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Is outsourcing magazine production a viable option? The Magazine Production Company’s managing director Dean Cook offers another option. Read the article which appeared in Magazine – an independent industry magazine for the independent publisher


Outsourcing production. Viable? To discover whether the multi-skilled role of design and production is best managed in-house or outsourced, read on


t can be amazing how many publishers are out there are using time-consuming and flawed production methods when they produce their magazines. Are more efficient and professional alternatives available? Of course. Magazine asked The Magazine Production Company’s Dean Cook to present the options. There is a fundamental cost to any presentation, good or bad. Whether you spend your money on a good designer or your own time attempting to produce something decent, there is always a price. The secret is spending the money effectively. Quality content, presented well, leads to be increased readership, repeat advertising and, ultimately, a healthier bank balance. Professional publishers work to a solution that balances cost, quality and time however there can be a more economical solution than to employ someone full-time. Is it difficult to find

As appeared in Magazine Magazine March/April 2010

someone who is experienced in page layout and production, understands your publication, has instilled attention to quality and detail, can do the job quickly and efficiently from start to finish and ultimately deliver flawless files to your print company? No, not at all. On the surface freelancers can look cheap but if they lack magazine design and production experience they could produce artwork to a poor technical standard, take longer to complete it and send incorrect files to print. The dangers of such poor service include time and money wasted in error solving at the print stage (potentially reducing the editorial lifespan), late delivery and resulting with financial repercussions. I have seen publishers attempt to complete artwork themselves using inappropriate software. They attempt a 32page DIY design and wonder why they are still sitting there five days later. I expect

these titles to die an early death – mostly through poor presentation. A professional could have wrapped up the job in just a couple of days. Wouldn’t those five days been better spend selling advertising to cover better design and increase profits. Conversely, you could pay top money for a dedicated agency to meticulously design the issue to the highest creative standards, however, can you justify the time and cost given to an unmovable print slot and reader expectations? If you are going to create a magazine, no matter how small, give the title a chance to establish itself to thrive. Don’t cut corners with content or layout – your readers and advertisers expect more. Likewise, don’t waste money overengineering the solution. Technology has made it faster then ever to produce a typical 68pp magazine remotely, typically within four to five working days. However, what really





wizz air’s Low-cost maxim: Less is more When the chips are down it’s time to revise your strategy but what is the key to health through the recession? AFM asks Joszef Varadi, Wizz Air’s CEO, the secret to its run of success.


NE Of ThE rare breeds and a dying kind, Wizz Air is seeing continued and sustainable growth to its passenger numbers and profits. As a barometer of the low-cost carrier’s (LCC’s) comparable success during the downturn, Wizz Air is the exemplar to airlines looking to out-run this financial maelstrom. Wizz Air carries a rare positivity to its story, in its five short years it’s done exceptionally well at becoming the leading LCC in the central and eastern European market — and a superior job at retaining this position during the downturn. Its victory stems in the most part from hitting the right place at the right time. Entering the relatively untapped market of Poland in 2004, it then pushed through an aggressive growth strategy to open up the previously hard-to-reach areas of central and eastern Europe just after their acceptance to the European Union (EU). Today it flies over 130 routes from 11 bases including those in: Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania (the latter two became part of the EU in 2007), and most recently the Czech Republic. AFM spoke to the airline’s CEO, Joszef Varadi after the

September/October 2009


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airline’s fifth birthday celebrations and its surprise order for 50 A320s. The order, the largest one announced during the Paris Air Show, was somewhat of a revelation. During what’s considered the worst financial period endured by the industry so far, here was an airline not marked on the endangered species list, but growing its operations at a considerable rate. Wizz has been expanding at a scale of 30 per cent during 2009 and will continue to do so for the rest of the calendar year, claims Varadi. “All in all [the recession] has enabled us to grow the business while most of the airlines are actually stepping back,” says Varadi. “Obviously everyone is having problems. We aren’t immune to the recession but at the same time I think we are more able to cope than most other airlines. I am confident that when the recession is over, we will be a stronger airline than before.”

The airline’s recent bulk order for 50 A320s should be enough to confirm that the low-cost formula is a workable solution to the economic milieu, after all, it appears to be working for Wizz. Across the world airlines are trimming down their fleets and their flights, yet Wizz is painting itself a glowing outlook. The recent order has upped its request for aircraft to 132 — all A320s, all in a singleclass layout, seating up to 180 passengers. The carrier is receiving aircraft at a rate of about 10 each year; this will build to around 20 by 2016. It is well on its way to having one of the most competitive and modern fleets — a major asset for the future. “I think a new fleet is the only way of being low-cost,” asserts the CEO. “Most of the costs when you are operating an airplane actually hang on factors like utilisation. An old airplane can not be utilised at the same level as a new airplane, maintenance costs are more expensive on an old fleet… If you compromise on that [your fleet] and you start mixing up aircraft types, you start taking compromises on the fleet age; actually you are incurring more costs.” The growth trend in LCC fleets provides grounds for concern for legacy carriers — even when the recession clears the danger will not be over. Legacy carriers will not only have to scuffle for market position, their comparatively aging and limited fleets will place them at a further disadvantage, and it will be some time before they can finance enough orders to balance out the disparity.

