Past Newsletters

Issue 660 - 15-may-2016

Mother’s Day High Tea brings guests to school

Jodie Preiss of Alphington Grammar School in Melbourne shared how they celebrate Mother’s Day. Their annual Mother’s Day High Tea is held on Saturday. 

“With just on 200 guests, it was a fabulous day. This event is now in its 4th year, and just keeps getting better and better. We specifically do this event on a Saturday as it not only brings our own mother’s to the school, but they also bring guests – this year around 35% of our guests were not current families at the school. The event is run completely by staff and parents of the school, and is a huge event to organise. However the impact it makes always makes it worthwhile.” 

The event is also a fundraiser and this year they expect to raise around $3000 to support The Butterfly Foundation. Well done Jodie and team. You can see photos of this beautiful event at > Alphington Grammar School Facebook page  

Issue 659 - 8-may-2016

The sound of laughter is louder than the school bell

Anne Frost from Chelsea Preparatory School in Durban North shared their video which is now displayed on their website. The video highlights something most schools don’t mention – laughter.

Issue 659 - 8-may-2016

Ingredients for a Mother’s Day Breakfast at school

Today is Mother’s Day in Australia. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums and grandmothers in the School Marketing Network. This week I helped organise a Mother’s Day Breakfast at school. All bookings were done online with over 200 attending. This year’s breakfast followed a fairly relaxed program including:

  • A flower presented by a member of the student council
  • A free professional quality family photo
  • An 8 page colouring in booklet created by one of our parents
  • One song by our Secondary School Musical Ensemble
  • A three minute thank you and encouragement of mums and a prayer by the Principal
  • Tables were decorated with flowers and rose petals and each had a tin of colouring in pencils and textas with several sheets of puzzles and colouring in. 
  • A covered basketball court beside the hall included a pile of giant lego pieces, two mini roller coasters, giant chess, connect four and snakes and ladders. 
For $10, or $7 for a child, breakfast was BBQ bacon, eggs, sausages, frittata, cereals, toasts, bircher muesli with choice of a juice, hot chocolate, tea or good coffee. 

The breakfast is an excuse for families to gather, a place for kids to play and a chance for parents to talk with others. Some former students even attend. Dads are welcome. 

An optional short tour of some new classrooms was offered at the end. A Mother’s Day Market Stall, designed for children and adults to find a present for their mothers, adds even more activity to the morning. 

How did your school celebrate? What ideas have you found work in building a sense of community?

Issue 658 - 1-may-2016

Technology has taken over: teacher

How do you promote technology in your school? For several years merely mentioning your school had interactive whiteboards and iPads was considered an extremely positive development in education. Now people are raising more questions about their role. Simply mentioning the use of technology can attract or repel some parents. Telling stories of the educational outcomes from the considered use of technology can connect with both groups of parents.

Liz Beament, a pre-primary teacher at Karrinyup Primary School, has noticed there's been quite a decline in some of the skills that children used to come in with from home.

"One of them is their fine motor control, so the small muscles in their fingers that help for example hold a pen, hold a paint brush, do craft and help cutting. We feel that the parents aren't doing as much of that at home as they used to do. IT has taken over now ... swiping a screen is never going to give your child strength in their fingers and fine motors."

How is your school telling stories about the role of technology in education?

Source: WA education minister says parents must do more to help kids 

Issue 658 - 1-may-2016

What makes a girl courageous, determined, creative or inventive?

The Maynard School in Devon United Kingdom combined video, cinema, print, outdoor and social media in a combined campaign using the tagline “The Maynard School is #MadeForGirls.” Enjoy this video and then take a look at a case study of some of the results of the campaign.

The Maynard School Case Study - #MadeForGirls from AB Motion on Vimeo.

This is the text which accompanies the video: 
“The Maynard School understands that girls learn differently – that they need different types of support and encouragement. That’s why Maynard girls are happy, secure and successful, why they score so highly in the league tables and why 100% got into their first choice of university last year.”

Issue 657 - 3-apr-2015

Bright Future Ahead Campaign for Thomas Hassall Anglican College

Jo Hutchens Director of Marketing & Community Relations at Thomas Hassall Anglican College shared how she was “very excited about advertising our College in a way that I don’t really think has been done before and that is working!”

“This year’s Open Day campaign was “Mummies come to school” and featured a cartoon Egyptian mummy – this will be one of the ‘taster’ lessons students will do as part of their transition to Senior School.  Current Year 6 and incoming Year 7 students are invited to participate.  They will also have a hospitality lesson make rice paper roll Egyptian mummies and a make Perspex key ring in TAS to take home to their mummy!”

Their five week “Bright Futures Ahead” campaign included letter box drop, shopping centre signage, campus banners, web banner, direct mail to prospective parents, real estate agents, property developers, child care cares plus a Ribbon Wrap and DPS quarter page strip in the local newspaper – all for less than $10,000.

