One highlight of each year’s School Marketing Aforia is when host schools have their students present a musical item. Finding, and creating, opportunities to showcase students’ work beyond your own school community can also be a very effective form of school marketing. I don’t believe it should be the motivation for you or your school but it can certainly be the result if done well.
Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis Tennessee recently entered students in an “All-School A Cappella Challenge” run by Macy’s stores and won $25,000. “The young singers beat out high school a cappella groups from around the country with their video of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5.”
Bree Haynes, Manager Marketing and Communications at Ormiston College shared a great initiative which reflects very well on the college and generated positive word of mouth.
“Absolutely great to see the respect that is being taught to our children in this anniversary year of the Anzacs which carried through to the speech night yesterday for our graduating year 12's!”"It was a truly beautiful and moving service. The poem about the Poppies moved me to tears. Well done to the MOCCHA Club, OC staff, students and wider OC community, you should all be very proud.""What a beautiful tribute, thanks you from a mum of a young returned soldier."
In Australia, on the first Tuesday of November, a single horse race generates an enormous amount of media attention. To celebrate the race that stops the nation, Townsville Grammar School’s younger students participated in the annual Pre-Prep Paper Horse Race. It is a day in their calendar that the whole Junior School look forward to, as they too can feel as if they can take part in the Melbourne Cup festivities. The enthusiastic four year olds wear their handcrafted paper horse hats and run 100m on the School Oval, while some other members of the School attend the ‘race’ and cheer on the horses in their big day. Great fun and the activity was reported on by the local TV news media.
What message can you say on a billboard to promote your school? It partly depends on the location. If it will only be seen from cars travelling at speed then a very short message and impression is essential. If there is slow traffic, or people on foot, the message can be a bit longer. At my local suburban shopping centre there are now five schools advertising. These schools are located four to eleven kilometres from the centre. Two use only a single photo while the others have multiple photos. Read the messages and click on the image to open the photo gallery.
The university campus where I did my first degree is closing down. I returned to say goodbye and relive some memories. I really liked one of the mementos they had to remember the campus by. While the university campus was known for its architecture, bush setting and naturally the academic subjects the most distinctive feature joked about by students was the carpet. There was kilometres of bright green carpet. It was everywhere. The memento they created was drink coasters of carpet squares. There is no branding but it simply creates a fun talking point.
In my experience schools produce a lot of written material with letters, forms, newsletters etc. This is fine for parents who like to absorb information that way. Yet as we now attempt to differentiate for learning styles in the classroom the same is required for communication with parents. Nobody expects a letter or school newsletter to ‘go viral.’ Yet with video we often assume that more views means the more successful it has been. I was impressed with Girls Preparatory School Chattanooga TN USA use of videos to do what most schools do with letters.
When prospective parents explore your school website one of the most read, or downloaded, documents will be your school fees. Most schools display their fees and in Australia as we head towards the end of the year many schools will be announcing the fees for 2016. This announcement and document should, I believe, involve School Marketers. I have seen schools with a great website, prospectus and video yet the fee page and document is unprofessional and difficult to calculate and read. Here are some tips.
Attracting quality applications for teaching roles is important. Sometimes it is based on your school’s location. For others it is your reputation. Harlem Village Academies created a video Why teach with us? to help explain to prospective teachers what attitudes they are looking for. “If you are passionate about education and social justice, join our team of teachers and leaders serving Harlem's children.” The video includes Hugh Jackman as well as TV news interviews with their passionate leader.
Reece Cummings, Communications & Marketing Manager at Canberra Grammar School shared a press release with us of a major change for their school. A decision, for what is considered a ‘boys’ school, to become co-educational is not something to be rushed. The school chose to announce the decision at the same time as relaunching their website www.cgs.act.edu.au. If you know news will drive people to your website it is best to be well prepared for it.
"CGS will not be a boys school with some girls, but a School where boys and girls can learn and flourish together in an environment where they are equal citizens, each valued for their talents, personality and qualities that he or she bring to the School."
"We are delighted by this development, which builds on forty years of co-education in our early Primary School."
"This has not been a decision taken lightly nor rapidly, nor will the transition happen all at once; indeed, its pace will in part be determined by community demand and by our desire that no boy currently waiting for a place be disadvantaged."
