Production Mistakes in Direct Mail by Kelley Griffin

By at October 30, 2015 | 1:05 pm | Print

Production Mistakes in Direct Mail by Kelley Griffin

Kelley Griffin

In the political cycle the pace is fast and things are constantly in flux but there is a HARD deadline: Election Day. Attention to detail is important, keep the following production mistakes in mind and make sure everything is checked and rechecked before entering the mail. Once your piece is in the mail it is what it is, forever.

  1. Proofing

Spell-check software usually catches misspelled words, but that’s not the only aspect of proofing to look out for. Something as simple as a word spelled correctly that is used incorrectly, such as “mail” for “male” or a name spelled wrong can create a media sensation where you don’t want one. In a previous blog post, Margo mentioned an instance where “Public” was spelled “Pubic”, which of course is a hard one to forget. Don’t forget to triple-check the candidate’s name and the local spelling of places (Takoma, Washington, DC vs Tacoma, Washington) too.

  1. Photos

There are many types of photo issues. Low-res photos can look great online in a PDF proof but grainy and pixelated in print. This is a real issue for candidates—they like their photos to look good and they don’t want to give any ammunition to their rivals. Low-res photos are often used for opponents. Also, review the content of your photos for accuracy. You can do this by checking the keywords attached to an image in the stock site you purchase it from. The keywords should give you an idea of how the stock agency labels the subject matter and where the photo was taken.  Once, at another firm, there was a military piece that went out with a photo of weapons that turned out to be not American, but Russian—Oops.

  1. Mail Panel Placement

Over the years, there have been many changes to the USPS required placement of mail panels. This has caused a lot of confusion. I hear from mailers who say every year they receive pieces with incorrect placement. Like many regulations of the USPS, it is not always intuitive, but if you want to get your mail out on time you should make sure you figure it out.

  1. Data

There is at least one mailing per cycle that you hear about where someone mailed to the wrong list. One agency even used a list that sent people to the wrong polling location—yikes.

  1. Wrong Mail Date

Sometimes things get printed before they are approved or paid for, or mail dates change and somewhere the communication does not get through . Every once in a while, a piece will get mailed on the wrong date.  Hopefully, it at least gets mailed out in time to be delivered by Election Day!

The whole production process is not rocket science, but it does take a lot of multi-tasking, good communication, knowing your vendors, and triple checking. Whatever it takes to get it right. Knowing what production mistakes happened in the past can help you avoid them in the future. Work with your production people and the rest of your staff to stay on top of the process and avoid these costly errors.

Kelley Griffin, Director of Production, The Campaign Workshop;  a political and advocacy advertising agency in Washington D.C. that provides strategy, digital advertising, direct mail and training services to non-profit and political clients. Kelley has coordinated millions of pieces of direct mail and fundraising for nonprofit groups, political organizations and Democratic candidates, and managed print budgets up to $20 million dollars. She has worked in production every election year cycle since 2002

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