Posts in category Staff Management

Simplify your year with Balfour’s Adviser Guide

Advising a yearbook takes skills…a lot of them. While creativity and photography skills matter, being business savvy and managing your time are arguably just as important. It’s a tough job, and that is why we think our advisers are total rockstars. Having the right tools to get through the year is important, so Balfour created the Yearbook Adviser Guide. This beautiful, 96-page workbook gives advisers space to keep track of all the important staff, school and publishing contacts, plus deadlines, budgeting details and upcoming tasks. Elementary customers: This book shipped with your 2018 Production Materials. Didn’t receive it? Contact your representative to order a copy.

Section 1: Planning & Selling

Get started with the roadmap showing the general timeline from building a staff to organizing yearbook delivery day. Once you’re up to speed on all things yearbook with the visual glossary, take a look at our tips for getting started. The Page Planner found in this section is a central location to keep track of what will go on every page of the yearbook. This is an important step to planning and producing the yearbook, and we encourage every adviser to make this step a priority.

Creating a budget is an important step of any business, including the yearbook. Read through our tips on proper pricing, how to marketing the yearbook and where to keep track of it all in our online resource site, StudioBalfour. A friendly budget worksheet is included and can be filled out with your representative.

Marketing the yearbook may seem scary, but we have provided a step-by-step guide and all the tools needed to market like a pro. We’ve even listed 25 fun ways to promote the yearbook!

Section 2: Designing Your Book

When it comes to design, you don’t have to be a pro to have beautiful yearbook. We’ll walk you through all the steps to designing a great cover, choosing the perfect fonts and colors and making it all look cohesive.

Master your portrait pages with step-by-step outline for making decisions that best fit your school. We encourage every school to make it their goal of spelling every name correct, and we have provided tools to make that task easier. The Portrait Proofing Checklist can be copied and given to teachers to help proof their class pages.

The Balfour fonts and colors are available in the guide along with a variety of font themes that show great examples of font and color pairings.

Section 3: Inspiring Designs

When designs catch our eye, we like to show them off. Thirty pages of design ideas direct from schools we work with can be found in this section. We highlight cover designs, portrait layouts, student life, sports, clubs and more.

The layouts on these pages are representative of the creative designs we see at schools from coast to coast. Use them for ideas and inspiration.

Section 4: Calendar

The Adviser Guide ends with a handy monthy-by-month calendar with space for notes. Be sure to check out the monthly goals to stay on track.


The 5 people you need in your yearbook network

We’ve said it before: It takes a village to make a yearbook. From coordinating school pictures to designing and editing pages, a yearbook’s production requires a team of talented and dedicated individuals. Recruiting interested students, parents and faculty members is crucial, but don’t overlook these additional players you need in your yearbook network–now.

The Principal

This one may seem obvious to most, but making sure your principal is involved in the yearbook process is key. Meet early in the year to discuss last year’s book and any expectations for this year. Be sure to verify the estimated shipping date and make sure it works with the end-of-year schedule. Discuss deadlines and ask for support in getting everything turned in on time. The principal may be able to encourage other faculty members or parents to send photos during crunch time. Be transparent with the budget as well, discussing the importance of selling yearbooks throughout the year. Consider asking the principal to help promote the yearbook by sending an email to parents from their school address. Principal emails have been shown to increase yearbook sales, especially just before price increase time or the book sales deadline.

The Front Office Staff

Everyone from the receptionist to the school counselors is vital to the success of the yearbook program. Introduce yourself to each and discuss your goals for the year, like spelling everyone’s name correctly and increasing sales. The front office team serves as the school gatekeeper, so arming them with as much information as possible is important. Provide a sheet listing the price of the yearbook (and student ads, if applicable), how to purchase and the sales deadlines. If you have copies of last year’s yearbook left over, give a few to the front office staff to show parents who visit the school. The reception area of the school is a great spot to leave order forms or display an eye-catching table tent as parents enter the school.

The Webmaster

Make friends with this person to get book or ad sales information added to the school’s homepage. Balfour provides free web banners you can provide to the webmaster, along with the direct link to purchase a yearbook on or a link to a custom PDF order form parents can return to the front office. If your prices increase throughout the year, it’s important to provide new order forms or sales information to this person so they can update the site accordingly.

The Custodian

If you are a classroom teacher, you know how important the custodians are to your success. Not only do they restore your classroom to normalcy after deadline all-nighters, they also let you into locked rooms when you forget your keys. Don’t forget the impact of a handwritten card—or a slice of cake during a celebration.