Jo even had actual road signs made for the day to reinforce the "Bright Futures Ahead" imagery. 

Issue 657 - 3-apr-2016

Open Day cinema promotion for St Columba College

St Columba College, located in the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide, is the first joint venture Anglican and Catholic, coeducational school in Australia. To promote their Open Day in 2015 they created a 30 second Cinema advertisement.

Issue 657 - 3-apr-2016

Open Day promotions in shopping centres

In the lead up to their Open Day Ravenswood Girls School had regular advertisements in local newspapers. Many other schools were advertising their Open Days in the same newspapers. Ravenswood however also advertised on a large LED screen in a major Westfield Shopping Mall six kilometres from the school. This was a reinforcement of their print media advertising but in a place normally used by large commercial brands.

Issue 656 - 27-mar-2016

Video reinforces message of your school community

Video is a wonderful way to communicate what is important to your school. Chairo Christian School asked staff and students “What's special about Easter?” This vox pop style of video, combing brief interviews edited together, is a simple and effective technique. The unscripted nature of the video works well.

What's special about Easter?

We asked some students and staff members at the Drouin Campus a couple of questions without notice about Easter: (1) "What is good about Good Friday?" and (2) "What does Easter mean to you?"

Posted by Chairo Christian School Drouin on Monday, 21 March 2016

Issue 655 - 20-mar-2016

Teachers encouraged to praise students for process and not intelligence

Understanding the variety of education related messages parents are exposed to is important – even if we don’t always agree with these messages. This video challenges the practice of many, if not most, schools.  It is around how we motivate students and the challenge of "fixed" mind sets. This video may be good to share with your teachers.

The number one goal of kids with a fixed mind set is to "look smart at all times and at all costs". They therefore AVOID tasks which might show a deficiency. This is contrasted with the idea of "learn at all times at all costs".

The belief that if "you have ability you shouldn't need effort" is one of the worst beliefs that anyone can have. Often the statement "I am bored" is a cover for a fixed mindset and that "I'm afraid to try". 

Issue 655 - 20-mar-2016

What message is our school marketing sending parents?

I like junk mail. I like learning from others. I recently received an email promotion for a local shopping centre. On my first reading I liked it. As I thought more about it I wondered if I would feel comfortable adopting it for a school promotion. After re-reading it I decided I wasn’t comfortable with the message.

We're excited to let you know that a brand new kids play centre is coming to [SHOPPING CENTRE!]

You'll be able to drop your precious little ones off for a few hours while you can shop, get a hair cut, indulge in a massage or meet a friend for lunch... whatever tickles your fancy!

Meanwhile, your children will have lots of fun at the play centre. They'll be looked after by qualified professionals, in a fun and safe environment. They'll have such a great time, you won't even need to feel guilty about enjoying a bit of 'me time'.

An increasingly common complaint from teachers is that parents now expect schools to raise, discipline and entertain their children. “Me time” is now seen as a parent’s right. I wonder what role we as school marketers play in creating this modern culture by offering more and more activities and opportunities to fill a child’s life. What message are we sending parents?

Issue 655 - 20-mar-2016

School grows through a Strawberry Taster Day

Many schools have Open Days. Some have Taster Days where students spend a day experiencing the school in action. Jo Hutchens Director of Marketing & Community Relations at Thomas Hassall Anglican College shared how their Taster Day strategy had allowed them to add one extra Year 7 Class in 2015 and two classes in 2016.  The College is now at full capacity.

The 2015 campaign was titled “What makes a strawberry?” A flyer was letter box dropped to 45,000 homes. A full page advertisement appeared in the local Liverpool Leader newspaper.  The unique thing was that the advertisement was scented to smell like strawberries. This was a first for the Liverpool Leader and the College.  Year 6 students attended an excursion to see the printing of the paper. The College received editorial pre and post event because the newspaper was as excited as the College.  This media coverage helped build up a sense of excitement amongst the parents and students.

Jo has generously shared the campaign with us. Click on the image to see a collection of the marketing pieces.

Issue 654 - 13-mar-2016

Do scholarships create positive word of mouth for your school?

A Sydney Morning Herald article Private school scholarships: the price paid by a mother and a daughter is, I feel, an important one to read if your school offers scholarships. The concept of offering scholarships is very appealing. The challenge is working out how a school embraces these students and their families and the expectations placed on them. Here are some snippets from the article and the role school marketing played in the family’s experience. The author’s identity and the school is not disclosed.

“We had to sign an agreement that our child would stay at the school until she'd completed Year 12, or repay the full amount of the scholarship…Disillusionment set in early. Much was promised; rather less was delivered. The 'individually tailored programs' the school promoted were a furphy …while our daughter was undoubtedly valued as an asset, she wasn't always valued as a person. The needs of the school came first.

