Staff-Made Videos Increase Sales

We are still swooning over the yearbook video that Honda created for the Super Bowl. Funny, touching and those were actual yearbook photos of the celebrities, digitally brought to life — nostalgic and entertaining. It was easily our favorite commercial and appropriately so. The video is actually a perfect example of inspiration for your own sales videos — and there’s no better time than Scholastic Journalism Week to have fun with creating some of your very own.  

It could take a bit of extra time and effort, but they’ll totally be worth it. You could post them on your school and staff’s social media accounts, the school website or share them during televised school announcements. The extra exposure, especially if it’s funny or emotional in some way, could increase sales. Consumers like to laugh, cry (happy tears) or reminisce and are even compelled to buy because of that.

So, watch the Honda yearbook commercial again with your staff and some sales videos that we’ve created in-house to gather ideas and inspiration of your own. They can be short and sweet, but we want to see all of the creativity! Post your homemade sales videos to social media using the hashtag #HJSalesVideo and we’ll choose our favorites to include on our website. We can’t wait to see what you come up with — have fun with it!

How I Organize Deadlines

How I Organize Deadlines

To keep deadlines organized, I color code each one. In July, I go to Target, Walmart or Office Depot to find out who has the best variety of $0.10 colored folders. Each year, the selection varies so it helps to check them all out. I then load up on a variety of colored folders. My first deadline is red, then yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink (if I find orange folders I consider myself lucky!) I then create labels for the front of the folders that include signature sign offs for peer edit, first draft, final draft and when the page is published. Inside the folder, I expect students to keep their peer edit, first draft, final draft and any documents that are important to the spread (i.e. interviews with signatures — proving the person said the quote, scoreboards from the coach, etc).

How I Organize Deadlines

I have “in” and “out” bins that are placed on the wall where the students turn then folders in at each deadline. I HATE it when a student puts something on my desk and expects me to grade it right then. My students know that if the folder is in the “in” bin, I will grade it. They don’t ask me if it has been graded or when it will be graded because they know that when I am done with it they will find it in the “out” bin.

To store all of these folders throughout the year, I bought a colored organizer from Michaels (with a coupon.) I used a label maker and the students can find their folders in this organizer at anytime throughout the year.

When the folders are done — meaning we have submitted and published the page — I then put the folders in crates. I do not toss anything until the following year. Why, you may ask? Well, in the event anyone questions anything we have published, I can go back into the student’s folder to find out where they got the information.

I hope you find my color-coded organization system helpful as you plan early for the next staff and school year!

HJ Plus One is Like BOGO Yearbooks

HJ Plus One is Like BOGO Yearbooks

Are you more likely to buy something if it’s a BOGO deal? What if (in a sense) you sold the yearbook in the same manner? You can — by advertising and promoting the Herff Jones Plus One App. When students purchase their copy of the printed yearbook, they’re guaranteed access to an online version of the book once it arrives on campus — or whenever the yearbook staff decides, really. Some staffs have allowed limited access to the yearbook in the HJ Plus One app to really get students excited and in an effort to sell remaining copies. Others decide to wait until books are in hand. Either way, the luxury of having the entire book at your fingertips anytime is one that many buyers can’t resist. Ah, technology.

Create eye-catching posters, social media posts or emails around this concept. I can already think of some headlines that would make me want to purchase a yearbook. The term “BOGO” alone tends to get a lot of attention, and using the term within your school is probably no exception.


You might say, “Well, these headlines are a bit misleading.” However, yearbook is like running a small business, and that means marketing your product in a way that makes prospective customers (the students, parents, faculty, etc.) want to buy it. Just make sure your posters, emails and social posts explain the app and why it’s like owning two yearbooks for the price of one.

If you haven’t thought to entice buyers using HJ Plus one, now’s the perfect time to do so to hopefully sell more books, and keep up that selling momentum.

A Tip to Maintain Coverage Momentum

A Tip to Maintain Coverage Momentum

So it’s already halfway through the school year and there are plenty of students that still need to be covered in the yearbook. What is the solution? As advisers, you probably have plenty of ideas for covering more students, (and I hope you share those tips with us in the comments section,) but if you need an idea fast, then you’ve come to the right place.

