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Thursday, December 20, 2012

R. R. Donnelley forecasted to be stock Deal Of The Year

Matthew Frankel of, a Website for stock market news and financial analysis, has picked North America’s largest printing company, R. R. Donnelley and Sons Co. (RRD), as a contender for 2013’s high-yielding Deal Of The Year.
Among the things he likes about the company are its strategies to lower its cost structure, improve the quality of its products to stand out in the industry, and grow by acquisition.  (It has acquired nine companies since 2010.) 
He predicts:  “RRD is expanding by capitalizing on the exit from the market of smaller, weaker competitors. As RRD acquires smaller printing firms and expands, the company will gain market share as it leverages its geographic and product breadth in its favor. Operating margins in 2012 and 2013 will be helped by increased productivity and cost synergies from its recent acquisitions, and its revenues will rise slowly but surely.”
Especially impressed by RRD stock’s “insanely cheap” valuation (currently around $9.00 per share), Mr. Frankel writes:
"RRD has paid out $1.04 a share annually every year since 2004. Analysts are projecting earnings of $1.87 this year, $2.00 next year, and 5% growth from there, so do the math. For this reason, analysts have an average 1-year price target of $13.25 on the company, which is 6.7 times projected 2013, well below RRD's historic valuation levels. This represents a 45.8% upside potential over current levels, and I believe this target to be very conservative. If RRD meets analyst expectations and turns in a few more positive quarters, I think the stock will gravitate toward the lower end of its historic EPS multiple, around 8.5 times earnings. Based on projected 2013 earnings, this translates to a target of $17."

See his full analysis at:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cross-media-marketing case studies

My October article for PrintAction details how Cats Media, a small Canadian business, grew and thrived by transforming itself from a traditional print and copy shop into a cross-media-marketing services provider.  I wrote the story because I perceived a frustrating scarcity of information on role models and action plans to help other printers make similar transitions in their business.

Now I’m glad to report that Jeffrey Steele has documented more such case studies in his December-1st article for, “Grab Attention with Cross-Media Marketing”.  His article details the tactics of several U.S. print providers who are successfully expanding their services beyond printing into such other media as QR codes, augmented reality, and social media to bolster their customers' marketing campaigns.  The printers describe their best campaigns to date, the types of media they favour, how they sell customers on cross-media-marketing services, and—very importantly—how they track and report campaign results to clients.

Addendum dated 3 January 2013:
I see Joann Whitcher of has reprised a similar topic in her December-31st article, "Implementing Cross Media Solutions: Are You Up to the Task?"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pantone decrees Emerald the Color of the Year for 2013, Sephora follows suit with Emerald products for eyes and nails

 In case you’ve been holding your breath, this month Pantone LLC, the global provider of professional colour standards for the design industries, has announced that the Color of the Year for 2013 is PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, “a lively, radiant, lush green.”
You may recall that Pantone intended 2012’s Color of the Year, Tangerine Tango (PANTONE 17-1463) to provide us “with the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”  Pantone’s aspiration for next year’s shade is that it “enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony.”
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, elaborates:  “Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other colour in the spectrum.  As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate.  Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.  This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.”
Among other merchandisers jumping on the Emerald bandwagon, the cosmetics chain Sephora has collaborated with Pantone to produce a limited-edition SEPHORA + PANTONE UNIVERSE™ 2013 Color of the Year beauty collection, which will be available exclusively from Sephora starting in March 2013.  The collection, featuring a variety of products in next year’s colour, including eye shadow, nail polish and accessories, will be sold at Sephora stores across the U.S. and  No specific word seems to have been released yet about whether Sephora’s Canadian retail outlets will carry it.

Are you planning any Emerald products or promotions for 2013?

Update on 16 March 2013:

Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, would be the perfect opportunity to try Emerald-green cosmetics in honour of both Ireland’s patron saint and Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year.  Please let me know if any of you fashionistas decides to take the plunge. 

