Honor seniors, make money, by selling tribute ads

by Crystal Kazmierski
Posted in: Advertising, Fundraising

Baby ads, or senior tributes as they are more appropriately called, are a great way to raise money for the yearbook without having to pound the pavement. For 2009, the Wings staff at Arrowhead Christian Academy in Redlands, Calif., brought in $32,000 in tribute sales, filling 92 pages of the yearbook and paying off a substantial chunk of the bill. And we are a small school with just 108 seniors.

By focusing on the tributes at the beginning of the school year, staffs can postpone working on “real” pages until later deadlines. The benefits are obvious. Working on ads for the first deadline or two helps train designers and builds their confidence before taking on the content pages. Writers and photographers can use the extra time to hone their skills as well, buying time for more in-depth coverage.

Get right on it
Offer information to parents as early as possible, preferably in the spring of the previous school year. Letting parents know early allows them to arrange for summer photo shoots and gives them time to go through their scrapbooks and digital files to narrow down their picks and compose their text.

We distribute the information regarding senior portraits and tributes at the May meeting for parents of juniors. We send emails to parents over the summer with links to the school website and the senior tribute information and hand it out again at the fall parents meeting. In the fall, we contact parents who have not purchased a tribute, since most do, to make sure they were informed.

If someone paid for a half or full page, let them have the entire space. Consider bleeding photos to give the design an open look. Also, make sure the dominant photo is only of the senior, since that is who you are highlighting. Do not use a family photo as the dominant.

If someone paid for a half or full page, let them have the entire space. Consider bleeding photos to give the design an open look. Also, make sure the dominant photo is only of the senior, since that is who you are highlighting. Do not use a family photo as the dominant.

Be sure to tell parents the following information:

  • Ad sizes and cost for each
  • Cost for late submission
  • Maximum number of photos per ad size (suggestion: eight photos per full page; five photos per half)
  • Maximum number of words per ad size (suggestion: 150 words per full page; 100 per half)
  • Cost for editing – yes, editing; if parents know they will pay a fee for you to cut their 275 words down to 150, they will submit the correct number in the first place, saving your staff hours of time.

We require parents to sign a contract, which indicates that they are aware of the limitations and the fees for late submission and if they exceed the maximum number of photos or words. The contract also states that the yearbook staff will do all editing and parents will not be consulted.

Set roomy ad deadlines
Set dates for submitting materials well ahead of your first deadline. This way you will have plenty to do for your first deadline, and perhaps your second.

Create an incentive for parents to turn in their materials by offering an early discount – the earlier, the better. All materials should be turned in by the end of the first month of school, giving staffs work to do at the beginning of school before they get swamped.

Color is nice, but consider whether black and white or duotones would work with your design. Duotone or sepia could end up improving old photos that parents submit. Also note on this spread the graphic touches, which nicely and subtly highlight the three ads placed here.

Color is nice, but consider whether black and white or duotones would work with your design. Duotone or sepia could end up improving old photos that parents submit. Also note on this spread the graphic touches, which nicely and subtly highlight the three ads placed here.

What should you charge?
Prices across the country range from $200-$500 per full page.

For the 2009 Wings, full pages quickly sold for $335, and half pages sold for $265. An additional $25 fee was collected for late submissions and editing.

Set the ground rules
Make the lives of your staff easier by giving parents guidelines to follow.

  • No cut-up photos. Photos from scrapbooks are sometimes trimmed into odd shapes. These may require you to use Photoshop to create backgrounds to set them in rectangular forms on the page. If parents submit oddly shaped photos that cannot be easily cropped, be sure to include an editing charge for adding the background to the photo.
  • No photos with wallet boogers – you know, that sticky stuff that forms when photos have been carried around too long.
  • Avoid blurry photos.
  • Avoid over/underexposed photos.
  • If too many photos are submitted, the yearbook staff will choose, and parents will NOT be informed.
  • Words should be typed – better yet, emailed!
  • Words will be edited if necessary.
  • Grammar and spelling will be fixed.
  • Parents will NOT be informed of editing. To maintain control, they should submit the correct number of photos and words in the first place.

Organize submitted photos and text
Create an envelope for each tribute that contains important information, such as:

  • Name, phone number and email address of purchaser
  • Ad size
  • Number of photos submitted
  • Number of pages of text submitted
  • Dates photos were scanned and text was typed
  • Return date of photos

As a safeguard, keep all text that was submitted by the parents. You may need this to prove to them that you typed what they submitted.

Creative ideas
Remember that these pages are a part of the book. Do not treat them as add-ons. They should be designed with as much care as the rest of the book to fit the theme and personality of the year. At the same time, try to capture the personality of the student in the tribute.

If you plan to use the entire page, consider using the folio, too. It is a great place to put the senior picture and name as an identifier, especially if parents only submit pictures of the senior when they are young.

If you plan to use the entire page, consider using the folio, too. It is a great place to put the senior picture and name as an identifier, especially if parents only submit pictures of the senior when they are young.

With these two seemingly conflicting thoughts, here are some ideas to make senior tributes stand out:

  • Some parents will indicate which photo they would like as the dominant. If not, choose the photo that will look best when enlarged. Consider flaws, resolution and composition in choosing the big picture. The dominant should be of the student only, if possible – not of the family or friends.
  • Too often senior tributes are forced into boxes or borders. Take advantage of the entire space for the ad and bleed a photo or two for an open, spacious look. In other words, if it is a half-page ad, use the entire half page for the ad.
  • Consider vertical halves instead of horizontal halves for some variety.
  • Color does not always work well for tribute pages. Often parents submit bad quality prints to be scanned. Consider using some or all photos in black and white, sepia or duotones to avoid having to print pictures with poor color correction. Color can be added to these pages with graphic touches.
  • Choose fonts and graphics that subtly express the student being featured while fitting the established book look.
  • Think about including the student’s senior photo next to the folio tab. This gives readers who may not be familiar with the seniors an adult view to contrast with the baby pictures on the page. It is particularly helpful on those tributes that do not include recent pictures as a part of the display. If you do this, be consistent, as this technique may not work with your design.

Develop a legacy of individually tailored pages that reflect the personalities of the subjects and the theme of the book. The result will be a set of feature-style tributes that not only enhance your yearbook budget, but will also make your seniors feel like a million bucks.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mikola Myrolovich August 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

These are the most wonderful way to make the yearbook truly memorable. Thank you.

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