People who have been in the printing industry a long time can easily remember when press checks were a common occurrence. As recently as 10 years ago, clients would head to their printer’s facility and review test sheets hot off the press to make sure colors were correct, no text was missing, registration was good, and there were no quality issues, such as hickeys or pinholes. Printing technology advancements have made press checks all but obsolete today, but modern marketers might want to consider occasionally scheduling one as an opportunity to evaluate their print partner.
In the old days, clients were at their printer frequently, mainly to perform press checks. They would do checks for any project that required precise color reproduction. Clients would sit in a room, press sheets would be brought to them to review, and the press operator would make color adjustments by eye to get the piece just the way the client wanted. Through these visits, clients became familiar with the facility, probably took a tour and even got to know some employees.
Nowadays, industry color standards, advanced proofing devices, precise ink mixing and presses equipped with computerized color matching are producing more predictable results, which seldom vary from the proofs clients see prior to printing. With more consistent reproduction, clients don’t feel the need to dedicate time to a press check. Whereas Perfect used to host several press checks a week, we only do 15 a year now.
Depending on a client’s standards, they currently only do a press check for “experimental” projects, or perhaps the first job with a new print partner, or when a project uses a color stock or synthetic material. Additionally, clients seem to only check brand pieces and art-like prints on press these days.
Because press checks are so infrequent, clients seldom go to their printer’s facility anymore. Many clients have never visited their printer.
Have you ever met a press operator? Have you met your customer service representative face-to-face?
If you consistently order from your printer, you may want to consider using a press check as a way to get to know them better. You can tell a lot about a print partner by visiting their facility.
Is it clean? Do they take pride in the building’s appearance? If they do, they probably take pride in their work.
When there, pay attention to how they conduct the press check.
Does the press check start on time? Do you feel welcome? Does your host introduce you to other employees? Do you get the sense they just want to get the check over with, or are they trying to meet your needs?
Even a gesture as simple as giving you a sample press sheet to bring back to your colleagues can make you feel valued.
If you decide to schedule a press check, here are some pointers for conducting it:
- Make sure the printer is using the correct stock
- Check the registration
- Look for consistent color across pages
- Fold or trim down the sheet to see what it will look like finished
- Check color of images
- Bring along your branding guide or a PMS swatch book
Unfortunately, a press check is not the time to find typos, copy mistakes or other items that should have been caught during the proofing stage. You can request changes during a press check, but anything beyond color adjustments will frequently include additional costs, so beware.