Tip:  For application ideas, it may help to consult the numerous sources of inspiration available on the Internet, including:

Update on 11 April 2013:

"Emerald City", a current art exhibition by Meg Cranston, on display at LAXArt (a contemporary-art gallery in Los Angeles, California) until April 20th, uses Pantone Emerald Green as both a material and a subject.  The exhibition includes a painting of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wearning the much hyped emerald-green peace-sign-print dress made by luxury brand Mulberry that she wore to a London opening at the British Natural History Museum in November 2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Respected blog raises $62.5K on line to publish premium printed magazine

Next year, after 80 years in print, the mainstream news magazine Newsweek goes all-digital.  But the edgy, Toronto-based Creative Applications Network is moving the other way--from an authoritative art-and-technology blog to an upscale printed magazine examining the convergence of art, science, and technology.

The new magazine, called HOLO (logo shown at left), is planned as a premium, twice-a-year, 150-to-200-page publication on high-quality stock with a cover price of $30.  Its international content will be “dedicated to rich, detailed stories that demand time and attention. At HOLO they are committed to telling these stories – attentively and expertly – in a patient, spacious medium that does them justice.”  (Profuse thanks for this poem on printing to Technology Will Save Us.)

To help meet the new magazine’s estimated start-up production costs of $35,000, its publishers are raising capital on Kickstarter, a fund-sourcing Website.  As of 10 o’clock this morning, with 48 hours still to go in the campaign, the new magazine has already amassed an impressive $62,434 from 820 backers.

I can’t wait to get my hands on their first issue.

Addendum on Friday, December 14, 2012:
As of 10 a.m. today, with 24 hours still left to go in its on-line fundraising campaign, the publication has collected $64,725 from 865 backers (185% of its $35,000 goal.)  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Impressive printed holiday greeting cards for 2012

This week, one of my most active and business-communications-savvy contacts on LinkedIn, Paul Castain, has posted an articulate tribute to the enduring qualities of printed greeting cards, even--no, make that especially--in this era of digital media.

Additionally, for all greeting-card lovers in search of design novelties:  my colleague at PrintAction, Trish Witkowski of, has uploaded a series of videos showing a collection of 16 ingenious holiday-card ideas from all over the world. The more exotic ones include a card that presents a slice of pumpkin pie and one that can be assembled into a paper model truck.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One of the world’s most valuable pieces of print

Who says printing isn’t valuable in today's economy?  One little printed ticket that went missing in England is worth over £64m—the highest British lottery prize ever to remain unclaimed.  The winner has only until 11 o'clock p.m. GMT today to claim it.  Residents of Stevenage and Hitchin, the Hertfordshire towns where the ticket was sold, are said to be ransacking their belongings in a desperate effort to find the precious ticket before tonight's deadline.  

Thanks to PrintWeek in London for pointing out the story on Twitter.

Océ and manroland partnership reinforces optimistic forecast for printed newspapers

In my November cover feature for PrintAction, several of Canada’s most powerful newspaper editors confirm that print remains strong.  Both Océ and manroland must also foresee a strong future for printed newspapers, since they’ve recently collaborated to produce a new system for inkjet newspaper production.  The system combines the Océ JetStream 5500 full-colour inkjet printing system with the manroland web systems variable pin folder FoldLine VPF 211.  In 2013 two of the new systems are scheduled to go into production of newspapers and other commercial products at French printer Rivet Presse Edition, the first customer for this innovative technology. The printing company is spending $14 million to construct a building to house the systems in Limoges, France.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Toronto Sun links Catholic school board’s print supplier to controversial church

