By Veronica Deschambault, Susan Carol Associates PR

During the fourth quarter meeting of Virginia Press Women’s northern district, Charlene Polanosky, lead designer for Susan Carol Associates Public Relations, described how graphic design supports and enhances print and Web copy. The program, “Writers and Graphic Designers: Partners in Communication,” was held at Mary Washington College’s James Monroe Center for Professional Studies in Stafford, Va.

Polanosky, a graphic designer who has created and produced Web sites and print brochures, direct mail pieces, ads, and magazine special sections, gave the writers, public relations professionals, and other communicators in attendance insight into the design process. Peppering her presentation with many practical tips, Polanosky explained how to keep Web files a manageable size, avoid being disappointed in the quality of printed images taken from a Web file, understand the technical aspects of color palettes, save money on art and choose the right font for a project.

Polanosky emphasized the importance of communications basics shaping the work of writers and designers. Setting a budget, identifying key messages and communication goals, deciding how to distribute copy and considering the longevity of a piece are critical to achieving positive results. She urged the writers in attendance to develop visual themes in their copy and share ideas with the designer on images that might tie it all together.

Comparing production of print and Web copy, Polanosky highlighted the advantages and limitations of each media and identified common pitfalls in the design process. In print, designers have full control over the production process and can explore more possibilities with fonts and use of color. The Web, she noted, is always full color, but because of the wide variety of monitors and computer settings, the colors, images, and layouts the reader sees may not match what the designer originally created. While Web copy can be posted in minutes, printing often takes 5-10 days, though new digital processes are delivering faster turnaround times.