The SNO Report: Recruiting and marketing your class

You don’t have enough students in your journalism class for it to be an elective, technically, but the guidance office is looking the other way; at least, they are this year. So, you know you need to step up your game.

The future of journalism is at stake here!

That’s the situation Chris Grazier, adviser to El Cid at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, Calif., found himself in last year.

This year, his class has grown by three times as many kids and the publication is thriving.

How’d it happen, and what can you do to grow your own publications staff? It’s all about knowing what buttons to push. It’s all about recruiting the marketing. At least that’s what Grazier told us, when we talked to him on our podcast recently.

Here are the best tips for how to do it:

1. Spread the word in other classes you teach and have your staff do the same
“You’ve got to continually be selling your product and selling your class. … My big sales pitch to my other English classes as well … ‘Hey, there’s only one cat on this campus that can get you published and help you start building a for-real portfolio.’ Once you get one byline, you want another. I can see it now, ‘By Tommy Smith, El Cid staff writer!’”

2. Go out recruiting in classes during and leading up to registration week
“I send out the editors. We gotta get out to those English classes, particularly those honors and AP English classes. So, the kids go out and sell it in the classes and sometimes I’ll pop in unannounced and give them a little two minute fire-them-up spiel of the importance of the written language, being a good writer.”

3. Push your awards when talking about the class and publication
“Once you start winning awards, word spreads. Writing good stories and having those lead to awards … The SNO Distinguished Sites platform really gave us a platform to toot our own horn.”

4. Market the site through other school-related communications
“We made it into a little news story in El Cid. I worked closely with our communications director, who then promotes it not only on the school website but in her different communications, quarterly newsletter or updates through an email blast. Word got out that we were a SNO Distinguished Site.”

5. Be visible teachers and students — everyone should know who you are
“I’m standing out in the hall, outside of my door, like a fruit cake every day.”

6. Develop good relationships with people who can help you spread the word, like counselors
“I bumped it up with the counseling department. We talk about networking. You have to be good to people. We have a pretty big slate of electives that we offer here. … I think the counseling ladies sold it a bunch.”