On Friday Toronto Sun reporter Michele Mandel broke a story revealing that TriPrint Media--a printing company in Mississauga, Ontario, that for years has been a supplier to the publicly funded Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board (DPCSB)--is affiliated with a controversial church.  Ms. Mandel reports that the printing company is co-owned by brothers Joe and Fred King.  Fred King is the present leader of the Church of Jesus Christ Restored, a group that broke away from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Owen Sound, Ontario, and is currently under investigation by Ontario Provincial Police on allegations of polygamy and underage sex. 
School-board spokesperson Bruce Campbell declined to tell Ms. Mandel definitively whether or not DPCSB would continue to use Triprint’s services. DPCSB’s Web site states:  “The Mission of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, in partnership with the family and church, is to provide, in a responsible manner, a Catholic education which develops spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical capabilities of each individual to live fully today and to meet the challenges of the future, thus enriching the community.”  
The case as it unfolds will provide a working study of the complex interplay between conducting business in public, private and public morals, religion, the law, police investigations, the media, and the use of taxpayer’s money.

Any thoughts on how the scenario will or should play out?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Your purchase of greeting cards from Phoenix Print Shop changes young lives

No one who attended last night’s Canadian Printing Awards Gala could help but notice what an admirable job the young people from Phoenix Print Shop’s Foundations of Print Training Program did to assist event organizers.

Now in its 11th year of operation in Toronto, the Phoenix Print Shop provides homeless and at-risk youth with printing and graphic arts skills training, a full-time job, and long-term support.  In June 2010 the shop moved from its initial location in an 800-square-foot space into an expanded production facility measuring close to 7,000 square feet.

Phoenix Print Shop is part of Eva’s Phoenix, an organization that provides housing for 50 youth, aged 16 to 24 years, for up to a full year, and enrolls up to 160 youth annually in employment and apprenticeship programs providing both vocational and life skills.

You can share in their life-changing work by purchasing the 2012 greeting cards that Phoenix Print Shop is now offering for sale.  The cards are designed through an annual competition for at-risk youth across Canada (one impressive sample by artist James Lee is shown above) and are available on-line at:

More information on Phoenix Print Shop at:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Toronto’s printer Mayor Rob Ford will fight court ruling to remove him from office

Toronto’s printer Mayor Rob Ford says he will appeal yesterday’s verdict by Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland to remove Mr. Ford from office. The judge ruled that the mayor of two years violated the Municipal Conflict-of-Interest Act by speaking and voting in city council on a motion that recommended Mr. Ford repay $3,150 he improperly solicited from city hall lobbyists for his private football foundation.  In anticipation of potential disruptions to both Toronto’s civic government and the judicial system, Mr. Justice Hackland put his ruling on hold for 14 days to go into effect December 10th.

In response, Mr. Ford (left centre) says that besides appealing the decision, he will also seek a stay from Divisional Court to keep him in office beyond December 10th until the appeal process is finished.  He also says that, if he loses the appeal, he will run again in the by-election to fill the office he has vacated pending the general election of 2014.

Rob Ford and his family are owners of Deco Labels and Tags (Toronto, Chicago, and New Jersey).

As you can see from the sampling of Web links below, journalists and bloggers are having a field day of speculation as they consider possible interpretations and future results of these latest events.

HarperCollins launches new imprint aimed @ converting teenagers to e-books

Next week HarperCollins launches HarperTeen Impulse, a new imprint of low-priced, short-length, digital-only content for teens. The move is aimed @ converting teenagers who have been slower than other age demographics in switching to e-books.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Three sound business reasons to attend the Canadian Printing Awards Gala

Even if your company didn’t submit an entry to the Canadian Printing Awards, you can still gain valuable benefits in the areas of networking, human resources management, and market intelligence by attending the Awards Gala. 

Benefits of attendance include:

1.              Prestigious networking opportunities – Awards competitions and ceremonies attract the best companies and prominent business leaders.  By connecting with other guests in person at the gala and later by phone, e-mail, or social media, you can build your professional relationships and a prestigious new pool of contacts. 

2.              Staff development, morale, and retention – With a celebrity host and fine dining, the Awards Gala provides a night out that is both scintillating and educational for your management team and staff.  By supplying them with tickets, you can boost their knowledge base, their regard for you as an employer, their morale, and therefore their productivity and longevity with your company, all in one shot.

