Ideas for finding summertime wild art

One very common photo assignment around this time is the elusive wild art photo where the reporter or photographer is supposed to come back to the newsroom with this amazing front page photo.

Here are a couple of ideas of where you might go when given the assignment.

Parks and pools

While the city of Liberty doesn't have a public pool, it does have a small water park.

By this time, you've probability already run the photo of kids playing in the pool, but many community pools also have other activities such as swimming lessons and water aerobics. At parks, you might look for interesting angles on families enjoying swings or teeter tots. I'd suggest not shooting from eye level. Instead, try shooting from low on the ground (to get a clean sky background of a kid on a teeter tot), or up high as they enjoy a swing. Remember to have your press pass on and let the parents know what you're doing. Best times to find people is either early in the morning or late afternoon.


This was taken at the football fields at Cleveland High School before the start of a variety softball game. This little league team used the fields daily to practice since there is no park in Cleveland.

Sometimes families use school athletic facilities like baseball or softball fields to work one-on-one with their child. Those could make for good photos. Little league teams also tend to use open fields at high schools for practices. Best times are similar to parks and school.

Community centers

This was by far the strangest and coolest camp I went to this summer. This man in the community has been yo-yoing for more than 40 years and put on a camp to teach kids a fun pastime. Over the four-day camp he taught kids 12 tricks.

I found community centers to be full of wild art potential. From Yo-Yo camps to line dancing classes, they can provide several different opportunities at one convenient location. It wouldn't be a bad idea to run by your center once a month and get a copy of their calendar so you'll know what the center has going on that day.


This ad-selling technique is FABulous

Benjamin Franklin was the original American advertising salesperson. Like many of the people in our industry today, Ben started his newspaper on a shoestring and used his entrepreneurial skills to build it one reader and one advertiser at a time.

As a good salesman, Franklin was tuned into what his readers and advertisers wanted. He had an intuitive understanding of the psychology of sales. In his popular Poor Richard’s Almanac, he offered the following advice: “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than to intellect.”

Ben knew what customers wanted to know: “What’s in it for me.” He understood the power of self-interest, that people buy for their own selfish reasons. Successful salespeople must demonstrate how their product satisfies these needs.

What we sell

As advertising salespeople, our job is to help our customers grow their businesses. We do not sell paper and ink — customers can get a much better deal on these commodities at Staples or Office Depot. What we really sell are customers.

We are in the eyeball business.

At its core, our business is all about helping people who have something to sell, connect with the people who want or need to buy that “something.” Our papers and websites are simply the packaging that our real product comes in. If I go to Best Buy and buy a new flat-screen TV, it comes in a big cardboard box carefully padded with oddly shaped blocks of white Styrofoam. I don’t really want the box, but I want the TV to make it safely to my living room.

Our product is the “box” that delivers what advertisers really want — customers, safely to their business. It is our job to help our advertisers understand this. No one wants to buy advertising; everyone wants to buy paying customers.

Why people buy

People don’t buy a sandwich because they want to help out the restaurant; they buy a sandwich because they are hungry. Most buying motives are not quite that simple — people don’t choose to buy a BMW simply because they need transportation. A Hyundai can move them from point A to point B just as effectively. The BMW also fills a need for comfort and an ego boost as well. Most decisions are made with the emotions and justified with facts.

“Feeling” that they are making the right decisions is more important to them than “thinking” they are doing the right thing. This means you need to position your product in a way that allows the customer to imagine how they will rewarded for buying an ad from you. If you can get them to visualize what your program will do for them, you will tap into the emotions that drive decision making.

New improved FAB

Most sales people have been taught to talk about features and benefits. Tell the customer about your product and what if can do. FAB selling takes this one step further. FAB is an acronym for Features-Advantages-Benefits. FAB is essentially a process of process of customizing your offering to the customer’s situation and needs.

FAB selling requires the salesperson to use good probing skills to uncover a customer’s problems and needs before attempting to recommend a solution.

Defining FAB:

  • Feature-A physical characteristic or attribute of the product or service.
  • Advantage-How the feature can help the customer.
  • Benefit-How the feature and corresponding advantage solves a customer’s problem or addresses a customer’s specific need.

Features describe the product. Advantages help the customer understand the product. Benefits make the customer see how the product can help them. Benefits make the customer want to buy from us.

Let say I was a car salesperson and I told a customer that a feature of the vehicle they were considering had a “turbo.” The “turbo” is a feature. Unless the customer is a real car nut, he or she is likely to think “So what!” The feature is meaningless to them.

