Optimising the publisher / printer relationship

The relationship between a publisher and their printer is a close one. Over the years, Pensord’s Heather Jackson has noted that successful publishers often display common characteristics…

By Heather Jackson

Optimising the publisher / printer relationship
Is this the secret to a mutually beneficial relationship? Photograph: Fahmi Fakhrudin on Unsplash.

In this fast paced, ever evolving publishing world, it is fascinating to see the wonderfully diverse collection of publishers in action. The innovation and creativity shown is mostly impressive but, occasionally, some decisions leave us scratching our heads!

Printers are in the privileged position of witnessing best practice across the publishing markets. In our experience, the relationship between printer and publisher has evolved from bolt-on supplier to partner, confidant, advisor. For many publishers, the seal of approval from their print partner is the confidence they need to press on and maximise the potential reach or impact of their publication.

Printers see, hear and feel publisher pain points and have the ability to subscribe high performing pain killers. Engaging and building close relationships, the printer – publisher relationship can and does produce remarkable outcomes. We are often regarded now as an extension to our client’s business, and this leads to mutually rewarding partnerships. But of course, not every relationship is like this, so here are some tips and insights.

The best of the best seem to follow a similar blueprint.

  • They engage early and are open and honest, setting out goals for new titles, or planned adjustments to existing titles. A sure way to avoid any unwanted surprises along the journey. Printers appreciate the intel and become more invested in helping contribute to the overall success of the project. Some of our magazine clients have confidential discussions with us long before the planned production date. Printers can sometimes foresee challenges around distribution, design, timings, format, and can help to reduce cost and remove pain points.
  • They communicate regularly; having a coffee or picking up the phone can lead to unexpected outcomes. Recently, a community magazine client told us they feared they may need to “shut up shop” due to the rise in paper costs. They hadn’t realised a slight change in specification and an off the shelf magazine app could cut their print bill by 30% as well as opening up new opportunities to generate additional advertising revenue. We’re printing less magazines for them now, but they are thriving and enjoying the new dimension the app is providing for their business.
  • They have a plan A (and B & C!). It sounds obvious and we understand things don’t always go to plan but talking through options means best outcomes for all. A weekly publication we produce exports some copies to America; as cargo rates increase, profitability can suffer. Plan B was to use lighter stocks when the need arises. Plan C is fun! It involved us outputting the magazine page files at 80% and producing a compact version, saving 30% on production costs as well as cargo savings.
  • They listen – when your printer tells you they have a new system, product or service, smart publishers take it seriously and give it careful consideration. Printers haven’t just dreamt it up because it would be a fun thing to do! It’s more likely that it’s solving an issue that other publishers are experiencing. If they’ve taken the time to tell you about it, they must see it as a potential solution for you too. For many years, we experienced publishers struggling to coordinate their mailing data which culminated in many of their beautifully crafted (and printed!) magazines never reaching an intended recipient. We experienced publishers scrambling to pull together spreadsheets and scraps of information for us to collate. Many printers, like us, now have a subscription / controlled circulation hub, enabling full data, payment, renewal reminder management and even offering cost saving postage tariff recommendations. Every single magazine, suitably wrapped, finds its way to the reader promptly and digital editions circulated swiftly. Publishers have more time to publish, and we enjoy a clear, efficient factory floor.
  • They just seem to get it! A velvet, peach skin laminate cover finish, with an embossed mast head and gold foil blocking on an over-sized A4 magazine, using luxury thick paper may be perfect for an arty high price tag bookazine. However, a B2B environmental magazine being mailed out worldwide needs a far more practical approach. As printers, we act and produce as instructed, and our polite suggestions come from a good place; publisher success means we keep clients for longer. We have numerous examples of collaborating with publishers from redesigns to simple tweaks all of which ensure profits are maximised.

Is life more complex or simpler? Most of us will remember buying a phone just to make phone calls, a straightforward buying decision. Subscribing and engaging with a smartphone is an entirely different proposition. Under consideration will be storage capacity, phone quality, size, service, reception, bolt-ons etc. Print, distribution, delivery platforms are improved and more complex now too. We’ve expanded our knowledge and reach to be better informed to help our clients. A good printer isn’t just ink on paper anymore.

About us

Pensord Press: A specialist magazine print company for over 50 years, Pensord Press produces over 300 regular titles. Based in South Wales, facilities include some of the most advanced printing, finishing and mailing technology in the UK.

Email: sales@pensordgroup.co.uk

Tel: 01495 223721

Cambrian Printers: Short run, multi-page projects and book printing. Cambrian is a well-equipped specialist in multi-page, high quality books, catalogues and brochures. Perfect Binding, PUR, Thread-sewing and Case-binding all on hand.

Email: sales@pensordgroup.co.uk

Tel: 01970 627111

Pensord Digital: Print runs start at one single copy.

Pensord Design: Creative solutions and outsourced facilities for editorial design and page layout. Designed to complement our printing capabilities.

Email: stuart.moody@pensord.design

Tel: 07525 422065