Outsource Solutions: Catalog Production
Avoid Press Check Pitfalls
When printing a catalog, the direct marketer and its print vendor ideally have the same goal: to create a quality product. But the realities of a vendor/client relationship are such that the printer also wants to perform the job quickly and economically—while the cataloger’s aim is to get the best printing, says Miriam O. Frawley, president of e-Diner Design & Marketing, a catalog agency in Highland Mills, NY.
To help you hurdle the potential roadblocks to a successful press check, consider the following six pieces of time-tested advice.
1. Discuss your expectations with your printer ahead of time. Obviously, the more details you talk about before the press check, the better. Two key areas to focus on are color matching priorities and color saturation.
Frawley encourages catalogers to ask the printer for an imposition, so they can view where the pages will fall in each form; this helps you scout for color-matching issues. For example, if you have a bright red sweater on the same form with a dark brown wood armoire, you’ll want to discuss with the press crew any options you have for preserving the color quality of each image. Then, before the press starts running, you’ll already have made some of your tough decisions.
It’s also critical to specify the kind of ink saturation you want. Printers that do a good deal of magazine and direct mail work tend to go easy on ink usage, resulting in a lighter proof, explains Dan McIntyre, production manager at McIntyre Direct, a full-service catalog agency and consulting firm in Portland, Ore. For catalogs, McIntyre prefers to view bright or saturated pages.
2. Ask the printer for a prepress proof. Electronic files corrupt easily, points out McIntyre, so it’s always a good idea to have the printer generate proofs for you just before the press check. These proofs don’t have to be high quality, he explains, just something to review for accuracy of the layout and basic color. Obvious mistakes can be caught early, before paper and ink are invested.