November 5, 2012 / Fall 2012 / Staff Management

Recruit the best for yearbook

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

After the winter holidays, in the middle of producing the current yearbook, the time arrives for students to select their classes for next year. For you, it is time to recruit next year’s staff.

If you are a new adviser, or one who has had trouble getting the right students into your program, Walsworth’s Recruitment and Interviewing Kit should help. It has information on how to recruit, plus forms and letters for you to use.

Recruitment is a process. How you conduct the process depends on your goals for your program, the size of your school, how students select their classes, and if yearbook is a class or club at your school. Think about how you recruit now, read how the advisers at these two school recruit, and look at the forms and other information to help you create your recruitment process.

Applications and invitations

A strong journalism program is the best way to recruit students into yearbook, said Elaine Grace, CJE, adviser at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo.

It is also important to have a positive culture associated with the yearbook, Grace said. Recruiting a staff that is a reflection of the student population is critical to fostering a positive relationship with your community. When all the students are represented in the book, then students are going to connect. It will help sales too.

While Grace uses an application, she says her best method of recruitment is by personal invitation. She gets recommendations from the language arts, art and photography teachers, and asks the counseling department’s student assistants to deliver the formal, printed invitations she creates.

She tries to target students who are a bit on the fringe socially, kids who may have been hesitant to apply. These students are usually excited to get a personal invitation.

“They feel someone has recognized their “secret” talents…  and often that is the case,” Grace said.

Grace employs several recruitment methods.

  • She seeks out boys who might be good on staff, since mostly girls apply.
  • With counselors’ permission, her staff goes to classes, gives two-minute presentations and hands out application and recommendation forms.
  • She encourages her staff to recruit students they think would be good in yearbook.
  • She advertises using audio and video announcements, announcements in the parent newsletter, posters around the building, Facebook postings, and is planning to use Twitter.
  • She attends all open enrollment promotion nights and the 8th grade Activity Night, which reaches a lot of parents.

Grace invites students to join the staff after carefully reviewing applications, and especially the teacher recommendation forms.

“Although the recommendation form isn’t as thorough as I would like it to be, teachers are much more likely to get these returned to me when it takes a minute or less to complete,” Grace said.

Searching for the best

“My best yearbook students are the ones that I go find, not the ones that come to me,” Jeff Brumley, adviser at Sultan High School in Sultan, Wash., said.  A recruiting process with applications has not worked for him at his school of 575 students.

When Brumley began as the yearbook adviser 12 years ago, yearbook was a dumping ground. He asked his principal if he could make yearbook a permission-only class. The principal said yes, as long as the class was filled.

Brumley spent years building prestige into the program, making it an honor to be asked to be one of the 25 students on staff, which has made recruiting much easier.

Brumley said he starts talking about yearbook to freshman on their first day in his Digital Communications class. In that class he gets a good feel for students’ talents, work ethic and personality, and the other Digital Communications teacher looks for the same attributes. Between them, they see every student as a freshman.

“If I know that they are someone that I would want for yearbook, I always make it a point to take a few minutes to pull them aside at the end of the semester to let them know I have identified them as someone who would be a good fit for yearbook. It is amazing how just letting them know that you want them is enough to get most kids on the spot,” Brumley said.

A few weeks after the book is finished and the production process has been critiqued, each staff member compiles a list of the top students they think should be on staff next year. Then Brumley and staff meet to narrow down the list.

Last year, Brumley had 15 positions to fill. The 90 names on the list were pared down to about 60 names during the staff meeting. From there, Brumley met with next year’s editors, who are selected by Brumley in the spring, to determine the top 15-20. Those are the ones he most actively pursues.

Once it is time to start talking about scheduling for next year in Advisory class, Brumley will talk to kids his students have identified if they cross his path. Then, once students start actually planning the classes they will take next year, “it is all-out-do-whatever-it-takes time to get the people we want.”

Brumley will seek them out at lunch or in other classes to talk to them about joining yearbook. If the students are interested, usually explaining how they were hand-picked for the talents will encourage them to join.

“Then I tell them that,  ‘It is a national award-winning yearbook, and how cool would it be to be a part of something like that? What else in our school can say that they have won national awards for anything?’” Brumley said.

“There isn’t anything,” he added.

Elizabeth Braden, CJE
Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the editor of Idea File magazine. She has been a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 10 years, writing articles for and marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. She has taught at Adviser Academy. Her career has 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.