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school marketing news

Tick tock, yearbook content countdown

Posted by Suzanne Wilcock

School yearbookLast time we talked school yearbooks, we looked at the people in the process - your yearbook A team. Now that you’ve assembled your crack squad of publication professionals, let’s take a look at the next stage - content milestones and production deadlines. In other words, everything you need to do between now and December to deliver the yearbook.

But first, a definition ... A content milestone is simply any critical step that relates to the development of content for your school’s yearbook. A content milestone could include:

  • Editorial meeting/s with the Principal or Heads of Departments
  • Development of page plans
  • Coordination of photoshoots
  • Review of design concepts
  • Deadlines for the submission of articles
  • Deadlines for copy review

A really useful way to think about all of the things that need to happen is to develop some broad categories, such as communications, editorial planning, photoshoots and production. Once you’ve mapped out the broad categories you’ll find that the content milestones will naturally fall out of these.

Okay, so you’ve got a list of milestones, but that doesn’t get you to a finished yearbook. The next step is to set some dates against each milestone using a project management tool. A really simple but effective way to do this is to use a gant chart so that you can see how things look across the year. By mapping it out in this way you (and everyone else involved) will be able to see the key deadlines, where the term holidays fall (and know not to schedule any key milestones during those times), and when any key school events occur. Once the dates are agreed and approved, circulate the document to everyone involved in the yearbook early in the year - like in March!

Production deadlines
Production deadlines specifically refer to the stages after the content has been submitted. Some typical production tasks could include:

  • Copy review
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Design
  • Approvals and sign off
  • Printing
  • Finishing
  • Distribution and delivery

Be sure to include the production deadlines in your project management tool, but the key to smooth running later in the year is to allocate realistic deadlines from the outset. Start from the date that you will need the yearbooks by and work back. If you have direct contact with the printer, talk to them to understand how long they will need for printing and finishing. Yearbooks with any special finishing elements like foiling, embossing or die-cutting, will require extra time. Allow enough time for the designers to complete the layout, and ensure you have allowed enough time for whoever will be proofing and approving the yearbook to review it. Most yearbooks will have at least two edit rounds, so allow for this and build in some contingency. If the Principal will be signing off the yearbook, talk to their assistant to ensure it gets scheduled in the diary so as not to delay production.

Develop the page plan
With your key content milestones set, the next step is to start developing the page plan. A page plan outlines the pagination, word counts and image requirements and should be done early in the year and communicated to all content contributors to ensure everyone is aware of what is expected and where their content will sit.

A good starting point is to schedule an editorial meeting with the Principal, or Heads of Departments, to review the previous year’s yearbook. Cast a critical eye over the content and look at it from your reader’s perspective (parents and students). Yearbooks represent a significant slice of your school marketing budget, and every teacher will think they need to have more pages allocated to their subject/sport. Ask yourself: “Does each page ‘earn’ its place; does it bring to life your school’s culture and values; does it tell the story of the learning journey that has taken place; have new initiatives or programs been added this year that need to be included? Prioritise the content and group it into sections. Some typical sections might include: Academic, Sport, Co-Curricular and Extracurricular, Community, House Reports, Junior School and Senior School. When you have finished, cross check the page plan with the previous year’s yearbook to ensure nothing has been forgotten. 

Some schools find it useful to divide their content into summer and winter content. Teachers can then write and submit their content and images at the completion of the sport/subject while it is still front of mind. And if resourcing allows, you can get a jump on the copyediting/review process.

Term 4 is a notoriously busy time of year in any school. The time you invest now in planning and scheduling will pay off in spades later in the year when the pressure is on. Next time, we’ll talk about communicating with the yearbook contributors and arming them with the tools they will need, so that you get the content you need.

Here are some more blogs on yearbooks which might be of interest to you.

If you’re looking for more information on yearbook planning, download our free ebook: Does your school’s yearbook make an enduring brand impression?

Does your yearbook make an enduring brand impression?  

If you would like to talk to us directly about managing your school’s yearbook, you can email Andrew Sculthorpe, imageseven's Business Director at andrew@imagseven.com.au or register for a free 20 minute phone or Skype consultation.

This blog was written by Suzanne Wilcock

Suzanne Willcock is a Senior Account Manager for imageseven. She is a professional services and education marketing specialist who happens to love copywriting and blogging. She is also particularly fond of interior design magazines and home renovation shows.


Topics: Education, imageseven, Communication, Yearbooks, Marcom