The PTA/PTO President

Whether you’re creating the yearbook as a parent volunteer or as a classroom teacher with a staff, be sure to reach out to the president of your parent-teacher organization. They have a direct line into the buyers you are trying to reach—parents! Provide them with as much information as possible about sales, book prices, deadlines, photo & design opportunities, and watch your yearbook network grow.

HIYT: High-intensity yearbook training at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop

High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to get in shape, right? Borrowing the same idea of intense work and intense training, staffs across the country can get their yearbooks in shape at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop. This workshop focuses on three days of immersion in all things YEARBOOK. Yearbook advisers, editors and staff are welcome to attend the workshop, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 30 – Monday, Oct. 2 at the Balfour Yearbook Publishing Plant in Dallas, Texas.

Your classroom time features a lineup of award-winning advisers and Balfour experts who are in tune with industry trends and yearbook award standards. These fine folks will help you and your students polish & refine the plans for the 2018 yearbook. Intensity instructors include:

Samantha Jo Berry teaches at Bridgeland High School in Houston. She received the 2015 Pathfinder Award from the Texas Association of Journalism Educators and was recently named as one of 13 recipients of the Rising Star Award from the Journalism Education Association. Her students’ publications have received numerous awards from CSPA, ILPC and JEA.

Judi Coolidge retired from teaching after 35 years at Bay High School in Ohio and has worked as part of Balfour’s education and marketing team for the past eleven years. The books she advised won 28 All-Americans and Gold Medals, NSPA Pacemakers, CSPA Trendsetter and Gold Crowns and a Publisher’s Industry Award. Coolidge received NSPA’s Pioneer Award, CSPA’s Gold Key and JEA National Yearbook Adviser of the Year. She is in the Great Lakes Interscholastic Press and the Scholastic Journalism halls of fame and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar.

Annie Green is a Certified Journalism Educator and National Board teacher in the Pacific Northwest. She has been teaching 22 years in the Snohomish School District and is currently advising yearbook and online newspaper at Glacier Peak High School. Her students have earned national awards and strong critiques for their yearbooks. Green is excited to share innovative theme, coverage and design ideas to help staffs create their best book ever.

Kel Lemons fell in love with yearbook at 16. More than two decades later, she has her dream job as Balfour’s Key Account & Education Manager. Before joining Balfour, Kel was a newspaper and yearbook adviser for 12 years in Texas. Her publications at Connally High School and Rouse High School won numerous ILPC Stars, CSPA Crowns and NSPA Pacemakers. Kel’s love for design and photography was heavily influenced by her first job as a newspaper photographer at the Waco Tribune-Herald. When she’s not working, she’s usually curled up with a good book or the latest Entertainment Weekly. Kel’s only slightly addicted to thrift shopping, house renovations, Whataburger and Law & Order reruns.

Michael Pena is a high school photography teacher at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas. Pena helps high school students find a passion for photography and graphic design. As an instructor and public speaker, Pena takes on the role of counselor, mentor, and most importantly being a good role model for today’s youth. After all, he was voted most friendliest for his senior class.

Kristi Rathbun, CJE, advises The Black & Gold yearbook, The Rock student newspaper and rockmediaonline at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, CO. For over 20 years, she has helped journalists achieve state and national success in student media. Her students have earned All-Colorado Awards from Colorado Student Media Association, Crown and Gold Medalist recognition from CSPA, Pacemaker and All-American recognition from NSPA and a number of Best of Show honors at national and state conferences. Rathbun speaks at national and state conventions and workshops helping students and their advisers build solid programs in multiple media platforms. Rathbun currently serves as the CSMA Advocacy Coordinator and Colorado JEA State Director; she was selected as a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2014 and received a CSPA Gold Key in 2016.

Sarah Tricano has advised Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy’s Tigrium, a Silver Crown and Pacemaker finalist, K-12 yearbook for the past 7 years. She also teaches photography. She has taught sessions at national and state conventions, as well as workshops across the country. She also teaches advanced yearbook topics with a focus on refining design and finding inspiration in the world around us. Before becoming an adviser and teacher, Sarah worked as a design professional at multiple high-end interior design firms in New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and master’s degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently the president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association.

In addition to learning from nationally recognized trainers, networking with peers and refining your yearbook, attendees will be in Dallas during the annual State Fair of Texas, which celebrates all things TEXAN. You and your staff can choose to take in the sites, rides, live music and check out the world’s largest Texan, Big Tex. Enjoy deep-fried concoctions such as Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly, Deep Fried Peaches & Cream, Chicken Fried Bacon and much more.

Attendees will stay at the conveniently located DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas—Love Field, which is just across the street from Love Field and 10 minutes from downtown Dallas.

