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Premedia 2012: Your new life has arrived.

By Joe Cha, President, HIPZONE

December 2011

Five years ago, as the President of QuebecorWorld Premedia, I wrote an article in Gravure Magazine titled 'Premedia RIP.' Think of the famous quote attributed to Twain that 'rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,' and anyone who saw that headline, didn't read the copy and still has a job in prepress might disagree. "Hey buddy, I'm still alive!"

Indeed. And not only have you survived, you actually stand positioned in 2012 to thrive in a new media production marketplace. We are at the beginning of what I call Premedia 2.0, where the media is integrated in its production and the delivery is out to a growing number of platforms of which print is just one. It's actually a great time to be in premedia services because you stand in the center of what I call the media 'bowtie.' Premedia professionals can now be expected to accept rich media, feeds, blogs, and video as well as traditional layouts with text and photos. You add value to that content through organization, manipulation, management and can deliver it all to a growing number of channels. If you do it right, you have built what I call an INTEGRATED MEDIA SYSTEM.

Here is where it gets interesting because this is how you can build on your traditional business. With all the excitement around emerging platforms and the recent news that mobile devices in America now outnumber our population, your customers begin realizing they can't get content to all new smartphones, tablets, readers, web and print platforms cost effectively on their own. Too many outlets, too many software upgrades and not enough staff from recent layoffs and management fear of increasing headcount mean your customers need help and have started looking for answers from all corners. Without anyone bringing THE answer, the default position is minimal investment to 'just get something up' like a replica of a print edition on a tablet and call it a day. They know it's a poor experience but it's cheap and no one has shown them how to make money on it anyway so as long as they can say they have something, until something better comes along, they feel that answer is enough. This is a sample of what that workflow looks like:

You can help customers do better than that because you have the answer in your premedia department and handle the answer every day: the files. Regardless of the delivery vehicle or platform, if you manage, maintain and tag the files appropriately the content you manage on their behalf can be transformed easily and quickly from print to a variety of platforms to help clients communicate and transact with their customers at minimal additional cost. This enables clients to feel they can afford to experiment. The biggest strength you have going in is what I call your 'relationship primacy.' Over the years, you have cultivated trusted relationships built over countless hours under the color booth lights, weekends and odd hours delivering final files or on site at press oks in horrible weather. And because of that your clients trust you. You also have technical advantages in that you have digital asset management expertise and the latest versions of software many of which contain several elements for integrated, multichannel media production. You can lead them down a path where they can do more with less, with your help and you actually put yourself in a closer position than previous because you are no longer part of the print delivery channel with the highest cost structure. You can redefine your career and your company's position now a content steward.

PREMEDIA 2.0 WORKFLOW: CONTENT FIRST

Granted, the details can be daunting and your success will come from the execution of the concept. However, your biggest weakness may be the fear to experiment and the temptation to source the answer from someone else. It may sound good initially. You make no upfront investment, maybe learn a little along the way and even get paid by a third party to service your customer. You might even lull yourself into thinking the time to market savings for the client is the right thing to do by them. Be forewarned: if your biggest asset is your relationship primacy, sourcing out new premedia work as a premedia company to someone else can be the most dangerous choice you make for the future of your business. Today the dollars to new media prep could be quite small relative to your traditional work but ask yourself what the growth of both types of work look like. If your traditional print work is flat to shrinking and the rates are going down, why wouldn't you outsource that and focus your energy on the new growing parts of the business to make sure you can answer your customers questions about what they are paying more attention to in the future? New media is good news for premedia. Your next life is knocking, open the door and say hello.

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