"We know, therefore, that this decision will be welcomed by many; indeed we know that many parents have called for it for years, or, in frustration, have chosen other schools instead of ours. We recognise, too, however, that for some this is not the choice that they made in joining the School nor will it seem a reflection of the School’s predominantly masculine history and traditions. We respect that and have not rushed towards this change, which will be introduced over a number of years. Ultimately, however, we know that this step is in the interests of our students. It will provide them with an education that best prepares them for their future in the modern world. It is also essential for the School’s on-going capacity to flourish."
"There are far greater differences in learning styles within each gender group than there are between the two."
Your recruitment advertisements for teachers, administration support and other staff offer a window into your school community. Take a look at your job advertisements. Do they reflect your school well?
Breaking away from how we do schools is challenging. A recent article Mark Zuckerberg invests in the future of schools tells the story of AltSchool. It is a deliberately alternative school which celebrates its differences rather than trying to be the same as other schools. It is a bold strategy which will attract one niche segment of the community while repelling others.
As you read this I will be recovering from a 111km overnight canoe race – hopefully having finished it. The race attracts hundreds of paddlers with a wide variety of craft, age, fitness and motivation. An event like this relies on hundreds of volunteers at various checkpoints. What motivates these volunteers? Is it shared experiences, friendship, feeling like being part of something bigger, excitement, a desire to give something back, or simply having something to talk about when people ask “what did you do on the weekend?”
Check it out at CMS Books.
Responding to the increasing multiculturalism, especially in major population areas, can be a challenge for schools. Like attracts like. For some parents multiculturalism is an attraction and an opportunity for their child. For other parents multiculturalism, or culture imbalances, can be threatening. Often in Australia the media uses sensational language and advocates the benefits of multiculturalism. As a school marketer is it important however that you understand your own school community and culture rather than assume everyone thinks like you.
Most schools do most things the same even if the quality of facilities may vary. When a school chooses to do something different it will attract some people while repelling others. This takes courage. West Rise Junior School in East Sussex is unconventional. This promotional introduction video celebrates what they do differently. With a weekly radio shows, clay pigeon shooting, archery, fires and animals the curriculum is not your standard private English school offering.
Last week’s three day Silver Duke of Edinburgh hike with 24 teenagers was a rewarding yet challenging experience for me. It was a reminder that a great deal of life education happens outside the classroom. It was also a reminder of how much fitter some teenagers are! Shared experiences between students and staff provide opportunities to see how each other respond. Leaders in a classroom setting can be different to those who rise in outdoor adventures. It was wonderful to see many students serving each other, being pushed beyond their comfort and the encouragement that was given. There was also gratitude for the places we were able to go and the staff who helped make it happen.
This week I am doing a three day hike in the Blue Mountains as part of the Silver Duke of Edinburgh program. The teacher who runs the program volunteers to lead a group of 20 to 70 teenage students on various two day, three day and longer hikes during the year. It is a big commitment beyond his normal classroom lessons.
The lights dimmed, the curtain pulled back and the advertisements started. Cinema advertising cannot be fast forwarded, muted and the audience are less likely to continue their conversation through it. As my daughter and I waited for the movie Everest to start one advertisement stood out to me. It was for Newington College in Sydney with their consistent theme of “Discover what’s possible.”
Parents have varying expectations of education. Video is one way of explaining to them the directions your school is taking and helping them see how it can be different to their own education. Show and tell can be more powerful than written or spoken words alone. Alana Johnson, of Living Faith Lutheran Primary School shared a video about the opening of their new learning spaces. This is an excerpt from their press release.
“Times are changing and so is our approach to teaching and learning. After much research and investigation, 2015 saw Living Faith broaden its horizons with the opening of its Learning Plaza for Year 6 students. The Learning Plaza aims to prepare students for their future, not our past… They are no longer confined to a bench mark in Criteria. Students have told us that the three top things that appeal to them and keep them engaged in their learning within the Learning Plaza are: the use of modern technology (iPads, Apple TV), the flexibility to be creative and the agile working spaces.”
Does your school rely too much on written documents, emails and printed marketing material? Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting suggests “Sometimes meeting face to face is more effective than writing. Or perhaps a telephone conversation. One of the disadvantages of a letter, email or other document is the time gap between writing and reading. You can exchange ideas faster by talking. Follow up later with a written record of the conversation and agreement if necessary.”
Verbal communication helps build relationships. It can appear to be more time consuming but often it is quicker and clearer.
Deidré Proxenos, Marketing Manager of Dainfern College explained she had feedback from parents that they were not well informed about what the College’s alumni achieved after school. Deidre contacted a few alumni and asked them to answer two questions
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