Yearbook Profile Ideas-Part 2–The Copy

You need some new yearbook profile ideas, and now that you’ve been inspired by yearbook profile designs, it’s time to talk profile copy. Yeah, yeah, a picture IS worth a thousand words, and that’s why you’ve taken the time to set up some amazing shots to showcase your amazing individuals. But you chose them because of their amazing stories, and now you have to verbally tell those stories to support the visuals.

“But no one reads yearbook copy,” you say?

There are two possible reasons for that, we say:

1. They don’t know how to read.

2. Your copy stinks.

Since it’s pretty safe to assume that your audience can read, that means that they are not reading your copy by choice, which means that number 2 above applies. Because if it’s good, they will read it.

Let’s face it:  most teenagers/young adults have the attention span of chipmunks. It’s not their fault, really–they are products of this fast-paced multi-media infused society. We’ve gone from the 2 minute film scenes to 70 second scenes; from the 30-second sound-bite to 8-second sound-bites; from 15 minutes of fame to 140 characters of fame. It’s tough to keep up, and even tougher to compete.

So, make it good. Make it personal. Make it engaging and entertaining. And make it short.

There are various ways to tell someone’s story.

  • Have them tell it in their own words. They lived/are living it–what could be more personal and engaging than a first person narrative. But help them, coach them, edit them. Make each word count and come alive because you are the copywriter and that’s your job.
  • Interview them. If you ask brilliant, leading, open-ended, engaging questions, you can present the story in their own words as a Q & A. This creates great, small pieces of information your readers can digest quickly.
  • Ask a best friend, parent, sibling, coach, mentor to write the story. Be sure to tell them why you chose this individual, give them some questions to answer or a direction you’d like them to take. Encourage them every step of the way.

There is inspiration all around you. Look at magazines like ESPN, Wired, Oprah. Look at print ads, TV commercials, billboards, Groupons. It’s everywhere. Find it, love it, adapt it. Then, write it.

For more information on the why and the how of Yearbook Profiles, check out this page from Herff Jones Yearbooks.

And, for a fabulous profile that breaks all the rules, you’ve got to read this. It’s a profile (of sorts) of Herff Jones’ newest Yearbook Special Consultant and former JEA Executive Director, Linda Putney, written by her husband, Martin Putney. (It’s actually a copy of the speech he delivered at her JEA retirement “roast.”) If you are over 25, it’s guaranteed to bring a smile! There is so much in it you can use as examples of how to tell a great personal story!

And, if you would like PDF’s of actual yearbook profiles written in the different styles mentioned in this post, just email me at Put the words PROFILE REQUEST in the subject line, and I’ll happily send you a small zipped file with several examples you can use as spring boards for the creative profile writing process with your staff.

Have examples you’d like to share? Send them along, post them or links below to add to the discussion. We’d love to hear from you!

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