November 17, 2009 / Advertising / Fall 2009 / Marketing

Broadcast your yearbook sales

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Channel the imagination of broadcasting students to draw attention to your yearbook.

Video may have killed the radio star, but it can do a lot for your yearbook. Just ask anyone at Winfield Middle School in Winfield, W.Va.

Jillian Carney was already an award-winning video producer as an eighth-grader last year at Winfield Middle when she made two videos encouraging students to buy yearbooks. The videos were played at school during the morning broadcast announcements.

“We put the word ‘yearbook’ in everyone’s minds,” D.D. Jordan, adviser and school librarian, said about Jillian’s video ads. Carney, who has been working with a video camera since the age of seven – about half of her life – came up with the idea of doing ads to promote yearbook sales. And Jordan encouraged it.

“I said the word ‘reunion.’ I framed up the first (ad) in my head,” Jordan said. “But she wouldn’t let me edit it.”

The first ad had Jordan and another teacher acting as old classmates talking at their high school reunion. A man walks by and Jordan “recognizes” him. She begins talking to him, telling him how good it is to see him and reminiscing. A voiceover lets the audience hear the man’s thoughts, which are, “who is this person and why does she remember me?”

The ad ends with two teens telling students to buy a yearbook now because, “You will all want a yearbook in the future,” Carney said.

Last year for the first time, the school used the SalesXpress Direct to Home program to sell yearbooks. Parents continued to send money to school instead of using the order form that was mailed to their home. So the second video ad reminded students to look for the blue envelope coming in the mail and use it to order the yearbook. In the video ad, a girl put sticky notes all over her mom’s car to remind her mom to send in the order.

Jordan said one goal was reached with the ad series – greater awareness of the yearbook. She said using video advertising has increased awareness by reaching the students on their own level. Sales did increase slightly over the previous year, which was good considering the current economy.

Carney said students have told her that the videos are funny, cool and a good idea.

Carney has enjoyed working with video since her dad made home movies when she was a little girl.

“Little did I know that soon enough I wanted to be behind it, too,” Carney said of that fi rst video camera.

The advertising paid off in another way, too. In addition to helping with yearbook sales, Jordan said the ads conveyed that yearbook was a cool place to be, and staff applications increased.

Jordan said she will miss Carney, who is at the high school as a freshman this year, but plans to continue with video ads.

Elizabeth Braden, CJE
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.