All posts by Alex Zamorski

Alex Zamorski

About Alex Zamorski

Alex Zamorski develops and implements marketing and communication strategies for The Lukens Company. Find her on Twitter: @AlexZamorski

fb_icon_325x325 Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 8:26
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How Facebook’s “Town Hall” Makes Connecting with Elected Officials Easier

Facebook launched a new tool on Monday to help users identify and contact elected representatives right from their Facebook app. Dubbed Town Hall, the purpose is to encourage higher engagement in the political process and ease of access to elected representatives.

“Building a civically-engaged community means building new tools to help people engage in a thoughtful and informed way,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder and CEO, in a post on Monday. “The starting point is knowing who represents you and how you can make your voice heard on the decisions that affect your life.”

So how does it work?

First access the tool from the “Explore” tab on Facebook – on web browsers, the left-hand directory; on smartphone apps, click the icon in the bottom right corner.

Next enter your address. From there a listing of all local, state, and federal representatives who have a Facebook page will appear, along with options to Follow or Contact each representative.

Clicking “Contact” will offer a few options depending on what information is available on from the representative’s Facebook page and whether or not you are on a smartphone (where you can make a phone call).

Image 1 - FB Town Hall - TLC

Image 2 - FB Town Hall - TLC

In addition to Town Hall, Facebook is now offering election reminders for state, county and municipal elections – not just federal elections – in an effort to increase voter turnout for both Primaries and General elections.

Stay in the know by signing up for updates from TLC Political. 

 

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USPS_Eagle-Symbol-web-size-square Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 6:00
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2017 USPS Postage Rate Changes

United_States_Postal_Service_Logo.svg

As scheduled, the January 22, 2017 United States Postal Service Mailing Services price changes are now in effect. The range of changes and price fluctuations touch almost every category within the Mailing Services division of the USPS, however there are two particular changes that will have the greatest impact on the direct mail industry: First-Class Mail pricing and the Standard Mail rebranding.

First Class Mail
The price of a First Class Mail stamp increased from $0.47 to $0.49. Forever Stamps will continue to be honored, of course, but the price increase will certainly be felt by those in the direct mail industry who, needless to say, go through more than a book of stamps a year.

There is a silver lining: the cost to meter First Class Mail decreased from $0.465 to $0.46. That thousandths of a dollar may not seem like it will make a dent in your metered mail (although it starts to add up quickly once quantities are 50,000 pieces and above) but making the switch from applying a live stamp to metering at the First-Class rate will save you 3-cents per piece! Based on a 50,000-piece mailing, that’s a postage savings of $1,500 just for making the switch from live stamp to meter.

Standard Mail® becomes USPS Marketing Mail®
While the immediate focus may be on various price changes, one of the biggest updates that will affect the Direct Mail Industry will be rebranding Standard Mail to USPS Marketing Mail. Currently, the average postal customer doesn’t pay too close attention to the differences between First Class Mail and Standard Mail, not to mention the nuances within each class of mail. Most people know that sending a letter will cost them a “Forever Stamp” but other than that, postage rates on things like ‘junk mail’, bills, and greeting cards are not really of concern for anyone outside of the mail industry.

However, we as marketers may run into an issue when postage clearly states “Marketing Mail” instead of “Standard Mail” beginning in 2018. Anyone who pays even a sliver of attention to the little square of postage on their mail will be hard-pressed to ignore the word “marketing” blatantly stamped on the carrier.

One saving grace is that non-profit postage will still say just that – non-profit – and won’t be affected by the change in terminology. For political campaigns and other organizations who are not eligible for non-profit savings, the term “marketing” on their mail could negatively affect open rates and response rates.

The change to Marketing Mail may turn out to not have much an effect on response rates. Or it could simply mean a bigger push to use live stamps instead of indicia or metering on direct mail campaigns, as the new language on stamps may not draw as much attention as it would on a meter strip or indicia. Either way, we at The Lukens Company will certainly be paying close attention.