3.              A measure of your performance you can’t find anywhere else – On display at the gala will be the best of Canadian printing achievements.  Independent experts representing different aspects of the printing industry have singled out these prizewinning entries to receive 24 awards in diverse categories.
(PrintAction's Associate Editor Clive Chan took the wonderful shot at left of some of the 2012 contest judges during their deliberations.) 

But there's no substitute for conducting your own first-hand review of the prizewinning pieces at the gala. It gives you an unparalleled opportunity to assess the strengths of your own company’s products and performance by comparison, as well as to identify any areas that need improvement.  You might even pick up a few new ideas for advanced innovations to try in your own business.

As of yesterday afternoon, tickets to the Awards Gala were still available at:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Remembering Glen Chiasson and Mike Grasso

This week I’m sad to mourn the passing of two of my former colleagues:  Glen Chiasson, former manager of the Graphics Canada trade show (Toronto, Ontario; left) and Michael Grasso, Director - Professional Placement at PrintLink (Rochester, New York; right.)  I remember them both for their exceptional kindness, for the warmth of their families, and for helping me to learn a great deal about the world of printing at stages of my career when I knew considerably less than I do now.  I hope that as a business editor and writer I am continuing to do their legacy proud.

New York resident explains how printed newspaper provided a lifeline after Hurricane Sandy

RISI, Inc., a commercial organization that bills itself on line as “The Leading Information Provider For the Global Forest Products Industry”, has published a list of seven reasons why printing proved its value in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

All seven reasons were collected from comments submitted on line by residents of the mid-Atlantic United States.  Although some of the reasons seem to conflate “news” with “newspaper” conceptually or overlook the obvious fact that electrical power is necessary to produce print, I really liked reason number five, consisting of the following testimonial from New York:
When I awoke to what looked like a war zone Tuesday [Oct. 30], I thought I was completely cut off from the outside world - no power, no Internet, no phone, no battery-operated or hand-cranked radio (since rectified). But when I ventured outside my apartment building, I spotted a newspaper box with an amazing sight: that day's edition of the New York Daily News. It had obviously ‘gone to bed' too early the previous evening to have all the news of the storm, but I eagerly dug in. At that moment print was clearly the superior technology for conveying news.

If interested, you can find the whole list of seven reasons at:

The list was originally published in Dead Tree Edition, a blog by a magazine-industry manager who goes by the pseudonym D. Eadward Tree.  Mr. Tree describes his blog as “Insights, analysis, practical advice, and smart-aleck comments related to the production and distribution of publications, such as magazines and catalogs, in the United States.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My 2 favourite awards categories & why

Further to my last post on "Seven reasons why you should enter the Canadian Printing Awards", today I want to throw in a special plug for submissions to my two favourite awards categories:  Business Development and Environmental Printing.

I'm posting this shamelessly subjective promotion for three reasons:  The first and most selfish one is that submissions to these categories often have wonderful stories attached, giving trade journalists like me who attend the awards ceremony plenty of interesting new material to write articles about in the next eleven months.  (One example that comes immediately to mind is Symcor's award-winning intergenerational green initiatives that formed the basis for one of my columns for PrintAction.)

The second reason is that, maybe because I often write about new trends in marketing communications, I have amassed a considerable following of social-media contacts in the marketing and advertising fields.  These people in particular might be interested to learn that not only printers but also vendors can apply to such competitions in the Business Development Categories as Best Marketing Campaign.

The third reason is that, although some CPA categories only require you to submit your printed product, contact information, and a modest entry fee, submissions under my two favourite categories require applicants to record a little more detail.  I'm not talking about volumes of paperwork, but typically at least a page or two.  

