Past Newsletters

Issue 556 - 27-oct-2013

Making reporting of Bullying easier for parents and students

How easy does your school make it for your school community, who experience or witness bullying, to raise their concerns? Ellenbrook Christian College chose to include a “Say NO to Bullying” icon on their home page which links to an email address. It is a visible and practical way of the school demonstrating that bullying is not tolerated.

Issue 556 - 27-oct-2013

Putting off school parents before enrolment

A UK newspaper raised the issue of increasing litigation by parents who believe their children’s school has failed to deliver what they paid for. The challenge it raises was to identify these parents before enrolment > Powerful parents threatening to sue private schools. A headmaster is quoted “Part of my job is to put off the people who are never going to understand or appreciate the school’s core values and ethos.”

In "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," author Malcolm Gladwell shares some research on the likelihood of a doctor being sued. "Believe it or not, the risk of being sued for malpractice has very little to do with how many mistakes a doctor makes. Analyses of malpractice lawsuits show that there are highly skilled doctors who get sued a lot and doctors who make lots of mistakes and never get sued." 

Gladwell asks why? His response is startling. "It's how they were treated, on a personal level, by their doctor. What comes up again and again in malpractice cases is that patients say they were rushed or ignored or treated poorly. "People just don't sue doctors they like," is how Alice Burkin, a leading medical malpractice lawyer, puts it. "In all the years I've been in this business, I've never had a potential client walk in and say, 'I really like this doctor, and I feel terrible about doing it, but I want to sue him.' We've had people come in saying they want to sue some specialist, and we'll say, 'We don't think that doctor was negligent. We think it's your primary care doctor who was at fault.' And the client will say, 'I don't care what she did. I love her, and I'm not suing her.'"

The message: How schools make people feel can be more important than ‘successful’ results.  If parents are wanting something different than your school can deliver then it can be better to let them go elsewhere.

Issue 556 - 27-oct-2013

Listening to school survey feedback

School surveys can be helpful. Or they can be dangerous.  They are helpful if those giving feedback feel they will, or are being, heard. Surveys can be counterproductive if the feedback is ignored or not shared.

This video by Yoplait yogurt tells a story of how this major company listened to a request and implemented a change of ingredients. They then invited more requests from customers. It is an attempt to say “we are listening” and “please talk to us.” Being animated, it isn’t a clinical lab coat talking head corporate response, so reflects their brand. They even offer a music download as a thank you.

What messages do your school surveys send? For some organisations surveys can communicate “if you like us then we are happy to listen. If you don’t like us then we will ignore you, and your ideas, until you go away.”

The end of the year is a good time to gauge feedback from parents, staff and students. Centre for Marketing Schools offers branded print and online surveys for a variety of target audiences.  > School Satisfaction Surveys

Issue 556 - 27-oct-2013

Customise your school YouTube channel

The International Network of School Marketers who receive this weekly newsletter are a very diverse group. This week Bennie Stewart, Admissions Director at Northwoods Catholic in Texas USA subscribed. Bernie’s email signature included icons with links to facebook and their customised > YouTube channel

YouTube continue to make changes but their new channel customisation works across desktop, mobile and ipads. For instructions on how to set yours up  visit > Channel Art Guidelines

Issue 555 - 20-oct-2013

Practical training in school media

One of the modules of the Diploma in School Marketing is “Working with the Media.” As the Diploma is a very practical course, designed for people working in schools, you are required to have a conversation with your local media. This is to better understand how you and your school can work with them. 
Marketing Matters in Schools
The text book for this 6 month distance education course is Marketing Matters in Schools by Dr Linda Vining. In the chapter on Working with the Media she writes “When you start to think positive media thoughts you will see media opportunities everywhere. If the media won’t come to you, don’t be deterred. Go to the media.”

You can read a review and watch my video about this $58 book > Marketing Matters in Schools. Published in 2000 the book may now look dated but the material is still highly relevant to school marketers.

Issue 555 - 20-oct-2013

Working with media copyright to share school news

What happens when a major newspaper publish a story on your school, or students, and you wish to share it with your community? Wanting to use a quote about one of their students, Sandy Johnson of Glasshouse Country Christian College contacted the newspaper. She discovered they had very strict rules about quoting from, or even scanning any articles. “The only way to gain permission to even quote them was to fill in a form and wait for an answer. They say it takes a couple of weeks. By then, the news would be too old to be bothered with.” Sandy’s advice, with this particular media group, was to have an introduction to the story, in their own words, and then provide the direct website link to the article.

Fortunately for Sandy she explained “we also have a locally owned, independent newspaper who are much more user friendly and we have a great relationship with them.”