Although it’s ideal that a yearbook staff returns from winter break with the motivation and gusto it takes to really get things done, sometimes that progress and drive grows stagnant. Sometimes, your staffers lose motivation to go out out and interview new faces, and instead, ask some of their buddies to answer a survey question for their mod. Sound familiar? Give them the motivation they need to continue getting more students in the yearbook. Making the yearbook as all-inclusive as possible is the idea.

So where to start? Update the index constantly. No excuses. Next, run a coverage report and print a list of all the students who have yet to be covered in the yearbook, by grade level. Cut out those individual names and put them in respective (grade level) buckets. When any staffer needs a student to answer a question or a student to cover for a profile, they can simply draw a name from one of the buckets. They don’t have to search high and low (or take the easy route of choosing a friend) to determine who to interview, and, by taking this approach, one more student is covered! Names drawn get removed from the buckets so that the coverage momentum can continue. And, yes, you’re receiving this tip mid-year, but this can be implemented much earlier, or even at the start of the school year.

Keep in mind, you may find yourself or your staffers having to “redraw” names to fulfill gender, ethnicity or grade level needs — diversity in the yearbook is ideal. It’s everyone’s year (and yearbook!) after all.

Work Toward a Sellout

Work Toward a Sell Out

No matter where you are with your book sales, we always have refreshing ideas to help your staff sell more… and in a perfect world, sell out. A sellout would mean selling all copies and at least breaking even, but only after you’ve accounted for additional copies you’ll reserve for your archives, the library, the alumni office, administration and contests or critiques. You may even hold a few copies back until you are aware of your overrun situation or in case any books arrive damaged.

Before we get started with a few brilliant ideas,

  • Make sure that your sales lists are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Consider sorting the non-buyers by grade to determine how many seniors (or eighth graders for middle school), juniors, etc. have not purchased yearbooks.

A poster* message such as “66 seniors without yearbooks, 27 yearbooks left” could work to sell more books. If you have lots left to sell, you might also check the youngest class’ numbers. You could divide the number of remaining books down so that your senior messages would announce 77 books left for seniors and another set would list 78 books left for freshmen, instead of saying that there were 155 books left.

A sales thermometer* in a very public location showing a rapidly decreasing number of books does a lot to promote your cause. If you create this, you’ll want to make sure to update it at least daily. If the week starts with a thermometer showing 24 books left to sell and there’s no change by Thursday, you’re sending an entirely different message than 24 books left to sell decreasing to 19 by noon, 16 after school and 11 the following morning. It’s up to the yearbook staff to create the sense of urgency to buy.

A targeted postcard* might alert non-buyers that they’ve appeared on certain pages in the book. When students are asked why they haven’t purchased a yearbook, one common answer is that they don’t think they will be included in it. If you run HJ Index Builder on your entire book, you will have easy access to the page numbers on which each student appears. Take advantage of the free merchandising materials from Herff Jones, including the You’re in the Yearbook and We’re in it Together postcards”.*

Good luck! If your staff executes any of these ideas, or has a few great tactics of their own, we would love for you to share your tricks and/or success stories in the comments below.

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New Year, New Items to Check Off the To-Do List

New Year, New Items to Check Off the To-Do List

Happy new year! We’re not even two weeks into 2017, but we hope you are already feeling more motivated and inspired than ever to meet goals including, but not limited to, selling remaining yearbooks, drinking more water, meeting deadlines on time, squeezing in more gym time and beginning to set your sights on spring yearbook coverage. (The holidays just ended… how are we already talking about spring??) Well, this is yearbook and that’s how it goes. Check out a list of goals to focus on as your staff hits the ground running this new year.

  • Finalize winter sports, clubs’ events and academics.
  • Plan a “Last Chance” sales campaign.
  • Review the ladder and complete signatures wherever possible.
  • Begin thinking about how you’ll recruit next year’s staff.
  • Plan spring coverage and give staffers their assignments.
  • Continue to update and check the index.
  • Make sure your plant has received final copy counts and personalization orders.
  • Request new faculty/student list.
  • Make sure deposits have been paid.
  • Has an advertiser not paid for their ad space? Check in and re-invoice them.
  • Look into spring workshops and conventions, like CSPA and JEA/NSPA.

