October 11, 2012 / Editor-in-chief's Corner / Fall 2012

Set goals, organize staff for a successful year

Written by Emilie Collongette

Organization is key! Wait, isn’t that a cliché? Yes it is, and although every yearbook adviser or experienced yearbook student tells you to never use one, this is the exception to the rule. To have a successful yearbook staff and yearbook, you have to be organized.

Imagine walking into a yearbook class where no one had a plan, no roles were assigned, and the book had no definite direction. As a sophomore I stepped into a similar situation. The class was a bit chaotic, which taught me what not to do and helped me develop the five keys to organization.

1. Adviser and editor-in-chief must be on the same page. These two, or the adviser and editors if you have more than one, should meet before the school year ends, in the summer or before the upcoming school year starts. It is crucial they discuss their hopes for the upcoming book and the class. Look back on the previous year and highlight what worked and what didn’t, and talk about any changes and ideas you would like to implement.

2. Make a plan. Based on this discussion, make a plan for the year. How do you want the class to function? Do you want to do more with the class time than to work on pages? How are you going to grade students? Most importantly, what is your goal going to be?

3. Assign roles.  Look at your staff. It is important that you give returning members a higher position and more responsibility.  The promotion is not simply a consequence of seniority, but a tool used to bring work ethic to your staff. It will show new staff members there is something to work toward other than the yearbook. Look at the strengths of each returning staff member and give them a job that highlights those strengths. For example, on my staff I had Layout, Copy, Photography, Photoshop/Effects, and Sports editors. In addition, I had a class manager, who along with the editor-in-chief knew everything that was going on and managed the interviews; a business manager; weekly spread managers; and feature managers. The first-year staff members would be trained in all areas.

4. Explain the organization plan and know it. Create a form, PowerPoint or other document to explain each person’s job duties in detail. Make sure everyone knows everyone else’s role.  A checklist for each person to use throughout the year may be a good way to ensure they are doing their job, and is a good way to assess them academically.

5. Stick to deadlines and plan. Although it may be hard to stick to the exact plan, stay with predetermined deadlines, goals and ideas as much as possible. Have a calendar handy for everyone to refer to for deadlines or important dates.

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Emilie Collongette