A beginner’s guide to press passing abroad

This month, Callimedia’s very own intrepid Spanish press passer, is going to guide you through the do’s and don’ts of dealing with our Iberian chums. Hopefully his hints and tips will keep you in the Rioja, and out of the Sangria.

Spain is one of the babies of European Democracy, only fully embracing it after undergoing a period of Socio Economic change during the late 70’s. The two areas we are going to explore are Barcelona and Galicia. Think London and Bodmin, both lovely but very different. One where English is the second language of choice and the second where a cheery, ‘Can you please tell me where I can buy a newspaper from?’ is greeted with a blanker look than my wife would give when asked to name England’s 1966 World Cup winning team.

How to get there

Spain is not only a devout Catholic country but it is also a big fan of the EU.  This has its blessings as  when two or three Spaniards and an EU Commissioner are gathered together they may suddenly decide to build an airport on the nearest piece of available land. This makes travel to either of our chosen destinations very easy with multiple flights available to either.  Barcelona can be done as a day trip but Galicia requires an overnight stay.

The low cost carrier of choice for the more discerning traveller is Vueling.  Unlike ‘Team Tango’ previously run by Sir Stelios, Vueling flights are in general a more comfortable experience, with sufficient legroom  that does not require the passenger to have vast powers of limb manipulation upon taking their seat.

Flight times for either destination come in at around the two hour mark.  One important note the restaurant at La Coruna airport is excellent. The airport has no repellent American fast food chains staffed by vacant, star bedecked employee of the century locals bidding you ‘Que Tangas Un Buen Dia’  as they deliver you something that may once have been an unspecified part of an animal and some very salty fries. This is a very good thing.


The Spanish print industry offers a wide range of presses for you to choose from.  Large format magazine presses to short grain and cut off 48pp, 16pp presses with four and five colour options. Some of the kit is better than others and I would strongly recommend ascertaining exactly which press your job is going to be printed on prior to placing a job there. Most of the kit, certainly in Galicia, is pretty new and is fitted with good closed loop inking systems, however, there are a couple of presses in the Barcelona area that are less than impressive in this department. A pre-production visit is time and money well spent.

The staff and account management are extremely helpful, efficient and do an excellent job.  I have yet to experience a ‘lost in translation’ moment with any of the printers we currently use.

The biggest ‘issue’ when considering using a Spanish printer is the delivery time and cost. You need to pick the right sized job to go there with, there is no point in sending 20k 16pp A4 brochures out there.  The other factor is that the pesky French allow nothing larger than a 2CV with a roof rack to take to the road on a Sunday in France, so when considering your schedules try to avoid delivery times that embrace a weekend.  

One final point, the ever increasing pest that is ‘The Health and Safety’ culture that blights so much of Britain has been busily at work in Spain. You must wear protective shoes or ‘over shoes’ that will have you tripping over faster than a drunken student in high heels on a Friday night out in Newcastle.  It should be also noted from aesthetic point of view they don’t work with shorts.

Printing Culture

If you have survived the journey, dinner and the transfer to the factory you will almost certainly be pleased with the outcome of your job. Germany boasts not only some of the most modern kit on the planet but employs a different ethos towards print and printers. Unlike the UK, where a request to add a ‘little bit of magenta’ or ‘are you planning on changing that plate with a scratch the size of Greenland on it’ is greeted by a sucking of teeth and shrug that says ‘who does this guy think he is?’, the Germans treat clients and the work they produce very seriously.

Virtually all of the staff, management and factory floor included, speak English and they have a welcome ‘can do’ attitude on press. As with all areas of mass production, things can and do go wrong from time to time and if the Germans do have a failing it is that they tend to think in ‘straight lines’ and are not always as creative at solving problems as we oft-maligned Brits are.

If trouble does come calling, the Germans love a meeting. This will happen then and there and you do somehow get the feeling that if one of their staff has ​messed up, the consequences are serious. The other point to note is that the person who has the power to make a ‘decision’ is usually the quietest person in the room.  They will have all the charm of a minor Bond villain, minus the white cat, but if they say it will be done then done it will be.

Final Thoughts

The Spanish in general are a great bunch to do business with.  Like the Germans they are “bothered”,  they want you to have a good experience and they don’t think they are doing you a favour by delivering your job on spec, as ordered and on time.

So, if you have a good sized, normal commercial project to place then pack a good book and say hello to Spain.


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