Effective Cross-Media Publishing

For many years, catalogers and marketers that produced a printed product have gone about their business fairly unaware of the other business systems in the organization.

The creative and print production departments within these marketing organizations accomplished the task at hand, effectively and efficiently getting their company’s product or service printed on paper for marketing purposes. Many of these departments have or had a production process that facilitates simple and capable print output. Well, it seems as though the game has changed.

At one time, print was the major or primary means for marketing a company’s products or services. Now, it is taking a back seat, or at least a side seat, to the Internet.

Many organizations are questioning how they can offer their Internet developers equal access to the creative assets that the print production people have. This desire to publish more effectively across multiple media seems to have the most impact on the processes grandfathered in with print production.

Many organizations find their solution in the basic process of storing and controlling their own assets internally. It is not too uncommon to see many creative organizations that have their information scattered among many pre-press or print vendors. As the era of postscript and electronic stripping took the creative industry by storm, they were unprepared to handle the large volumes of information or assets generated by this digital boom. This is where the vendors came in to handle the storage and even management of these assets. However, the creative organizations now recognize that the best way to have unlimited access to these assets for the purposes of publishing to the Internet is to store assets themselves.

Storage becomes secondary to management of creative assets. Some find that they don’t need to store their assets internally to have unlimited access to them. There are vendors that offer storage and management services to these creative organizations on a subscription basis. The creative organizations, or asset owners, have access to their information via a basic Internet connection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Things like disaster recovery and off-site backup and redundancy are important, yet they are costly issues that need to be addressed when hosting your assets internally. Instead of building the infrastructure within their four walls, creative organizations can access this highly secure, highly dependable infrastructure through the Internet or through dedicated telecommunications connections.

An asset management system is the important piece in facilitating effective cross-media publishing. Also referred to as a database, the asset management system allows users to submit files and assign a set of keywords or metadata about each asset. These keywords or metadata allow others to search the database for assets that they may be looking for in other marketing projects, including the Internet and e-commerce.

The database can even act as the central authoring tool for creative organizations to perform copy-writing and editing during the initial marketing product development. There are tools that allow for text streaming out of this database and onto the layout page for print. You can establish a dynamic link between the text fields within a database to a Quark page that will be processed to printed form.

As most of the more effective e-commerce sites are database-driven, organizations have similar capabilities for streaming text from the database to the Web page as well. Take the concept of pulling text and other information out of a database and onto a print or Web page and extend that to the business system databases.

Most organizations have legacy databases that track product prices, customer profiles, inventory and merchandising. These databases can be directly tied into a creative database for dynamic updates to both print and Web pages as well. Imagine being able to track inventory on a minute-by-minute basis so that my e-customer knows immediately that a product is out of stock before ordering it?

As we see the business of the Internet and e-commerce growing at a rapid pace, it is asset management that seems to be the bridge between this new media and the printed media. The database can manage and track information that can be useful for dynamically publishing to both venues.

In many cases, it is the creative and print production departments that have to change their process to accept this fairly new and ever-changing technology. However, as this technology grows and matures, it will mean more stable and more efficient production processes for both printed and Web page development.

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