http://www.sillydaddy.net

I know so many companies that struggle to get good Quark, Indesign & Photoshop operators and the good ones they do get are paid over 35k, the to add Illustrator to that, good Illustrator people are worth their weight in gold. As the cartoon displays the skills gap that UPS identified in Illinois, we tend to hire just on the basis that the potential employee writes it on their CV.

(thanks to Joe Chiappetta for allowing the use of this cartoon picture, check out all his great work at http://www.sillydaddy.net)

But if you were a brand owner and knew your pre-media company employed pre-media specialists who, well, specialized in everything rather than any one of the given disciplines of pre-media, how confident would you be in the specialist services you were getting?

In fact each of the Adobe application have a certified expert program were a user can take an exam based on one of the applications (in the UK they are provided through a series of authorized training centers) if you pass you are provided a certificate to say you are a certified expert in that version of the application…. Have you ever even asked your pre-media supplier if they have any certified experts employed and if so what versions of the applications they are experts in…. Or in fact if you are an employee have you asked your company to sponsor you to become an expert? I mean it would benefit them as much as it benefits your own career, and lastly as an employer do you encourage and support your staff to become experts?

On the whole most of you will answer no to the above, yet if we are to really and truly benchmark the skills and salaries of the people we employ we need to start encouraging accreditation in the applications we employ them to use, unfortunately for me, years of experience doesn’t mean the person is actually any good in the applications, and I can tell you from experience I’ve employed some youngsters in my time that are worth 10 times their peers.

While I understand that there is a need to employ people with multiple skills, companies are constantly running the risk employing people who aren’t particularly skilled in anything, I mean, I could say that I am fluent in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, yet I only really know 5% of what Corel is capable of doing and that’s where the problem is when a person states they can use a graphic application.

So where does this leave our modern pre-media companies who need to deliver services across multiple disciplines and deliver those services at rates that are competitive against the other pre-media companies in the market. Well better pre-employment screening can only help you employ the right people, there’s plenty of great people out there, I hope you can find them and have a good performance rating program to assist the weaker ones in becoming a true asset to the company.

Author: Gary George

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What is Pre-media – You Must be Kidding….Part II

November 13, 2009

Following on from my recent post regarding the oft used term ‘Pre-media’ – here at Tunicca we attempted recently to define it and placed our definition on Wikipedia. At a recent trade show we experienced a lot of visitors asking what Pre-media means and it made us wonder if the industry in general really has an understanding of what it is and what it means for the world of media communication? Here we outline some facts surrounding Pre-media, we hope you find them useful and we welcome your comments.

Pre-media

What is Pre-media?

So what is premediaPre-media is the term that is used in the design, creative and publishing industries for the processes and procedures that occur between the conception of original artwork and the manufacturing of final output channel.

It is a process that combines creative art and technology to communicate the final message to a consumer.

Pre-media should ideally provide the ability to supply design execution all the way to ready-to-publish files developed on industry-standard software, delivered on your platform of choice and ensuring that the client’s requirements are met. In short, any form of input channel to any form of output channel.

It includes the processes that allow an individual or company to visually communicate their message to their audience in the medium that best suits the demographics for that message. This should all be provided in the correct specifications and for the desired output channel.

With such a vast landscape to cover, Pre-media has a number of categories that fall under its banner. Those categories, listed below, have a vast array of technical requirements each complimenting and dependent upon each other to provide rich and relevant content to the destination channel.

Colour Management Pre-flighting Page Assembly
Contract Proofing Soft Proofing Asset Management
Colour Retouching Image Composition Scanning
Advertising Management Trapping Approval Processes
Final File Creation Customer Communication Work Solutions
Web to Print Print on Demand Video Production

A Brief History of Pre-media

The term ‘Pre-media’ developed in tandem with the internet and mobile communications industries, both of which have evolved to almost dominate modern day life.

As these forms of communication and access to consumers grew, so the need to facilitate brand messages and publishing into this new space became a necessity. As a result of this the traditional method of communication through print started to morph into a multi channel environment whereby marketing and communications could access clients through many different means.

Hence the traditional agencies involved in the print oriented activities of pre-press, repro and creative started to adapt in order to utilize the various output delivery channels demanded by their clients. These companies needed to provide the ability to service these channels with existing and new client work and a whole new world of file creation, preparation, management and transition was developed. Pre-media was born therefore as a necessary phrase to encompass the whole new world of multichannel media delivery.

Why is Pre-media Important?