You’ll want to cross your T’s, dot your I’s and cover all bases from here on out to ensure the book is completed on time, is accurate, all-inclusive and is truly a publication to be proud of. Paying attention to this checklist is a great way to restart.

Do you have any new year tips that motivate your staff after the holidays? Please share with us and other advisers in the comments section below.

2016 Trends Can Mark the School Year Significantly

2016 Trends Can Mark the School Year Significantly

2016 was an eventful, unforgettable and (odd?) year. Your staff will probably want to (and should) include some coverage of the year’s events, trends, big news and viral stories. Topics like these will help put a lasting timestamp on the year that will engage memories when the book is opened years later and right now is the perfect time to do a little research on what your coverage might include. Lots of popular websites and magazines have created versions of a “2016 Year in Review.” Take a look at some of those and choose which stories and trends deserve a place in the book and which ones will resonate with your readers most.

For example, the presidential election is a given. Chewbacca mom, the mannequin challenge and Pokemon Go could also be represented in some fashion. Speaking of fashion, think about the popular trends and cover those. Just like bellbottoms and tye dye mark an era for your staffers’ grandparents, perhaps this year’s trends could do the same for them one day.

So how can this be done? Infographics are a great way to present facts and information. For instance, survey students in your school on what song they liked the most and create a pie chart to present the results. You could also play around with lists like, Top 10 Songs, Top 10 Fashion Trends, etc. Don’t forget that using photography from the internet is illegal, so steer clear of that. Instead, consider other ways to present topics. Take photos yourself or create compelling graphics that pair well with the design of your spread.

However, there is a way for staffs to obtain legal rights to high resolution news photos. Simply contact a Tribune Content Agency representative to inquire about annual rates.

Patricia Patino, Manager Inside Sales 312-222-2448

Curtis Trammell, Assistant Sales Manager 312-527-8934

Schools can also reach them via email at or by calling 800-637-4082.

Always credit the photos you use right on the spread. This becomes especially important if your staff submits the yearbook for contests and critiques.

Keep in mind — choose topics that will resonate with your readers. (This could differ in other parts of the country and for our Canadian staffs!) Get your facts from credible news sources like CNN, Times, or the Washington Post, because as crazy as it sounds, you can’t believe everything you read online. And finally, when reporting stories that rounded out 2016, do your best to do so in an unbiased manner. Facts over opinions. Good luck!

Information overload? If this sounds like a job you’d rather leave to our team, ask your rep about including the 2016-2017 Herff Jones World Yearbook or Our World supplement in your school’s yearbook.


Covering Controversy Like a Pro

Covering Controversy

Controversy demands attention. Just look in any direction of the media and you’ll find some. It may get redundant, obnoxious and annoying, but it’s there and covering it in the yearbook is an entirely different ballgame. It’s not always wrong to do so, but there are several key elements to keep in mind before submitting a controversial yearbook spread.

Ask yourself WHY you want to publish a controversial story.

If your answer consists of “to cause a stir,” absolutely do not move forward with the idea. It is never wise to create even more controversy with a controversial topic in the yearbook.

In turn, ask yourself why you would publish a controversial story.

Your staff might be looking to educate students, spark a conversation on topics that otherwise go undiscussed, raise awareness or give marginalized students a voice. Initially, these are all valid reasons to look further into printing the story.  

Publish what people are already talking about.

In other words, answer questions that may be ambiguous about a controversial topic. Explain what some readers may not understand, but make sure it makes for compelling content at the same time.

Understand that covering controversy can take time.

Be sure that you and other staff members are invested in the time it will take to cover a controversial topic the right way. Do plenty of research and analyze all angles. Depending on the focus of the controversial topic, start by taking a look at some websites that offer lots of information. For instance, for LGBT topics, for issues relating to suicide and for insight into students and substance abuse.

Not all controversial stories have to be heavy and uncomfortable.

Controversial topics might include a tax levy in your school district, the decision to cut certain courses or kids committing crime in the community. However, even lighter controversial topics will require research to gather different opinions and represent both sides of the story.

