Pressing On: Returning to Profitability

This column serves as an official ‘heads-up’ to Badger Press of Fort Atkinson, WI. After fewer than two months on the new job here as editor of Printing News, my title is evolving because our new, long-awaited Web portal went live last month. So expect a new business card order, guys, as soon as we figure out what to call me: online/Web editor of Cygnus Graphics Media, maybe, or purveyor of portal content or something like that.

My octogenarian mother can’t seem to embrace this new media stuff, shaking her head disapprovingly as I tweet away on Twitter and her younger grandchildren text not-so-moderately on their smartphones. To my Mom, the Internet and social media (“that ‘Face’ thing on the computer,” as she calls it) is to print media what television and motion pictures were to radio and Vaudeville before it. Technology advances. Blockbuster video stores are closing all around us. As automobile visionary Henry Ford once said, “If I’d have asked people what they’d wanted, they would’ve said, ‘a faster horse.’”

This isn’t my mother’s – or your – media company. Grow digitally and prosper. Print is still king, but the digital arena is the fastest growing advertising segment. Read my feature story on page 12 for more about social media and how printing firms are capitalizing on it. In the same way, the Printing News, Quick Printing, and Wide-Format Imaging brands continue to build and reinforce our online graphic arts community using social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. (Editor’s note: I’m intentionally not italicizing these brand names because they’ve evolved into so much more than the titles of magazines.)


Sports analogies apply

Street-thug-turned boxer Mike Tyson said something rather profound that applies to printing and publishing: “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.” You know, I know, we know how tough this business can be, even as the U.S. economy shows some stronger vital signs. A marketing executive at one of the major printing press manufacturers put things in perspective a few weeks ago. After taking dire actions such as work furloughs and layoffs, printing companies first need to bring back employees, reinstitute overtime, and see an increase in job orders. Only then will they begin to think about (maybe) investing in some new capital equipment.

As a diehard Chicago Bears football fan, it can be difficult for me to quote Green Bay Packers ghosts. But there’s not much to dislike about their motivational former coach, Vince Lombardi, who once observed, “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” Like a lot of printers out there, Cygnus and Printing News took more than a few shots to the chin. And like you, we’re back up on our collective feet and fighting with our gloves on – or off, if you prefer a hockey metaphor.

Last month, I cited the phoenix-like drama of the original R.R. Donnelley. In a similar manner, the Cygnus star is rising. The company has emerged strongly from its forced Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in late 2009. After only 49 days, it brought on board former Penton executive John French as CEO. Last June, French wooed digital media veteran Tom Kohn, creating a new EVP position for the one-time strategic consultant to the Associated Press who also ran and did a stint at AOL. Cygnus is heading in the right direction; the people at the reins, especially publisher Kelley Holmes, have the necessary vision in the business-to-business space. Kudos to her for realizing the vision she has been nurturing internally within the company for more than a year.

Printers, we want to hear your stories because we are committed to telling them better than ever – in print, online, on video, whatever it takes. Breaking daily news, industry blogs, educational webinars, and a host of other multimedia functionality: We’ve got it all, and we’re going to use it all for your benefit. When you have a few moments, please check out what we have for you online at

Oh, and we’re mobile, too. Did I mention that?