Past Newsletters

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.

Issue 650 - 14-2-2016

Comments from a Diploma in School Marketing Graduate

The latest graduate of the Diploma of School Marketing is Thi Huyen Huong Cao of the Vietnam-Australia School Hanoi. Huong’s summary was “I have found the course very helpful for someone with no prior knowledge of school marketing like me. It changes the way I see things happening at my current school.” Congratulations Huong on all your work.

In marking Huong’s assignments it was both challenging, and fascinating, to understand the oversupply of schools offering parents a very similar ‘product’ of education in the area. Hopefully Huong’s six month investment of time and thinking with the Distance Course will help distinguish the school from others in the city.

To learn more and read other testimonies about the Diploma visit > Diploma in School Marketing 

Issue 650 - 14-2-2016

Introduce new School Principal via video

Video is a wonderful way to introduce new staff to your community. When Anne Johnstone became the 10th Principal of Ravenswood School for Girls in Sydney the school introduced her by video. The interviewer Karl Stefanovic, though not named in the video, is a very familiar face on Sydney TV.

Enjoy the video and consider how your school can introduce new staff with video.

Issue 650 - 14-feb-2016

Video at the Children’s eye level

This past few weeks I have been writing, editing, re-editing and testing scripts for a variety of school promotional videos. It is challenging and fun. I have also been reviewing drafts of a series of videos for an updated school website. As I read, watch and listen it is a reminder that video is a very powerful tool in storytelling especially when it engages the viewer’s emotions. Entries for the School Marketing Awards for 2016 will open in April. If you have created new videos, a website or prospectus then consider entering.

In the article Video production for schools – The Key Techniques Neil Waddington's 'fortyfoursixteen films' offers several pieces of advice yet my favourite is this one.

Shoot at the Children’s eye level
Another great tip is to always shoot at the student’s eye level, especially when working with younger students. This brings you into their world and allows you to really capture them engaging in their work and activities. You’ve also got a much better chance of capturing one of those “moments of magic” if you’re shooting at a lower height as your closer to the subject and action.

In my years of working with children I have found going to their eye level when talking, playing, taking photos or doing videos helps you connect. 

Issue 649 - 7-feb-2016

When does your school day finish?

Sydney Morning Herald Journalist Cosima Marriner believes "The boundaries between school and home are dissolving at some of Sydney's top private schools, as students stay on campus until mid-evening when their parents collect them…. Students remain at school after the bell to do their extra-curricular activities, complete their homework supervised by teachers, eat afternoon tea and dinner, and have a shower before being picked up by their parents at 8pm or later."

Q. Is this level of longer supervision a growing trend in education? 

Q. Is it a point of differentiation between schools which would help parents choose one school over another?

Understanding the demographics of your own school community is vital. What works well for one school may not have sufficient demand in another. If offering before and after school programs is not viable or self funding then attracting new families because of it can be problematic if the programs do stop.

Issue 649 - 7-feb-2016

University celebrating school results in a whole new way

At the end of last year a Victorian journalist,  Timna Jacks, contacted me for an article VCE results day: top schools and unis spend big on marketing.  I was mentioned as offering diplomas in school marketing and being one of the only people in the country offering training in the niche, albeit growing industry. The main part of the story however was the marketing campaign by Deakin University in videoing students as they received their ATAR (Australia’s final University entrance scores). The university hired the main cricket ground in the city of Melbourne. "The aim was to release the video on social media and make it go viral - an $80,000 project which involved two film companies and hiring out the stadium for half a day."

The video has generated over 30,000 views on the Age newspaper’s website, another 60,000 on YouTube, and an amazing 490,000 views on the University’s facebook page. When you consider these numbers the $80,000 investment compares very well with other forms of marketing.

Yet the University released another video in December 2014. As school marketers I feel this is a good case study. Which video do you prefer? Which are you more likely to share? 

In 2014 rather than hiring a stadium Deakin asked 30 school students to use handheld GoPro cameras to film themselves as they logged on to their computers to check their ATAR scores. The four minute video has over 350,000 views on YouTube and 94,000 views on facebook. The stories, the families, the 'unprofessional' filming of students in their homes, the joy and grief may have proven to be less popular in total views yet it is the one which resonates more with me as a parent and storyteller.

Do you have a preference? If so why? Is the increased views of 2015 video solely because it is shorter so easier to share?

Source: Viral video gives front-row seat as students discover ATAR 

Issue 648 - 20-dec-2015

Do your parents understand what happens at school?

For many parents what happens at school is largely a mystery. They may see and help with homework and assignments, watch performances, come to parent teacher interviews and enjoy some parent social gatherings yet actually experience little of school.

A Waldorf Steiner school in the UK charges local families a small fee to attend a relaxed outdoor session where they personally experience some of the school’s approach to education.
“Parents have the chance to have a hot drink and they can take part in an optional seasonal craft or cooking activity. There are songs, rhymes and snacks and the session finishes with circle time. The sessions are growing in popularity because parents not only enjoy being outside in nature with their children in a social setting, but they are also looking at alternative approaches to education The intention of this outreach programme is to give parents a taste of what we offer, which is a tried and tested alternative to a state run nursery, kindergarten or school. The outdoor sessions, which cost £6 per family, attract a wide cross-section of local parents.”

Source > Steiner reaches into the woods  

In 2016 how will your school educate and engage with both current and prospective parents to better understand what happens with children and their education?

Issue 648 - 20-dec-2015

What does success look like for students and their parents?

