March 26, 2024 / Podcasts

That Yearbook Podcast: Conventions 101

Written by Danielle Finch

Attending state and national journalism conventions provides staff and advisers with invaluable experiences. From hearing industry leaders share their expertise to bonding with fellow staffers on those late nights, these events leave lasting impacts. However, planning travel logistics requires you to navigate administrative approval and fundraising. In this episode of That Yearbook Podcast, yearbook experts Mike Taylor, CJE, Jim Jordan and Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, share their insights on their personal experiences on attending conventions with staffs and how to make the most of it. 

Learning from the Best 

Students gain fresh perspectives by attending workshops led by acclaimed journalists, advisers and industry experts. Whether you are attending a state-run workshop or a national one like JEA, your staff will gain knowledge and expertise that can only be found in a convention setting.  Advisers can assist learning by recommending core sessions tailored to student’s roles. Looking at the agenda and determining which sessions are best for your staff can help push them to learn things outside their comfort zone and will help them become well-rounded in all aspects of yearbook.

Networking and Diversifying Your Perspective 

If you’re looking to find a convention near you, discuss with your rep what options are available in your state. Attending nearby state conventions proves more accessible for travel and can be a more cost-effective option. Here, advisers will encounter colleagues facing parallel challenges and your staffs will meet peers from neighboring schools. Both build morale for tackling upcoming deadlines.

Larger events like CSPA and NSPA/JEA gather many schools from across the nation under one roof. Students witness the expansive field’s full potential. When attending these national conventions, your staffs will have the opportunity to interact with advisers, experts and Walsworth professionals to take their book to new heights. When visiting the Walsworth booth, staffs can grab sample books, talk to reps and get feedback and critiques from Those Yearbook People from That Yearbook Podcast. Interacting with representatives from companies like Walsworth unveils additional resources and fresh perspectives. And there’s nothing quite like visiting a new place with your staff. 

Gaining Admin Approval

Whether attending state or national conventions, garnering approval from your building leadership is vital to your success. Inviting administrators to experience firsthand conventions value facilitates future approvals. Even extending that invitation is a sign of initiative and instills a sense of value in your mission when attending conventions. In addition to being a great time, these conventions are highly educational, and showing your administrators the agenda for these conventions can showcase just how much your staff will learn while traveling. For out-of-state travel, early coordination with governing boards prevents last-minute complications, so be sure to get approval for your trips early. 

Encouraging Student Investment Through Fundraising 

No matter the size of your program, conventions are within reach with some planning. Selling additional advertisements where the money funds individual costs gives students a stake in conventions and teaches valuable marketing skills and professional development. Walsworth offers a plethora of marketing resources that can kickstart your fundraising. The more marketing and selling opportunities you bring to the table for your staff, the more accessible these conventions become! 

Next Steps 

When attending state and national conventions, your journalism programs thrive. Advisers and staff return reinvigorated to implement new ideas thanks to the inspiration and support of their interscholastic community. When considering convention attendance, talk to your rep and see what opportunities are best for you. Not only are attending conventions fun and memorable, they also provide the kick your staff might need to take their book to the next level. Happy travels! 

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Danielle Finch

Danielle Finch is a former journalism adviser at Smithville High School and now works as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Walsworth. Danielle's passions lie in writing, managing web content and representing the needs of advisers.