Sign up below to receive updates on these and other USPS changes, case studies on how postage influences results, and more direct mail insights from our team of experts:

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Fake News Header Monday, February 13, 2017, 6:00
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Fake News and the Future of Campaigns

By Alex Zamorski | February 13, 2017

“Did Fake News On Facebook Influence The Outcome Of The Election?” – Forbes, 11/24/2016
“Russia used fake news to influence the election…” – Slate, 1/5/2017
“Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election” – The Guardian, 11/14/2016

These are just a few of the numerous headlines swimming around since President Trump won the 2016 Election this past November. But are these articles just more fake news?

A recent study presents new evidence on how fake news influenced the 2016 Election – with results that may be surprising to anyone familiar with the kind of headlines above.

Defining fake news as “news stories that have no factual basis but are presented as facts,” economists Matthew Gentzkow (Stanford) and Hunt Allcott (NYU) studied the importance of social media as a news source and what impact fake news might have had on the election.

Where Do Voters Get Their News?

Knowing where voters get their news is crucial to truly understanding the influence of fake news. The 2017 study determined where adults get their news based on survey respondents’ ranking of which outlets they find most trust-worthy.

Spoiler alert: it’s not social media.

Only 13.8% of survey respondents marked social media as the “Most Important” source of election news, as compared to 57.2% selecting TV (Cable, Network, and Local television combined). Websites garnered 14.8% of responses.

Figure 1 - Most Important Source of 2016 Election News
Allcott, Hunt and Matthew Gentzkow. “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.” Stanford University. January 2017

Lesson: Voters relied on television programs and news websites for their 2016 election news.

 “Fake” News Websites vs “Real” News Websites

Since news websites were the third most important source of 2016 election news, Gentzkow and Allcott dug further into what kind of websites – fake news sites or top U.S. news sites (not fake) – and which traffic sources ushered visitors to each. “For the top 690 sites, social media referrals represent only about 10 percent of total traffic. By contrast, fake news websites rely on social media for a much higher share of their traffic,” Gentzkow and Allcott report.

Figure 2 - Share of Visits to US News Websites by Source
Allcott, Hunt and Matthew Gentzkow. “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.” Stanford University. January 2017

Lesson: Beware of click-bait or inflammatory news on social media. It may lead to fake news (or other unsavory sites).

What’s the Likelihood that Fake News Significantly Impacted the 2016 Election?

Even though traffic to fake news site was largely driven by social media (which wasn’t a top 3 source of important news for most respondents), the concern about how much influence these fake news stories had on readers and in turn, voters, remained. Just because respondents said news from television and news websites was most important to them doesn’t necessarily mean that social media news or links to fake news websites didn’t have an impact.

By measuring the “persuasion rate” of 156 fake news articles compiled from three non-partisan lists, the study found that the persuasion rate of viewing 1 fake news story would have to be equivalent to watching 36 television campaign ads in order to make a difference in the U.S. Election.

Is this likely? No. Possible? Perhaps.

Lesson: A single fake news story would need to be as powerful as 36 television ads in order to shift the election results.  

What This Means for Current and Future Campaigns

While few campaigns are as brutal or contentious as the 2016 Presidential Election, the fake news whirlwind stirs up concerns for campaigns up and down the ballot. And despite Mark Zuckerberg’s big plans to combat fake news on Facebook, the reality is that fake news will likely persist for a while.

So what does this mean for the future of campaigns? How do you honorably battle for your cause when your opponent is disseminating fake news?

Our answer – outshine the fake news trolls by deploying a multi-channel approach that includes grassroots GOTV efforts, integrated direct marketing programs, and attention via events and earned media.

Overcoming Fake News VenDiagram

At the end of the day, voters are voting for people – people they believe will represent their issues, fight for their cause, and protect their way of living. Connect with voters in a meaningful, genuine way that inspires. Understand your voters’ concerns. Reinforce your message – over and over and over again. Motivate your voters into action at the voting booth and beyond. Keep fighting the good fight.

Let’s keep the conversation going. Send us an email at political@thelukenscompany.com

 

Sources:

 

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election-day-2016gotv-iowa-california Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 9:40
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Get-Out-The-Vote 2016 — Hello Iowa and California!

After the last pieces of voter mail are created and ready to drop, TLC Political team members deploy throughout the country to help our GOP friends drum up support and inspire voters on Election Day.  This year is no different and The Lukens Company Political Team has sent a crew out to knock on doors, phone bank, and do whatever else is needed to support these important campaigns!

