March 1, 2012 / Five Simple Ideas / Spring 2012

5 Simple Ideas for… Building your program for the future

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Yearbook production is a year-round job. Even before your staff and your school are celebrating the distribution of your current yearbook, you have already started planning for the next one.

Building your program for the future means not only training these new staff members, but having the processes in place to get them up to speed efficiently each year, even while the current staff is working. Well-trained staffs have more confidence and greater success.

Once you have staff member names, use these ideas for preparing the students to create and market your yearbook.

Step One: Hold or go to a spring workshop. Your yearbook sales representative may have a spring workshop, or have your own one- or two-day event at school or off-site. This can be a leadership training workshop just for editors and managers, or an all-staff brainstorming event to come up with ideas for the yearbook theme, staff mission statement and even staff T-shirts.

Step Two: Schedule after-school work sessions. Take a few afternoons to let your staff prepare the newcomers. Again, this could be used as leadership training, or to let editors train new staff on design, writing, photography and software while the marketing manager discusses upcoming marketing plans and trains staff to sell.

Step Three: Use self-directed lessons. Maybe your current editors are seniors and are too busy trying to wrap up their high school career to provide training. Give new staff handouts, readings and exercises from your lesson plans or The Yearbook Suite and the My Marketing Plan workbook. Motivation will be key with this – maybe hand out the lessons with a card that you hole-punch for each assignment they turn in. When they earn, say, five hole punches, they get a $5 gift card for fast food or other item. You, of course, will have to set aside time to review them, looking mostly for the areas of skill deficiency. You may have to set up a plan to reward yourself for this.

Step Four: Work on theme packages. This would be a good project for a spring workshop or work sessions with combined staff. Form four-person groups and have them brainstorm theme concepts and come up with a theme package. Let all staff members vote to select next year’s theme.

Step Five: Start marketing the next yearbook. It may be easy to say current staff markets the current year’s book and the next staff markets next year’s book. But some schools may need a transition of marketing duties. For instance, say the first marketing item for the upcoming yearbook is getting yearbook sales fliers ready for the fall registration packets. The new marketing manager could do that, but if the fliers are due in the main office in early March, your current staff may have to do that task. If you have a yearly plan in place, each marketing manager and team knows what is expected of them from the start.

These ideas, carried out before summer workshop, will go a long way toward helping your staff bond, determining how the group best works together and building a yearbook for the next year.

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Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the former editor of Idea File magazine. Before retiring, she was a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 15 years, writing articles for various marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. Her career included reporting and editing for United Press International and editing for Knight-Ridder Financial News. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media News from the University of Tulsa.