Winter Graduations 101-part 2

Winter graduation season is upon us. If you already have a relationship with a school, their graduation ceremony is a natural way to do more work for existing clients. Here are some of our best practices that could be used when shooting and selling graduation images as part 2 of our graduation series.

Day of the Graduation Arrive at the venue at least two hours early. This allows for plenty of time for setup, meeting with the contact to confirm locations of the photographs, deal with any equipment malfunctions, or get additional equipment or staff if necessary. After the contact has verified the shooting location, setup the equipment and backgrounds if necessary. Setup a video camera aimed at the reader and graduate handing their card to the reader and two audio recorders to be used by post production to ensure that the order of the grad cards matches the order that the graduates processed in. Buddy shots can then be conducted in the holding room and email addresses can be collected from audience members using web cards. Web cards are a two part card that allows you to collect email addresses from the graduation audience as well as leave them with a card that shows them how to access their graduate’s images online.

As the graduation starts, PR pictures can be taken. These will include processional, band, singers, speakers, stage setup, and anything of interest at the graduation. The handshake and additional photographers will take their positions prior to the conferring of the degrees.

Keep an eye on your grad cards. They are essential in ID’ing the graduation. IDing is matching the names up with the images of the graduates. This makes it easier for the graduates to find their images online. Immediately following the processional, collect the grad cards and place them in a secure location. Secure the memory cards and label them immediately after the graduation. After the graduation has ended, send photographers out to do family and friend photographs while organizing the memory cards and reader cards. Label the friends and family memory cards when the crowd has dispersed. Pack the equipment and be sure to clean up any tape or marks that have been made at the venue. Check in with the contact to ensure that they do not need anything additional and thank them for having you at the ceremony.

Fill out ceremony reports. The ceremony reports are pre-printed forms that allow photographers to draw diagrams of the ceremony as well as include notes about what took place at the ceremony. They also include checklists to help the photographers remember what PR pictures to take. This, if done every time you go to a graduation, will allow photographers to share the setup, details of the ceremony, and any trouble that they had. These notes will allow the post production staff to figure out anomalies that may have occurred during the ceremony and to do a better job at future graduations.

Post Production Post production starts immediately after the graduation materials return to the office. The goal is to get the graduation online within 24 hours of the ceremony. Getting images online quickly is striking while the iron is hot. Graduates and their guests are still excited about the commencement and are more likely to buy increasing the percentage of participation.

A team of production staff needs to be waiting to start when the photographers return. The list of duties is as follows:

• Check the materials that were returned – video, audio, grad cards, memory cards, notes in the binder • Backup all images and audio/video on hard drive and CD • Setup rendered backgrounds in CCS Transfer (if using green screen) • Upload the images to the event • Listen to the audio recordings and check the accuracy of the order of grad cards • Type the grad cards while uploading images • Import the graduate name list • Add secondary emails that were collected on web cards • Align the images • Spot the graduates to their names and addresses • Enable and check the event online • Queue emails and proofs to be printed • Quality Check all events that go online • Order a sample from each graduation to ensure that the website and offer are working properly • Check and correct bounced emails Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are started within 24 hours of the graduation and continue to be sent for at least 12 months and up to 3 years. We suggest emails include an image of the graduate or the group of the entire graduating class. This helps increase traffic to the website. It is important to send additional emails during the holidays that highlight products or include special deals. This will maximize the sales from each graduation.

Sales Review and Audit Tracking the results of a graduation is essential to knowing what works and what does not work in your area. Track the results immediately and frequently after the event. Doing this will identify problems with event postings and mailings and will allow for a quick recovery. Within 24 hours of the event, begin tracking the $ per graduate, % ordering, average order, and email/address counts. By comparing graduations to the previous year or similar graduations, any errors will be made apparent.

Post-Event Follow-up Send the PR images to the school to be used in promotional materials or on their website. Include the student names list with addresses and emails that can be used by their alumni association to contact the students after the graduation. The name list collected during the graduation is unique because they are fresh emails and addresses that will be much more current than the information that the school has from the beginning of the year. This step adds value to your services for the contact at the school and it will make it harder for someone to book away from you.

For additional information on how to shoot graduations and on the highly-specialized tools CCS has to offer for the graduation market, please contact a customer development representative.

NOTE: Graduation marketing posters and flyers can be obtained from the CCS catalog. CCS has a default product offering that includes our suggested list of graduation products. CCS offers pre-made email campaigns to use in-conjunction with graduations. These emails are automated through CORE or QuicPost to send automatically throughout the year.

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