For example, applications for Best Online Presence [from either printers or vendors] require you briefly to outline the scope, objectives, outstanding features, and results of your Web site(s), social media, or on-line storefront.  Application forms for some Environmental Printing entries include a handy chart that helps you pinpoint your achievement(s) under various headings, such as certifications, energy, distribution management, facility engineering, health and safety, policy, pollution prevention, product development--you get the picture.    

So although the application process isn't all that much more complicated for either the Business Development Categories or Environmental Printing Categories, if you haven't begun already, you'll probably need to get started on your application today or tomorrow (Thursday would definitely be pushing it) in order to submit it in time for the 5 p.m. deadline this Friday 2 November.

One final subjective note:  please give serious additional thought to submitting an entry to the new category of Display Graphics (under the Quality Printing Categories), because none of us in the printing industry ever tires of admiring colourful eye candy--the bigger the better. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seven reasons why you should enter the 2012 Canadian Printing Awards

I know you’re terribly busy.  On most days most printers are stretched so thin that squeezing in one more extra task seems next to impossible.  Even so, it would be a serious strategic error for you to skip making your submission to the Canadian Printing Awards (CPAs) in time for the October-26th deadline, eight days from now.  In fact, any serious business owner or manager needs to make it a priority to enter awards programs in their field because of the multitude of astonishing benefits they’ll reap in return.  Here are seven of the biggest:

1.            Large-scale publicity  – Arguably, awards are the most powerful and cost-effective marketing tool.  The publication, association, or trade show that organizes an awards program will devote all its considerable resources to publicizing the awards and participants before, during, and after the event.  Especially if you are a winner or finalist, you can continue to publicize your own participation and successes in the awards program to your customers, prospects, prospective investors, and trade media indefinitely.  Many awards, including the CPAs, come with an impressive trophy you can display prominently at your company forever.

2.         A record of your achievements – Awards contests help you review your own progress and evaluate your successes and the areas of your business that need improvement.  Initially you’ll perform this process when deciding which projects and initiatives to submit to the contest.  But also, while some of the CPA award categories require you to submit only basic information with the entry fee, others require more detailed documentation.  The latter categories not only help you document your progress but also result in a report you can recycle many times in many ways to broadcast your achievements and track your future progress.

3.            Networking opportunities and peer recognition – Awards competitions and ceremonies attract the best companies and prominent business leaders.  Thus they provide an opportunity for you to show off and discuss your best achievements and latest innovations with a discerning and appreciative audience.  Additionally, by attending the presentation ceremony or even by connecting with fellow participants by phone, e-mail, or social media, you can build your relationships and network with a prestigious new pool of contacts.

4.         A leg up on your competition – Entries, recognition, or wins all give you a tangible edge over competitors and showcase your company as among the best in your field.

5.            Support for your employer brand – Participants gain recognition in their industry as award-winning employers whose companies and products make them leaders in their field.  This recognition makes your company a more attractive place to work for top-performing new hires.

6.         Staff motivation, morale, and retention – Everyone wants to feel appreciated and part of a successful organization.  Participating in awards competitions sends your staff the message that your company is worthy of recognition by a respected external body.  This realization raises staff’s motivation and morale--especially if your company is astute enough to use your victories in awards competitions as platforms to stage internal celebrations recognizing the achievements of staff members who contributed to your success.  It also helps to buy staff tickets for the dinner where prizes are announced, held in Toronto on November 29th.

7.         A measure of your performance – Entering the awards gives you an unparalleled opportunity to assess the strength of your entry against others in the same category and gauge how your business stacks up against the very best.  Frankly, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity for an economically priced assessment from some of the industry’s most knowledgeable independent business experts who judge the entries.

But the craziest part is that you can reap all the above seven benefits for a cost of between $90 and $110 per contest submission.  (The actual cost depends on the total number of submissions you make.)  With 25 awards in three diverse categories, it’s hard to imagine why any printing company of any size wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the CPAs.  To get started immediately, click on:      

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s resignation spells new opportunities for printers

Everywhere in the Canadian news this week you see headlines about Dalton McGuinty’s Monday-night resignation as Ontario’s Premier and Liberal Party Leader and his prorogation (suspension) of the provincial legislature until further notice. These front-page events deserve equal prominence in my Printing Blog, because without doubt they will also result in new opportunities for printers in 2013.

