Advertising A-Z: A practical guide for high school publications

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By Rob Melton
Advertising A-Z: A practial guide for high school publications, created by Oregon advisers Rob Melton and Sunny Stautz, includes everything you need — all the forms to start your own advertising and business departments, plus a handy how-to-do-it guide with plenty of tips.

Sunny remembers vividly the year her bookkeeper got senioritis in April and she didn’t discover it until June, when she found $1,000 in unpaid printer and photography bills stashed in a desk drawer! And the time a hair cutting franchise went bankrupt after it had run full-page ads. Rob recalls the time the principal changed their funds and the paper had to cancel its last three issues. And the time a local advertiser threatened to sue the school because of a typo in the ad copy. And the time …. You get the idea.

Between the two of us, we have over 30 years of advising horror stories. Trying to cope, we’ve developed countless staff handouts to organize the little cherubs and end up in the black instead of in the red each June – one of those little details that makes your principal like you better. We’ve distributed those handouts at countless journalism conferences and finally put all those fragments together into a cohesive whole, for our own students. What we ended up with was an entire book, covering just about every advertising detail we could think of.

This free book won’t save you from all of our horror stories. But it will give you some tips on making a traditionally weak area – advertising – much stronger. They’re tips we learned the hard way. We hope you can profit from our mistakes and come up with an award-winning publication that also enjoys financial success.

The book starts with building a budget in Unit 1. You move to the five steps of selling in Unit 2, from organizing the staff and running surveys to developing a media packet, identifying prospects and sales techniques. We take you through designing an ad in Unit 3, including what NOT to do. The nitty-gritty of assigning ads to pages, keeping track of which ads run and who to bill, is all covered in Unit 4. The two-part appendix includes an “Instant Ad Department” and a teacher reference section. We recommend you go through the book in order, but each unit will stand by itself. If your immediate need is for billing, then start with Unit 4. If you’ve never had the staff participate in making a budget to submit to your principal, start with Unit 1.

At various points in each unit, classroom activities are suggested. For example, after students learn how to make a positive sales presentation, a role-playing activity lets them practice on each other. At the end of the unit is a corresponding activity sheet for you to reproduce for the students. The directions are repeated on the top of the activity sheet, in case you’ve decided not to make a copy of the entire unit for each student.

Some activities required two or three pages of information. You may want to photocopy these as well, or turn these pages into overheads, and go through the examples with the class. Full-size copies of many of the activity sheets are in the teacher reference, so you don’t have extra words and redundant instructions on your overhead. (If you’re making copies of this book for your students, you probably don’t want to include this introduction, the appendix forms or the teacher reference.) Other items in the teacher reference section are completed forms that you can use as examples.

You have sample wish lists, printer bids, daily journals, ad run sheets, contracts – even advertising and grading policies to look at. If you’re using this as an assigned text, you may want to give quizzes, so we’ve provided a quiz, including vocabulary, true-false and multiple choice questions, that should be quick and easy to grade. The answers are in the teacher reference section of the appendix.

In the “Instant Ad Department,” you can photocopy a form to get printer bids, make a detailed budget, create run sheets, daily journal ledger pages, hot prospect forms. It also includes a generic “Publication” rate card, contract, application for credit, subscription, and billing forms. Use the format to design your own, or just paste your school newspaper name, address, etc. on top of the generic names and photocopy it as is.

We’ve tried to make this book as practical as possible, with plenty of chances for students to try out ideas in class before you turn them loose on your business community. If you have comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear them. If your newspaper makes a million, remember us in your will!

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Advertising A-Z: A practical guide for high school publications