Over the course of eight years, I worked in various capacities on high school football programs. For the most part, my role was advertising sales and project management, but in many, many cases, I had to get hands-on in creative direction, layout, production and in the development of copy or individual ads for businesses and families. I didn’t do this in my role at O’Brien Communications, but rather as a parent volunteer.
Without getting into great detail, the process usually started in the early Spring and culminated with a print run prior to the first game at the end of August. With so many people involved in the effort, and almost all of it volunteer or in-kind, a football program is much different from producing an annual report or CSR report.
With this in mind, here are some of the lessons from producing high school football programs:
- Most peoples’ favorite pictures of their kids are grainy, hard to see and sometimes coffee-stained.
- Underclassmen families will always complain there is too much emphasis on the seniors.
- Senior families will forget their underclassmen complaints from the previous year and always demand there be more emphasis on the seniors.
- Never ask high school football players for creative input. There's a reason their coaches always look on edge and yell a lot.
- You can’t double-check name spellings enough.
- Most small retail businesses still don’t use email.
- High school activities would not exist without the support of orthodontists and pizza shops.
- People love pictures, usually of people, always of themselves.
- Deadlines are meaningless to most people.
- No matter how much professional experience you have in supervising photo shoots, it’s always best to get out of the way and let a cheerleader mom run the group photo shoot.
- The most important thing you can do when overseeing a photo shoot of teenagers is to watch the group and make sure no one is using nonverbal communication that could eventually make the photo unusable.