Here are two big reasons why:

A general provincial election is brewing in Ontario, although we don’t know exactly when. The provincial Party’s constitution requires the Liberals to pick a new leader within six months.  The latest predictions say that at the earliest it will be late January 2013 before the Liberals schedule their leadership convention for this purpose. 

Afterwards, Mr. McGuinty has left the decision of when to recall the legislature up to the new leader.  Whenever it happens, the ensuing sequence of events will likely be:  (a) a throne speech, (b) a budget, and (c) another prorogation to allow for a general election.  So by my estimate, even if the next Ontario election doesn’t fall in 2013, multiple candidates from all 107 ridings province-wide will be gearing up hard for the vote by the end of the year.  

Accordingly, my message to printers is:  start doing your research and promoting your services now to attract your share of all the many printing projects--signs, bumper stickers, campaign and polling-station collateral, or who knows what else—that will become rife as Ontario leads up to election day.

An election will also mean you have another precious opportunity to review each provincial political party’s stance on issues affecting your Ontario company and lobby anyone who wants your vote for constructive change. 

For instance, yesterday on LinkedIn I broadcast PrintAction’s breaking story about the fact that after over 30 years, Columbia Finishing Mills of Cornwall, Ontario, a small 12-person operation, has lost the contract to produce Canadian passport covers to Ottawa's Canadian Bank Note, a company that will reportedly outsource the production of the passport covers to Europe.

Although passports are a federal matter, note that before Ontario’s last general election on 6 October 2011, a similar issue of requiring Ontario tax dollars to be spent inside the province was one pillar of the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP)’s platform on small business.  For further details, see page 32 of my September-2011 column at:

Now it seems that, although Ontario usually holds its general elections four years apart, you will have another opportunity unusually soon to grill your local candidates—not just the NDP but candidates from all parties--to determine whether their policies on business are the approach you need to help your company prosper and grow.

Can anyone think of other pending bumper opportunities besides the two I’ve mentioned here?  If yes, please record them below so then we’ll all know.

PS:  In case you live outside of the province/country or haven’t had time to follow the headlines, here’s a sampling of the latest skinny on the McGuinty Liberals:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Minneapolis still reeling from yesterday’s tragic shooting at a sign business

Yesterday a tragic shooting at Accent Signage Systems, Inc., of Minneapolis, Minnesota, killed several innocent people, including owner Reuven Rahamim and UPS driver Keith Basinski, and injured several others.  As of 2 p.m. today, the latest news and blog reports still vary when describing the extent of the casualties and injuries.  Deepest sympathies to the families of all concerned and to the Minneapolis printing and business communities.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How AlphaGraphics reinvented itself in just 2 years to reverse declining sales

Recommended reading:  Carol Tice’s 14-September-2012 post on, entitled “How to Grow Your Business -- When Your Whole Industry is Dying”.  It describes how the 41-year-old printing franchise AlphaGraphics has successfully turned its declining financial position around in only two years by reinventing itself from simple print and copy shop to new-media marketing services provider.  According to Forbes, a typical AlphaGraphics store now brings in $1 million in annual revenue, in contrast to industry averages of $500,000-$900,000.
The AlphaGraphics Web site reports that:
-       The company originated in Tuscon, Arizona, but since 2001 they have been headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
-       They were the first U.S. printing franchise to expand internationally, and
-       AlphaGraphics currently has 270+ independently owned and operated franchises located in the in the United States, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
They add that:  “AlphaGraphics has formed an alliance with Print Three of Canada, ensuring consistent, quality service for customers throughout North America.”  No further practical details on how the alliance operates appear on either franchise’s Web site.,Press%20Releases/