Michelle Favero, Marketing and Communications Manager at Emanuel School in Sydney will be sharing some of the School’s fundraising experiences at the School Marketing Aforia in Perth. Emanuel is a co-educational, Jewish community day school, for students from Pre-school to Year 12. As part of their Capital Appeal campaign they created a teaser video combining time lapse photography of a current building which was to be demolished and then animated video of students imagining what they would like to replace it with.
There are now only 11 weeks till we gather for the annual School Marketing Aforia in Perth. I encourage you to consider attending. There is something special about exploring schools, hearing from other school marketers who are experimenting with new ideas, and having others give ideas on how to tweak what you are already doing. So often we can be ‘competing’ with other schools. At the Aforia we gather to help each other.
Our vision for the Centre for Marketing Schools is that school marketers would be encouraged, equipped and connected. This newsletter can provide some encouragement and ideas. The Diploma in School Marketing helps equips. The Aforia accomplishes all three. Some delegates are regulars. Others attend every few years as budgets allow. There are always first timers.
Mercy Academy Kentucky USA has realised that formal tours are not always the best way for prospective teenage students to decide about enrolling. They encourage them to be buddied up with a current student who will be their personal tour guide for a day. They experience school as a student, rather than a spectator.
There is an > online booking form to schedule a day. If they indicate they already know someone they can request that friend be their buddy. Here is how they describe it.“You will have the opportunity to tour our awesome 24-acre campus, attend classes, meet teachers and coaches, enjoy a complimentary lunch, and experience the Mercy sisterhood firsthand!”
What do you do? When people know I work in schools they ask what I teach. When I say I am a storyteller it generates curiosity and some confusion. Earlier in the year I wrote a bio for a book I am working on. A teacher offered this slightly tongue-in cheek version.
“Neil Pierson takes photos for a living. Lots of photos. The kids at school are so used to Neil taking snaps of them playing, swinging, running, walking, lining up, listening, drawing, experimenting, performing and even hiding under desks in a lockdown drill that he is universally known as 'Mr Camera'. His beguiling smile, which encourages one and all to smile back, disguise his remarkable powers of persistence and persuasion.
Neil's favourite subject as a child was 'show and tell' and now as an adult he specialises in showing and telling both the usual and unusual of everyday school events. Neil chronicles the living, beating heart of school life displaying it in a friendly, easily accessible and yet very slick format enjoyed by school communities as well as the general public.
Invite him to your school and discover his affable charm and formidable skill. Let him show you the extraordinary in your ordinary. Let him pull together the individual threads of your school's narrative so that your story can be clearly read by all.”
Some schools use creative ways to attract locals to visit their school. Many use school fairs, concerts, or hire out their facilities. Oxley College, who share their facility with the Life Ministry Church in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, are effectively using Christmas lights to put themselves ‘on the map.’Featuring 40,000 lights the computer programmed show runs for just under 30 minutes. It starts at 9pm, and repeats for the two hours each night. The display runs for two weeks from December 10th to 24th inclusive. The school and church facility is on 70 acres so there is room for car parking. Toilet facilities are provided. A large grass viewing area allows families to sit and watch the half hour light show.
Australian Thoughtleader Matt Church has a list of simple questions he asks of himself when under time pressure.
• Is this the best use of my time?
• Is this what we do?
• What would (insert name of someone you admire) do?
• What question are we asking?
• What decision needs making?
• Who is responsible for that?
• What could go wrong with that decision?
School marketers often talk about being busy and time poor. These may be good questions to ask yourself today.
One of the entries in this year’s School Marketing Awards is from Somerset College. On their website home page we like the dramatic photography, the clear identification of the location, plus the simple inclusion of a phone number for reception. The Somerset Times newsletter has recently gone from pdf to digital and works well.It will be interesting to see what impresses our judges. These awards are an opportunity for schools to have an independent review of your website, prospectus or video. The judges are parents – not school marketers or Principals or web designers and they will see things differently. They want answers to their questions, to ‘get a feel’ for a school, and understand whether they would fit your culture. It is always good to include parents in evaluation of your school marketing materials. After all they are your main audience.
