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

ppatino@tribpub.com 312-222-2448

Curtis Trammell, Assistant Sales Manager

ctrammell@tribpub.com 312-527-8934

Schools can also reach them via email at tcasales@tribpub.com 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, Gladd.org for LGBT topics, SPRC.org for issues relating to suicide and Drugabuse.gov 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: bit.ly/BuyYourBook 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! bit.ly/HJBuyYourBook



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.

3 Pieces of Advice for New Advisers, From Advisers

Advice for the First Year Adviser

No one becomes an expert at anything the first time they try it. But it helps tremendously to get advice from those who do know what they’re doing. Advising yearbook is no exception. The task of overseeing the creation of the yearbook can seem daunting, intimidating and overwhelming to say the least, but as you set off on this exciting journey, know you’re not alone.

Read on for three experienced advisers’ advice if you’re newer to this whole yearbook thing.

“It’s okay to not be the expert in the publication room and know everything. Acknowledge that this year you are going to absorb as much knowledge as you can about advising. Let your yerds — students and Herff community — share with you their expertise and skills and then try to pick one or two things that you really want to focus on during the year with your staff to make the best yearbook possible. When you are struggling, reach out to your Herff family, and they’ll support you however they can. You have just begun one of the greatest rides in your teaching career. Embrace your yerdiness and enjoy the ride!”



Justin Daigle, CJE
Brighton (CO) High School
Yearbook Adviser

When I’m not getting my Yerd on, you can find me being an uncle to my niece and two nephews (future yerds in the making) or jamming out to some Carrie Underwood (in the car, in the classroom, anywhere and everywhere!) But chances are I’m doing all three at the same time! Life is good.


“Yearbook advisers need to support their students. I think it’s really important to spend some time at the beginning of the school year bonding. I plan bonding activities for the first four Fridays of the school year. At our school, we are lucky to have a ropes course, so we do that at least once. I also have my editors come up with activities and games. Although bonding is important, my staff needs to understand that I will support them, and go head to head with other teachers or administrators who give them a hard time, but they always have to be following our guidelines and be polite and respectful. My staff can’t be confirming the fears of other teachers, that yearbook students are getting their friends out of class to chat. We have to prove every year that we are serious journalists, and as long as my staff works at that, I will support them.”


Stephaine Orth

Stephanie Orth
Lake Orion (MI) High School
Yearbook Adviser

After seven years of advising the Dragon yearbook, I have come to realize it is my passion.  I love the creative outlet it provides, the fresh start each year with a new theme and staff, and the crazy number of possibilities available to us as we strive to document the school year. I also teach English and Journalism, have three daughters, a second home in northern Michigan and love yoga, running, downhill skiing and reading.


“Welcome, first-year advisers! Feeling a bit overwhelmed, nervous, lost? DON’T! You are about to embark on a wonderful adventure. Let your creativity surface, and think outside of that proverbial box. Sure, you may encounter terms like “pica” that you may only see on Jeopardy, “crop” that has nothing to do with riding horses, others, like “bleed,” which fortunately don’t need a Band-Aid, or “grid” that has no resemblance to carpool gridlock at 3 p.m. And “drop cap” doesn’t mean that you have dropped the toothpaste top down the drain!

But once you master these terms, it will all start to make sense, and you will be well on your way. You may never look at your favorite magazine in quite the same way; instead of clipping recipes and household hints, you will begin to look for cool font combinations, caption and copy starters and the latest design elements. Take advantage of the support that Herff Jones offers: your rep will be knowledgeable and helpful — before long he or she will be more than a lifeline on speed dial, they will be a friend. Order the company’s yearbook curriculum and use it in your classroom. Check out the Herff Jones website. There is a wealth of helpful information online in addition to scores of sample yearbook pages to browse through. Join your state’s scholastic press association and attend some workshops; this will allow you to not only broaden your journalistic horizons, but to meet other advisers, as well. Embrace the opportunity you have been given. You will be glad you did.”



Janey Miller
Mobile (AL) UMS-Wright Preparatory School
Yearbook Adviser

A former varsity volleyball, cross country and track and field coach, I now love being a full-time yerd! Living on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico with my hubby and my toes in the sand, my nose in a good (year)book and any one of my five grandkiddos in my arms makes me one happy gal!

10 Tips to Help You Survive Your First Year as Yearbook Adviser

10 Tips to Help You Survive Your First Year as Yearbook Adviser
  1. Since nobody at your school does what you do, collaborate with other yearbook advisers whenever you get the chance. Join your state’s scholastic journalism organization and utilize your yearbook rep. Don’t isolate yourself.
  1. Right away, take pictures and sell yearbooks.
  1. Set high expectations, but remember they are just kids.
  1. No matter what, though, keep in mind that you can’t do this all by yourself. Your yearbook staff will have to put in the time for the book they want.
  1. Your yearbook does not have to win an award in your first year as an adviser. In my first year, we focused on photography. We had awful captions and minimal copy. We worked on those later.
  1. Celebrate. Have fun. Laugh at yourself when necessary and appropriate. Reward your staff. Food is a great motivator.
  1. Set your own deadlines about two weeks before the real deadline.
  1. Brag about your accomplishments. Tell your principal (and the local newspaper) how awesome your kids are doing. If you do have issues, remember, what happens in yearbook stays in yearbook.
  1. Attend a workshop. If you missed the summer workshop, look for a fall workshop. If you can’t attend with students, go by yourself.
  1. Remember that every year is a fresh start. Every yearbook should represent the year it is printed and should be the work of the students who worked on it. Listen to “We’ve always done it this way,” but then do what works for you and your staff in your year.

Yearbook Academy: What is a Theme?

Yearbook Academy: What is a Theme?

When it comes to creating your best yearbook yet, you can never have enough resources. Just in time for the start of the school year, we’re introducing Yearbook Academy, a series of short videos that will help your staff create and market the yearbook. We’ll be featuring a few of the videos on the blog, but if want access to watch them all, visit the Yearbook Academy page and log in with your HJ credentials. If you’re not yet a Herff Jones customer, click here to watch the entire collection of Yearbook Academy videos. Your editors and staff will love learning more about yearbook from this new video series.




A theme is made up two components:

  • A verbal statement
  • A visual look

These two components should provide unity throughout the book and effectively tell the story of the year.

A good theme is a verbal statement, paired with a visual look that ties the book together

The theme should appear on:

  • Cover
  • Endsheets
  • Title page
  • Opening
  • Dividers
  • Index
  • Closing
  • Folios

The theme should be developed through:

  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Design
  • Type
  • Graphics
  • Color
  • Story content
  • Book organization

Look for each and every possible opportunity to weave your theme into your coverage!

*If you want access to watch them all, visit the Yearbook Academy page and log in with your HJ credentials. Not yet a Herff  Jones customer? Click here to gain access to the entire collection of Yearbook Academy videos.