Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, paper, printing, publishing, small business, Uncategorized

Spring Fever: A Forgotten Love

Last year, at an art exhibit focusing on Iceland (“Due North”), held in, naturally, a converted icehouse in Philadelphia, I followed an old staircase down to the basement. At the end of a hallway there was a workshop that is part craft, part hobby, part business: Second State Press. Under the motto “Make More Prints!” young people keep the art of ink on paper going strong.
I walked around the presses, the stone plate-making, the silk-screening, the cutting and work tables. What may be considered monotonous drudgery for some is now a creative delight for a young generation.

Walking down the hallway, the samples of WallArtPhillyShowprint caught my eye.

 

I had forgotten the richness of print
I had forgotten the intensity of color under reflected light
I had forgotten the depth and beauty of ink on a textured paper
I had forgotten the striking effect print produces
I had forgotten the feel and scent of a printed page
I had forgotten the romantic side of the printing craft: using images to convince, to inspire or to inform by triggering emotions and a call to action.

sadgirl
Sad
ActorMasks
Emotions
depressedwoman
Depressed

amoreI had forgotten the pride in work that is so often missing or unsung in our industry.

Cutterguy

It was a delight to be here.∼

 

 

Illumination or Reflection? Screens vs. Paper

Many of us endure a daily barrage of images from screens: TV, neon, smartphones, tablets, monitors, and more.

MonitorEyeMonitorEyeMonitorEyeMonitorEye

 

 

 

These use light transmitted from behind to project the image.

     Ink on paper is entirely reflective, depending on the external light source.

RoseRelief
Flower in Relief, paper

Whether linen paper, a billboard or a label on a Budweiser bottle, the image is tangible and changeable by shadow or movement.

So, digital images are fine, fast and forward-moving; but I’ll never let go of the sensory advantages of print on paper. Others, I’m sure, agree. Last year Amazon. com reported a massive decrease in e-book sales and a surge in print book orders. My point exactly.

Thanks for reading.

RayRenBall

Ray.

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Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, photography, printing, publishing, small business, small business sales, Uncategorized, video production, web design

Models, Images and Videos: How to do Your Best

Everyone is a designer. Everyone is a photographer. Everyone is a videographer. Or, so it would seem in the new tech world, where we upload and share 1.8 billion photos every day.

But, do you really want to be like everyone else? If you, design, edit or contribute to a newsletter, blog, ad book, webpage, technical report, or simply post on social media streams, there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind.

The Subject Matters

DragandDrop
© Capitol Copy Service 2014*

Sure, there are candid, in-the-moment photos you can use. And, there are millions of stock photos on the web. But to really illuminate your subject, a professional model is best. For a recent photo display, we used a model. Here’s why:

  • Easy to photograph and takes less time than amateurs
  • Prepares for the photo shoot with clothing, make-up and hair styled
  • Patient
  • Experienced in posing
  • Offers feedback and suggestions for improving results
  • Photos customized to our product or service

Top tips for taking photos (from award winning photographer, David Pratt- DSP Photos)

3d little human read an open book

  • Be aware of photo opportunities
  • Make sure subject has enough light or use flash on camera  and never shoot into the sun
  • Composition- Shoot images tight, fill frame with what is important
  • Keep it simple – Just because you have the latest and greatest camera with all the bells and whistles does not mean you have to use them all the time.
  • Be quick – Just shoot it, if you think about it, it will be gone!
  • Use a tripod or mono pod in low light situations.

 

Videos Add Dimension

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video with sound must be worth more, right? Videos done professionally assist your audience in many ways:

Encourage Action!

Sure, it’s very basic, but this 12 second video, embedded on our webpage, increased response more than 75%!

 

How-To For Making a Sale!

 

We produced a video for a product just released to the market. It needed to reach a global audience and we needed to show ease of use:

 

 

Sound was not necessary for the demonstration, as you can see.

Visit the full website here: Stethoshield

In addition to the website, the video was shown at several trade shows and at presentations to buyers. Within a month, orders for the product came in from across the US.

 

Animation!