 

IOWA

Tiffany Delgado, Jon Friedman, and Sarah Tareen landed in Iowa Saturday morning and have been knocking on doors, lending a hand at events, and assisting the Republican Party of Iowa and Congressman Rod Blum in other important GOTV efforts ever since!

sarah-tiffany-friendman-blum-iowa
From left: Sarah Tareen, Congressman Rod Blum, Tiffany Delgado, and Jon Friedman

 

CALIFORNIA

James Fletcher and Joe Goetz flew cross-country Friday morning to Simi Valley, California to support the CA GOP fight in California’s 25th Congressional District in support of Congressman Steven Knight. They’ve been busy talking with voters while canvassing neighborhoods, phone banking, and joining in on the fun at various events.

joe-fletch-ca-25
From left: James Fletcher and Joe Goetz

 

Best of luck to all of the GOP candidates on the ballot today!

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8-questions-vendor-vers2-2 Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 6:00
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8 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Print Vendor for Your Next Direct Mail Campaign

By Alex Zamorski | October 4, 2016

8-questions-vendor-vers2-2

 

After the strategy has been outlined, the creative dreamed up, and the budget approved, the next step is to find a print vendor and lettershop to produce your direct mail fundraising campaign. Choosing a reliable print vendor and lettershop is essential to a successful direct mail campaign and can make-or-break all of the strategy and creative efforts already put forth. So before you choose a vendor to produce your next mailing, ask them the following 8 questions.

 

1) How much will my direct mail fundraising package cost to produce – start to finish?

The most important question is, of course, whether or not the vendor can complete the job within your budget. If their initial pricing is more than you expected, don’t hesitate to negotiate. Vendors are trying to feel out your price point just as much as you’re trying to find out theirs. If the total cost is over budget, ask if they’re willing to work with you to come down or can give a suggestion to help cut costs. There’s almost always some wiggle room.

2) What kind of additional fees can I expect?

Ask upfront for about any additional fees that might be tacked on, such as any fees for requesting edits to proofs, UPS or FedEx charges to ship print samples, or freight or handling charges that would be in addition to postage costs. Avoid the frustration of seeing surprise charges on your final invoice by asking ahead of time.

3) Where are you located? Do you have additional shops or locations?  

Where your vendor is located in proximity to the bulk of your mailing list and to your own office can make a world of difference. First, you’ll see much better delivery times if you use a vendor located centrally to your mailing list – using a print shop in California for a job that is mailing largely to Georgia is going to tack on extra days.  Secondly, working with a vendor within driving distance to your office has serious benefits, such as being able to courier samples or drop by the print shop for a press check.


 

4) What is your typical production schedule and timeline?

In the political world, quick production times are a must! Some print vendors are better suited for quick turnaround times than others and it’s critical to your job’s success to understand not only the final drop date, but when to expect proofs, laser set-ups, print samples, etc. Request a detailed schedule along with pricing when you send out a Request for Quote so you can plan accordingly.

5) Can you send me some samples?

Everything from the machines a vendor operates to the paper they regularly stock will affect your direct mail pieces. And simply put, some printers produce a higher quality finished product than others. Vendors will always show you their best, most prized pieces as examples so be sure to ask for a sample that’s most similar to what you’re looking to have produced.

6) Do you have any specialty or niche work you feel you’re really good at?

Who you choose to produce a high end or major donor package will likely not be the same vendor who is producing your large scale standard acquisition jobs. When you need to up the ante and create a high grade look and feel, seek out a vendor partner who specializes in deluxe, high touch production. If you’re looking for something special such as membership cards or lenticulars or calendars, it may be worth sourcing those niche producers yourself and arranging shipment to the lettershop of your choice. Not only will you have a better product, your pricing will likely be lower than going through your normal printing cadres.

7) How large is your shop and what quantity would you consider your “sweet spot” to produce?

