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Make Yearbook Distribution a Celebration!

Updated: May 9, 2023

It's so much more than just passing out yearbooks!

A group of students hold up their yearbooks with joy!
I highly recommend that schools be the ones to build the excitement around the yearbook

1) Make it an event

Most schools don’t make enough of an event when the yearbook comes out. I worked at a school once that simply put boxes of yearbooks on a table and let students walk by randomly to pick theirs up. I remember feeling saddened by this because there was no excitement about the yearbook, and the yearbook is exciting!

I advise schools to make the yearbook something that students anticipate. A key way to do that is to have a yearbook day. It’s as simple as taking an hour out of a school day for an assembly and making it a big deal for students. It’s a party where they can look at the book for the first time together with their friends. Provide sharpies, and it becomes a yearbook-signing party. At my school, we add excitement by including food vendors, the cheer team, and live music. It creates an event that not only makes students want to be a part of the yearbook, but they’ll feel at a loss if they miss out.

Most importantly, it's a great promotion of the yearbook for underclassmen. They see the older kids celebrating the book, and that makes them look forward to their own senior yearbook.

To read more on the yearbook signing blog and see how you can set up the yearbook day of a lifetime click the link:

It may be too late in the year to plan for a yearbook party now, but take this as an opportunity to plan ahead and get yearbook day on the calendar for next year. Invite the Freshman, Sophomore, and Juniors. For the 9th graders especially, anything that the seniors do is attractive and exciting, so you’re building your audience for the yearbook for these brand new students right off the bat. You’re also attracting students to your yearbook classes! Getting the younger kids to show up for yearbook day shows them the yearbook in action, and you'll get kids asking how they can enroll in your yearbook class.

I highly recommend that schools be the ones to build the excitement around the yearbook rather than waiting for students to be the ones to do it. Make it a school tradition that students look forward to every single year.

Three students sit together staring at their yearbook in excitement.
Getting everyone’s hands on the yearbook should be something that every school works toward

2) Everybody gets a book

I want to preface by saying I work at a private school, and public schools could be very different in terms of this discussion.

I believe that all students should get a copy of the yearbook and that it should be factored into their tuition. Again, I’m speaking from a private school perspective. If you price the yearbook $5 above cost, just as a small buffer and safety measure, you can offer a really well-priced yearbook. The small profit can be used to cover the cost for students who cannot afford any increase in tuition.

When you include the yearbook as part of tuition, you can involve all students in all the festivities surrounding the publication: yearbook day, signing party, school photos, etc. And this scenario is so much easier than trying to get kids to order and tracking their payments.

I don’t have a ton of experience with a public school setting, but I think getting everyone’s hands on the yearbook should be something that every school works toward. The top three things I can think of to help public schools pursue this method of yearbook distribution are sales revenue, advertising revenue, and looking out into the community for possible donors who would be willing to give back to the school.

Schools can look into advertising and “senior shout-out ads” to generate revenue. Ads from local businesses and personal ads from families can go a long way to reducing the price of the book.

In addition to advertising, many communities can find donors and philanthropists who will help cover the cost for students in financial need. For example, United Yearbook has partnered with yearbook angels during the holidays to help donate yearbooks to different students. They are faculty, teachers, businesses, family members, or others that donate yearbooks to well deserving hard working seniors. Implementing something like that can be an integral part of getting more students a yearbook.

Using the yearbook as a gift is another form of distribution. It could be used as a gift to donors, families, parents, and businesses that have partnered with the school. If your yearbook takes advertisements, give a copy of the book back to those businesses. Ultimately, it’s about broadening your school’s reach.

A yearbook class stands in a circle toasting their job being done!
There’s a lot of power and good will that can happen just by bringing people physically together to meet

3) Get your community involved in the yearbook

The final piece of yearbook distribution is the sharing of ideas within a community. If there are multiple schools in your area, why not host a conference at your school for the yearbook staffs from those schools? Have the editors and the writers and the photographers and the layout teams and the faculty advisors all meet. They can share war stories and brainstorm ideas and strategies together. With the internet, we are often thinking too global and not local enough. There’s a lot of power and good will that can happen just by bringing people physically together to meet and make friends. And really, this would be the first “business conference” for most students – what a great preview for them of life in the “real world” after college.

High school students don’t realize the value of the yearbook at this time. They don’t really believe that twenty years will go by, and they don’t really believe that they will forget so much and so many. That’s why it’s so important to keep a record of who they are now. A yearbook is a wonderful place to keep those memories forever. Advisers, distribute those memories with great care and smart strategies; keep in mind that distribution is as important a component to a successful book as everything else you do.

Contributor: Chris Botello began his career in New York City as the associate print production manager for Premiere magazine. He designed movie posters for Miramax Films and served as the art director for Microsoft’s launch of As a professional graphic designer, Chris worked on first-run movie and television campaigns for NBC-Universal, Warner Bros Studios, and numerous key art ad agencies in Los Angeles. Working with National Geographic Learning, Chris is the author of the Revealed Series of textbooks on Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. He is also the co-author of YouTube for Dummies. Chris lives in California, where he teaches art and computer graphics at a private high school.

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