Decide whether or not to use names.

No matter what the story is, see if names are already out there. In this case, it could be okay. But if subjects pertaining to the matter are still a mystery, it’s probably wise that your staff not be the ones to uncover those important details. (Again, don’t cause controversy with controversy.)

All in all, handle these kinds of topics delicately and professionally. List pros and cons, have many staff discussions and listen to criticism. Ask yourself how a story may be misconstrued and then work to fix any potential confusion.

When you feel pretty good about your story and the decision to include it in the yearbook, have many eyes within the school read it. You’ll get valuable feedback that will help make the story as neutral as possible when it does reach your mass audience. If you can’t avoid bias, don’t print it!

Has your staff run into a controversial story topic? How did they handle it and present it in the yearbook? Help other advisers and staffs who might be going through the same thing. Leave your insight in the comments section below!

Repetition is Vital for Yearbook Sales

Repetition is Vital for Yearbook Sales

How does your staff market and sell the yearbook? Maybe you make posters to hang around school. Perhaps you craft emails to send to parents. Maybe you include a memo in the morning and afternoon announcements. These are all great ways to increase sales, but it’s an even better idea to try all of these tactics and then some. Exposure to your staff and what you’re selling shouldn’t be limited. Tell your student body and the community as often as possible, and in as many ways as possible that the yearbook is on sale now and that they don’t want to miss out on owning one.

One technique not mentioned above (and one that I hope your staff is already using) is communication about the yearbook through social media. Everyone is already on social media, and nearly every company and business on the face of the Earth uses it to advertise and sell products or services. It’s one of the best and easiest ways to reach buyers. So whether you have created posts and advertisements or not, below is one that you can download and share at your leisure in order to sell more yearbooks.

Once you download and post the graphic to social media, be sure to include your staff’s JOB NUMBER, a clever caption and this URL: to the Yearbook Order Center that will get your readers’ attention and encourage them to click the link to purchase a yearbook.

Sample Caption: Attention parents and students! Don’t miss out on all the victories, wins and successes of the year — Order your yearbook today!



Not only can these be shared on your staff’s social media pages, but also on your school’s social media accounts. Remember — repetition of a message and lots and lots of exposure is necessary and super helpful when trying to boost sales.

What did you think of this post and download? Will your staff use it to increase sales? If so, would you like to see more downloads and freebies like this? Let us know in the comments below.

Deadlines Made Easier

Deadlines Made Easier

It may sound crazy, but you don’t have to lose sleep over deadlines. Yes, they are undeniably, no-two-ways-about-it VERY IMPORTANT to keep in mind in a yearbook program. And managing them is a skill that your staff needs to have down to an art as quickly as possible. Managing time and successfully meeting deadlines isn’t just a necessary skill in the staff room, but like the many things one learns on staff, it’s a skill that will prove to be valuable later on in life, too! Here are some tips to say goodbye to deadline blues forevermore:  

  1. Mark deadline dates on your own calendar. As adviser, you’re the responsible one and truly, the only one that needs to know the actual deadline dates. Compare plant production days and your school’s academic calendar. Do any of the dates fall on testing days or holidays? Plan accordingly.
  2. Set staff completion deadline dates two weeks prior to the plant’s submission deadline dates. By having a two-week window, you will have wiggle room to breathe when a staff (inevitably) doesn’t have pages ready on time. This is where staffers’ grades are taken into consideration, as well.
  3. Send in pages as soon as they’re complete. Don’t wait to send a large batch of 80 pages — if only 40 are ready, send 40.
  4. When deadlines are successfully met, reward your staff. Give them a day off from yearbook, throw a small party with food or watch a movie as a staff. Incentives like these do wonders for motivation (aka finishing subsequent deadlines on time, too!)
  5. Complete as many pages as possible before winter break — for two good reasons. When you get ahead, you and your staff can relax together before the break with holiday celebrations and much needed downtime. Plus, you won’t want to face a big deadline right away when your staff returns in January. That’s unnecessary pressure that can be avoided.  

Implementing these tips can seriously alleviate deadline stress. Emphasize to your staff the benefits of being on top of each and every deadline. Less stress and more fun make for a very happy year in the staff room.