Even something inanimate benefits from video. The concept was to show the product as a shopper would see it on a shelf. (Package design and video by Capitol Copy)

 

Top tips for producing your own video (from “Social Media in a Nutshell” seminar, 2014)

  • Use the best equipment you can afford
  • Learn or understand editing
  • Use professional models
  • Give most attention to sound or don’t include it
  • Make sure your video plays on most major platforms
  • Keep videos short
  • Start your own YouTube page to upload, download and showcase videos

 

Legal and Ethical Issues

It’s happened to us hundreds of times………..

Customer: “Can you print this from my file?

Us: “Sure, we’d be happy to. I see you have photos and graphics in the file. Are they yours?

Customer: “No, I just downloaded them from some website.

Us: “Well, they will not print well because they are low-resolution. And, there are copyright issues.

Customer: <big sigh>

So, how do you avoid this conundrum?

 

Top tips for using images

  • Take your own photo (your smartphone camera can do it!)
  • Pay for professional design services (capitol-copy.com)
  • Use a model
  • Buy clip art or photos from legitimate websites, like IStockPhoto or DollarPhotoClub

 

Thanks for stopping by!

RayRenBallRay@Capitol-Copy.com

 

 

*Contact information for Hulda Lind: Lindmodel@gmail.com

twitter-bird-white-on-blue@Huldalindkrist

68051_10151509108346729_1731694342_aIcemodel Hulda Lind Kristins

Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, printing, publishing, small business, Uncategorized, web design

I Like Cod Liver Oil and Ad Books

IMG_1050I pondered a good way to start the New Year: eat healthy while preparing to reduce stress at work.

First, have a shot of Icelandic cod liver oil with breakfast. Delicious, with a taste similar to a liquefied, low-salt anchovy. But, like many things and habits that are presumably good for you, this is not an experience I look forward to.

Second, write a guide to organizing, designing, managing, printing and distributing ad books for fund-raising. Delicious, and it helps strengthen the health of an organization. It’s good for me and you, but assembling ad books normally gives everyone agita.

So, as an expansion of our guide to “Program and Ad Books” page on our website, Capitol Copy Service, here are some observations and ideas that are good for you and the health of your organization:

Program books have the dual purposes of benefitting supporters and promoting your organization.

♦        Too often, ad book authors/compilers forget that it is about their company, organization or special event.guyreadingflop Would you like to read and keep an entire booklet consisting only of ads and promos? Neither would I. So, include something about your firm: history, goals, photos from the past, and, don’t forget to explain where the ad dollars will be going.

♦      Some advertisers and sponsors really don’t care about the ad; they just give you a dollar commitment so you’ll go away. But, I like to think they really do care, and for this reason we cheerfully design a basic ad for them. Then, when you solicit their support the next time, you can show them how wonderful they are!

♦       It’s a great idea to offer sponsorship “bundles” with each level of ads, giving sponsors key ad placement, extra recognition on signage or maybe carving their name in a watermelon fruit basket at the banquet table.watermelonshadow

♦       Always accept a paid ad, regardless of deadline. Sometimes printers (like us) can work miracles and squeeze in an ad. Or, do an insert. Or, design a small table sign for them. Or, make mention of the advertiser as part of the live program.

♦       Take a tip from public TV and radio: ask that everyone support the advertisers that purchased ad space. Connecting people as customers, vendors, advertisers and promoters is always a worthwhile goal! cheerleader

Program Books Want and Need a Healthy Dose of Planning

♠       Nearly every adbook we’ve done in thirty years concludes with crunch time at deadline. I guess it’s unavoidable but planning does help. Start with the date and time you need the adbook and work backwards. (We can help with production schedules: Print@Capitol-Copy.com)Time business concept.

♠        Have an awesome rate sheet. Not only does it give the ad shopper options, it also shows how serious you are about pursuing support. Sample ads, layout templates and previous adbooks help you sell. (We’ll customize one just for you: Design@Capitol-Copy.com)

♠       Payment in advance or with an ad order is the best policy but not always realistic. Go with an ad placement deadline, ad copy deadline and a separate or concurrent payment deadline and aim to wrap up everything before the date of your event.

