Several years ago, Hearst, publisher of 18 magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Town & Country, saw the need to reduce its editorial prepress costs, improve magazine efficiency and maintain a more efficient workflow and manufacturing operation, said Cathy Merolle, director of operations, manufacturing & distribution for Hearst.
“The old Hearst organizational structure was decentralized,” Merolle told an audience of about 80 magazine production and design employees at the 2006 Folio: Show October 24 in New York. “We had 18 magazines each with their own ad production and layout staff. There were very few common practices. There were 18 different types of printing instructions, layout maps, split instructions. It wasn’t very efficient.”
In her presentation, Merolle said Hearst sent a team of employees led by Ellen Payne, director of editorial operations for Hearst, to Australia to study the production model being used by Australian Consolidated Publishing. Then the team came back to the U.S. and began implementing what it learned.
Hearst began the rebuilding of its workflow by giving each magazine a digital imaging specialist, creating a color-managed environment, providing basic color-theory training for all of its art and production departments and analyzing each department’s workflow. It then eliminated FPO scanning and implemented a high-resolution workflow, and created a response team of imaging specialists for overflow and a premedia department to postflight pages before sending them to the printer, Merolle said. “As a result, we had a shared data system, in which you only had to enter things once,” she said.
The company also began updating its technology. It deployed a K4 content management system and switched to an Adobe InDesign and PDF workflow. It also purchased Creo Eversmart IQ Scanners, Epson 7800 proofers, and began using virtual ticket to traffic its images and mass transit to send files. “As a result, our savings have exceeded our expectations,” said Payne. “Our magazines are more efficient. We shaved three days off our cycle time and we’ve been able to launch new magazines more cost effectively by embracing technology to help us reengineer how we make magazines. And our editors and art directors say they’d never go back to the old way.”
Many of Hearst’s new implementations were in place by the summer of 2005 and within a year, $1 million in savings had been realized, said Merolle. “All of those savings were in manufacturing efficiencies,” she said. “The result is a more standardized workflow and processes, including a more efficient use of staff resources, and the ability to do more work with fewer people. And we’ve been able to avoid redundancy and multiple data entries.”
In the future, Hearst is looking to make its advertising workflows more efficient, which would include the use of virtual proofing.