The size of a job will narrow down which vendors are best suited to produce it. Some vendors simply cannot handle jobs over 50,000 or 100,000 pieces – their facilities are just too small and their pricing won’t be competitive. On the flip side, vendors who are consistently producing 500,000 to 1-million piece jobs are not going to be very interested in doing a 10,000 piece fundraising package – and their pricing will reflect that. If you’re exploring a new vendor, ask them up front what quantity range they consider their “sweet spot” and where they’re pricing will be most competitive.

8) Will you give it to me straight?

Being able to trust the printing company and the CSR assigned to you is critical to a job well done and to a successful ongoing partnership. Things happen – deadlines get missed, trucks breakdown, data processors take an unexpected morning off to get married (yes, that actually happened) and although it’s frustrating, it’s much better to hear the truth than be sweet-talked and given the run around. If something isn’t going to mail on time, it’s best to know why upfront, right away.

The Lukens Company has over 30 years of direct mail experience and we know the ins and outs of working with a long list of print vendors. For more information on how we can support your existing direct mail efforts or create a successful campaign from scratch, email us at political@thelukenscompany.com or fill out the form below.

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fb-1200-x-628 Monday, October 31, 2016, 8:09
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Happy Halloween

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And the winner is…

Every year, The Lukens Company celebrates Halloween with a Costume Contest, Pumpkin Decorating Contest, and plenty of food and fun. Needless to say, it’s a big deal around here!

Take a look at our past year’s Costume Content winners below:

1st Place – James Fletcher & Joe Goetz as “Trumpenstein and Sandor” (2015)

2015-winners-joe-and-fletch-trumpenstein-sandor

1st Place – Tiffany Delgado & Sarah Tareen “Scrubbing the Senate Clean” (2014)

2014-winners-tiffany-and-sarah-scrubbing-the-senate-clean

Stay tuned for an update on this year’s winners!!!

usps-796059_960_720 Friday, July 8, 2016, 9:01
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Four Things Direct Marketers Need to Know about the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016

By Alex Zamorski | July 8, 2016

Recently, The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released their draft of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016. This new postal reform is largely an echo of the 2013 Act, however there are four potential key reforms that direct marketers, nonprofit organizations, and political committees need to know about to adapt their programs.

ONE

Increase postal rates by 2.15%, which will raise First Class stamps to 48-cents. This will largely serve to balance out the 2-cent rate reduction we saw in April 2016.

TWO

Eliminate state and national political committees’ eligibility for non-profit mail rates. As direct marketers who work with many political committees, this is an area that The Lukens Company Political will be keeping a close eye on as the regulations progress.

THREE

Require ‘voluntary conversion’ to centralized mail boxes for residential and business addresses. By encouraging residential areas to move from individual to clustered mail boxes, it will save the USPS an estimated $5-billion over the next 10 years.

FOUR

Raise rates on ‘loss-making monopoly products’, such as Standard Mail Flats and 9 other products. There is discussion that these types of products create an unfair advantage against FedEx, UPS, and other non-USPS carriers.

This bill has yet to be introduced to Congress but considering the enormous deficit in which the USPS operates, it will not be surprising if many of these changes begin to be enacted in 2017.

To read the full summary of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016, click here.

Stay up to date on postal regulations, reforms, and more! Sign up to receive regular insight from our direct mail and political experts.

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MemorialDay_Facebook Friday, May 27, 2016, 1:08
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Happy Memorial Day from The Lukens Company

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seth

“Memorial Day is a time to honor those who made America the greatest nation on Earth while paying the ultimate sacrifice.” – Seth

olivia

“Memorial Day is a special day set apart to remember all the men and women who have sacrificed to make this world a safer place. It is the day we remember what it means to be a hero. Not just the soldiers in uniform but also their loved ones who have sacrificed as well. So this Memorial Day, please remember all veterans deserve our appreciation and recognition and make it a day to honor these brave men and women for who they are: heroes, who simply did their job.” – Olivia

