Boston Area Print Buyers Flock To Graphic Communications Day - New England
Press release from the issuing company
BOSTON (April 28, 2005) — More than 300 attendees participated in Graphic Communications Day — New England, a one-day gathering that combined information sharing about printing and a celebration of the effectiveness of print and print-related services in New England’s $11 billion print marketplace.
“We had two objectives,” said Jim Tepper, president of Printing Industries of New England (PINE), the region’s largest printing and graphic communications trade association, which hosted the event. “We wanted to expose print buyers to the vast array of services that area graphic communications firms offer. We also wanted to acknowledge the important role printing serves in effective business communication. Judging by the reaction from our 40 exhibitors and 300 attendees, we had a very successful day. We plan to make this an annual event.”
ATTENDEES FIND VALUE
“Candidly, the event was a pleasant surprise,” said John Boucher, a designer at Radius Product Development in Clinton, Mass., an industrial design firm with a heavy focus on packaging design. “I had expected a couple of print vendors and was very impressed to see a room filled with vendors who offer designers like me a range of services. The whole day was not only educational; I found resources that we can use at Radius.
“I think a lot of designers work in a bubble. We’re busy doing our thing and we don’t always get a chance to be exposed to the technologies that are impacting printing and graphic arts. I learned more about how buyers are working with variable data and how variable data- driven direct mail campaigns can increase response rates. I also attended the seminar on invoices (Beyond the Invoice: How to Evaluate the Cost) and I gained useful knowledge,” Boucher said. “I’m looking through two different lenses, and I sense many designers do that.
“My only suggestion would be to lengthen the event,” Boucher said. “There was practical and useful information in the seminars and a great variety of vendors on the exhibit floor.”
“I listened, I learned and I celebrated,” said Connie Kelly, a graphic designer at Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels, a Boston-based law firm with offices around the country.
Kelly, who handles all marketing and communications responsibilities for the law firm and its satellite offices, said professionals in situations like hers need an event such as Graphic Communications Day to come together.
“Only recently has my firm begun using an outside designer to help with the workload,” she said. “Before that, I was really on my own. I often rely on my printer for guidance on many issues.
“Attending Graphic Communications Day — New England was very enlightening and a fun experience. It gave me a chance to see others who face the same challenges. From the registration, to the workshops, to the cocktail hour — a great chance to meet, chat and gather information from all the vendors — the event flowed very smoothly. It was an opportunity I was glad I didn't miss. I look forward to future symposiums.”
VOLUNTEER STEERING COMMITTEE SET THE COURSE
PINE focused on core seminar topics to help print buyers broaden their knowledge of issues ranging from PDF (Portable Document Format) files; advances in proofing technologies; how to execute a variable data printing campaign; best practices for file preparation; and mailing and distribution guidelines. The seminar topics were devised with the help of a volunteer advance steering committee made up of print manufacturers and print buyers.
“The volunteer committee provided useful input on which we built the seminar platform,” said Beth White, director of association programs at PINE. “Each of our seminars were very well-attended with more than 40 people in each one. Two of the seven seminars were completely filled.”
All the seminars were free of charge, as was admission to the event for qualified print buyers. The most attended seminars were two featuring Julie Shaffer, executive director of the Robert Howard Imaging Center at Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF), and co-author of two industry leading books about Adobe’s PDF file format.
“Julie Shaffer’s presentation fit a lot of information into a short period of time,” said Todd Fairchild a production manager at Proteus Design in Boston. “She addressed real-world and current issues in file preparation and spoke to both the prepress and design perspective.
“Her insight on how to create print-ready PDF files correctly will make it possible for me to prepare files for unknown printers with greater confidence and to train designers here in solid file building best-practices,” Fairchild said. “Julie really knows her stuff.” Fairchild is considering engaging Shaffer for on-site consultation at his company as a result of attending her seminars.
A separate contribution to the education component was a keynote address by Nancy Harhut, a senior executive at Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos, one of Boston’s biggest advertising agencies. Attendees packed her lecture about the effectiveness of direct mail in an era where business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing is growing increasingly complex.