Issue 555 - 20-oct-2013

Clear call to action on school websites

When someone visits your school website what do you want them to do?
Book a School Tour
The most obvious for a prospective parent is for them to enquire or book a school tour. On the home page of St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney is a clear graphic including the dates of the next school tours and a booking button. A variation of this graphic appears on EVERY page of the website as well as a “Quick Enquiry” form.  

It’s simple, clear and you don’t have to explore the website searching for it.

Issue 555 - 20-oct-2013

Single message school promotional video

In creating promotional material for schools it is tempting to say too much in a small space or time. Unfortunately a busy print advertisement, jumbled radio advert, or video can be less effective than a simple one. 

Video is a powerful tool for communication – even without narration. While long videos are helpful, short single message ones can be powerful. This Catholic school video from Victoria addresses a major concern by parents for their children with three short sentences. The message is then repeated. The video technique simply uses photos, text and music to convey the message.

Issue 554 - 13-oct-2013

Communication with modern parents

This comment from a parent was in a school satisfaction survey conducted by one of the schools in our network. It could apply to many schools. “Lack of communication is always a problem - now we don't have a newsletter. School is assuming all parents have access to the internet. The newsletter online is difficult to navigate and read so now I don't bother. Therefore I find I have no idea what is going on in school.”

Is the problem the parent, the school, or both?

At a previous school I read the printed weekly newsletter. When it went online I had to sign in to read it. My readership went from very high to nil. Paper had worked much better for me. If schools believe information is important to communicate then we need to create multiple ways for parents to receive it. Technology now allows the same information to be presented in a variety of formats to suit the end user. 

Question: Can your electronic newsletter be read easily on a mobile phone?

Issue 554 - 13-oct-2013

Debate over government and private education

Dr Timothy Wright is the Headmaster of a large and very well regarded Anglican school in Sydney. Jane Caro is an advocate of Public (Government) education. They agreed to discuss their very differing views on education, funding and the role of religion for a video with the Centre for Public Christianity.

Having been educated in government schools, with a mother who taught in the government system, yet now sending my own children to a private school, I appreciated their frank discussion. It is nearly 30 minutes of video but I believe understanding the arguments which each side present is important. As School Marketers we need to take care how we treat families who reject, or disagree, with the type of education we are promoting. 

Religion in education part 01 from CPX on Vimeo.

Religion in education part 02 from CPX on Vimeo.

Visit the > Centre for Public Christianity

Issue 554 - 13-oct-2013

Extend the life of school media releases

One School Marketer lamented to me that the local media rarely used their press releases. My encouragement was that they never needed to waste a press release. Rather they could ensure the information is still distributed to their own school community, and given a permanent home on the school website.

When the media do run a story it may only be read by a small number of your current and prospective community. That’s why it is important to extend the life of the article. Here are some ideas:
• Link to online newspaper articles from your website, and social media 
• Scan the articles and upload as pdfs to your school website for a permanent record. Clearly show what publication the article came from and author’s name
• Print, and bind together, past articles and place the booklet in your school waiting room
• Scan the articles and reproduce small versions in your year book

Developing a relationship with your local media helps. Be sure to respect and thank the journalist for their work and tell them how you are sharing their article with a wider audience. The legalities of copying and retaining articles can vary so being upfront and proactive with the journalist about their use is a good idea.

Issue 554 - 13-oct-2013

Should you hide your school name when advertising?

During one session at the recent School Marketing Aforia we reviewed school advertisements in local media. A common trend was to make the name of the school the main feature. This may increase awareness of your school name but is less likely to raise curiosity among prospective parents. Often when people see your school name they already have made judgements on what you offer.

Kristin School in New Zealand chose a different approach with their “Big Decision” campaign using print, web, buses and billboards. The campaign fed into the website Lucy Wilson, Communications Manager explained “This is a unique campaign in NZ and is a big step away from our usual advertising. It doesn't specify that we are Kristin until the very end but it does showcase the many aspects that make Kristin a very unique school.”

The first line of the website qualifies the target audience “Are you the parent of a young child?” and is followed up by the question “Which is the right school for your child?”

It is a very simple, clean website which invites interaction with the visitor to unfold the story. Rather than just yell “Choose Us” it showcases how Kristin answers common questions about schooling.

Issue 553 - 6-oct-2013

Parents right to choose education – Home Schooling Petition

As a school marketer I am grateful families can choose who will help them educate their children.  That freedom of choice is why we have a role in schools. I admire parents who choose to home school, as it is an expression of this freedom. Home schooling has a much longer tradition than our more formal mass education.

