September 15, 2007 / Advertising / Fall 2007 / Middle School Moment

Creating the stellar middle school yearbook

Written by Jessica Samons Kutz

My students cringe when they see paperback publications with posed photos, talking captions and weak copy in other yearbooks. They have come to expect more when it comes to producing a middle school yearbook.

There is no reason why a middle school yearbook can’t have lots of pages with great photos and strong copy.

The first thing is to establish your budget. With a high school advertising plan, you can produce and publish a yearbook of 180 to 200 pages with extras, such as color.

Here are some advertising tips:

  • In the advertising section, create a “seniors’ personal ad” section. Allow only the eighth grade students – the “seniors” in middle school – to purchase a personal ad. These ads can range in size and price range, allowing all parents a choice to suit their budget.
  • Send out advertising letters to local businesses before the school year begins. Most local businesses take pride in advertising in yearbooks that gain a reputation for publishing excellence.
  • Encourage your staff to sell ads. Most students or their parents either own a business or know someone who does. Middle schoolers can’t drive, but their parents can.
  • Offer free yearbooks to your yearbook staff if they can sell an ad – anything to motivate.
  • Your initial price for your yearbook sales could range from $40 to $60 per book to cover the high page count. Offer early pre-order discounts – this can take the edge off of the higher price. Be sure to pitch the benefits of the price: more pages, color, personal ad section, more in-depth writing and photography, and a student-created publication.

Next, organize your students and yourself to create a high school-style yearbook:

  • After deciding on your sections, create a master yearbook – do this for your students and then let your students fill the content. The more you have completed as an adviser, the easier it is to accomplish a large yearbook.
  • Assign staff members jobs and responsibilities – give them the opportunity to feel like they each have a job.
  • Use pre-designed layouts to help guide your students.
  • Set deadlines and expect them to meet the deadlines.
    And when they do, celebrate with lots of food.

Finally, train your students by attending a summer workshop. It’s a great way to get your staff excited about the yearbook.

When your students take pride and ownership in their yearbook, it makes all the difference. My students are excited to come to yearbook class and would love to work on yearbook all day long if you let them.

Jessica Samons Kutz