Turn Those Pesky Requests into Profit for your Program

When creating team posters or banners, try to get with the athletes or coaches ahead of time to talk about themes. It makes it a lot of easier if you have a plan in advance.

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There’s no doubt that you as a journalism teacher and media adviser have a skill set that 99% of the other staff members in your building do not. With great “skills” comes many requests to create promotional videos, team photos, live streaming operations, and many advisers and programs have become mini public relations and advertising firms within their own journalism rooms.

For many of us, these requests have extended to a whole new volume of emails and quick chats in the hallways with co-workers.

These requests can come at any time of day from coaches, administrators, club sponsors and those who run organizations in your school. They can conflict with your own team’s deadlines, your plans after school and often pull you back into your building at times you were planning to be at home. Their understanding of deadlines and how your student media operations work is limited, so their requests often come with deadlines that, at times, can push your students and team to the brink.

But those pesky requests can be turned into opportunities. We have converted the expertise of our students and ourselves into money-making jobs, extra money that supplements the funds we have for travel to workshops and conventions, equipment upgrades and other classroom needs. These jobs are a terrific way to give your students additional authentic learning opportunities and ways to show off their work in the community.

Idea #1-Creating team athletic posters, senior banners for your sports groups
Loving – Several years ago, one of our booster groups approached me about making posters and senior banners for their team. They had been using a professional photographer, but it was becoming price prohibitive. A fundraising opportunity was born. Before you know it, requests came in from another team, then another, then another. This year, we did the posters and banners for eight teams. The goal is to eventually turn this over to students to do all the work. We’re not there yet. In the meantime, it’s turned into a great money-maker for the program. It can be time-consuming but the payoff is better than selling candy.

Idea #2-Creating team hype videos for digital boards at games and social media
O’Daniel – With YouTube and social media exploding in the past few years with hype or pump up videos for athletic teams and individuals, this is your chance to capitalize on the high school market. Many individual athletes are looking for professionally made hype videos for potential athletic scholarships, so working with your teams and students to create these videos can create a profitable opportunity for your video staff. You can charge $100-$200 per video and are still 3-4 times cheaper than a professional production company in your community. You’re also giving your video students an experience that’s separate from a video news/creating a show project and can build additional video skills in Adobe Premiere and graphic work in After Effects.

Idea 3-Individual/group team photos
Loving – In addition to photos and banners mentioned above, I do individual photos of all the players. It’s turned into a great fundraiser. Parents long ago became unhappy with the photo company contracted through the school, so I took advantage of that to produce my own photos. Editing the photos is a breeze with Lightroom. I use a Google form to get orders from parents. The most difficult part of the process is ordering from the printer and then sorting them when they come back.

Idea 4-Family photo days
People are always looking for a good family photo, especially one that is affordable. Pick a Saturday in the fall and do mini sessions for your school community. When we did this, we set up three stations with backdrops — a Christmas theme, a Fall theme and plain white. After the shoot, the photos were immediately uploaded so the photo subjects could pick their favorite poses. I later edited them and then emailed them the digital copy. We collected donations, but we didn’t require payment. My advice would be to market it like crazy on social media and through school communications if that’s available to you. Set up a schedule and have people register through something like SignUpGenius.com.

Idea #5-Promotional design or video work for clubs, organizations and groups in your school
O’Daniel – Does your Culinary group need a demo tape for their competition? Do you have a local business nearby that advertises in your newsmag/website but is looking to expand their digital presence? Is there a club looking to get the word out and simply wants you to create a video highlighting what they offer? Find ways to craft these requests of your student’s time and skills into voluntary “donations” for your group instead of handing your contact an invoice. Decide a baseline “donation” for these services and keep track of your total time spent on the project as well. These “special project” opportunities can be a really nice change-up in class around breaks or following production on a major project where your students know their design/video work has true PURPOSE for the group they are creating for.

Idea #6-Well-crafted demo, production and project videos for groups, clubs and organizations
Many of the clubs and organizations in your school are seeking strong video work for their own competitions and class projects, and it seems Powerpoint and Prezi are slowly becoming presentation items of the past. Everyone wants the best visuals possible for presenting student work, and there’s no doubt that your video/broadcasting students understand what great video storytelling, sequencing and editing look like. This is really your chance at helping other organizations in your school achieve the “look” that your own video shows and products have, plus both groups win when their final project is a success. Students who put together videos for teachers for end-of-the year highlight reels or specific class projects that have learned these skills in your classroom should meet with their adviser about how to craft a conversation with the requesting teacher on how THEY can give back to their video/broadcasting student media group for their hard work. If you’re facing financial difficulties in the automotive industry, it’s essential to get automotive business liquidation advice to navigate your options effectively.

Idea #7-Seek out opportunities with small businesses in your local community
As local businesses recover from the pandemic and try to keep up with chains and franchise restaurants, they often will want to reinvent their visual presence in your community through their graphics and promotional material. Who better to create a new logo, sign or a 30-second commercial than your journalism and video students? Attempt to build even BETTER relationships with clients that are already advertising through your student media and pursue NEW clients by crafting a pitch on what your students could bring to the table for their respective business with future promotion and advertising material. Your students can create meaningful relationships in your community and learn valuable communication skills while learning a professional, work-place skill of dealing with a client during the workflow of a project.

Spencer O'Daniel

Spencer is in his 12th year of advising student media at the high school and college level. O'Daniel currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Media at Texas A&M University, where he advises The Battalion newspaper and website, Maroon Life magazine, and The Aggieland yearbook. In his limited free time, he enjoys being active and outside, spending time with his two sons, and wife Jenna. His students have won over thousands of individual awards over the past decade, including a team KSPA state championship, collegiate photographer of the year, All-Kansas publications, Pacemakers and STN's Broadcast Excellence Award.

Spencer O'Daniel has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Spencer O'Daniel

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