Better bend than break: Flexibility is key during this time

In light of how COVID has affected schools throughout the Balfour Midwest, we want to let you know that we are here to support you as we navigate this unique yearbook season together. I could follow this by saying something about uncharted territory and unprecedented times and come up with many excuses about how there is no way to be successful in a yearbook environment like this. But I am here to tell you that this can be done, it will get done, and we are here to help you make that happen because this year's book is bound to be one of the most coveted books in your school's history. This year was like no other. This yearbook was completed like no other year before.

When someone asks me, "how are we ever going to get out of this?" I tell them that there is one word that will get us through this and that is the word....flexibility. If we are all willing to be flexible in the way we do things, the way we think things should be done for us, the way we deal with people, the way we communicate and the way we react to controversy, we can beat this thing. Think about it.

Ali and I have been able to spend the last four months (between submitting pages, running indexes, and sending ideas about drive-through distribution parties) developing a virtual servicing model that we believe will allow us to be in front of you and your students more during a pandemic than ever before. We love seeing our yearbook friends and students, but we are willing to be flexible and think that our model could be even better than how we were able to support you before. We appreciate, in advance, your willingness to be flexible with us as well as try out our new approach while we recover (hopefully soon) from this pandemic!

Keep an eye out for some of these new tools that our office will be utilizing this fall to make your lives easier. These are unique resources that Ali and I are providing for you, our customers, to accommodate your needs, your schedule, our health and safety and many districts' policies. We can't wait to introduce you to the following:

  • Balfour Midwest's all new office website, YearbookYOU (, dedicated to supporting the yearbook advisers of the Midwest! Bookmark it today!

  • Digital live whitepaper full of solutions to all of your concerns regarding how COVID has affected yearbook production

  • Yearbook YOUniversity: A collection of instructional tech videos to train on software, interactive educational videos to use with your students, and videos geared toward adviser issues. The Yearbook YOUniversity can be found at the new YearbookYOU website at

  • The fall YBKC Journalism Event on September 18-20. Currently it is scheduled as an in-person event, but there are high chances that it will become virtual. Visit the Yearbook YOUnify link at the new YearbookYou website for more details and announcements

  • A living list of YOUnique online resources to inspire and educate you and/or your young journalists. You can find this gallery at the Yearbook YOUnique link at the new YearbookYOU website at

  • Monthly blogs with a list of simple To Dos to mark of your list so you can stay on track

  • New e-Marketing templates and social media graphics to help you sell more books!

  • A 90-Day project plan to start you off on the right foot

  • Virtual cover appointments

  • EZ Pics: An easy system for students to use to send and you and to use to collect portrait images from your student in a worst case scenario....there is no picture day!

  • Sharable page content to help you fill pages if you come up short

  • Tech office hours so you are guaranteed to get someone on the phone to help you resolve tech trouble

  • Additional JumpStart Academy training opportunities

  • Screen shares for us to help you troubleshoot instantly

  • Monthly Virtual Adviser Roundtables to share ideas and address topics that you need the most help with

  • BUZZ Knowledge Base Enhancements

  • Knew Encore features including Grab & Go (the ability to pull templates from other projects into your current project), photo editing within Encore, a history of accessible page versions....and....wait for it....cover and endsheet templates coming very soon!

  • Virtual yearbook meetings to answer your questions quickly and efficiently

  • A plant tour video to help teach your students the production side of the process

  • YBK ALL DAY Text Club with tip, tricks and reminders. (We promise we won’t blow your phone up. You can expect one or two texts a month). Click HERE to join the club now! Highly recommended!  We are so excited about this!

With Balfour's enhancements paired with the solutions that Ali and I have prepared for you, it's clear that, with our support, there are ways to make this project manageable and maybe even fun along the way.

Over the next two weeks we will be sending out our Top Ten Yearbook Tasks to complete before September 1. These will be daily, bitesized tasks as to not overwhelm you with one long email full of more items for your already long to-do list. In the meantime, let us know if you have any immediate questions or concerns. We are always here to help!

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