Other scholarship parents were similarly burdened and we tended to stick together. We felt we didn't belong. The school aimed to produce well-rounded students, equally strong at the arts, sports and community involvement, but for scholarship students in particular, the result was often exhausted, anxiety-ridden adolescents. What I didn't anticipate was being trapped into a school culture that not only failed to meet my personal needs, but instead alienated me. I'd formed my expectations of the school based on its enticing marketing material, brief interviews with staff and a tour of its sparkling facilities, but I soon found that the school was more concerned with upholding its reputation than with the wellbeing of its students
But because I was there on a scholarship, I couldn't change schools as other students might have. Leaving meant paying back the scholarship's full value – something my family simply couldn't afford. I, and many other marginalised students, suffered in silence.”

Issue 654 - 13-mar-2016

Promoting your school without showing students

The inclusion of Newington College’s advertisement last week generated some interest and several school marketers shared creative examples of what they have been doing. Debbi Wagner Marketing and Admissions of Crawford School in South Africa said “Many thanks I love receiving your news” and included this advertisement of a gear stick with their tagline “Every child a masterpiece.” 

Issue 653 - 6-mar-2016

Would people share your advertising with others?

Few people share ordinary advertisements with friends. Blatant advertisements also may not be shared. However moving stories, with a softer marketing message, are easier to share. In the midst of negative media stories about refugees the University of Western Sydney chose to tell the compelling story of a refugee, Deng Thiak Adut, as part of its marketing. The video is being shared by viewers because of its story and has generated over two million views. The University also set up a page to tell stories of graduates

What human interest stories do you have in your school community which you could share?

Issue 653 - 6-mar-2016

Does your school advertising tell a story?

I recently received a school guide of Sydney private schools. These magazines are popular with some school marketers as part of their marketing mix. As they combine advertisements from so many schools together in one publication you realise that most tend to look quite similar. The traditional photos of smiling faces, neat uniforms, science lab coats, students using an iPad, tag lines and brand new or historical buildings can all blur when lined up side by side. 

One school advertisement stood out to me. It was for Newington College. What appealed to me, especially in the context of so many other schools advertising, was that by using just a few words and single graphic it told a very short story.

What do you think? It is a good exercise when creating any advertisements to see if it will be lost, or stand out, in the clutter of other schools in your market. It does take courage to do something different.

Issue 652 - 28-feb-2016

Encouraging giving to your school through a story

Rather than asking for donations this video tells a personal story of why one man gives to Knox Grammar School

. This video is not a hard sell, or even really a clear request for more donations. I think it is a wonderful example of inspiring others to give for the education of future students – by someone who is leading by their example. Click the graphic to watch the video on the school's Vimeo channel.

Issue 652 - 28-feb-2016

Do you have a school marketing or retention problem?

I faced a challenge this week. Do I edit a promotional video which shows boxes on the floor of a classroom and a teacher’s messy desk? Or do I leave it in and understand that it shows reality believing that if a prospective parent is worried by the image then it may be better they know early we are not perfect.

In my consulting for schools, or working with the Diploma in School Marketing students, I have realised many schools do not have a problem attracting new families to consider the school, or even make the decision to enrol. Their problem is retention. The gap between what was presented and what is delivered can be part of this tension.

Often schools want to find someone to blame to fix the problem of retention. Is marketing to blame, or the teachers, fees, location, discipline or the uniform? Is it lack of electives, facilities, bullying, sports or transportation. These can all be factors. Often marketers say “If only we…” and insert a magical answer that could dramatically increase enrolments.

In marketing a school I believe our main role is to open a window for current and prospective parents and students to see reality in your school. Yes even a messy teacher’s desk. We can change and influence our school yet we cannot enforce our ‘ideal’ school model on others. The best way I have found to open the window is stories – often with photos and videos. 

I believe talking with, yes talking and not surveying, parents and students who leave your school is an important part of your marketing role. If our promotion of the school creates a false picture of what a parent and student will experience then it is inevitable that this gap will cause frustration, disappointment and them potentially leaving the school.

This week I encourage you to take a walk. Sit in some classrooms. Talk to students and parents. Find some stories and tell those to others. 

Issue 651 - 21-feb-2015

Unique landing page for school radio advertisements

Norwest Christian College created a series of radio advertisements. Each follows a consistent theme. Rather than directing listeners to the usual school home page a unique landing page was created

Creating a unique landing page makes it easier for a school to measure the response to a marketing campaign. The landing page repeats all the advertisements and links them to aspects of the school.

Issue 651 - 21-feb-2015

Video technique to showcase your school

Many schools create “A day in the life” video. It is a clever way of giving viewers an overall view of your school. It doesn’t require scripts or interviews. It just captures footage from a school day. This “A day in the life at Santa Sabina College” video speeds up the footage which I find makes it more engaging. See what you think.