Monthly archives for August, 2017

Writing in the heat of the moment

Journalists emphasize the importance of writing in “hot heat.” In other words, it is important to write as the events unfold.  As school starts, Gulf Coast residents are struggling to deal with record flooding from Hurricane Harvey, but communities throughout the country may face difficult situations throughout the school year. Even those outside the community may be involved. Localize coverage by recording how students in your school assist with calamities in other parts of the country. It is far more effective than running stock photos from news services.


Follow these steps to get started.


Free write. Write continuously for 15 minutes at a time without regard to spelling, grammar or organization. Every so often, note the time, place and circumstances of what is happening around you.

Don’t self-edit. You don’t need to share free writing with anyone, so let yourself write as ideas and thoughts come into your head. Getting everything on paper will help you remember the situation exactly as it happened.

Use all five senses. It’s easy to remember sights, but don’t forget to note the sounds and smells of what’s happening around you. Also be aware of temperature and muscular tension. What does it feel like to walk through deep water or snow? What sounds did you hear as you observed the fire?


As you become more comfortable in the situation, listen to what people are saying.


Write down the most quotable quotes.  Those who you interview need not always be students or teachers from your school. Talk to everyone affected, including friends and family members to record their impressions and reactions.

Consider emotions. Remember people affected by natural disasters may feel overwhelmed by emotions and may not feel safe discussing their feelings. Respect their space.

Don’t forget the human element. Others may find some relief in talking. Let them talk. (You are not a psychologist; don’t analyze their responses.)

By the numbers. Listen for facts & figures as they are reported by officials. Statistics and numbers help better tell the story.


After returning to school, become a storyteller.


Choose an angle. Students and teachers will be very willing to share their stories. More than likely, their stories will provide an angle for your coverage.

Collect photos. Ask for photos of your area and surrounding areas from students and your photographers. Be sure to ask permission before running a photo in your story.

Layer coverage by using multiple secondary coverage modules in addition to your feature photo, headline and copy.Always include a fact box with specific information about the event. Use as many numbers as available.

Writing in the heat of the moment brings authenticity to your coverage, while adding quotes and details lends depth.

6 tips for getting started on your 2018 yearbook

With schools back in session, planning your 2018 yearbook is top of mind. Where should you get started? Spend a few days introducing the rookies to the yearbook world by covering these staff topics and procedures. This exercise also serves as a refresher for the returning staff so everyone starts out on the same page. 

Tip #1: Create a binder or Google doc with essential information:

  • -The bell schedule, school calendar and master schedule
  • -Student alpha list with grade levels
  • -Coaches with contact information
  • -Club sponsors with contact information
  • -Yearbook representative and account executive contact information
  • -Yearbook tech help number
  • Staff member directory with addresses, mobile numbers and emails
  • -Yearbook deadlines and work day schedule.

Tip #2: Go over camera equipment and check-out procedures. Have a photo editor walk through camera basics. Teach staffers how and where to download images. Use this handy camera check-out sheet to keep track of where your staff cameras are at all times.

Tip #3: Practice interviewing each other before going out for the real thing. Encourage “why” and “how” instead of “yes” and “no” questions. Emphasize gathering details and reactions. (Check out our post on Listening for quotable quotes.)

Tip #4: Show staffers how to access yearbook pages and where to save worked photos. Getting familiar with the workflow is important so staffers can be efficient as the school year progresses and deadlines approach. Now is a great time to create user log-ins for the software your staff will be using.

Tip #5: In the design software program, point out important tools, panels and inspectors. While you may not be ready to let student design real pages, it’s a great time to have your staff practice drawing text and picture boxes, placing photos and adding lines, shapes or color. Creating a practice spread to learn the basics or refresh veteran staffers can be helpful.

Tip #6: Walk through basic design principles and writing structure. Show several examples and practice together.

Don’t worry about covering everything—just hit the basics. Students will learn and assign more meaning to the skills as they put them into practice. It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re excited to be back to yearbook!


Meet the new StudioBalfour

As yearbook staffs gear up for a new school year, Balfour has released an update to its customer resource center, StudioBalfour, packing a big punch with new features to help customers meet deadlines, sell more yearbooks and monitor their student body coverage.

Student Manager & Coverage Reporting

Students are more likely to buy a yearbook if they’re featured in the book. Keep tabs on who has purchased a yearbook and how many times they’re featured with the new Student Manager. Upload a list of everyone in your student body, and watch as the Student Manager syncs yearbooks sales with your yearbook index.


Sell It! eMarketing is a personal email campaign creator built right into StudioBalfour that gives your staff advanced marketing capabilities. Powered by the student manager, eMarketing gives yearbook staffs the ability to filter groups and target specific audiences. Send an email campaign to students featured in the yearbook who haven’t yet purchased, or sell more senior ads by promoting ad space to seniors who already purchased a yearbook.

eMarketing can help in more ways than just selling yearbooks, too. Send communications thanking buyers for their purchase and or updating purchasers on yearbook distribution. Want to remind the student body about picture day or another school-wide event? Choose a campaign from our pre-designed templates and customize the message to fit your needs.

One-Stop Shop Dashboard

Customers now have at-a-glance insight into their entire yearbook journey with the addition of the Dashboard. Project progress and deadlines, book sales status, seasonal to-do’s, reminders and handy shortcuts make finding what you need quick and easy.

Improved Menu Navigation

StudioBalfour is packed with great tools to help with the yearbook journey, and now they’re easier to find with an improved menu structure. The color-coded format keeps everything for sales and orders, building a book and educational resources organized.

Improved Management

Adding sight and sound to the traditional printed yearbook is easier than ever with the improved user panel. Quickly add and edit QR codes, link videos and more. Balfour’s unique codes give yearbook staffs the ability to embed videos and slideshows into the yearbook, making for a truly unique print-digital experience. Codes are hosted for 30 years and viewable by scanning or typing in each code’s direct URL.

Get to work and get what you need faster with all these updates and more. Login to StudioBalfour today and take a look at all the new features.