Monthly Archives: February 2012

Merger of NAPL and PIA on the Horizon

Fresh on the heels of the Vision 3 Summit, the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) and Printing Industries of America (PIA) are deep into talks of merging. A task force comprised of many graphic communications leaders was selected to address the many issues involved with the proposed unification:

Laura Lawton, chair of PIA
Darren Loken, chair of NAPL
John Berthelsen, Suttle-Straus, Inc.
Tim Burton, Burton & Mayer, Inc.
Keith Kemp, Xerographic Digital Printing
Michael Makin, PIA
Joe Truncale, NAPL
Jules Van Sant, Pacific Printing Industries
Niels Winther, Think Patented
Nigel Worme, COT Media Group

Of course, there is a lot of buzz in our industry over this union, and current members of NAPL and PIA are encouraged to support their current association, as exact plans are not yet set for the merger. Since both of these associations are in the graphic communications industry, there is anxiety over what the new look and name for the association will be. Well, here is my suggestion: The National Association of Print Professionals International (and no, Don Imus didn’t help me come up with the acronym)! I hope you like it! Do you have any better suggestions?

Author: T. John Mehl


Social Media Week NYC 2012

Please note: Video contains some adult language.

Last week, Social Media Week 2012 kicked off in 12 cities worldwide, attracting more than 60,000 attendees in person and thousands more tuned in online through Livestream. According to its organizers, the event reflects social media’s role as “a catalyst in driving cultural, economic, political and social change in developed and emerging markets,” and the 2012 installment was no different. Unless you have a knack for time travel, attending these events is now impossible, but here are a few themes and observations from Social Media Week in NYC.

Live life in permanent beta: always be improving.
This paraphrased statement by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman (@quixotic) presents an interesting concept even in this time of social, mobile, and web 2.0 revolution. The “hacker” mentality that drives Facebook is cut from the same cloth but with a slightly different weave, if you will, since LinkedIn appears to approach new feature rollouts differently from Facebook. Either way, both companies have a permanent beta mentality of constantly improving, which means keeping one ear––if not both ears and eyes––on what is new, current, and possibly already being distributed in the social/mobile/technology marketplace.

Technology doesn’t solve problems––it creates tools.
Jay Walker (@TedMedJay) discussed his idea of an evolving system, citing examples like health care, medicine, the human body, and international banking as being non-fixed, constantly evolving systems. Walker concluded that evolving systems usually have some type of acceptable range, deal in probabilities, have compounding effects, and have infinite interrelatedness combined with a high degree of randomness. Sound like social media or the emerging mobile market? Walker thought so as well and went on to say that technology doesn’t solve problems, but rather it creates tools for “system thinkers,” which is exactly what we have seen in the marketplace to date. Entrepreneurs have a lower cost of entry into the market and make some amazing new online services. As these services grow, they gain capital investments and expand. As expansion and adoption continues, other “system thinkers” in different industries see the technology and adapt its functionality to solve their evolving system problems.

Curation versus original content––what is the future?
In a session hosted by Hearst Magazines, Noah Brier of Percolate, Anthony De Rosa of Reuters, Kellee Khalil of, and The Filter Bubble author Eli Pariser sat down with moderator Keith Butters, cofounder of The Barbarian Group, to discuss curation. The need for end-user filter control was a common thread in the discussion, along with the feasibility of creating an algorithm that mimics what editors do daily as they curate content for their publishing channels. The future of content––its discovery and consumption online––will be evolving as companies develop features to control the fire hose of content that rushes at us daily. The need for feed and filter literacy was introduced during the conversation and opens the door for not only personal but corporate training on how content is delivered to a user and how that user can and should control the content he or she reads. What one user considers important is a difficult decision to make and ultimately program and is very subjective. The future of curation or algorithmic filtering and delivery of content will depend on how transparent and user-friendly the features become.

Data, analytics, and a concentrated focus were the overwhelming themes across Social Media Week 2012. What ideas are you thinking about relating to social and mobile for 2012?

Author: John Carew

Mountain Lion

Once upon a time, a small company named Apple introduced us to the Mac… I don’t think anyone at that time thought Apple would become the powerhouse that it currently is. These days, when Apple announces new devices or even looks to be releasing something new, it makes national news. We can expect a lot of media and consumer attention when Apple releases its next operating system: Mountain Lion.

A very early release was just given to tech reviewers. One of the biggest changes to the operating system is that it will have a similar look and feel to the iPhone and iPad, including:

Notification Center: a dark grey box that notifies you when emails and messages arrive and sends reminders from the calendar

Messages: replaces iChat and works and feels like the message app on the iPhone/iPad

PDF forms: can now be filled in from Preview

AirPlay: allows for wireless streaming of music and videos to any AirPlay device, including the Apple TV

Gatekeeper: the user chooses the level of security through System Preferences and can decide if the computer can install and run apps from Apple only, from trusted third-party developers, or from anyone

Author: Susan Hallinan

The Solar Annual Report: Innovative Design

Working in marketing has its highs and lows. For years I used to revel in the experiences I had at different agencies: Beer Fridays, jeans to work five days a week, Thirsty Thursdays, themed parties, Margarita Mondays, and so on. While we had a good time—and apparently had to de-stress ourselves often—it wasn’t always fun and games. Eventually reality arrived, crashing our party.