♠        Allow yourself some sit-down time to assemble the book. paperpileWho gets the center-spread? Where does the event program go? Should a menu be given a page? Will there be stunning photos of me on the outside back cover? Can I find text and logos for ads on the advertiser’s website? No need to sweat the details at this point; just get a feel for the elements of your booklet.

Multi-Source; Slice and Dice Your Booklet

♣     No reason to keep your ad book a secret. Plunge it right into social media, as a polished PDF or in bits and pieces.

♣      Recent trends show that some print adbooks are less of a focus, favoring a PowerPoint or video showcase of advertisers. (We’ll design one for you.)

♣        Build momentum by thanking newest sponsors on your Facebook page.68051_10151509108346729_1731694342_a I’m sure they’ll agree to that. It can’t hurt to reciprocate endorsements, either.

♣       Write a blog article on how you blossomed as an ad book orchestrator.  conductor

I’ll read, follow and recommend that!

♣       Post stories, photos or comments from your ad book on other blogs, LinkedIn LinkedIn_Logo60pxor sponsor webpages.

Follow-Through and Follow-Up

♥       You are a considerate person with a pleasing personality. So, I know you’ll send thank you’s to all your advertisers, supporters and participants! Tell them how well the event fared and how much you value their contribution. You’re welcome.

♥    Like Dickens said of Christmas: the spirit is not what comes for one day alone, but throughout the rolling year..  And so it is for your sponsored program book; plan for the next one as you conclude the present one.

Now, I’m off to have a second shot of Cod Liver Oil. It’s good for me.

Thanks for reading.

RayRenBallRay@Capitol-Copy.com

Posted in blogs, business lunch, creative writing, Digital printing, dining out, graphic design, printing, publishing, small business, small business sales, trenton nj, trenton restaurants

Highlight of My Day? Lunch!

burgerDessertRosasPaniniRosas

Well, not really. But it is something I look forward to each business day. While pondering this blog title, I stumbled upon an old review by Small Business Trends:

SBTrends

Matchmaking business lunch.

The recent expansion of LetsLunch builds on the fairly common blending of eating and doing business. What’s not to like?

You Can’t Eat Social Media

So, either you or your organization has an awesome social media strategy. You’re immersed in LinkedIn updates 24/7. And, you cross-post on a variety of platforms. Is there something missing? As we stress in our Social Media seminars: “never forget you are connecting with people. It’s hard work making and keeping friends on line or off.”  Here are some reasons to try LetsLunch, or something like it:

  • –        People like doing business with people they know
  • –        Lunch helps a conversation blossom in a way the web-based cannot
  • –        Networks will expand through mutual introductions
  • –        Conversations are more confidential
  • –        Real connections mean better understanding
  • –        Opportunity to sample new restaurants and foods

Often, lunch is brown-bag or fast food, as time permits. But, they can be shared as well. One of our paper sales reps dropped by and we both brown-bagged lunch, chatted about new products and services and saved the time and expense of a restaurant.

Martini.jpgThe Three Martini Lunch

Because we use a variety of machines in our business, it’s not a good idea to operate them “under the influence.” But, there are many other options for the business lunch. Our local Downtown Deli is a favorite spot for a meet and greet. Despite being busy and crowded, there is always a place to talk without shouting.

More formally, Trattoria Rosa Bianca  in Yardley offers a relaxed atmosphere where you are certain to linger, (if only for the fresh and unique dishes they create!)

Are You in Silicon Valley?

If so, we’re not having lunch anytime soon. But, if you are within the Mercer County, NJ area, why not form a local chapter of LetsLunch or something similar, like Highlight, Banjo or Grubwithus? LetsLunch emphasizes the business/professional purpose of the midday repast, as compared to the others. Truthfully, you don’t really need a social media platform to organize a business lunch. For about two years, I was part of an informal business lunch group we called TABLED: Trenton Area Business Leaders Eating and Drinking. Appointments were made by e-mail blasts and texting, with good results.

