Political Direct Mail Printing, Ultimate Guide Part 4

by The Campaign Workshop

The Ultimate guide to Political Printing

Political Direct Mail Printing—Everything You Were Afraid to Ask.  Final Installment

Political direct mail printing: #4:  In previous installments of this series we covered finding a printer, managing schedules, specifying paper and digital vs. offset printing. This week is the final installment of the series and we’re going to talk about photos, file preparation and proofing.

Photos are an art form

Photography is a very important component of political direct mail printing ­— images communicate important messages and introduce you to voters. Great images create an emotional bond with the viewer, but bad images can leave a sour taste. Even with modern digital presses and lots of complicated technology, photos are tricky! Making sure you get good, crisp photos is critical for good political direct mail. A great printed image starts with a great original photo. Work with experienced photographers whenever possible. They have an eye for capturing images you may not see. Try not to have people in dark colors standing in front of a dark background or in the shade. Make sure there aren’t shadows on faces. Be attentive to what is in the background — signs, locations, people, etc.

Once you have your images, some color correction in Photoshop is wise to make sure skin tones are realistic—you never want flesh tones to look yellow or blue. It is also a good idea to lighten up a photo to accommodate for darkening on press. For a more detailed online tutorial about color management from Mohawk Papers click here.

File Preparation

File preparation is not a glamorous topic, but it is critical to great printing. Most printers prefer jobs created in InDesign. It is the industry standard. Make sure you’ve packaged the job for printing to include all the images and fonts. Files that are missing these items are the most common cause of problems at the printer. An experienced graphic designer will make sure your files are spotless and ready for the press.

The proof is in the proof

Why do you need a good printer proof? The best answer is that we’re all human. Even the best proofing system isn’t perfect 100% of the time. The print proof is the last chance to make corrections before that piece goes on press. This is the time to have more than one set of eyes read the piece one last time for spelling errors, to check that all the images look as you expect them to look, that fonts on headlines look good—crisp, sharp, clean. This is also a chance to look at the color and darkness or lightness of the photos. Edits at this stage will usually incur an additional cost, but it is a tiny fraction of what you’d pay if the job prints and you find a typo or problem later!

We hope this series has helped you to better understand and navigate the world of political direct mail printing.