Balfour’s Intensity Workshop will rock your world and your staff’s world. The 3-day immersion in all-things-yearbook will help you and your staff create the yearbook of your dreams.

To find out more about Balfour’s Intensity Workshop and determine if it’s suited to your staff’s needs, contact your Balfour representative.

Attend a Convention: Amp up staffers’ love for journalism with a cool field trip

One of the best ways to spark a love for journalism in your students is to attend a national convention. Journalism conventions provide opportunities to network with professionals, see award-winning publications and learn from experts.

Two of the leading scholastic journalism organizations in the country, JEA (Journalism Educators Association) and NSPA (National Scholastic Press Association), collaborate on national events, hosting fall and spring journalism conventions every year. This November, about 5,000 students will attend the fall convention in Dallas.

Why bring your students to a convention?

Education ignites motivation

Journalism conventions such as this feature high-profile keynote speakers, giving your staff a chance to learn from and be inspired by journalists from different fields and backgrounds. Whether it be a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer or an Emmy Award winning reporter, exposing students to the world of journalism and career options available can both inspire and motive.  Students also have the opportunity to attend a variety of journalism sessions, learning about everything from design and typography to understanding diversity in media.

Compete for awards (and bragging rights)

Write-off contests give students a chance to put their skills to the test and compete against student journalists from across the country and abroad. Contests span the journalism spectrum, covering everything from yearbook caption writing to broadcast commentary. Contests are judged by qualified professionals and educators from across the country, and awards are given during the closing ceremony. Click here to learn more about JEA/NPSA’s write-off contest opportunities.

Grow your network

Conventions give journalism students and educators alike the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, learn about journalism career opportunities and develop mentoring relationships with seasoned professionals. Conventions are also a great place for students to visit with representatives from college and university journalism programs who attend as exhibitors.

Staffs also can have publications critiqued, attend round tables with professional media and see yearbooks from around the country.

For those unable to attend the convention in Dallas in November, CSPA (Columbia Scholastic Press Association) also provides a similar experience, hosting its annual spring convention every March in New York City.  JEA and NSPA’s spring event is in San Francisco this April. That’s ample time to save money and plan travel for one fabulous field trip. Need help convincing your administration to let your staffs travel? Check out Why Conventions Matter.

State organizations also host journalism conventions and offer critique services and awards to motivate your staffs and build individual and staff resumes. Here’s a list of state organizations.

Stop in for a Balfour Plant Tour while you’re in Dallas

Attending journalism conventions can spark creativity, energize your students and help build your staff. We hope to see you in two months in Dallas! If you’re coming to the convention, we’d love to show you around our yearbook publishing plant. Tours for you and your staff can be scheduled on Thursday, November 16. Sign up here.

6 tips for getting started on your 2018 yearbook

With schools back in session, planning your 2018 yearbook is top of mind. Where should you get started? Spend a few days introducing the rookies to the yearbook world by covering these staff topics and procedures. This exercise also serves as a refresher for the returning staff so everyone starts out on the same page. 

Tip #1: Create a binder or Google doc with essential information:

  • -The bell schedule, school calendar and master schedule
  • -Student alpha list with grade levels
  • -Coaches with contact information
  • -Club sponsors with contact information
  • -Yearbook representative and account executive contact information
  • -Yearbook tech help number
  • Staff member directory with addresses, mobile numbers and emails
  • -Yearbook deadlines and work day schedule.

Tip #2: Go over camera equipment and check-out procedures. Have a photo editor walk through camera basics. Teach staffers how and where to download images. Use this handy camera check-out sheet to keep track of where your staff cameras are at all times.

Tip #3: Practice interviewing each other before going out for the real thing. Encourage “why” and “how” instead of “yes” and “no” questions. Emphasize gathering details and reactions. (Check out our post on Listening for quotable quotes.)

Tip #4: Show staffers how to access yearbook pages and where to save worked photos. Getting familiar with the workflow is important so staffers can be efficient as the school year progresses and deadlines approach. Now is a great time to create user log-ins for the software your staff will be using.

Tip #5: In the design software program, point out important tools, panels and inspectors. While you may not be ready to let student design real pages, it’s a great time to have your staff practice drawing text and picture boxes, placing photos and adding lines, shapes or color. Creating a practice spread to learn the basics or refresh veteran staffers can be helpful.

Tip #6: Walk through basic design principles and writing structure. Show several examples and practice together.

Don’t worry about covering everything—just hit the basics. Students will learn and assign more meaning to the skills as they put them into practice. It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re excited to be back to yearbook!