The Printing and Publishing Seminar moved to the east coast last week with presentations in New York City and Philadelphia. The Big Apple is the capital of the media industry with the largest assembly of publishers, ad agencies, multi-media conglomerates and corporate headquarters in the world and one of the largest generators of print in the United States. Fifty years ago New York printers reigned supreme in the print industry. The city was filled with communication entrepreneurs spreading their unbridled enthusiasm for the future of the publishing and printing industry.

Over the years that reputation tarnished whereby other parts of the country picked up the mantle of innovation. The New York print community last week had an excellent educational opportunity to start the wheels churning to regain the reputation of yesterday and learn how to be profitable for many tomorrows by attending the Print and Publishing Industry Seminar. However, very few printers of any size were in sight. The New York event was mostly publishers and creative professionals. As a New York metro area resident and former local printing executive, I was extremely disappointed in the lack of aspiration to bring the New York print industry back to its glory days through the crafting of a new digital paradigm.

I did have the chance to converse with one of New York’s premier printers, and one of the few commercial printers that did attend. He offered an excellent reflection on the New York business climate, "Business is so bad we can only focus on trying to keep the cylinders turning". While this printing executive could only spare the morning listening to the speakers’ talk of trends, business development issues and value added services he quickly surmised this time was well spent. He was able to reflect that the Neilsen Company print story is a compelling message worth further investigation. He further concluded he should be looking beyond his current dismal situation and focus on new services that could favorably impact the company. The economy is not getting any better, those that manage their companies into the future will be successful and hopefully bring New York back.

At lunch I had an engaging conversation with a diverse group of seminar participants. They represented a financial report printer, a mail house and a representative from one of the worlds largest media companies. The common bond for all was the need to research new value added services. The financial printer was predominantly a monochrome document center and felt the need to provide not just full color but personalized color reports. The mailer was seeking the knowledge to move the company from just mailing to printing as well. "We understand list management and it seems logical that we could now personalize the entire printed piece - not just the addressing.” The media company manager had just installed a Xerox DocuColor 2045 in the central mailroom. They also had DocuColor 12’s on every floor. She was looking for ways to maximize the use of this equipment to the best advantage of her company. All three agreed the power of the new digital technologies was awesome. They just needed some direction and this program provided it.

Philadelphia had a very strong representation from the franchise and quick printing market. These owners were eager to learn how they could upgrade their business model from one of copy shop and simple one or two color printing to sophisticated full color personalized printing. One gentleman who is part of a large franchise indicated the home office is offering courses in digital workflows but this program "blew away" anything coming from headquarters. It seems these people are clearly following in the pioneering footsteps of America’s most famous printer and follow Philadelphian Ben Franklin.

Two other people I spoke with reinforced the program benefits by explaining what they learned. The first a large monochrome direct mail organization recently purchased their first color device and were looking for sales related ideas. The big question in their minds was "How could they up sell the existing clients on color.”

The second person represented a medium sized commercial sheet-fed printer. Again the agonizing tale of idle 40" press time was repeated, but this man realized he had to take action. He had attended seminars from other manufacturers, but he said their goal was to sell equipment with very little emphasis on business development. "This was a real educational program." He felt no pressure to purchase anything. He also now realizes that there is a lot more to the digital world than just variable data printing. He thought the value added services concept was critical to building a sound business plan and he thanked me for making the thread of content service provider understandable.