Pre-media is a vital step in the world of media communication. We are currently in a fast changing and dynamic media space with new methods of accessing the consumer and delivering media springing up all of the time. This dynamic environment is changing constantly – driven through technological developments and changing consumer needs – and the pace of change is not set to slow down. Subsequently the Pre-media environment will need to adapt and flex in order to facilitate these new message channels and deliver to them efficiently and effectively.

The ultimate objective and overall advantage of Pre-media is that assets and processes should not be designed to suit a particular media output – instead they will need to be ‘media neutral’ right up until the last moment, just before the communication is rendered for output. This means that it will not matter whether you have a Mac or a PC, or if you are putting together a press advert, a large format poster, a website, an email blast or a PURL – Pre-media assets should be able to be re-purposed to suit all of these media communication channels and more.

Pre-media ultimately provides clients with greater flexibility, shorter lead times and better management of their assets and brand images as well as a more powerful and fruitful interaction with consumers.

The story of Pre-media is certainly an interesting one and it is set to continue….

…. the question that we at Tunicca pose is: “Is your organisation equipped & ready to operate in the dynamic and challenging world of Pre-media?”
Author: Sean Runchman

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Innovation – The Patent Test

October 30, 2009

I’ve read an article today and been researching over the last few weeks how patents could affect the world of pre-media, the one I read today is about how Denizen has flexed it’s muscles with it’s patent 6,859,936 by suing media agency Mindshare for incorporating the brand Vaseline into the TV show Maneater, so my question:

Is it possible to have any innovation at all without it infringing someone’s already registered idea?

When corporations have the power and resource to register all of the ideas that their employees have, how do smaller companies, or entrepreneurs manage to provide changes that accelerate the world of pre-media. Are these registered ideas really “squating” on our ability of us to continually expand and bring to market new products that are current to today’s environment, or are they hoping to cash in on our ability to have a similar idea that works where they couldn’t….

gavelSo while I was doing my research, I decided to look for my kiosk idea and see if anyone had already filed and had issued a patent on a similar idea…. sure enough there one is registered to Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. 7,268,901
This patent was filed in 2001, way before the internet had matured, way before communication networks were cheap enough to provide high speed connections, way before printing technology could provide colour print at the speed available from HP themselves and a very long time before the ability to report news around the world as it happens to the masses was just common practise.

So where would that put us, our idea is based on modern technologies, the modern need to change the newspaper delivery methods, the need to reduce the carbon footprint and the need our consumers to decide what they read.

What happens when two completely unrelated people/companies develop something that is essentially the same, yet one files for a patent and has it issued?

Do we need to check the patent list every time we have an idea? Might save us getting sued!

Author: Gary George

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Dynamically published – who’s brave enough to break the mould

October 29, 2009

So these are troubled times, but there are lots of opportunities for renewing the strategic direction and innovating your businesses. Many of you have scanned the market for ways to dynamically produce your work and offer more services to your clients. The technology is available to you that would revolutionize the way you service your clients and the speed in which you are able to turn pre-media output channels around. Yet is there anyone who is prepared to break the mould and step outside the comfort zone of desktop applications or template based webpage workflows?

Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Quark & Avairy are moving their applications on-line, workflow management interfaces are being delivered via the browsers and pre-media output channels are expanding – yet which pre-media companies are utilizing the available technologies to change their business models?

Technology is nice, but new business models change the world. Michael Josefowicz

When we look at the different market verticals, are we able to innovate each of them by exploring how they approach different problems?

Strategy, innovation and planning crosswordCompanies like Marklogic are stepping in and providing innovative solutions to the publishing arena and revitalising the way content is handled and delivered. Markzware have developed ways to extract content from our working document to enable us to index and search, then ultimately re-use the content. Moonpig has shown how manufacturing processes allow for single personalized content to be produced efficiently.

But why is it the new entrepreneurs that are providing us new ways of production and not the companies we employ to provide us services. How many pre-media companies can boast they have “Similar Image” search capabilities in their portals the digital asset managers they provide for their clients? You can rest assured that the clients will start asking for it now Google offers it to them for free.

Brands such as Danone are cashing in on the ability to aggregate users freedom of expression by allowing them to upload their own images to be printed on Danette pots in a bid to capture the consumers loyalty. What are you doing to capture your customers’ loyalty?

Pre-media is evolving, technology is evolving, people’s needs and requirements are evolving, but are you bold enough, insightful enough and innovative enough to evolve your business model to survive?