Joe Goetz

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” This quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. is what resonates with me when I think of Memorial Day. We will not remember what harsh words were said or which side we fell on an issue, but rather we will remember those who sacrificed everything – family, friends, and children – to protect us every day. I cannot express enough gratitude for those who serve, and we need to remember that for every soldier we thank, there is one that didn’t make it back, that deserves our remembrance. God bless America and thank you to all, for your service!” – Joe

jon

“Memorial day reminds me to honor and remember all those who lost their lives fighting to defend our country. It also serves as a reminder of true patriotism. Men and women who serve in our armed forces fight to defend the rights of all of us here at home, and we owe it to them to honor and respect their sacrifice each year on Memorial Day. To those men and women serving our country today, thank you for protecting us, defending the Constitution, and providing security for our nation each and every day. May God bless you and your families, and the United States of America.” – Jon

sarah

“Memorial Day is something that is especially meaningful to me because my Uncle is a Colonel in the U.S. Army and has served for 28 years. I have witnessed first-hand the sacrifices he has made as he has spent several Memorial Days’ deployed and away from our family. My Uncle has taught me what it truly means to be a selfless patriot and it is a privilege to be related.” – Sarah

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“Memorial Day means thanking those who have served and currently serve in the U.S. Military! They are the reason for our American Freedom!” – Tiffany

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“We celebrate the love we have for those we’ve lost and remember that our nation, one of the greatest in history, was forged through their bravery and commitment. On this day, what matters are those memories, a smokey barbecue, maybe a beer, and that we cherish the past that has brought us to such a bright present.” – James

Alex Zamorski

“We enjoy so many freedoms in the U.S. and none of these freedoms would be possible without the courageous men and women who serve our country. Memorial Day is a significant day to remember and honor those who have made so many sacrifices so that we can continue to experience such freedom and the pursuit of the American dream.” – Alex

TonyDelgado4

“The reason we’re free to do whatever we want every day that we wake up, is because of those brave men and women who died defending our freedoms. Memorial Day is a reminder of what we sometimes can take for granted.” – Tony

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Memorial Day, 

The Lukens Company Political Team

ThreeMailBoxes Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 1:01
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Long Live Print! 5 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Highly Effective

by Alex Zamorski | May 18, 2016

Scrolling through most direct marketing magazines and websites, the majority of what you’ll find bounces between social media, mobile platforms, content marketing, Adwords, and other methods deemed much cooler and more cutting edge than direct mail. Since we’re all addicted to our smart phones and tethered to our computers most of the day, focusing on digital seems to make the most sense — on the surface.

But despite our obsessions with the amazing technological advancements at our fingertips, nothing is more effective than direct mail. The connection between viewing an ad, remembering the information, and making a purchasing decision has proven time and time again to be most definitive when using direct mail and print media tactics. Here are 5 reasons why print is still king.

Rise Above the Clutter

41 22 24 Year Olds Read Mail ImmediatelyThink about your email inbox.  Emails fly in and out all day and night regarding urgent work matters and social updates, sale notifications and store newsletters, order receipts and event invitations. How in the world do you decide what to tackle first, second — and what gets left behind?

Now think about your mailbox. Bundles of shopping advertisements, bills, the occasional letter or postcard, and maybe a PennySaver newspaper. Not too much action compared to the 122 average number of emails sent and received per day in 2015. A well designed piece of direct mail gets noticed and at the very least is briefly viewed and handled before being set down. It’s very difficult to completely ignore a physical piece of mail.

Make a Lasting Impression

OIG Print vs Digital ChartWhen it comes to getting noticed, the more senses you can invigorate, the better. Printed materials engage touch, smell, sound, and sight – all of our senses except taste (although I’m sure this has been attempted). On the other hand, digital is confined to a flat screen that can only be viewed and heard. Because print hits most of our senses, it creates a longer lasting impact and makes a deeper impression.

In a study conducted by Temple University’s Fox School of Business Center for Neural Decision Making, researchers found that participants who viewed and handled print media not only remembered the ads better than their digital counterparts but also had a deeper emotional response. And any fundraiser or marketer worth their salt knows that the making an emotional connection is key to springing a donor into action.

Increase Donations and Contributions

While remembering a message is of course important, the real goal of marketers and fundraisers is to get people to open their wallets and checkbooks. Researchers in the same Temple University study concluded that while participants verbally stated that they had the same willingness to pay for an item whether they viewed it digitally or in print, their brain activity showed that there was a greater subconscious desire for the products or services advertised in physical formats. In other words, those who viewed print media were more likely to make a purchase than those who viewed digital media alone.