Here is a simple marketing strategy for your school. Take a popular song, add some lip synching students, feature significant local landmarks, add glimpses into your school facilities and upload to YouTube. By following this simple formula Harding Academy Memphis has generated over 114,000 views in a week for their video Happy in Memphis.
In last week's article "How do you treat latecomers to school events?" there was an example of a school fining parents for being late. This generated some interest from our readers. Christine Kirkham, of Palmerston Christian School, shared "In my experience, the students (families) who are late are those with least capacity to pay any extra. I feel it would also give a negative impression to all families when the problem is limited to a few. Open to suggestions about how to fix the few though."
David Orchard of Canbury School in Kinston Hill UK raised the concern that "this course of action would alienate parents, and they in turn might opt to simply go to another school."
Possibly part of the school's intent is that parents do comply, or leave. Independent schools can find it simpler to expel students, and therefore families, than government ones. Schools with waiting lists may also take the approach that “if you don’t like it then someone else will happily take your place.”
Generally as school marketers our role is to attract families. Sometimes we may need to consider how to deter them.
One of the topics at this year’s two day conference in Perth will be the changing role of the school newsletter. This is a topic we are often asked about by schools. The combination of changing expectations and technology presents both challenges and opportunities for schools. How you communicate with your community reflects a great deal about your school’s approach to education. Parents will, rightly or wrongly, judge your school by its newsletter.
Come and see examples from other schools, and industries, of how the traditional definition of newsletters is changing. Technologies are allowing schools to merge information into different user experiences.
Register your place this week > School Marketing Aforia Perth 19-20 June 2014
My parents recently returned from a cruise. They asked to be picked up at 7am. Having had a previous experience I arrived on time but brought along a good book. I had plenty of time to read. They finally exited the terminal at 9am.
What happened? A lack of Australian customs staff meant long queues. In contrast there were too many parking attendants standing bored in the carpark. There were several helpful and smiling staff at the door of the terminal directing, and assisting, guests coming and going. The cruise liner staff did not cause the delay but the queues did form the final impression of the experience for guests. Unfortunately it wasn’t a positive one.
What could they have done differently? It made me consider some ideas for schools
Schools often celebrate times of student transitions with formal graduations, dinners, formal dances and speeches. However it is often simpler events which the students remember and look forward to. St Aidan's Anglican Girl's School have created a unique event at the graduation of the junior girls. A road physically divides the Junior and Secondary campuses. "Junior School students form a guard of honour to farewell the girls from the junior campus, the students pause in the middle and perform their warcry the 'Charma', then continue on through a welcoming guard of honour formed by the Senior School students on the other side of Ruthven Street."
Capturing and sharing these events via video give current and prospective parents and students an insight into important school traditions. It becomes part of the school's story the more often it is repeated.
Earlier this year I decided to attend the start of a school event and then go home. I wasn’t required to be there but decided it would be nice to meet new families. However what became my most important role was welcoming latecomers. For the 20 minutes after it started I would spot and then go out and meet parents as they crossed the quadrangle. In the 30 seconds as we walked together I welcomed them, thanked them for coming and gave them a quick overview of the main things that had already been covered. I then suggested where they may like to sit. In those 30 seconds you could see their tension ease, their smiles returned, they slowed their pace and were able to enter the meeting in a better frame of mind.
Yes, we would prefer people to arrive on time. Yet let’s be grateful that they came at all. When they knew they were going to be late they could have decided not to come, but they didn’t. Understand that parents are more likely to remember how they felt emotionally than anything that was said at these events. Respecting parents’ efforts, showing empathy and working to minimise any embarrassment conveys a message that they are important. You are not doing this to ‘market your school’ yet your proactive actions are far more likely to generate positive word of mouth referrals than multiple paid advertisements in a newspaper.
Interestingly, while we are on this subject, a UK school has reportedly been charging parents if their child is repeatedly late to lessons > School fining parents
What do you think?
