We've reached a watershed moment - a time for change...
I still hope to have my special event called Yearbooking 201 sometime in mid June, and at an actual area school. I figure this @#$& virus will have abated by then and we can return to some form of normalcy. We're already getting a bit cranky about this physical isolation.
I started planning this event back in January when I had some ideas for the future, hence the 201 part. I thought it was time to make some changes to our yearbooking efforts.
And then the virus hit...
Suddenly our lives were upside down. Schools were shutdown and we were all ordered to stay home, fearful to go anywhere that we might get sick. Now we're supposed to wear some kind of mask when we go out amongst others. The rules on this virus have changed week to week and it's been frustrating for all of us.
And it's rather amazing - all the main ideas I was planning to share at Yearbooking 201 are now happening right in front of us. Let's share the basics here...
Not official but probably 98 percent of all yearbooks out there approach yearbooking the same way. When the year begins we sit down, figure out all the events that will happen that year, and assign pages to them. And every year it's the SAME list of events so every year the yearbook is essentially the same.
Year after year, decade after decade, the same stuff. Football, volleyball, homecoming, winter dance, this club, that club, baseball, Prom, graduation. Same for middle and elementary schools as well, same stuff. All about groups and events - and not really about people.
THEN the virus happened, and suddenly events and groups were cancelled. Oh NO what about all those now empty pages? Some folks just wanted to cut those pages because they were "stuck" seeing things from the view of just events and groups, same old same old.
I don't want to be too harsh here BUT - except for the players, their girlfriends and family members, few people really care about baseball. Or softball, or track or other sports. Or most clubs or groups (unless they're in them.) They simply don't care.
So what DO they care about? People and stories. Preferably stories about themselves and their friends but also stories about other people. As many stories as can be remembered, on the pages of the yearbook and in other ways. When it makes the yearbook it then lasts for a LIFETIME.
Think about social media - why is it so popular? STORIES! People have a chance to easily share their own stories, opinions and pictures to an audience. It's not just about events and groups.
At Yearbooking 201 I'll be showing a different idea for planning and covering next year's book. As we plan for what will be covered next year, instead of just one column of the same groups and events let's make TWO equal columns. The second column will be about STORIES - yes, stories about groups and events but also about individuals and happenings in your school and area.
As we've REALLY discovered this spring, events and groups can be cancelled. But there will always be people and stories no matter what, and students and families will want to remember them forever.
What makes school interesting? Is it clubs or teams or classes? Or is the PEOPLE that make up those clubs and teams and classes? Of course it's the people, and THAT should be the main emphasis of our yearbook coverage going forward. It's what our readers REALLY want, and diversified coverage of your entire school. Not the same kids all the time, not just the "popular" or active kids.
Over the past three weeks I've almost begged people to switch gears - forget the cancelled events. Fill those pages instead with stories about how local people are coping with this insane virus Years from now no one will care about those cancelled events - instead they'll want to remember this incredible spring of 2020 and how we local people got through it.
For fall book schools or spring books doing a supplement, PLEASE don't shortchange your audience. Both now and years from now they'll want to read and remember about this once in a lifetime event but from a local angle. Your YEARBOOK is the ONLY place they'll get that. Have empty pages now? Now you DON'T - fill them with meaningful stories about this incredible spring.
NOW is the perfect time to switch those gears. For my Jostens advisers I've shared out pages of ideas for your NEW coverage. I hope you've read over them and then meet with your staff (virtually I would assume) to see how many of those story ideas you can try RIGHT NOW.
And you'll find out which of your current yearbook kids are there to work and have a passion for yearbooking, and which ones are there just to look good, waste time or get an easy A. Hopefully this momentous event and this gear change will help you in your future recruting for staff members who really CARE about this effort and will work hard for you.
I'm also looking forward to next year already - not only for our new Layout Pro page creation tool which is coming online shortly for all Jostens schools, but also our new digital tool that will help those staffs tell more stories about literally EVERYONE in school. CAN - NOT - WAIT...
So again here's our chance - let's turn this lemon into some really tasty lemonade! Let's make 2020 a truly one-of-a-kind year to always be remembered, the bad and the good - AND the start of some great new ideas that your readers will cherish!!