Expanded Creativity

Simply put, there are infinite things you can do with printed and physical materials. The range of sizes and shapes and types of paper and design can go way beyond your standard #10 envelope, typical postcard, and community flyer. You can mail someone pretty much anything! Plus, in such a heavy digital age that we’re living in, many of us enjoy receiving something interesting in the mail.

Connect with Millennials

When we think of Millennials, we think of selfies and SnapChat and throngs of young adults with their heads bent over tiny screens 24/7.  While parts of this may be true, the real story is that Millennials are the least trusting of digital advertisements and Millennials prefer print advertisinginformation shared over the internet than any other generation. In fact, 80% of Millennials prefer to receive information via print. However, they do hold an expectation that they will find further, more detailed information online.  They expect to be able to easily and immediately explore a candidate’s Twitter feed for more personalized information or go to a non-profit’s website to make a donation online.

 

 

THE ONE-TWO PUNCH: PRINT AND DIGITAL

For millennials and older generations alike, print is a gateway to other sources of information, whether by means of PURLs (personalized URLS), social media, videos, or live in-person events. At TLC Political, many of our direct mail campaigns have a PURL associated with each specific package. The PURLs lead the donor to information specific to that package’s message and enables donors to contribute online instead of sending a check or credit card information through the mail. In addition to just collecting money, leading the donor a website encourages them to learn more about the candidate or cause.

Here are three examples of how The Lukens Company integrates print and digital into our direct marketing campaigns:

1)  Cruz for President 2015 Fall Pledge of Support

For this Pledge of Support package, we coordinated our digital & print efforts by including a Personalized URL (PURL) on the Return Envelope and the Reply Device which led to a package-specific page within Ted Cruz for President’s website.

TedCruzFall2015-rev3

 

2) Susan B. Anthony List 2016 Petition for Life

In this SBA List Petition package, the PURL was noted prominently on the front and back of the Reply Device and led donors to a package-specific page on the Susan B. Anthony List’s website.

SBA Ernst-rev3

 

3) Republican National Committee 2016 Declaration

The RNC Declaration package kept things simple with a PURL on the Reply Device that led to a package-specific page within GOP.com.

RNC Declaration

 

From simple reply forms and webpages to more coordinated efforts, there are many ways to combine the winning powers of print and digital to spring donors into action — and we can help make that happen!

 

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We're Hiring! (3) Thursday, May 5, 2016, 10:28
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We’re Hiring a Production Assistant!

The TLC Political team is looking for a Production Assistant to join our team.

Production Assistant
The Lukens Company – Arlington, VA

The Lukens Company, a full-service direct response fundraising and marketing agency, seeks an ambitious self-starter to serve as Production Assistant, with a focus in print production for direct mail marketing. Located in Arlington, VA. Responsibilities include the following:

  • Assisting members of the Production and Account Teams in managing select aspects of direct mail projects
  • Opening jobs in our production management system and maintaining status
  • Reviewing and coordinating production schedules with Account Managers to meet deadlines
  • Continually monitoring the status of all works in progress to ensure delivery on time and within estimated budget
  • Coordinating all work (data, artwork, copy, print proofs, etc) between outside vendors and the Account Teams
  • Reviewing and routing set-ups (laser signoffs) and print proofs for direct mail projects
  • Ensuring quality and accuracy of production signoffs through the TLC proofing system
  • Supporting the billing process by facilitating and finalizing costs/invoices for each project
  • Attending campaign kickoff meeting with the Production Managers and Account Teams

The ideal candidate will have basic direct mail or agency experience, be extremely well-organized, pay meticulous attention to detail, be able to multi-task, and be very comfortable working with data files, understanding data instructions and ensuring the accuracy of data.

In addition, the individual should have the willingness to learn and develop direct mail skills to service a variety of clients. Outstanding verbal and written communication skills are necessary to be successful.

Job Type: Full-time
Required education: Bachelor’s Degree

We offer competitive salaries, health and dental insurance and 401(k).

Please email resume, cover letter, and references to Alex Zamorski, azamorski@thelukenscompany.com, and include Production Assistant in the subject line.