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4 Strategies for Collaborating with Parents, Staff, and Students on Yearbook

Connected wooden block to represent ideation and colaboration

Parents, school staff, and students all have opinions on what the yearbook should look like, cost, and include. That’s fair, to a degree: the buyers and subjects of the yearbook are the key stakeholders in the yearbook creation process. Here are four tips for drawing (and keeping) them in close collaboration.

Yearbook Collaboration tip #1: Create consistent ways to contribute

Schools doing a Photo Dump Friday via social media or their weekly newsletter receive regular submissions. Using tools your school already utilizes is the best way to collaborate on photo collection from non-yearbook personnel, and a specific call-to-action yields the results you want: 

  • Share your first day snaps below! You may see them in the yearbook. #photodumpFriday
  • We’re looking for sport photos for the yearbook! Share here! #photodumpFriday
  • Get your child and fur baby in the yearbook: post your pet photo below. #photodumpFriday

Another way to partner with students and staff is to create timely contests:

  1. Cover design contests or, similarly, a title page contest that encompasses theme elements and expresses them in original student artwork reaches a diverse group of students. Some schools create a spread with all the runners up!
  2. Increase your submissions for club photos while encouraging creativity with a team or group photo contest.
  3. During an all school event, such as Red Ribbon Week or Book Fair Week, create a scavenger hunt

Many yearbook committees assign “beats” like professional journalists. There could be a reporter per grade, subject area, or event charged with making contact with event organizers and gathering photos. Set a measurable weekly goal, such as ten photos, per beat to ensure coverage. With a steady stream of photos coming in, editors and page designers will be able to assess which students and grades are missing.

Yearbook Collaboration tip #2: Go pro

Identify working parents who want to help, and have one-off jobs ready. You may consider trading ad space in your yearbook and some social media shout outs for their services.

  • Work with a professional photographer to be a guest teacher in your yearbook class or run a photo booth at Father-Daughter Dances, Spirit Week, or Teacher Appreciation or even take buddy pics and fashion shoots
  • Join forces with an event planner to create the party of the year for yearbook distribution
  • Petition a local caterer or restaurateur to hold a teacher appreciation/yearbook hustling breakfast during a morning staff meeting, do a Taco’bout Awesome luncheon for students who bought a yearbook, or hold a fundraiser dinner to purchase books for students in need.
  • Local journalists, newspapers, or news media may offer tours of their workspace for your journalism students. 
  • Ask a graphic designer or marketing pro to help create a social strategy for increasing yearbook buzz or to brainstorm ideas for conveying the theme visually.

Yearbook Collaboration tip #3: Play nice in the sandbox

We all know that mom/teacher/dad/coach who controls every aspect of their program, and is a nightmare to work with. Don’t be that guy!

Parents meet together to brainstorm how to run the yearbook as a collaborative, fun-loving group.
We all enjoy ourselves, and the process, when we know what’s expected of us.

Collaboration includes delegation

For your own sanity, and that of your loved ones, be like Elsa and “Let it go!” Some of us have a hard time saying no because we want to please others, or because we want to ensure a quality end result. If this is truly a struggle area, select a few small tasks to share with others. Maybe coordinating picture day is not your favorite. Maybe it’s creating the index. Who can you recruit to help with these tasks? Build your dream team!

Also—if your goal is truly big picture—you’ll want to build a lasting program, and continual collaboration with your school community is going to build a tradition that will extend beyond your tenure. It’s important to share responsibilities and knowledge for the future of the yearbook team. 

Have jobs ready and set clear expectations

Again, just because a person is involved with the yearbook doesn’t mean it has to be all-consuming—that goes for leadership too! Draft your volunteer roles with specific expectations. And remember to include ideas for working parents.

Some jobs with which parents can help are:

  • Parent organization newsletters: get yearbook info in front of parents monthly
  • Booster club liaisons: connect weekly with the biggest sports fanatics on campus to gather photos, stats, and scores, especially when sending a yearbook reporter isn’t always possible
  • Class/grade reps: these people check in with classroom teachers weekly to coordinate in-class photos of projects, celebrations, and field trips
  • Proofreaders and photo editors: clutch teammates who help ensure accuracy monthly
  • Page designers: with TreeRing, you can assign a spread to a certain person or group
  • Volunteer appreciation: find a fun parent who builds up others to coordinate social events, such as birthday parties, and an end-of-the-year volunteer celebration. If your school does an awards ceremony, you should ensure your yearbook volunteers are honored.
The office staff at your school is a great resource for yearbook collaboration.
The front office staff are overlooked yearbook heroes: collaborate with them to ensure accuracy, and also keep them fueled with thank yous, coffee, donuts, and fruit trays. They know all. the. things.

Campus staff can help with the above and:

  • Getting an official roster from the front office to ensure names are correct and all students are in the book
  • Sharing yearbook information of school social media and in parent communications
  • Keeping the yearbook team abreast with events
  • Contributing photos to shared folders
  • Identifying students who need financial assistance purchasing a book

Follow up

When someone offers to help, because you have your plan in place, you seamlessly can plug him or her in! Not only is it disrespectful to ignore an offer, it also reflects poorly on your yearbook program. People talk. Let’s have them be your hype persons, gathering even more talent and book sales.

Yearbook Collaboration tip #4: When in doubt, feed people

Hosting a round table dessert for student leaders or teachers will elicit information from many “smart cookies” about what key stakeholders would like to see in the yearbook. You may get new ideas for coverage as well as insights on yearbook buying practices.

Yearbook is a team sport. A “thanks a latte” or breakfast bowl letting volunteers know they are “berry helpful” will go a long way to let your teammates know you “donut know success” without each of them.

Bottom line: the best way to collaborate with stakeholders is to get to truly know people and their gifts, and show them deep appreciation for their contribution.

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