Friday, October 28, 2011

Lessons from Eight Years of Football Programs

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.

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