An Australian group of home schoolers are hoping to present a petition of 10,000 signatures to Parliament. Their concern is recent changes to registration. “Many home educators have been refused registration and others have received extremely short registration periods. Others have felt bullied or undermined by the registration process. The petition asks the Parliament to withdraw the 2013 Registration for Home Schooling in NSW – Information Package and associated policies and procedures, and to institute fair and broad consultation with the home education community. “

If you wish to support them please click on the link. You will need to post petition responses by this coming Friday October 11. > Home educators should be taken seriously

Issue 553 - 6-oct-2013

Recording Video for your School Website - Tips from Vimeo

Videos give a window into your school community.  We suggest having a number of videos on your school website.  They don’t have to be of a professional standard to make an impact.  Sometimes events captured using an iphone can create a window that would otherwise not be there if you are waiting for the budget to do a professional video.

The following video gives simple tips to create a more effective video such as holding the video camera horizontally, which helps if you are going to use it in YouTube or Vimeo

Issue 553 - 6-oct-2013

Opening your school as a venue

Could your school be a venue for non-school community events? The ideal event reflects your school’s life and culture, and attracts your targeted prospective parents and families rather than just being a general event. Daytime events can work best as visitors can see more of your school grounds. 

For the past five years Covenant Christian School has been a venue for Colin Buchanan concerts. Colin is a children’s entertainer popular with preschool aged children – especially of Christian families. The school is paid for the hire of their venue.  All ticket sales and promotions are handled by a Christian bookstore. 

Last year’s concert was held during the school holidays, when there were two large construction cranes on site. What was thought to be a negative logistical issue ended up being a positive. The cranes generated additional conversation and served as a visible demonstration of school growth and ongoing changes. 

With 500 to 700 tickets sold, plus any children two or under attending for free, the school hall fills with excited children and parents. From a marketing perspective, they are clearly prospective families. Opening the school café, having colouring-in tables, games, treasure hunts, and before and after show entertainment all create additional opportunities for families to linger and enjoy. 

Issue 553 - 6-oct-2013

Putting your students on the wall

Graduates, and their stories, are usually the best form of marketing for any educational organisation. The Missouri State University chose to highlight some graduates but decided large posters around the campus would not have the impact they were after. Instead they created a banner 37 feet by 16 ½ feet and hung it on side of a University campus building. This way students, and part of their story, almost become artwork serving as a reminder that education is about people and their journey.

Article: > Missouri State University Marketing Banners 

Issue 552 - 22-sep-2013

Plan now for your school Christmas message

We were going to save this video till December but decided sharing it now may inspire other schools to consider what they can do. We have seen schools do Christmas assemblies, Christmas cards and Christmas lights. Last year Diocesan School for Girls in New Zealand did a video with their Year 1 students to retell the story of Christmas. It is high on cute factor, relevant for their school audience and something likely to be shared by families so great for word of mouth marketing via social media.

Issue 552 - 22-sep-2013

Growing trend of schools without classrooms

Most schools are limited by time and space.  Schools are expensive to start and operate and there are only so many classrooms you can build. The attraction of online education is obvious – both financially and to enable a school to serve more families.

Australian Christian College operate six physical campuses around Australia serving over 700 day students. However their Distance Education program serves another 2,500+ students from Kindergarten to Year 12. For example their Marsden Park school has 250+ day students on campus, and 160+ Distance Education off campus, with both groups learning from the same curriculum.

Started in 1982 the Distance Education program and student numbers continue to grow in popularity. An International Division is a new development with over 150 students currently enrolled.  It now offers students residing outside of Australia, enrolment in an Australian Christian school.

As school marketers you are no longer competing merely with local physical schools but an international market. It can be an opportunity, or a threat, depending on how you look at it. Face to face education may still be the preferred option but schools need to consider the online opportunities, and wider markets, that are available to them. 

Issue 552 - 22-sep-2013

Creating spaces for sleepy students

Many schools are creating alternative learning spaces beyond the traditional classroom and libraries. The University of Technology in Sydney has taken the unusual step of deliberately adding spaces for sleeping into a group learning area. The area is open day and night. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sit Swot, Sleep, stated “there are banks of computers and televisions for individual use, workrooms with videoconferencing facilities that vary according to group size, a variety of seating from cushy to studious and nooks for curling up to sleep.”

Most schools are content for students to go home at the end of the day. In contrast the University is trying to find ways to help them stay on site longer with the article mentioning the area was full of students at midnight.

Issue 552 - 22-sep-2013

Large format student photos decorate Graduation

Last year I saw a public art project called the Inside Out Project. Over 120,000 people in more than 100 nations have taken part in this large‐format public display of black and white portrait photographs. The photos may cover entire walls of buildings. What appealed to me was how it celebrated people and tried to share something of their message and personality. 

We decided to run a variation of it as part of a Year 12 Graduation. Some students had individual portraits and others insisted on being in groups. Some are serious and others quite silly. Two walls of the school Hall was used to display these black and white photos for Graduation and end of school assemblies.  Many students and parents requested to take the large format photos home.

Visit: > Year 12 Wall of Celebration
Visit: > Inside Out Project