Yearbook Hero Katie Parish Talks Contests, Empathy

Yearbook Hero Katie Parish header

Not every yearbook coordinator is an Emmy Award winner, but Katie Parish is. The gold hardware on a shelf over her shoulder should be intimidating; after all, Katie knows the value of a quality interview. Two seconds in, and I’m completely disarmed as we talk about volunteering, yearbooking, and being WFH moms.

How did you move from the newsroom to the classroom?

I retired from my television job when my daughter started kindergarten, and I needed something to keep me creative. A lot of people shy away from the PTA, but I really found a wonderful community and was like, “Can I please help make the yearbook?” I started small, just helping with some of the pages. 

A lot of people shy away from the PTA, but I really found a wonderful community and was like, “Can I please help make the yearbook?”

When we moved schools, I was helping with social media, and the yearbook mom disappeared. I just jumped in and I instantly loved Treering so much. It was so easy to use I totally got it. While I had some previous experience, it just was so much better than the platform we had at my previous school. You have immediate access to photos when parents share them and there are a plethora of graphics and fonts. It’s super simple to lay out the pages and add graphics.

Over 80% of your school community bought yearbooks last year. How did you do it?

My community is a late adoption community: they upload pictures late and they buy books late. I actually leave holes in my spreads because I know I’m gonna be getting more photos second semester.
Over a two-week period, we promoted a class contest. We said whichever class buys the highest percentage of books the week after spring break will win a sweet treat party and the teacher will receive a $25 Target gift card. It’s really important when you have teacher buy-in. The winning class sold 100%, the next one was at 98%.

I love the idea of a marketing contest. How else do you involve the school?

On Halloween, our principal dressed up as Where’s Waldo. I mean, what was I supposed to do? I put him on 13 pages in the book and the kids had to find him. That was just a little interactive thing, and that’s something else that’s so fun about yearbook: it’s organic. During the year, you can build into the book and make align with your community in this specific moment.

Yearbook Hero Katie Parish created this module of her school's principal dressed as Waldo to give the yearbook an interactive element.
This module appeared under the principal letter in the yearbook.
Can you find Mr. Foucart?

We always do a cover contest. Students draw something school related and they have always had to include the name of the school, our key words—Ready, Responsible, and Respectable—and the year. The yearbook committee narrows it down to the top 20, and then the PTA narrows it down a little bit further. The teachers and front office staff, admin, everybody who helps run the school, gets to vote on the winner. I paste all the final covers onto some poster board and have them available to be seen in the office. Then, the winner goes on the front, and the six runners up on the back cover.

Next year is the school’s 20th anniversary, which is the platinum anniversary. So we’re gonna do some silver foil on the cover.

How does your experience as a yearbook coordinator help in your role here at Treering?

Because I work full-time as a Customer Success Manager and I have two kids that I have to run all over creation, and I still volunteer for the PTA, I know what a busy plate looks like. I can help editors prioritize and schedule their yearbook lives, and help them figure out what they should be working on and when so that we’re taking small bites out of the book at a time.

We start with planning out their ladders which translates into an accurate page count and shared photo folder organization. Do you know what’s so great about crowdsourcing? This could be a whole yearbook about your kid, but when you have that option for everyone to contribute, and you make it easy for them to access it, it just gives you so much more diversity in your book of faces.

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