“It was terrific to pull together proponents of the printed medium to share strategies, approaches, and new information,” Harhut said. “Direct mail remains a dominant communications vehicle in the U.S. today, and as marketing professionals, we need to both leverage and safeguard that channel to ensure its continued effectiveness.
“Despite all the new and emerging technologies, and despite consumers' tendency to consume media differently today, direct mail continues to be a channel that consumers actually prefer. They trust it. They enjoy its tactileness. And they appreciate its convenience and familiarity. As such, it's earned a key place in the marketing communications arsenal, even in our multichannel world."
Harhut praised the effort to bring together the entire print and graphic arts value chanin for the benefit of print production professionals, graphic designers, brand managers, marketing and communications professionals, purchasing officers and others.
Her keynote topic brought smiles to the faces of print service providers who packed the room with buyers to hear her address.
EXHIBITORS FIND PROSPECTIVE CLIENTS
“I have been a long-time participant in the graphic arts community and I cannot remember going to an event that included the entire print media supply chain,” said Jeff Pallis, president of DS Graphics in Lowell, Mass. and chairman of the Board of Directors of PINE. “Customers, printers and suppliers coming together to learn, to network and to have fun are key to the future of our industry. The diversified offering of exhibitors added to the ambiance of Graphic Communications Day. The best surprise of the day was all the new faces at this event. The success of our first print buyer day shows that the graphic communication channel is alive and well in New England.”
“This was a great first-time event,” said John Orrall, president of Winthrop Printing Company in Boston, one of the largest independently owned printing companies in Massachusetts. “It can only get bigger. I’m ready to sign up for next year. We made contact with buyers whom we haven’t interacted with before. Certainly it will take time for the sales process to develop, but we can’t ask for more than to leave an event with a list of qualified prospects. That’s what any exhibitor wants.”
“We had waves of people (on the exhibit floor) when the seminars let out, which generated some solid hits,” said Joe Kelley, senior vice president of W.E. Andrews in Bedford, Mass., an R.R. Donnelley & Sons company. “I’ve already recommended to our president that we sign up for next year’s event.
“I would think that if you were serious about the marketplace as a communications company, you would have representation at Graphic Communications Day,” Kelley said.
“Graphic Communication Day — New England was definitely successful for Coptech Inc.” said company Sales Manager George Anderson. “We connected with many new prospects and companies in a market where we had little previous exposure. As we suspected, the one-to-one marketing, digital on-demand, e-procurement, CD-DVD collateral, and color matching opportunities are boundless in Boston. We look forward to next year’s show.”
“I thought Graphic Communication Day was terrific,” said exhibitor Frank Shear, president of Seaboard Bindery in Woburn, Mass. “For me, the printers were a major draw, but I was very glad to make a lot of contacts among the designer world.”
“This was a home run on the maiden launch,” said exhibitor Phyllis Speen of Graphic Imaginations, a specialty finisher in Middleborough, Mass. “Attendees saw and welcomed the low key approach to educating them in areas where we all need to be partners. We certainly showed our mutual need to work toward the same end of ‘positive printed communication pieces.’”
“My impression was that the show was a success,” said exhibitor Jay Stewart, president of Capital Offset Company in Concord, N.H. “I think we would participate again.”
“I personally acquired eight contacts as a result of attending and was able to put many other names to faces,” said Christine Hagopian of Unisource.
SPONSORS HELP MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
“We owe a tip of the hat to Unisource and Xerox, our two main sponsors,” said Joe Venti, event coordinator. “Once they signed on, momentum began to pick up. Exhibiting vendors began to register and we filled out the exhibitor space within several weeks. Then we focused our attention to reach print buyers.
“Both Chris Rogers and his staff at Unisource and John Hamm at Xerox were instrumental in the successful launching of Graphic Communications Day — New England.
“In the months and weeks leading up to the show, I got the sense from both the producing side and the buying side that both groups really wanted this to happen and wanted it to be successful,” Venti said. “Between 2000 and the end of last year, the industry has taken a real hit. Everyone’s mettle has been tested. Now, everyone is looking ahead. The focus is squarely on the customer-client and how we in the industry can serve them and help them be more successful. That’s what Graphic Communications Day — New England was all about.”
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