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Teaching Tips

We are collecting tips from high school newspaper advisers nationwide on how to run student publications and deal with the issues from administrators, students and parents.

Advertising and sales tips

Tips put together at the 2001 ASNE High School Journalism Institute

Just as in the real world, a student newspaper operates as a business. The following are tips to help get copy into print without sinking into the red.

  • Build a budget. It can be something as simple as determining how much copy paper you will need to print and eight-page paper four times a year. Or it can be as complicated as expenses per issue (printing, supplies, postage) and annual expenses (equipment costs, training, press memberships, contests/critiques). Those final costs-per-issue will help determine how much funding you need, either through school contributions or advertising sales.
  • Conduct a student/reader survey. The information can be a source of potential stories and a marketing tool to promote the paper to advertisers. Questions could include:
    • What do you like to read about?
    • Where do you eat?
    • How much do you spend?
  • Set ad rates before making sales calls and stick to those rates. Use rates of competing student newspapers as a guide. If an advertiser uses a coupon, consider offering a discount if he or she keeps track of how many students respond with the coupons. That information can be used in sales calls to other advertisers.
  • Create a business card listing the publication, school, address, adviser and school phone number. It gives current and potential advertisers a way to reach you (and an address to send the ad payment). Sources can use the cards to call with story ideas.
  • Create press passes for the newspaper staff. Not only will they be a legitimate form of press identification to the school staff and advertisers, they can be used as motivators.
  • Send ad bills in a timely manner. Send the bill and a copy of the newspaper to the advertiser and follow up with a phone call to ensure the material was received. Be aware that a few advertisers “forget” to pay — be prepared to politely, but consistently, make follow-up calls.
  • Maintain accurate accounting. Failure to do so could cause problems for the newspaper, adviser and school.
  • Create a brochure highlighting the journalism program. Use it as a recruitment tool. Set up “news tip” boxes around school and reward tipsters with small prizes, such as pizza coupons.
  • Sell subscriptions to parents during open house. They may not get a chance to see the paper. Maybe they will want to send it to grandma or to a recent graduate. Remind them that the subscription is also a donation to support the paper’s operation. Once you’ve sold subscriptions, mail the newspaper in a timely manner. Don’t ignore the people who are supporting you in good faith.