Back-to-School: 5 Tips to Set Your Yearbook Up for Success

Back-to-School - Middle School girl waves bye to mom on the first day of school

Whether you’re excited to get the kids out of the house and into the classroom or kind of dreading the hussle that back-to-school season brings, another year is here! Fear not, we’ve got your yearbook back, cover, custom pages, and everything in between. We’re a yearbook company after all! The first six weeks of school are the best time to set up your yearbook for success.

This might sound overwhelming given you already have to absorb a million new routines, teachers, rules, and other back-to-school rituals, so we’ve simplified it to 5 simple steps to yearbook success this school year.

Set the Yearbook’s Tone: Enthusiasm is Contagious

The first six weeks of school are when everyone is ready to take photos. Welcome back Moma-razzi! It’s a new year, with new friends, new teachers, and new pencils. Bringing this energy into the yearbook can set the tone for the entire year (with rough patches, obviously. We’re all human). The more excited you are to start the book, take and collect photos, the more excited everyone around you will be. Enthusiasm is contagious and engagement is demonstrated by leaders. If the yearbook editor and/or committee is excited, then it’s way more likely everyone else will join in.

Be in the Know: Reboot Your Inner Gossip Girl

Ok so maybe not exactly like the Gossip Girl reboot, but you get the idea. If you’re editing the yearbook, this is the time to know what’s going on. Since most yearbooks show the year in chronological order, be prepared for the first day of school photo opportunities like the car line, opening assembly, and bus drop-offs. You can even reach out to teachers (who are yearbook editors’ best friends) and try to either get inside a couple classrooms for first-day activities or ask them to share all the amazing photos from the day.

You’ll want to know all the back-to-school plans from the school —including the PTA calendar of events. Once you’re in the know, you can work with other parents and/or teachers to take some photos so you don’t feel like you have to be everywhere. If you’re working with students in yearbook creation, make sure you’re in the know about what you’re going to be teaching with an updated staff syllabus and curriculum.

K.I.S.S.: Keep it Simple Silly

Alright, you’re excited and you know what’s going on the first day of school! You’re almost ready for a fantastic year of yearbooking fun, but we highly recommend getting ready for yearbook by setting up an easy photo system for contributors, whether they are coming from teachers, parents or students. Yearbook can be hard and stressful, so that’s why setting up a system where parents can upload pictures, like a Google Drive, or using a hashtag that’s specific to your school can be beneficial. By using a hashtag, you can tell parents that if they use it, it gives yearbook staff permission to use the photo. This can really take some of the burden off. Your unique hashtag can help you categorize the photos, and, since we’re all on social media these days, possibly get more photos than past years.

Social media posts like this serve two purposes: show people the yearbook team is everywhere and solicit additional pics.

Another easy system to think about: Set up a regular posting cadence on the parent Facebook page, PTA group or the school’s main social media to encourage anyone with great photos to submit to the yearbook. Setting a realistic schedule up front makes it easier to stick to, and contributors get used to hearing from you. Starting a bi-weekly schedule up front instead of reaching out after the first six weeks of school will likely result in more photos. After all, it’s a lot less intimidating to send a couple photos at a time versus the “photo dump” some parents or teachers may have from the first six weeks.

Pay Attention to Your Yearbook Provider: They’re Your Friends

Pay attention to “getting started” emails from your trusty yearbook company friends. The friendly yearbook companies – the ones with excellent customer service, not to name any names – will help you get your yearbook started, you just have to pay attention. Keep an eye out for email blasts to help kick off yearbook creation by walking advisers through back-end aspects of yearbooking. (Yes, it IS a verb!) Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get a mini-course on how to create a yearbook, more advanced design resources, marketing assistance and more. For a #MarketingMoment, brainstorm with your yearbook team on capturing your theme in your group photo. For example, if your theme is an anniversary book, you may want to photograph each member with a past yearbook. Another #MarketingMoment idea: Hype up your last yearbook to the PTA, students and teachers, and sprinkle in all the new plans you have for the first six weeks to build excitement!

Find Your Yearbook Crew: Even if it’s Just One Other Parent

Finding someone that can help you manage shot lists, reach out to teachers and come up with ideas is so important. As you know, and it bears repeating, yearbook is a lot, but it’s also a treasure for kids growing up. That’s what’s most important and what makes getting involved so worth it.

Food-for-thought on where and how to get involved:

Get in with the teachers. Classrooms can become like second homes to students, and their teacher is always there – that’s why they’re your best friend for photos. Ask to bring food and drinks to a staff meeting in exchange for 15 minutes to talk about the yearbook. Give teachers and administrators easy blurbs, talking points and material about the yearbook to include all of their back to school communications. There are some teachers who will not allow us to pull kids for interviews EVER, and some who prefer the first or last 15 minutes of class, so be prepared.

Start a “gotcha!” list. Using the early enrollment roster from the front office, make a card for each student with their name and grade. Once a week or so, go through your coverage report/index and mark off the students you’ve captured. Set a goal to interview or photograph every student at least three times with questions of the day or activities they’re involved in.

Celebrate! Set easy wins to give yourself, your crew, the PTA or school a reason to celebrate. Oh, you received 50 photos from the first day? BAM! Let’s go get dinner. This classroom submitted the most photos after the first six weeks of school? BAM! Reward that teacher and students with a little prize. Even small milestones deserve a celebration, and each celebration will motivate more people to participate.

Have questions on how to start building a better yearbook? Check out our Help Center for customer support.

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