updated 4/14/2011 11:15:56 AM ET 2011-04-14T15:15:56

QR Code Program Now Available Through BAL4.TV

AUSTIN, Texas, April 14, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If the phrase "interactive memories" conjures up images from the hit movie, Inception, then hold on to your seats. Balfour, a leading publisher of high school and college yearbooks, today rolled out the industry's first program that will converge interactive technology with the traditional printed yearbook through QR Code technology hosted on BAL4.TV, a securely-hosted digital platform.

QR Codes, short for Quick Response Codes, have gained popularity over the past few years. The square black-and-white bar codes have popped up on everything from magazine ads to museum tours. When activated through a smart phone app, the code can launch the user to a website, video or other multi-media presentation hosted on the web, creating an interactive experience from a one-dimensional medium.

"The publishing industry has always led the way in delivering robust content to niche audiences in digital formats, and publishing yearbooks is no different," said Alyce Alston, President and CEO of Balfour and a former magazine executive. "Balfour is enriching the traditional yearbook experience by bringing sight, sound and motion together and delivering those special memories in formats that are clearly more relevant and in demand by our consumers."

Students have always been early adopters of new technology; testing new platforms is a pervasive hobby for students and a potential nightmare for school administrators. 

"Balfour is delivering on the promise of technology by providing the interactivity that students crave, while securely hosting and monitoring any web content that might present itself through a school publication," added Alston.

Balfour is piloting its BAL4.TV platform with current 2011 yearbook customers, enabling schools to experiment with the technology at no cost to them. The BAL4.TV platform is simple to use and allows for secure hosting and streaming of school videos from associated QR codes for up to 30 years. Balfour plans to roll out the platform to all of its customers for the 2011-2012 school year.

"Imagine a yearbook photo of the winning touchdown springing to life -- the race to the goal line, the roar of the crowd, the fight song playing– all from the pages of your yearbook," said Amy Katzenberg, Digital Revenue Officer for Balfour.  "Now imagine watching that over-and-over again ... at your 20 year class reunion."

While potential applications for QR Codes in yearbooks are endless, the opportunity to sell advertisements with the codes is a head-turner for many schools: a multi-media ad, sold at even a slightly higher price than a standard print ad, could help generate additional revenue needed by journalism departments around the country.

For more information about Balfour's media convergence program, including demonstrations, and recommended applications, please visit BAL4.TV.

Lacy LaBorde

Balfour Director of Communications

512.440.2639

lacy.laborde@balfour.com

About Balfour

Balfour is a premier provider of school spirit and recognition products for students, military personnel and professional sports teams nationwide.  Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Balfour has sold class rings, yearbooks, graduation products, varsity letter jackets, athletic championship (professional and amateur), military products, and affinity jewelry for nearly 100 years. Balfour is owned by Commemorative Brands Inc., a company of American Achievement Corporation (AAC), which reported sales of $294 million during fiscal year 2010.  AAC is a portfolio company of Fenway Partners.

About Fenway Partners

Fenway Partners is a middle market private equity firm based in New York with approximately $1.6 billion under management. Fenway invests in profitable businesses with significant upside potential. Fenway companies typically have leading franchises and operate in two core industry segments: branded consumer products and transportation/logistics. Fenway's current portfolio includes: 1-800- CONTACTS (the leading direct-to-consumer distributor of contact lenses); American Achievement Corporation; Coach America (largest operator of motor coach buses); Easton Bell Sports (performance sporting goods); Fastfrate (Canadian-based logistics services); Panther Expedited Services (expedited ground and air solutions); Preferred Freezer (operator of public warehouses); and RoadLink (intermodal logistics), among others.

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The following pictures are available for download:

[Image] Balfour Logo

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