Which brings me to my next point: Don’t annual reports just flat-out suck? As hard as I try, I can’t seem to find one endearing thing about them. That is, until now.

German-based ad agency Serviceplan came up with an innovative way to produce a client’s annual report. Austria Solar, a company primarily focused on, you guessed it, thermal solar systems and companies, worked with Serviceplan to create an ingenious annual report that uses the sun’s energy to reveal its content.

The text is printed using special phosphorescent inks that only appear when they have direct or near-direct contact with light. It’s a clever little way to connect the big-picture idea to the physical execution. Check out this video that shows some of the work:

And who says annual reports can’t be fun?

Author: Eric Swenson

Six Sigma: Fact or Fiction?

Motorola developed this quality-control strategy in 1986, and in the ’90s Jack Welch, Chairman of General Electric, popularized Six Sigma by training all 276,000 GE employees in its principles. Today many companies in many industries adhere to the Six Sigma strategy. The goal of Six Sigma is to achieve only 3.4 defects per 1,000,000 products or transactions!

Is that truly achievable when you mix process and people together? Six Sigma demands perfection from all your staff, every day! No matter how talented your staff is, can all of them block out distractions outside their work environment to hit this perfection target daily? How do health, personal issues, family problems, child-care costs and concerns, stress, commuting, and fatigue impact staff productivity?

Now, pile on work-related issues such as client requirements and deadlines, employer demands and deadlines, increased responsibility due to staff reductions, information and technical overload, absenteeism and touchy coworker relationships––I’m sweating just writing about all these obstacles that face employers and employees 24/7 in every company in every industry.

Can you succeed in an environment that mandates “99% Right is 100% Wrong”? Six Sigma evangelists say YES because it is metric driven and verifiable. The problem-solving nucleus is based upon five processes: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC). Problem areas are identified, and DMAIC analysis determines the root cause of the problem, allowing the team to develop solutions, including training to reduce errors to an acceptable level. Then, the plan is implemented and its success measured after a predetermined time period.

Despite being aware of the obstacles to its implementation mentioned earlier, I am a disciple of the Six Sigma principles because the goal is to attain an excellent level for client service. Six Sigma accountability reminds us that we must exceed client expectations in every interaction! If your company doesn’t strive to excel, your competitors will be more than happy to replace you.

Conclusion: Six Sigma = Fact!

Author: Ralph Fucci

Sassy Says: Get Your Bargains on Consumables, NOT Marketing Materials

People in my company think of me as the bargain queen. I know where to get a deal on just about everything. But when you are searching for bargains, you need to know what to splurge on and where to economize. I definitely don’t want half-price sushi (do you really want to take the chance that they are trying to get rid of the less-than-fresh stuff?), I don’t want to use Groupons for my medical care, and I don’t want to venture into areas where my knowledge is less than fluent looking for a deal.

This takes us to the marketing world. You can get business cards online for $1.99, but they are gang-run, you have no customer assistance, and what you get is what you get. Many people may think a $1.99 gamble is worth it. But is it? Many cultures and businesses take great pride in a business card. It serves not only to relay information, but almost as a certificate of honor and pride for what you do and the company you work for. People spend thousands at design firms conceptualizing the perfect business card, picking the perfect stock, ink, finish, etc.

There is an etiquette in some cultures for the presentation of a business card. The Japanese hold each corner and present it to the receiver. You would never just deal one out like we do here.

So I ask you, if this much thought and money is spent on a business card, what about the rest of your marketing materials? Don’t you want to be perceived as a sassy, forward-thinking company and not a cheap fly-by-night? Marketing materials, websites, and any other communication should always put your best business foot forward; potential clients make judgments on your company based on these items. Sometimes these materials are the first contact a person may have with your company. Making a great first impression is something I would never gamble with.

Remember: Shop around for the paper clips, glue sticks, and staples. Buy Groupons for the neighborhood office supply store and LivingSocial pizza deals for staff lunches. Visit the TKTS line for your discount theater tickets, shop the sample sales for amazing discounts in the city, and search websites for the cheapest gas in your area. But don’t scrimp on making a great first professional impression.

Author: Cari Frederico

Mobile World Congress 2012

Every year in February, the mobile industry and tech fans turn toward Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress. In the past, this event has introduced the latest and the greatest––the QR code, for example, and last year, near-field communications. This year is no different––major mobile companies will be unveiling their newest wares. (Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated smart phones will not be there. The Galaxy S III, which is generating a lot of buzz because of its AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display and promises to be flexible and 3-D, will be shown at a Samsung-hosted event later this year.)

Here are some new products that will be presented at this year’s Mobile World Congress:

  • HTC is introducing two new phones running Ice Cream Sandwich: the Ville (dual-core) and the Edge (quad-core).
  • Nokia is back with its 900 Windows Phone.
  • RIM is expected to introduce the BlackBerry 10 OS.
  • One of the more interesting rumors concerns Tizen, a Linux-based open-source mobile operating system.

I predict the thing that everyone will be talking about is cloud-based mobile computing: a cloud-based app behaves like any other app, but the processing power comes from the cloud. There are a couple of cloud-based apps out there, like Mobile Gmail and Google Voice for iPhone, but expect to see more.

Author: Susan Hallinan