Graduation Yard Signs Bringing Business to University In-plants
While many school district in-plants are flush with print work during the COVID-19 crisis, their higher-ed counterparts are having a much different experience. With campuses closed and students moving to online courses, print work has dried up. The promotional and support materials they would normally be printing for spring activities, including graduation, are no longer needed.
But the cancellation of in-person graduation ceremonies has created an opportunity for some college and university in-plants: the printing of personalized yard signs announcing the graduation of individual students. Graduates everywhere who have been robbed of their commencement ceremonies are ordering these signs to let the world know of their accomplishments. Several in-plants have stepped in to provide them, both for their university graduates and for local high school grads.
“We saw the local commercial market reaching out to high school grads [about yard signs],” says Ed Arning, director of market development in the Creative Marketing Solutions unit at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). “My VP noticed what was going on … and challenged us to do the same for our graduates.”
Since then the Murfreesboro, Tenn., in-plant has printed about 75 signs for students. The in-plant promoted this service on social media, and Arning expects even more orders before the school’s May 9 graduation date.
Students can choose from four designs, each featuring MTSU’s logo and slogan (“I am True Blue”) along with the student’s name and graduation year.
Two in-plant employees are printing the personalized signs on the shop’s Epson Stylus Pro 11880 aqueous printer, which prints onto a 24”-wide adhesive-backed substrate and cuts it every 18”. This is mounted onto Coroplast material. The in-plant boxes the signs along with the metal frame and ships them via USPS. Students are also able to pick their signs up at the BLUE print Solutions retail site, in a process that eliminates any contact with staff.
“To really help the local graduates, we’ll even deliver it to their doorstep within a small radius around the campus,” Arning adds.
The in-plant was able to get graduation yard signs into production quickly because it’s a very familiar service.
“We do so much yard sign work for our college campus community,” he says. “So this was very easy for us to ramp up and get into this market.”
Besides providing a needed service to students to ease some of their disappointment, the yard sign work is giving the in-plant some needed business at a time when its usual print work has “gone to sleep,” Arning says.
He adds that, after reading an IPI article about the need for printed K-12 curriculum material, he reached out to the local school district to offer BLUE print Solutions’ services for producing this work.