Graham Lacey, Executive Principal at Southbank International School in United Kingdom wrote an insightful article for the Telegraph, > Parent power: choose the right independent school
"Ask to visit the school on a normal school day, and to see a taught class of your choice, not that of your tour guide. Observe the demeanour of the students and the teacher’s management of them. Is there a positive working atmosphere? Do the students appear engaged and interested in their work?"
"Ask to see the school during morning or lunch break, and stand in the corridor when students are due to return to class. Are the students and teachers punctual to their classes? And how ripe is the students’ language as they enter?"
Most schools have a crest or logo. Some are complicated. Others very basic. When I explained to a class of Year 9 students the meaning of their own school logo they were very surprised how much thought had gone into it. St Aidan's Anglican Girl's School created a video animation to help explain the various elements of their crest.
In his newly released book > 501 Great Social Media Ideas for Schools, David Rawlings offers this practical idea to engage an important segment of your school community – grandparents.
Many schools have Grandparents Day. Yet often grandparents are willing and available to have a higher level of involvement. David’s suggestion is:
“#249. Show what it’s like when grandparents volunteer at the school. Show them helping in class, listening to reading and the various other activities that they can assist with around the school. If you pursue this idea, one element to consider is to get one or two comments from children whose grandparents have been helping at the school. Apart from the cute factor of having a child talking about how much they love their grandparent and having them around their school, it is another way to showcase your school’s community and how you bridge the gap between the three generations of the families in your school.”
When visiting school websites we often play their videos. Three of the most common players are
- YouTube. Most popular
- Vimeo. Good platform. High quality. Less advertising.
- Quicktime. Older and less common format. Requires additional software and in my experience is the one most likely to crash.
Uploading videos to Facebook is increasingly common. This service is improving but I feel lacks some important features. The advantage is that so many people use facebook and their comments and likes all appear. Another service to consider is Wisteria http://wistia.com/. It has some wonderful features, very clever analytics, and varying levels of customisation. It is only free for the first 3 videos and then goes to a monthly charge.
YouTube has several benefits which is why it is the service I recommend for schools:
• Viewers are familiar with both watching and sharing YouTube videos.
• YouTube is free for both viewer and user. There are more advertisements but I accept that is how they make it a business.
• It is the second largest internet search engine. This means your videos can be found by searches rather than only relying on people finding your website.
• YouTube is owned by Google. It is often easier to rank well with a video than with other organic Search Engine Optimisation.
• It provides easy html code to embed videos in your own school website or share links via social media.
• If YouTube freezes, goes slow, or has an error the viewer doesn’t blame the school.
• It offers enough built in analytics for most users.
• The integration of YouTube and Google+ means comments can reach a larger audience.
Helping schools manage and make the most of YouTube will be an important topic at this year’s School Marketing Aforia.
Register your place this week > School Marketing Aforia Perth 19-20 June 2014
Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting (www.thinkwrite.com.au) offers this practical advice.
People tend to read all the way to the full stop before pausing to absorb what they have read. Long sentences with multiple ideas put a strain on their memories. The words "and", "but", "because", "if', "or", "unless" are often good places to break a sentences.
Our local paper ran a lovely article about how a government school was using their prominent signboard. Journalist Kat Adamski reported “The messages are changed on a weekly basis and the message last week read, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see”.
Updating and changing signs does require time and thought. Most schools use signage to sell themselves, promote an event or simply say ‘we are here’. Changeable signs give you an opportunity to tell snippets of an ongoing story, share what your school believes is important, or just make people smile. We would love to hear and see examples of what you are doing.
Read the article at: > Brookvale Public School inspires people to count their blessings
"For many years we have had an "Every Day is Open Day" policy as we believe it is important for prospective families to experience a school in action. They can get a 'feel' for the school, ask on the spot questions and get immediate answers from staff and pupils. They can then decide if this is the place they want their child to be. Schools are about people, not buildings. This approach has definitely worked for us.
As a school with day schooling and boarding facilities we also offer a Boarding Experience Weekend for prospective boarders. This too has proved beneficial."
The Centre for Marketing Schools is an international network of people passionate about schools. Founded by Dr Linda Vining the Centre is now led by Jenny Pierson.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.