Restaurants, of course, should have a vested interest in social dining groups, and we should encourage them to develop geographic loyalty. In addition, sharing their menus online helps with planning the business lunch and saves time.

AppleGirlBottom Lines and Waistlines

I know; there are those who worry about the expense and the additional calories. So here are some suggestions to help overcome those fears:

  • –        Limit the number of lunches each week
  • –        Order less, or less filling food
  • –        Walk to lunch
  • –        Have a brown-bag business lunch in a park or in a food court
  • –        Order the lunch specials, which are frequently smaller and less costly
  • –        Remember the purpose of your business lunch.

Do Not Click On This Photo if You Are Over 30.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyway, here are 10 ways to make your lunch break more productive, even if you are over 30: Productive Lunch

Thanks for reading. Lunch anyone?

-Ray

RayRenBall

(First 3 Photos © Trattoria Rosa Bianca, 2013. Used with permission)
Posted in blogs, creative writing, Digital printing, graphic design, newsletters, political fundraising, printing, publishing, Uncategorized, web design

Psychopaths and the Cost of Proofreading: Be Bored for a While, Rewarded Later

Here’s an expensive mistake: A town in New Jersey was applying for grant money to develop a public park. The grant application was done by converting voice to text. Some words sound the same, as is in this sentence:

“The park will have many psychopaths….” (say it out loud and it could easily be cycle paths, as intended).bikegirl2

Sadly, the grantor did not have a sense of humor.

So, what of it? Have you ever done any proofreading? Now, more than ever, with Twitter, texting and e-blasts, proofing your text and images is critical. Clicking on words that link elsewhere compounds the importance.

How many times have you clicked on an image only to be whisked away to an unrelated site?

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How many times have you clicked on a sale offer and then landed on some FAQ or Home Page?

buypageicon

How many times have you typed an e-mail address that bounced back as undeliverable?

atsignicon

How many times have you clicked on an icon that responded “not found”?

internetbutton

Blame it on the lack of proofreading and testing.

Proofreading is a big issue in our business of graphic design, printing, website creation and signage. When rushed, most people give a quick glance at a proof without really checking phone numbers, dates, links, e-mail addresses or captions. Sometimes we catch errors, but most often there is no way of knowing the correct spelling of proper names.

With the power of MSWord and other programs, there are tools available to help you avoid errors, automatically proof and make it easier to catch mistakes.

Here is a great blog article that sums it up, with some neat tricks I never thought of:

Proofreading – 28 Step Guide to Doing it Right

A Middle Eastern woman lying down reading

Even the comments are helpful.

Still think proofreading is a forgettable chore? Some errors are almost earth-shattering. This misfired Tweet nearly caused a catastrophe:

City of Yokohama Mistakenly Tweets of North Korean Missile Launch

smallmissile

The most common (usually not earth-shattering) mistakes we encounter are with business cards, for a simple reason: most text is unique, so the “burden of proofing” falls on the business cardauthor.

The second most common text error is the calendar day does not match the date or the year has not been updated. These are basic error and ones which are easily overlooked.

We all know that once something is printed, posted on a website or sent via social media, it is very expensive and difficult to correct. (If the faux pas is serious enough, we suggest posting an “apology video”). But there are other costs along the way that are caused by not editing and proofreading thoroughly, before it goes to a designer:

deanheadache

  • –        Added time for layout when text and graphics are added or deleted
  • –        Time and costs for additional proofs
  • –        Time needed to share with other editors, writers and proofreaders
  • –        Re-reading previously proofed copy
  • –        Re-sizing graphics to make them fit
  • –        Expanding or shrinking the number of paper or web pages
  • –        Pushing deadlines
  • –        General increase in irritability!

So, maybe the next time you compose that business e-mail, or look at your new business card content, or finish writing that eloquent article for a newsletter or blog, just hesitate a moment before you hit “send” and re-read. You may save the world a lot of trouble!

 smallmissile

Thanks for reading. And proofreading. Corrections welcome. I’m not perfek.

Ray

RayRenBall