Since I am a clever car salesperson, I decide to hit them with an advantage of the turbo. “A turbo significantly improves the acceleration of this vehicle.” Many customers will think, “I’m no drag racer. Why do I need that kind of pickup?”

Now it’s time to seal the deal with a benefit: “What this means to you is that when you are pulling on to the freeway with your kids in the back seat, you’ll have the power to merge in before a truck kills you.” The customer thinks back to a few close calls on the on ramp and taps into the emotional stress of a close call and thinks, “I need that turbo.”

I have seen this happen when I am out with our sales people. A rep will say “Our product is direct mailed.” When the customer doesn’t respond they may say “This means it reaches every home in the area.” Sometimes this will “click” with the prospect, but often it does not. The most successful reps drive home the feature and advantage with a benefit. “Ms. Customer, we are direct mailed so your ad will reach every home in the area so more people will see and respond to your ad, making your more money.”

“Making money” is ultimately what the customer wants to accomplish. By tying your feature to this need, you heighten the value of the feature to the prospect.     

Never assume customers “get it.”  You have to tell them why they should buy. Customers have a lot on their mind. Don’t make them have to figure out why they should buy an ad.

One FAB doesn’t fit all

Advertisers are as unique as fingerprints. No two prospects have the same needs. This is why you must ask good questions to reveal the customer’s needs and situation.

One customer may want to blanket the entire market with his message while another may be more interested in a targeted ad to a limited area. Some people may be interested in a coupon vehicle while other never discount. As the old saying goes, “You’ll never know, unless you ask!”

Being FABulously well prepared

You have a lot to think about during a sales call. When you are with a customer, ideally you should be thinking about their business and their needs. Since this doesn’t leave a lot of time to think about FAB, it makes good sense to do this ahead of time. Take the time to list all of the features of every product your sell along with the accompanying advantages and benefits. Many features will be offer multiple advantages and benefits. Here is an example for a racked product:

  • Feature—Demand distribution (Racked)
  • Advantage 1—people only pick up the paper when they want to read it
  • Benefit 1—no wasted circulation, so everyone who picks up a paper will see your ad so you will generate a better response and make more money
  • Advantage 2—Readers know where to find the paper when they have a buying need and will seek it out.
  • Benefit 2—Your paper is available to potential customers whenever they need it so you will reach customers when they are in the market and ready to buy so you will make more money.

Taking the time to write out the “FAB” for your products in advance means you will be prepared to respond when you discover a customer need. This exercise also helps you to think in terms of FAB. By writing out the advantages and benefits associated with each benefit, will help you to “connect the dots” for your customers on a call.


As sales professionals we get what we want by helping other people get what they want.

As we have seen, customers aren’t interested in the features of our publications, and advantages alone will not motivate them to advertise. Features and advantages are only effective when the customer see them in the light of a desirable benefit.

Resolve to never offer a prospect a feature or a benefit without including a meaningful, customer specific benefit and you will be FABulously successful.

Ask an Expert Questions and Answers

Can an organization refuse advertising from anyone it chooses?

Full question: A 501(c)(3) foundation publishes a travel guide that my newspaper designs and prints. The foundation has prevented some businesses from advertising because of bad business histories. Now a disgruntled former advertiser is threatening a lawsuit because he says he is not being treated equally by being prevented from advertising. Does a private business – non-profit or otherwise – have the right to refuse business to anyone?

A private business is allowed to make its own editorial decisions about what to publish. The First Amendment right to freedom of the press prevents the state from interfering with private editorial decision-making, as was made clear in the Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo case, 418 U.S. 241 (1974).

This includes the right to turn away advertisements, as the Supreme Court noted in a decision the previous year when it refused to extend the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” to broadcast advertising. (CBS v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94, 1973).

Consider recent instances of networks broadcasting the Super Bowl — they regularly turn away ads from political groups such as or anything else deemed too racy for the public, such as PETA’s regular attempts to grab attention.

Merely by virtue of being a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organizations do not surrender their First Amendment rights. Just last year, the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC case upheld free speech rights for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, striking down campaign finance regulations that limited the ability of the organization to spend money in political campaigns, a kind of speech.

In short, with very few exceptions, publishers have a right under the First Amendment to make editorial decisions without the state, or the courts, interfering with them. This includes the right to choose which advertisements to accept and which to reject. While the contents of advertising can be regulated — consider the Fair Housing Act requirements that advertising not include discriminatory content — it remains in the publisher’s discretion whether to publish an advertisement in the first place.