Honor My Grad

Creative Circle releases app to help parents make a fuss over their 2020 grads

Aimed at helping local media outlets offset advertising loses during the coronavirus pandemic


Graduation in 2020 is like no other. It stinks, especially for parents.

But Creative Circle Media Solutions has released “Honor My Grad” – a web application built specifically to help parents, schools and media outlets give the graduating class of 2020 their due recognition.  

“Parents and teachers feel terrible for the class of 2020. No prom. No parties. No shopping spree. No relatives flying in. No walking across the stage for a handshake and a diploma,” said Bill Ostendorf, president of Creative Circle. “It's really sad. And parents everywhere are desperately looking for new and different ways of making a fuss over their grad.”

Honor My Grad, which can work on any web site, is a self-service module allowing parents, relataives and friends to honor grads with family pictures, stories, quotes, a video and more. Parents fill out a simple, flexible form to tell their story about their grad, building a whole page around their achievement. 

A variety of widgets can display the stories of grads across the pages of any web site.

“You can literally say ‘Give us two minutes and we’ll help make sure everyone knows about your grad,’ ” said Ostendorf. “It’s that easy to use and everything about it is friendly and fun."

These parent-generated pages can be hosted by a local media outlet for a year or more. They can also provide widgets to local school sites as well.

"The whole platform was designed to be easy on publishers and  parents," said Ostendorf. "We know newspapers don't have the staffing or time to go out and sell something new, so we're developing solutions that sell themselves."

Free listings include the name of the grad, their class portrait and information describing that grad's achievements and honors and school activities.

Upgrades allow parents to add a photo gallery of family pictures, a video and to respond to a variety of prompts: favorite quote, Top 10 list, favorite teachers/classes, tell us a story, highlights, employment, other (hobbies, cars, dating, anything else), future plans and what the parents are most proud of.

Parents can also plug in up to 24 email addresses inviting other relatives and friends to add their picture and story to the page.

There is also an option to have their listing published in the print editions of newspaper. And there is a wild card upgrade that would allow newspapers to sell something else through the platform, like a keepsake edition of the paper or "Honor My Grad" yard signs or a donation to the 2020 class gift.

While it does provide revenue producing opportunities, “Honor My Grad” was engineered to be a public service. It’s wired to assure that the initial listings are free. Publishers set the rates for upsells or can offer them for free or skip some altogether.

“In our focus groups, parents, teachers and administrators all expressed a lot of frustration,” said Ostendorf. “This is an opportunity for local media to help solve this problem and potentially generate considerable revenue and good will in the community.”

Based on our discussions with parents, this should be a four or five figure revenue stream for most newspapers. Plus the widgets offer several opportunities for a sponsorship, which would be a premium opportunity.

The app collects contact information from parents, too, potentially unlocking the potential for newsletter blasts featuring advertisers trying to market to recent grads and their parents. That list could be use for subscription marketing as well.

“This disaster is our chance to deliver for our communities, our parents, our schools and our graduates,” said Ostendorf. “Web traffic is higher than ever before, and we can use that traffic to showcase local grads. And showcasing all these local kids will also drive our traffic even higher. It's a win-win for everyone involved.”

Publishers can license the app for a one-time, $150 setup fee and a revenue share. Creative Circle will host the listings for a year.

“We know the coronavirus situation is crippling publishers and we wanted to create something to help,” he said. “We brainstormed several concepts and built out the first of these two apps – "What's Open?" – in an intense, four-day push and began releasing it to our clients the following week. We followed as quickly as possible this second app for grads. We'll be rolling out one app per month offering publishers new ways of replacing lost revenue during this COVID-19 mess."

While Creative Circle’s primary emphasis is newspapers, “Honor My Grad” is a stand alone web app that any web site, radio outlet or television station can add to their existing site in minutes.

"We’re hosting demos of the platform every day through May 10,” said Ostendorf. “We’re trying to get the word out there and help publishers  roll out this solution as soon as possible.”

Call 401-455-1555 or email info@creativecirclemedia.com to sign up for one of the demos. You can also learn more about the Honor My Grad app here.

Here’s what some parents and school administrators said about the "Honor My Grad” app in our focus groups:

“If this were on (our local newspaper web site), I'd write to every parent and encourage them to put their graduate online.” – head of school

“We're really going crazy trying to think of ways to do something just like this. This is a great idea.” – school administrator

“I would do this, absolutely! And for $35 or $45 or $55, I know a lot of parents who would jump on it!” – parent

"I think in a small town like ours, you'd see 100% of parents doing this,"   school administrator

About Creative Circle Media Solutions

Creative Circle is dedicated to helping newspapers and making excellence affordable for all news publishers.

Creative Circle is one of the newspaper industry's leading consulting, training, design and software firms. We have a 30-year history of success and happy clients on three continents. Creative Circle has led the redesign and re-engineering of more than 650 print publications and we've designed and built more than 350 media-related web sites. We've led workshops in 23 countries, training thousands of journalists, publishers and ad staffers on a wide range of topics. 

We've also created a full line of web software solutions for media companies, including a user-oriented CMS, citizen journalism, classified advertising, hyper-local, pay wall, print production and reverse publishing solutions. 

A consistent innovator, Creative Circle was the first media CMS vendor to release a wide range functionality. We were the first media CMS vendor to offer an integrated pay wall, user-contributed content, hyper-local sites, reverse publishing capability, native content and flexible page and story templates that better reflect the news. Our sites are the most flexible and dynamic in the industry but are easy to learn and use.

We also provide "creative outsourcing" to help companies that don't have easy access to experienced media designers or editors to create high-end content. 

Increasingly, we’re finding that businesses, schools, non-profits and associations can also benefit from the unique and powerful tools we’ve built for our media clients.