Recruitment Season

As a seasoned journalism adviser, you know that your staff members are the lifeblood of your program; and obviously, the best way to keep that blood pumping is to continuously recruit more staff.  Sounds easy enough, but students lead hectic lives, and with so many extracurriculars to choose from already, how can you make sure yours stands out?  We asked some of our incredibly talented and knowledgeable SNO advisers for their input; from SNO, for SNO, here are 10 Ways to Rock Recruitment:


  1. Do Some Networking…
    Get recommendations from English teachers–especially from AP and IB classes– at your school, then send home letters with the students they recommend congratulating them on being selected for journalism.

  2. …And Keep On Networking
    Similarly, ask any art, photography, or web design teachers if they have recommendations for your staff.

  3. Be Inclusive
    If your school currently offers a journalism class, make sure there isn’t a prerequisite to taking that class. You can lose a lot of great talent by making it too difficult to access your class.

  4. Build The Hype
    Send your current staff to the middle schools to talk up your program; that way, they’ll know exactly what to sign up for when they come to your high school.  You can do the same thing within the walls of your own school, too; have your staffers visit English classes, theatre classes, or any and all other varieties of class to promote your journalism program. Better yet, create a video like this one.

  5. Mold Their Minds
    Conduct a few simple workshops at the middle school to demonstrate your program; partner with the middle school yearbook or, if they have one, the newspaper staff there.

  6. Give ‘Em Some Credit
    If at all possible, offer some kind of credit to those willing to participate in your program; for example, you could see if honors credits could be awarded to your editors, or an art credit to your photographers.  It’s a great way to make your program more enticing than a different extracurricular that wouldn’t offer any credits.

  7. Tweet It. Share It. Like It.
    Promote your program or class on social media. Constantly.  Make sure your Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram pages are not only constantly being updated, but have a solid amount of followers.  Make sure you and your staff are consistently putting content on any and all of your social media accounts.  It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a large and very relevant audience.

  8. Be Like The Cool Kids
    Promote all of the fun stuff you’re (hopefully) doing with your program; whether it be outings, team bonding activities, contests you’ve entered, awards you’ve earned, celebrity mentions on Twitter…just make sure it’s common knowledge that you are the most fun club or class on campus (because, let’s face it, you probably are).

  9. You’re Kind Of A Big Deal
    For an added element of professionalism and competitiveness, without the pretentiousness or exclusivity, consider adding an application process to your program–nothing too extensive, just a few easy questions asking the student to detail their experience and interests.  This has the added benefit of helping to prepare them for the hundreds of applications they are going to have to fill out for the rest of their life; why not start now?

  10. A Warm And Welcoming Environment
    Allowing the students to make the space their own makes a big difference.  Let them play music, try to keep the snacks and refreshments stocked, and instill an “open-door” policy.  Let the students know they are welcome in the room anytime they need or want to be there (within reason, of course).  I have it on good authority that letting the students come and grab a cup of coffee from your room before school makes all of the other coffee-less students pretty jealous.

A huge thanks to the advisers who contributed the ideas and suggestions to this report: Diane Honda, Mitch Eden, and Leland Mallett.

For even more recruitment ideas, check out this podcastfrom JEA Digital, featuring SNO advisers Matt Rasgorshek, Matt Schott, and Jonathan Rogers.

Now it’s time for you to join conversation. Check out ourlatest discussion on recruitment at Journalism eXchange and weigh in.