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Frank explains the challenges of staffing in a cross media world

Published on November 8, 2010

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I'm Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Frank Romano who needs no introduction, an industry luminary and Frank I'm kind of curious.  We talk a lot about printers needing to get into this cross media, integrated communications, marketing services provider, whatever you want to call it.  What are the key infrastructure elements that they must have to get into this environment and that would be people, process and technology?

Frank Romano:  You know because printers now are finding that their customers are not only using print to communicate.  They’re using electronic media and electronic methodologies, so the printer in order to satisfy those needs because if they don’t someone else will, needs to be a cross media kind of provider today, so they not only have to do print, but they have to have an infrastructure that helps their clients on Twitter and Facebook and all those new social media sites, so they need to build that IT infrastructure that allows them to offer those kinds of services.  Now by the way, the great thing about that is by interfacing in those electronic media areas they then have the opportunity to tell the client you know print does help you to stand out, so I think that is why you need to put it all together.  So they need a good IT system.  They need software that allows them to do personalize URLs, allows them to do QR codes, allows them to send out Twitter blasts, email blasts, all of those kinds of new electronic forms of communication that…  And again, they’ll need software to do that and networking to do that and computers to do that and there are vendors out there who provide all of those kinds of services.

Cary Sherburne:  And what about the people to do it because isn’t that one of the biggest challenges for printers maybe is finding the people?

Frank Romano:  That is going to be the hard job because in the old days the printing industry only competed with itself for employees.  You went and stole a press operator from another company, but today we need IT people and the problem is we’re competing with every other industry in the United States, so someone graduating from college with a computer degree now can get a job in telecommunications or transportation or whatever it may be and so the printing industry has to promote itself better in order to attract these really great people because they need that IT expertise.

Cary Sherburne:  And I understand that at your alma mater, RIT…  Is alma mater the right word?  Did you graduate from there?

Frank Romano:  No, I didn’t graduate from RIT.

Cary Sherburne:  Okay, your ex… where you were professor emeritus, RIT that they’ve broadened the scope of the school of printing management courses to include a lot more computer and IT and that kind of stuff.

Frank Romano:  We pioneered that by the way, back in 2000.  We created the first multidisciplinary program at RIT where one-third of the courses came from the printing school, one-third from the IT school and one-third from the design school and we brought them all together as the new media program.  It was called New Media Publishing.  By the way, it still is.  It is still on the books.  Over the years the program got modified.  I'm hoping that we go back to it because I think that was a good blend of all the right kinds of technologies, techniques, methodologies required by a modern printing company.

Cary Sherburne:  And RIT as an example has an internship program, right.  I mean you can work with RIT to get interns and to get information about new grads that might be available at most of the schools.

Frank Romano:  Actually it’s built into the curriculum.  They must do 2 periods of 10 weeks of paid work for which they get paid and they get credit and we help them to find those jobs.  Some of them stay with that company when they graduate, but most importantly they have a whole new outlook on the world, so when they come back from their first internship they really address their studies in a much different way.  They now realize they’re part of an industry.  They realize there is a job out there for them and it just changes their outlook for the better and it’s just a great experience.

Cary Sherburne:  You know this is a slightly different subject, but I was talking to somebody recently who was doing some training of veterinarians in Haiti because this group of veterinarians went to Cuba to learn how to be veterinarians and they never had any hands on, so you’re students don’t have that problem.

Frank Romano:  No.  By the way, our best internship is the 20 weeks on the Cunard ships.

Cary Sherburne:  Of course.

Frank Romano:  RIT students do all the printing on Cunard ships.  There are now three of them and they have actually offset presses down in the bowels of the ship and they print everything for the 3,000 passengers on there.

Cary Sherburne:  Menus and signs.

Frank Romano:  Menus, advisories, newsletters, just about anything you can possibly imagine.

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  I think when in my next life I'm going to be an RIT student.  Thanks Frank.

Frank Romano:  Thank you Cary.

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