Last Call for Yearbooks
Written by Jenica Hallman, CJE
As yearbookers, you intuitively understand the value of yearbooks. You work tireless to champion its merits to your student body, encouraging them to purchase their very own copy. But for students at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, Florida, purchasing a yearbook is no longer an option. They, like other schools we are seeing, have sold out of their yearbooks.
By implementing new strategies and adapting to the times, the staff was able to pull off this impressive accomplishment. They relied heavily on online marketing through their school website and social media channels, utilized their school’s all-call system and offered a $10 discount to incentivize sales. It paid off – literally. They sold over 120 books in two days!
Yearbook editor-in-chief Alexi Kim, editor-in-chief elect Peyton Zerance and photo editor Taylor Krall, three of the editors of the Wiregrass Ranch High School yearbook led by adviser Kimi Allgood Khalaf, discuss selling out of yearbooks, marketing during COVID-19 and why they and their student body are excited about this year’s yearbook.
How did you think the COVID-19 pandemic would affect your 2020 book sales?
Kim: At first, I definitely thought the COVID-19 pandemic was going to threaten our book sales … it wasn’t necessarily my top concern, but once I realized people may be hesitant to purchase a yearbook either because they were unsure of how they would get it or because they weren’t content with how their school year ended, it definitely became a little worrisome.
Zerance: I was nervous at first that we wouldn’t be able to promote our book in an engaging way since we’re out of school. I thought this would hurt sales because the yearbook would be the last thing on everyone’s mind considering our situation. However, students completely pulled through in the end.
Krall: Initially, I thought that COVID-19 would negatively impact our sales, but we had a $10 off sale for a week in response to the coronavirus situation. After a few days, we sold out of books. The yearbook is going to be one the main memories for students now that the rest of the school year has been cancelled.
What sales and marketing strategies did your staff implement throughout the school year before the pandemic?
Kim: We implemented a lot of social media marketing, mostly relying on Instagram for students and Facebook for parents.
Zerance: We had announcements in the morning, t-shirts, a link on the school website and we posted constantly on our yearbook’s social and our personal accounts, like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!
Krall: We had our school’s website post reminders to purchase books as soon as possible. We also had students in our class make creative posters to hang around the school. Our social media also kept the students up to date.
Why do you think your student body values the yearbooks so much?
Kim: I think most high schoolers value yearbooks in general because they capture and contain memories from what’s said to be the best years of their lives. In regard to our book specifically, I believe a lot of students recognize the passion and hard work that goes into our book. I know that I, and the others that work on the book with me, take a lot of pride and joy in making a book that includes and represents as many of our peers as possible for the things they are most proud of.
Zerance: I think our student body values the yearbook because we strive to make it personal to them. They all are generally excited for the book because it’s a complete memory book of their best years. Our peers see us on those sidelines with cameras in hand. They know we’re the ones at every event asking interview questions. They know the work we put into creating the book and that they’re on the pages in it.
Krall: Students value the yearbook so much since it is filled with so many memories, pictures and stories … when students receive their books, they are refreshed with stories they don’t remember. In the future, the book will [make it] easy for people to enlighten themselves with their high school memories.
How did you and your staff come up with the ideas for the $10 discount, the all-call and the Instagram posts?
Kim: On one of our Zoom meetings, we were discussing ideas for anything we could do from our end to provide at least a tiny bit of relief to our students and families during these tough times. Although it’s little, we decided on a $10 off sale for the last of our books. We informed everyone through some of our usual marketing methods, like social media posts and calls home to families.
Zerance: We were on a Zoom meeting trying to brainstorm different strategies to promote the book while also having this pandemic in mind. We decided the $10 discount would be a good way to help out families during this troubled time.
Krall: Every year, we have a sale … this year was more important because [some] families have lost their jobs and money is tight. Since the books were cheaper it increased our sales and we sold out in just a few days.
What does your high sales rate say to you about the quality of your work your and commitment?
Kim: I think throughout the school year, the student body noticed the hard work that our staff puts into covering as many events and students as possible. Having a staffer at every single school event and talking to as many of our peers as possible showed others that we truly cared about making a book for everyone, and therefore gave everyone a reason to want to buy a book.
Zerance: The staff this year possessed such a dedicated mindset, and I truly think that showed through in all of our work. Our high sales rate shows that the student body saw how we were present at every game, pep rally and event. They know the staff put their hearts into this book and created something they will love.
Krall: Over the past four years, our sales have increased, proving that the quality of our book has improved. We made ourselves more prominent in the school with the social media updates and attendance at games and social events. Our dedication to the book has also increased the amount of coverage we are able to put in the pages.
What are some of the challenges of working together as a staff from home and how have you overcome those challenges?
Kim: Leaving school the night before spring break, I knew that it would be my last time working on my school’s yearbook, but I had no idea that it was also my last time being a student in that school in general. Working on the typical end-of-year stuff, such as starting on next year’s book and marketing, has gone a lot differently working from home. Thankfully, we live during a time where technology is everywhere, so we have still been able to have Zoom meetings and text in our group chat to discuss these types of things.
Zerance: As editors, we were already super close, so it was easy to communicate what needed to be done and when. We’re proud to say that we got to finish our book before spring break and didn’t have to work through anything at home. It showed me how all those long hours at school until 7 p.m. submitting pages, were completely worth it.
Krall: Luckily, we were able to finish the book before the coronavirus affected school hours. It is harder to plan for next year when we don’t have the pleasure of seeing each other every day. Zoom is our best friend and [has been] a great way to develop the theme for next year. This being my senior year, it is very hard knowing I won’t be a part of the class for much longer, but I am excited to help my peers for next year.
What would you say to any student, whether from your school or another, to explain why they should buy a yearbook?
Kim: There’s nothing more reliable than your yearbook to bring you back to your time in high school, which is super important, especially during a time like this.
Zerance: Buy a yearbook because of all the heart that is put into it. Not only did the yearbook students create it with passion and dedication, but it encompasses their entire year. In sixmonths or 20 years, they can look back on the moments they made, the people they walked past in the halls and all the things that made their high school experience at Wiregrass.
Krall: Yearbooks are something you will always have. It’s easy to lose access to photos on your phone, but a hard copy will always stay with you. The small moments are always covered, and having a book shows you everything you may not remember.
All the Feels
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives forever. It has stolen precious experiences that are a hallmark of high school life, but the one thing it can’t steal is our memories. The yearbook has chronicled it all in its pages, and we love hearing how in the midst of hard times, students recognize the value of yearbooks. The work the editors, advisers and staff have put in matters because you are ensuring the year is not forgotten. Thank you for all you do. And if you have a great story about your yearbook sales, be sure to let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.