Monthly archives for November, 2016

New Launch Lab Officially Opens in Dallas Office


Staff members gathered for a Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 18 to officially open the doors to the new space. The work stations and meeting rooms came to life immediately as some employees moved into the space that day.

Create. Connect. Captivate. Those are the pillars of the new Launch Lab collaborative workspace that officially opened for business in Balfour’s Dallas publishing plant in November.

The Launch Lab, an open office environment, includes teams of digital, e-commerce, IT, marketing, product and creative services working under the same roof supporting all areas of the business. The Launch Lab will be active in supporting each and every product launch and lifecycle, from yearbooks to championship rings and new product development.

It’s named Launch Lab for a reason. When you think about a launch – there’s energy, there’s many moving parts working together, a significant amount of planning involved, there’s excitement, and the trajectory is upward, fast and forward. That’s the vision for the Launch Lab.

The naming of the different rooms was a project of its own. Avoiding corporate cliches and buzzwords as best we could, names like Pixel, Hashtag and Connect were selected for small huddle rooms. Larger meeting rooms sport names like Sandbox, Wonderwall, Captivate, Inspire and Amplify.

As schools tour our Dallas plant, they’ll be able to take a look at the new workspace and see some of our behind-the-scenes departments that play a huge part in yearbook production, namely our IT teams.


The open space towards the back will be used for monthly company meetings to promote new product launches and celebrate employee accomplishments.


Once full, the Launch Lab will house more than 85 employees.

Maximize your index’s potential.

IndexThe index is the first place students look because they want to see what pages they’re on. But if you wait until spring to run the index, you’re bound to have mistakes and missing information.

To alleviate final deadline stress, consider tagging names throughout the year. A smart way to do this is right before pages are submitted. It’s also an opportunity to double check that names are spelled correctly and include the right grade. Consider giving staffers a grade solely based on name and grade accuracy.

Run the index after completing the people section. This is where staffs see the most name discrepancies. Often students go by a nickname that’s not reflected on the official school portrait. Running the index early can catch these doubles and help consolidate the listing to one version of the person’s name.

Use the index as a marketing and sales tool. Post the index outside the yearbook room to show students how many times they’re already in the book. Send coupons or buying reminders to students who are in the book, but haven’t bought one yet.

Let the index guide content. Compare the index to the sales list, noting what students have bought a book but aren’t included yet. Share that info with reporters and photographers, making those buyers a priority. Similarly, note what students have already reached the max number of times in the book, and strive to select other people in photos, stories and captions.

Another layer of coverage: Indexing classes, clubs, events and sports helps students find them in the book. Considering bolding those entries in the index or creating additional lists for each category as a reader service.

Make them LOOK! Customized banners lend a professional touch

Moorhead JH Yearbook Banners

Balfour’s  SayIt! Custom Signage lets you and your staff put your  “mark” on yearbook marketing. With the design portal, you can order custom posters, banners, postcards, window clings and more. Use the tools we provide to design your marketing pieces or upload your finished masterpieces to the portal.

Matt Tullos of Moorhead Junior High in Conroe, Texas ordered two coordinating X-stand banners to help his staff promote their pricing structure and give buyers 10 reasons why they should purchase a yearbook. They debuted the banners at open house to help drive pre-sales as well as sell past yearbooks. The result? Success.

“Having professional signage has taken our public image to a whole new level,” Tullos said. “These days paying such a high price for a student-centered and student-created book is a stretch for some kids and their parents. The level of professionalism by which we present ourselves can speak volumes to a wary buyer.”

Prices of the custom items range from $24 for a back of 50 postcards to $100 for an 8′ outdoor banner.

“Having quality visuals at our booth has really helped lend much-needed credibility to our brand,” Tullos said.

To order your custom marketing materials, log onto StudioBalfour and click Sales and Orders>SayIt! Custom Signage.

Blended Coverage

8Nov16Blended coverage provides an alternative way to cover academics, clubs and sports in a more balanced and realistic way. It’s also allows coverage of multiple groups in less space.

The most common ways to blend coverage are by chronology or similarity. A chronological blend explores what happens on a given day, week or month. A December spread might focus on studying for exams, semester end projects, Christmas parties and holiday volunteering opportunities. A blend based on similarities provides a topical approach. A game day spread could feature fans, cheerleaders, athletic trainers, football managers, the band and the dance team.

Employing a blended coverage approach provides more balanced and realistic coverage. It moves the focus to actual activities classes and clubs do, eliminating dull meeting and classroom photos. It also allows more active groups to receive additional coverage spread throughout the book.


Consider these blended coverage ideas:

  • A November spread could feature class projects, the final district football game, things to be thankful for and Black Friday shopping.
  • A projects and presentations spread allows multiple academic classes to mingle on the same spread and creates better picture opportunities.
  • A fundraiser, T-shirt or holiday party spread could focus on small clubs that don’t have big events or activities.
  • A volunteering and leadership spread would showcase organizations which take a strong role in student government or participate in volunteering opportunities.
  • Freshman and junior varsity teams could share space on the same spread, substituting the traditional story for mini-stories, Q&As or quotes to provide coverage for two, three, even four or five teams.

Not sure how to get started? Learn the step-by-step process of blending coverage and see examples of blended coverage spreads.

Say it like you mean it

3Nov16Quotes are the heart of your stories and captions. But too often they’re bogged down with attribution in the wrong place. So, let’s set the record straight when it comes to he said/she said.

  • Only use said. Avoid verbs that take away from the quote or interject opinions (i.e. stated, explained, replied, expressed, laughed, giggled, commented, said with a smile). Also, avoid “says” because it implies the person is still talking.
  • You’re not Yoda. While we love the Star Wars Jedi, let’s not model his use of language. Verbs go after nouns. You wouldn’t say “walked Lemons” or “talked Lemons” so don’t say, “said Lemons.” Similarly, substituting pronouns makes it clear that “she said” is preferable to “said she.”
  • Exceptions? When using a who clause or introducing a person with a long title. “It’s wonderful to have long, beautiful interviews,” said Kel Lemons, Balfour’s Key Accounts and Education Manager.
  • Know when to introduce the speaker. Place the attribution after the first sentence of a quote. Readers need to know who’s talking, but it’s not more important than starting the quote.
  • Punctuate the quote properly. Commas and periods go inside quotation marks. After the first sentence use a comma, use a period after the attribution and last sentence.
  • Example: “I am so tired of students putting commas in the wrong place,” adviser Jill Smith said. “Hopefully, this will help them learn the accurate way.”
  • First or last? Once you’ve mentioned the person’s title and full name, it’s preferable to only use the last name on second and future references. For adults, courtesy titles aren’t necessary, but first names are needed to go with the last name on first reference.


Need a cheat sheet? Here’s our handy guide for quotes and attribution.