October 16, 2020 / Ask Mike / Coverage / Fall 2020

Crowdsourcing your school for coverage ideas

Written by Mike Taylor, CJE

How many new words and phrases have entered your vocabulary since March? Social distancing, mask mandate, virtual learning and now, time to add another phrase to the vocabulary: crowdsourcing. You may ask, “What is this crowdsourcing and why would I need it for the yearbook?” Let me explain. The staff wants to do a spread about virtual school. What is the best way to get quotes and photos? Crowdsource. Here are some ways we might do it.

Ask the English teachers to assign a story to their classes to write a first-person narrative on what it is like to attend virtual school. Not only will the English teacher get a writing assignment, but you will be able to utilize the quotes and information to use on your yearbook spreads. Once you have the stories in hand, you may ask students to send photos of their first day of virtual school outfits, study areas or how they studied. Soon you have enough in-depth information to create a spread.

The art department can be a great resource for you in a year when photos are difficult to obtain. Crowdsource from student artists for illustrations to use in place of missing or low-quality images. Illustrations are trendy right now and now those students will be excited to buy the book and tell their friends about it!

Here is another academic story idea: Hamilton was a summer blockbuster across the country. One way to get some interesting coverage would be to crowdsource the history, music and drama teachers. Ask for some of their assignments using Hamilton to teach finance, American history, drama or music.

But don’t stop there. Consider using coaches as a part of your crowd-sourcing strategy. Talk with the fall sports coaches and ask them to share their plans to keep athletes trained and in good condition if practices are suspended. Athletes and parents will also share stories of creating films for college recruiters, virtual workouts with other teammates and maybe even some virtual electronic game playing. All these ideas will be amazing stories/spreads in any yearbook.

Drake Middle School; Arvada, Colorado

What about talking to athletes about practices and how things have changed? In most states, students must bring their own supply of water for practice since the community water barrel has been banned, and they must stay six feet apart unless they are wearing masks. Coaches may be asked to wear masks during practice. Does that make it harder for students to hear them yell, or do they yell less? Get ahold of your school’s policies for practices (from your athletic director) and use it to brainstorm for questions to ask.

You could even ask your school administration if you could do a school-wide yearbook photo scavenger hunt during National Yearbook Week (Oct. 5-9). Create a scavenger hunt that would include both in- and out-of-classroom ideas, and ask all faculty, students and parents to get involved. Remember to advertise and promote Walsworth’s Yearbook Snap app to gather great photos for these pages.

Crowdsourcing may prove to be crucial to getting photos as well as story ideas to use in the 2021 yearbook. And to crowdsource, you need a crowd to talk to. Having a strong social media following will make it easy to reach out to your followers and ask for photos of family game night, siblings teaching siblings, virtual workouts or at-home science experiments, so keep up your social presence on all platforms and focus on building followers now.

Now I’ve talked a lot about crowdsourcing topics, but you might be wondering, “How can I get great pictures for this idea?” Well, that’s where Yearbook Snap comes in. Yearbook Snap is a community crowdsourcing photo tool that is easy to use and gets people excited about the yearbook because they can contribute to it. Parents and students can quickly upload photos right from their smartphone so you can add an awesome variety of photos to use this year from all kinds of events and for all kinds of topics!

If you start the year in virtual classes or in a hybrid situation, you’ve got lots of stories to tell but only while it’s new to everyone. Get prepared now. Schedule a Zoom meeting just to brainstorm for first day, first week, first month stories, for sports (or lack of sports) stories, for what’s happening with the marching band and more. The stories aren’t the ones you’ve told in the past, but they are what will make this historic yearbook such a unique one.

Comments are closed.

Mike Taylor, CJE

Mike Taylor, CJE, sees things differently, and as a journalism specialist for Walsworth, he uses that creative edge to help yearbook staffs across the country put together the yearbook they dream about. A former award-winning yearbook adviser, Mike has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion. Follow Mike on Pinterest at taylormjc.