Author: Gary George

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mediaPro09

October 29, 2009

mediaPro09

Is the UK Cashing in on Advertising?

October 8, 2009

My old friend Andy Fraser happened to be over in Germany last week when he dropped me an email on our whole POD print concept. He found in a newsagent over there that they are already providing POD for the international editions of our favourite papers. And you know, I have myself experienced these POD papers when staying in Europe a few weeks back.IMG_0837

When sitting down for breakfast I picked up a copy of the New York Times global edition. This must of been printed locally and delivered to this and probably 100 other hotels around the area. The one thing that struck me as odd and pleasing in the same breath was the lack of advertising in this paper, other than a few scattered ads for subscribing to the global edition and then just one…. yes ONE paid advert for a watch. The following morning unfortunately someone else had got  to the NY Times before me, so I picked up The Independent International  Edition and sure enough the Brits had fully cashed in on the advertising with a total of 22 ads in the 48 pages of the paper. And we’re not talking about little classified ads here, we’re talking full page or half page in your face ads. So being that I found this a little intrusive with my breakfast, I proceeded to lookup the subscription price for The Independant and since it is clearly being supported by advertising, I was expecting a pretty low rate. But no… £894!! for the Monday to Sunday editions…. Well cotton my wee little socks, not only are they taking that daily advertising revenue, but to obtain the copy you are paying a big subscription fee (lets work that out…. emm oh over £2.40 a paper, thats over 5p a page since the edition I read only had 48 pages…..)

So, the hotel (or me if I subscribed) would have paid out all that money, to be forced to read untargeted UK based advertising (not that useful when you are in Germany knowing that you can get your tomatoes half price at Sainsbury’s that day) and filled with news that has been editorially altered to be shorter for a smaller paper!

Is there a Cognitive Mismatch Between Newspaper Execs And Newspaper Readers? I’ve been following the article on TechDirt with the same title and adding my own comments, but it actually brings me back to my own A Possible Future For Newsprint series where if you are paying for the content, why not choose the content you want to read.
Author: Gary George

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Pre-media Arrives on Wikipedia

October 7, 2009

OK so we finally got around to adding an entry into Wikipedia for the term Pre-media; amazing that it wasn’t there in the first place since just about every other term relating to our industry is. Just goes to show how young it is!

Watching our Google Alerts increase for the term Pre-media, we realised that Pre-media had not been defined in the global key community reference website Wikipedia. So using our own definition we have entered a reference for this important industry term and we would be interested to see if anyone has anything to add to our description. Remember that Wikipedia is a site driven entirely by the online community and so you are free to log on to the site and adapt and add to our entry as you see fit.

We kind of feel that we have covered all bases for now. But, since Pre-media is still a relatively young word, maybe there is more to be added (?). Without a doubt the term will need to be adapted and changed as the world of Pre-media flexes and expands to embrace new media output channels. It will certainly be interesting to watch this happen.

So head on over to Wikipedia and see if you have anything to add, edit or reword. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premedia

Author: Gary George

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Protecting your Businesses Integrity

September 21, 2009

PadlockIt takes some thinking about… Security…. but one area that I see continually left out is the area of systems portals. It seems that companies are pretty bad at managing the access control lists, users lists and overall security of the portal they provide their current employees and customers.

Let’s take a simple employee who accesses your company’s DAM system; actually lets say the he/she accesses yours and has been provided logins to some of the agencies you also work with. OK now I think you are getting the picture and actually it’s not just your portal or their portal, but maybe even numerous FTP or File Transfer systems that they have access to.

I’d like to ask a question and you know maybe I’ll add a poll onto LinkedIn later today, but is our industry crying out for use of an OpenID style system within the creative supply chain community to integrate into our own frameworks and systems? If then an employee left and you closed his account in your Active Directory (or whatever service you use) it could cascade the security to all other sites that access has been granted based on that security.

I haven’t formulated it fully yet, but ask yourself – how many logins do you have from your previous employment and have you since tested them? Try it now. You may have a shock at what you can still get into and to what value it could have to any new employer. As an employer, ask yourself how you manage all that access and don’t say it’s IT’s problem because the security and integrity of the company you work for is every employee’s responsibility (bet if you check your T’s & C’s in your contract it will be there!)

If we can have standards for colour, for workflow communications (JDF) and for files why not an industry wide security model?

So here it is http://polls.linkedin.com/p/57747/lsvsd

Author: Gary George

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