The pictures


Far left: UBM’s Low Cost Airline World Left: The Magazine Production Company’s Dean Cook explores design and production options Design and production unite: A double-page opening spread from Trial Magazine

At this point most of Wizz’s future fleet is unfinanced. When asked where he will find funding, or what structure the financing may take, Varadi gave little away, yet he did assure AFM: “You can assume that with that order size we are getting a very competitive set of commercial terms from the manufacturer”. He divulged that both sale and lease-back options and ECA-backed deals are being considered. The airline recently secured financing from DVB for three A320-200s; it has fully financed the next eight to 10 aircraft deliveries and is now seeking financing on the next batch of aircraft that are due 2010-11. The 50 aircraft ordered in June are scheduled to be delivered between 2014 and 2016: “That’s a quite a long way out that we need to ramp up the financing for those aircraft. Really the time [to do it] will be 2012, which is three more years… that leaves us plenty of options to consider.”

ThE mAgIC fORmuLA The market now hinges on cost; as such the low-cost model has become the key to progression. The model ensures the greatest cost saving to the flyer, and the greatest return to the carrier. “So long as low-cost airlines are dealing with the flow of costs — those are the airlines that are gaining ground,” says Varadi. The critical point, he adds, is not the cost of the ticket, dropping prices may increase passenger numbers in the short-term but, if their cost base is too high they won’t hit the desired profit. “[Is] the cost base following the pricing rules of legacy airlines? Because if that’s not the case,

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INTERVIEW Danny MacAskill

Danny MacAskill INTERVIEW

Profit Centre

D anny MacAskill

Inter net Phenomenon THE

• Fixed fee eases budgeting • One-stop-shop for multiple skills • Reduced time to market

The Isle of Skye is a beautiful place; it offers breathtaking views, vibrant culture and is steeped in heritage. What you may not know is that it was the home for one of the most up-and-coming cycle trials stars in recent times, a one man show unleashed on the world. Danny MacAskill is a modern day phenomenon who has taken the nation by storm with his cycle trials video, Inspired Bicycles. When the video was first released in April 2009 it was one of the most viewed videos of all time on the website YouTube, and has reached an amazing 14 million hits to date. Words: Stuart Taylor – John Hulme Pictures: Mike Clarke – Red Bull Photo Files –


Trials Magazine • March / April 2010

matters is delivering the right results on time and in budget. I recently visited a publishing company who had two designers working on a 52-page issue that took two weeks to complete. I was shocked to see how they built the issue. They had separate InDesign files, the files were void of base templates or style sheets, the page numbers were manually changed and the PDF files were created with a mixture of CMYK and RGB files. When questioned why they used RGB images, the answer was ‘Oh, pre-press sorts that out?’ This process is quite simply ineffective and money down the drain. It should only take one person one week working with one InDesign file utilising automated features found on templates and in the style sheets. Another time, a publisher explained they were losing revenue from incorrectly printed advertisements. Typically the advertiser blamed the publisher and the publisher blamed the printer. Because the publisher didn’t understand the technicalities, he just kept the advertiser happy by issuing credits or repeating the advertisement. He was surprised to discover it wasn’t his fault nor that of the printer. The advertiser’s designer unintentionally generated a flaw within the artwork but the problem only reared its head during the

March / April 2010 • Trials Magazine


plate-making stage: too late. I explained you can only print what has been given and to safeguard future business it would be wise to include the following paragraph on his media pack: “Please take reasonable steps to ensure the artwork being submitted is visually and technically error-free. Rarely artwork errors become apparent when the publication has been printed. This is often caused by a complication generated by the originator. We can only take reasonable steps to ensure the file is of a compliant standard and advise if anything is flagged. The publisher is not responsible for the final reproduction of the advertisement. If unsure, please call for advice.” I advised the production team should employ a three point check before positioning the artwork, then flag any problems with the originator regarding corrections. Never attempt to correct supplied artwork but always get the originator to correct the artwork as this educates them as well. There is no reason why publishers should lose money because of artwork issues. Publishers should focus on: producing relevant quality content; marketing their magazine; getting to know their advertisers; selling space; and delegate specialist roles to specialist people. If you

can’t justify employing a full- or parttime designer or you can’t find a reliable and experienced freelancer then consider outsourcing to a specialist. Until recently magazine designers and production workers were two roles only found in larger publishing houses. As technology has evolved the two jobs have blended into one, taking on the functional title of magazine production. Today, typically one person: develops and oversees the flatplan; tracks incoming artwork; checks supplied advertisements and designs others; liaises with advertisers; designs and produces editorial pages; completes amendments; and creates flawless compliant PDF files for commercial printing; then produces files for electronic publication. The specialist role will oversee the process, understand artwork technicalities, keep an eye on deadlines, understand your business and offer guidance based on their own experience. All this for a fixed fee, which means you can budget ahead with confidence. There is certainly a defining threshold where it is more economical to design and produce titles in-house. However, there is no harm checking the viability of outsourcing as a cost effective solution. As appeared in Magazine Magazine March/April 2010



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Our name says it all whilst our fixed price covers it all. A professional magazine page layout and production solution with cost-effective fixed page rates, designed just for you. All we need is your finalised copy, a selection of your preferred images and advertisements (we can assist here too)…and we’ll do the rest. Simple? It should be. A no-nonsense magazine production service from a company whose name quite simply says it all… or call our friendly team for advice 01273 467579.

Magazine Production - is it a viable solution?  

Is outsourcing magazine design and production a viable solution for independent publishers? The Magazine Production Company's, Dean Cook, wr...