Honor thy CSR
Publication-printing companies have slowly changed from a commodity vendor (supplying printing) to a service vendor (fulfilling the publisher's objectives). Successful printers realize that selling services gets and keeps customers. Customers become dependent on a vendor who helps them to be more efficient and profitable. And it is the customer service representative (CSR) who is the link to that relationship.
It's the CSR's job to work directly with the publishers and gather all the needed instructions to produce their magazines. The CSR also enters that data into company management systems, tracks its progression and, in some cases, helps prepare invoices. CSRs put out 'fires' and resolve problems. They work for the printer and get paid by the printer, but they are so much more than that to the publisher.
Everything a publisher does funnels through that one person. Publishers depends on their CSRs to understand their goals and expectations, make sure a quality product is delivered and suggest improvements and cost-savings.
Getting to Know You
All publishers have unique goals and objectives, and therefore, different demands of their printers. TV Guide and Newsweek are particularly time-sensitive and require schedule commitments; Architectural Digest and Communication Arts are 'coffee-table' magazines demanding the highest quality; Elle, Cosmopolitan and People require newsstand distribution; Modern Maturity and Boy's Life need efficient mailing operations, while most controlled-circulation titles look for quality at the lowest possible cost.
The majority of publishers rely on CSRs to inform them of options that can help better achieve their goals.
This is particularly true with small publishers, like Snowboard magazine in Hailey, Idaho. Publisher Mark Sullivan points out, "As a small publisher with limited staff, we rely heavily on our printer to keep us informed of options that we otherwise might be unaware of."
But that reliance is not just limited to the small guys. "We would love to have ideas come out of the plant." says Lori Kyle, production director, People magazine, New York. "New concepts that we could bring to our advertising customers are great."