Publishing Executive Hall of Fame: John Blanchard—Not Afraid of the 'What-Ifs’'
Blanchard's 11-year tenure at RBI encapsulates the momentous changes that have occurred in magazine production over the last decade. "When I started, we were generating pages on QuarkXPress, making film and cross-checking film to laser printouts …," he recalls. "Now we are fully digital. We have very sophisticated content management systems and workflow governance systems that regulate all of our interdepartmental activity in order to produce high-quality products."
Innovations shepherded by Blanchard while at RBI include the transition to an all-digital workflow, the use of ad portals for materials collection, highly efficient page deliveries, deployment of a collaborative editorial workflow system and the automation of processes in collaboration with print vendors. "Managing the vendor chain and seeing the whole process from end to end was very key," he notes.
It is his focus on quality and efficiency, both in the realm of big-picture strategy and individual projects, that most impresses Blanchard's peers.
"I have worked with [and] for John for the past eight to nine years here at Reed. He is an innovative, smart, dynamic manager who gets things done," says Paula Gordon, RBI's director of operations. "Many of the advancements that we have been able to make in regards to technology [and] easing the production process have been under John's leadership. He is constantly looking at new, better ways to get the job done in a more profitable and efficient way. But the key here is that he not only looks at new technologies, but works with the day-to-day people to see how these technologies fit into the workflow and then applies the right technologies to get the job done. This quality is what makes him a strong innovator and leader."
Blanchard is proud of his efforts to improve customer interface by creating a single point of contact for sales and contracts, but he is perhaps most satisfied with efficiency improvements, including working with print vendors to achieve a mutually beneficial, streamlined process.
Related story: Honoring the 'Unsung' Heroes' of Publishing