The Print Council Names Ben Cooper Executive Director, Exclusive Interview
Press release from the issuing company
December 14, 2005 -- (WhatTheyThink.com - See an exclusive interview with Ben Cooper below) -- The Executive Committee of The Print Council today announced the appointment of Ben Cooper as Executive Director of The Print Council, effective January 9th, 2006. Martin Maloney, who has completed his special one-year commitment as the organization's Executive Director, is appointed to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors that governs the actions of The Print Council.
In a press release, the Co-chairs of the Executive Committee (Roy Grossman, President of Sandy Alexander and Jim Dunn, President of Heidelberg) praised Martin Maloney for his efforts. Grossman stated: “We are delighted that Ben Cooper will be joining us as Executive Director on a dedicated basis. He will be succeeding Martin Maloney and his company who have done an outstanding job of bringing The Print Council to top-of-mind awareness throughout the industry, doubled our membership base and created a solid platform for The Print Council.”
Cooper joins The Print Council from the Printing Industries of America where he was Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, a post he held since January 1981. Commenting on his appointment as Executive Director of The Print Council, Cooper observed, “... I am eagerly looking forward to working with the Executive Committee to create and implement new programs that will build on the momentum for industry acceptance and growth established by Martin Maloney.”
Maloney commented, “...Ben is well known and respected throughout the industry and brings extensive experience to the Executive Director's office. I will continue my participation in the organization's activities as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors...”
Interview with Ben Cooper - By Cary Sherburne, Senior WTT Editor
Last month, WhatTheyThink published an article questioning whether the Print Council (www.ThePrintCouncil.org) was on the right track and was moving rapidly enough to effectively address the issues our industry is facing. Since that time, the Council has moved to replace part-time Executive Director Marty Maloney with Ben Cooper in an effort to infuse more energy and focus into the initiative. WhatTheyThink spoke with Cooper about his vision for The Print Council.
WTT: Ben - we understand that The Print Council was your idea to begin with.
BC: The concept for the Print Council was developed between myself and Jeff Hayzlett at a print trade show in 2002. Times were tough for the industry, and we knew that something needed to be done, so Jeff and I just decided to go do it. We were very pleased that industry leaders were quick to join the initiative.
WTT: When you say "industry leaders," to whom are you referring?
BC: To date this has primarily been a vendor-led initiative.
WTT: Was that the intent from the inception?
BC: No. The biggest difference between my conception of the Print Council when we got started and where it is today is the role of the vendors. I think that any vendor-led effort will fail. If the initiative does not have broad and consistent support from the print provider community, it will not succeed. The support of the vendor community has been very much appreciated and has helped us get to the point where we are now. But we must have a large number of printers that are committed to an industry marketing campaign, and that is something we don’t have right now. I think the vendor community will continue to be there, but they don’t want to be there by themselves
WTT: Are you retiring from PIA/GATF?
BC: I consider myself a little young for retirement at 57. The truth is, I have been at PIA/GATF for 28 years, and I wanted to do something different. What I really enjoy more than anything is putting alliances together. I have done a lot of that in my lobbying work with PIA/GATF, and I find that getting like-minded people together in a common purpose is energizing. Having done lobbying for almost 30 years, the one thing that is still true to this day is that the printing industry is simply is not very well known as an industry. Part of the problem is the historic nature of the companies being small and family-owned. They see themselves as being tied to their customers in such a unique that way we rarely have had a united voice of our own.
Despite the fact that the industry is in the $160B range, the Dept of Commerce really doesn’t have a good sense of who we are. They might know the people that manufacture printing equipment, but they really don’t understand the printing industry. We have a serious identification issue that we have never overcome. I think my public policy background will be very useful in helping to change this situation.
WTT: You referenced the fragmented nature of the printing industry. Do you think the Print Council will be able to benefit all of the printers out there?
BC: There are obviously some very sophisticated printers out there, but you can’t turn the industry into something it is not. If you are a small local printer with a local market, this kind of marketing initiative represented by the Print Council may not help you. If, on the other hand, you are prepared to become part of a media mix and you know how to put that together, you can succeed. We have been advising people over the last few years to expand what they do with their print customers into new areas.
WTT: What are some of those areas?
BC: Most professionals in the industry are proud of their ability to print. The way you succeed is in a whole range of other things, including how you manage distribution. RR Donnelley, Quad, Quebecor, and many other companies in the industry focus on logistics, as well as front end services, warehousing, fulfillment, distribution, and that’s where the growth is. Printers have to know they are part of this supply chain.
WTT: I was curious about the relationship between the United States Postal Service and the Print Council. What are your thoughts about that?
BC: 47% of the product that gets produced by this industry gets delivered by one entity, the United States Postal Service. We need to understand how they work and how to develop partnership arrangements. We are also invested in the success of the Postal Service. If they fail, the printing industry will face serious problems.
WTT: Do you see that relationship expanding, then?
BC: When we first started the Print Council, we were all set to start a project we called The Richmond Project. It was to be a marketing campaign conducted in Richmond VA, a small market where we felt we could accurately measure results of the campaign against performance changes in the local printing community. That project was never executed. I would like to take a look at it again. Once we have results from a small market like that, we should be able to expand the program successfully to other markets.
WTT: How about the involvement of the industry associations?
BC: Among the things that frustrated me about the transition of the Print Council from the volunteer guerilla movement it was to a more formal organization a year ago was another project on the books that was never implemented. We had gotten agreement from Ron Davis (PIA economist) and Andy Paparazzi (NAPL Economist) to take joint responsibility for compiling all of the relevant information and research that is already out there into a cohesive package that the printing community can use to promote the cause. In my opinion, this was an important project. And it was the perfect collaborative effort between the Print Council and two of the leading associations.
WTT: Do you plan to revisit that?
WTT: What other objectives do you have in mind for the Print Council in your new role?
BC: It is almost endless what this Council can and should do. While a lot of infrastructure has been put it place this past year, we haven’t had a lot of movement, and we went too long without a deliverable. The pressure to have deliverables soon is weighing heavily on me.
For one thing, we will be participating in the National Postal Forum in Orlando in April, conducting sessions on print and mail. PIA did this last time, and I hope we can expand that role this coming year. We also need to develop tools, including presentations, that printers can use in educating customers on the role of print in the new media mix. We will develop these over time and continue to add to the available resources, but we want to start getting materials out there right away.
I also believe it is important for us to continue to communicate and collaborate with our media partners, like WhatTheyThink.com.
WTT: If you look ahead to January of 2007, how will you measure your success and that of the Print Council?
BC: I would say I have three goals to accomplish by January of 2007. Most importantly, the Print Council has to have a substantial number of printers in the industry committed to its mission—in the high hundreds or even thousands—within a year. People have to sign on that they are committed to this. Secondly, I believe that funding won’t be an issue if we get our momentum going. And I think the funding can be significantly above what it has been to date. Third, by the end of next year, we have to have the deliverables we have talked about—several very clearly identifiable products that people understand and think are valuable.
If all three of those goals are not met by next year, the Print Council will not survive—products, broad support, and broad and ongoing funding. If we can achieve those three things it will be a successful year.
WTT: Ben, thanks for talking with us. We wish you well in your new role.
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