Photo by: Cierra Stark, University High School, Orange City, Florida

Tips for Creating Last-Minute Yearbook Content

Written by Jenica Hallman, CJE

There are times when things happen you could never plan for – this is one of those times. Are you struggling to fill pages reserved for events, sports or academic classes that were delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19 preventative measures? The job of the yearbook is to record the story of the year, and the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak drastically impacts that story. With an abundance of easy, engaging content and the ideas listed below, your staff can tell your story effectively and complete your yearbook.

1. Stay healthy. Social distancing, washing your hands often, disinfecting and staying home if you are sick are crucial to the success of the yearbook. Do not take chances and WASH YOUR HANDS.

2. Communication is key. Things won’t fall through the crack as easily and you can help each other out better if your editors and staff know who is working on what. Have a plan for who to go to if you can’t work.

3. Work Remotely.

  • Online Design users. You’re in luck! You can work from anywhere, including home. Use email, social media or apps to stay in touch (Marco Polo is a great group video messaging app) and create online task lists accessible to everyone (Taskade or Google Docs are both helpful).
  • InDesign users. Staff access is available! Adobe® has graciously agreed to give a free 90-day subscription to schools impacted by COVID-19 so InDesign schools can finish their book remotely. The IT admin at the school needs to set this up. Put a plan in place to share your pages and photos. Visit Adobe’s blog for more information.

4. Create Contingency Content Plans. If events are cancelled, plan additional content or spread out content.

  • Complimentary COVID-19 content pages. Walsworth is creating eight content pages (four double-page spreads) covering topics related to the impact of COVID-19 in the U.S. These are offered as a complete set or you can choose any of the four individual spreads. This digital content can be dropped directly onto your spreads without any work or cost to you.
  • Enlarge photos. Make your high-quality photos bigger on the spread. Pictures immediately engage a reader’s eye. Maybe you don’t have nine photos, but three photos can still look great if you rearrange your layout to accommodate. Make the most of what you have.
  • Pull content from your index. If you usually add extra mods in your index, use them on a spread instead. The content is better served on yearbook spreads than the index.
  • Utilize social media and Yearbook Snap. Find out if students, teachers or parents have great photos. Post on social media you’re looking for pictures, message people for quotes and remind them they can upload photos directly to the yearbook team through the Walsworth Yearbook Snap app. It’s super easy to set up and use!
  • Illustrate. Maybe you don’t have photos or have poor photos. We’ve all been there. Is there an illustrator on staff or an art student who could create illustrations instead? They are very on trend. Do a feature profile on a student using a vector illustration of them. Post an online survey on social media of the three items you would take on a deserted island and illustrate the answers. Win-win!
  • Design an infographic. Infographics are a popular option. Create pie charts to survey questions, like your favorite place to eat in town (Chipotle!). Use your text as a design element in your infographic for a fun look that fills space without using photos.
  • Peer-to-peer content. Reach out to teachers about students who might share their art or poetry. Get quotes from them describing what that art or poetry means to them. You’re getting someone new in the yearbook for something really meaningful to them.
  • Create more mods. If you don’t have enough to fill the page the way you planned, add interesting sidebar items. They can be related to the topic (an athlete’s ritual before the game) or completely unrelated (where would you go on a dream vacation). The sky’s the limit so think outside the box.
  • Get outside the school building. Events at school may be cancelled, but people in the community are doing interesting things. That’s great content! Talk about empty store shelves at Target (snap a picture next time you go) and how toilet paper is worth more than gold (an easy cut out picture). If spring break is extended, get student reactions and see what they are doing at home. Is there a student helping babysit for a neighbor because daycare was cancelled? Tell their story.
  • Virtual learning. If you’re doing virtual learning, cover it. A cut out of a laptop could be a great illustration. Ask teachers how they are adjusting lesson plans and students what they like and dislike about it.
  • Go national. If school events are cancelled/suspended, consider broader national coverage. High schools with the space should include a coronavirus spread. This is a historic event that students will long remember. You could also include something about the democratic presidential candidate race from student perspectives.
  • Retrospective. Walsworth has a double page Retrospective spread that covers science/tech/planet, entertainment, sports and news highlights from this year you could use on an empty spread.
  • Showcase Galleries. Walsworth schools are yearbook masters. Look in our Showcase Galleries to see our President’s Collection, Design and Theme galleries, and our Idea File magazine’s Caught Our Eye column for great inspiration from other schools.

Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas

Haltom High School, Haltom City, Texas

5. Reassess Your Distribution Date. If you had plans to distribute the book a couple weeks before school gets out but can move your ship date and distribute later, it’ll give you more time to gather and create content. Be sure to discuss this with your Walsworth sales rep and CSR though so they know to adjust the dates!

6. Wash Your Hands. This goes back to number 1, stay healthy, but it’s so important, we’ll say it twice.

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Jenica Hallman, CJE

Jenica Hallman, CJE, is a Copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks. Yearbooks got into her blood in high school, and she has been pursuing them ever since. She has worked in various capacities as a high school and college yearbook editor, an adviser, sales representative, plant customer service representative and now in marketing, her favorite role to date. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass media communications from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.