The Production ‘Traffic Cop’
Boys’ Life uses a modular style, so it is easier to manage. If a late ad comes in, we can usually drop a page of editorial. Scouting magazine takes in more partial-page ads and fills the well with editorial copy. So late ads require more design time to work them into the revised layout.
Our solution is the same low-tech solution it has always been. The production manager becomes traffic cop.
But is there something I’m missing? Is there some other way to shave days from the production schedule? At nine production days, are we really not competitive? I recently posed these questions to two of my colleagues, who shared their thoughts and experiences.
Private Clubs magazine
Why don’t people respect deadlines? I’ll leave that question for the psychologists and sociologists.
Technology does not increase “respect” for deadlines. In fact, technological advances have undermined respect for production. Many advertisers and editors now believe they can bypass production. “After all,” they say, “I know how to make a PDF.” Or, they believe technology has advanced to the point where everything can happen at the “last minute,” and wonder why we want materials in advance.
So, while production managers need technical knowledge (after all, we know the difference between PDF and PDF/X-1a), we also need the skills of an ambassador or mediator (or a good traffic cop). We need to earn respect by demonstrating respect for content creators, and we need to facilitate respect between editorial and advertising. Know their goals, and communicate clearly how we can help them.
Private Clubs is published six times a year, so we emphasize quality (and expense control) before speed. We’ve leveraged technology to tighten production schedules, but we intentionally move at a slower—and more careful—pace than a weekly periodical.