As we celebrate Christmas this year I have chosen to share a video made by a Malaysian petrol company. The video has nothing to do with petrol and even uses subtitles. It is however a very good story - and I believe one relevant to education and what we may define, and promote, as models of success for our students. 

It is also an interesting way for a company to promote themselves simply by engaging with an audience and creating something we are likely to share with others. Enjoy.

Issue 647 - 13-dec-2015

How will you record and share the First Day of School?

With the school year finishing up in Australia have you considered how to record and share the first day of 2016 with your community? Harlem Village Academies did a short video, added a sound track, and included a few sound bites of children but most importantly included LOTS of children's faces. It is a simple model to copy. New families are usually the biggest talkers about your school. What they experience in their first few days can reassure them they have made a good choice. Enjoy the video.

First day of school from Harlem Village Academies on Vimeo.

Issue 647 - 13-dec-2015

Why advertise a school event if you don’t expect people to come

I recently attended a school fair. It was advertised in the local community paper. There were banners outside the school and elsewhere in the area promoting the event. There were a lot of cars and quite a few people there in spite of the wet weather. There were games, stalls, food and music.

While I was attending as a curious local I also had my ‘school marketing’ hat on. Sadly I concluded it was overall a missed promotional opportunity for the school. I explored, bought some treats, explored some more and left. I estimate I spent 25 minutes there.

Here were some impressions of what I felt could have made the fair more effective, and a better return on their marketing efforts into the local public.
- Displaying some student work, 
- promotional material to pick up or even read on a board, or a video to watch,
- a team of greeters, or roving ‘meeters,’ looking out for new people to welcome them. (It was a relatively small school so strangers like me would have been easier to identify than larger schools),
- students demonstrating something of their skills or learning,
- signage explaining some of the more unusual or interesting parts of their property,
- students playing music (rather than the adults – who were quite good but obviously not students)

The reminder for me was that if I advertise an event publicly – and not just internally – I should expect people to come? If I expect people to come then I should prepare a meaningful experience which opens a window into our school for visitors to take away with them. We often only have one encounter with local public to make a permanent impression.

Issue 646 - 6-dec-2015

Consistent message between school website and advertising

Is there a clear theme to your school marketing? Schools appeal to different families for different reasons yet having multiple messages can be confusing in promotion. The International School of Brussels have a series of advertisements at the Brussels Airport. One advertisement, posted on facebook by David Willows Director of Admissions and Advancement, is quite unusual with a series of computer coding behind a student. It is not your usual advertisement which is in itself part of the message. The core theme is ‘innovation’ and it carries through to their website. ISB use a consistent variation of taglines ending with “Innovate” such as the advert shown below “Code Create Innovate.” Another at the airport uses “make, create, innovate.” By using a specific landing page it is easier to reinforce the theme of the advertisements without changing the whole website.


This is a quote from the landing page…

Innovation is a way of thinking that seeks, through the use of a set of core skills and dispositions, to create new or improved solutions to challenges that face us in our daily and future lives. The words innovation and creativity are, in many instances, interchangeable. The innovator strives to bring about significant change in positive ways, with the intent of bringing about an improved outcome for the general good.

Innovation is less about the tools and technologies of the 21st century, but more, as author George Couros contends, “about how we use those things.” We need to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world and to empower them to understand the potential they have as innovators themselves. At The International School of Brussels we are committed to developing the following skills and character dispositions and providing our students with the opportunities to apply these in authentic learning situations.

The video on their landing page reinforces how students are innovating. Watch it at: >

The message: Being known for one key message makes it easier to market your school.

Issue 646 - 6-dec-2015

The importance of celebrating school traditions

Jacob Lowry, Community Relations Officer at Emmaus College Rockhampton shared with me a Facebook post made on the last day for Year 12s in Queensland before their final exams. Their Assistant Principal Missions sings and prays for the students. Jacob explained “As you can see, the post was received very well with over 300 likes and a reach of nearly 8,500. Not only were many of the interactions from current and prospective parents but there was also a huge response from alumni, as far back as 1988 who remember John doing the same thing for them.”
I agree with Jacob when he says “these quirky little traditions can grow into firm rites of passage for students and something that staff and students alike can look forward to at the end of the year.”

What traditions could you share to reconnect with Alumni and your wider school community? Often our traditions become so normal we forget how special, or quirky, they are in revealing something special about our school community.
Click on the graphic to view the original post. 

At Covenant Christian School  the annual Year 5 Billy Cart Race, complete with crashes, is one tradition that older students remember well and younger students look forward to.

Issue 645 - 29-nov-2015

Simple messages for school marketing billboards

Marion Walker-Campbell, Assistant Director of Enrolments & Publications at Townsville Grammar School shared three of the billboards they have created to promote the school. The latest Christmas Campaign is displayed on a billboard on the highway. The message is simple “The greatest gift… a grammar education.” With an 1800 phone number it is a message that can be read quickly. As the school is 127 years old there is not the same need to educate the audience about the location. 

Another of their billboards is in the airport. Over the years I have noted several school advertisements in airports around the county. A third billboard promotes their new campus. The “1800 GRAMMAR” telephone number repeated on each billboard is a simple and memorable call to action.

Issue 645 - 29-nov-2015

Student voices generate valuable school marketing opportunities

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.” 

The media attention and award would have generated more positive word of mouth than any traditional marketing efforts. One report stated "I think planning was about a month, and then actually filming took a week. That was during our 7th period every single day," senior Anna Jones said. "It was truly a culmination of the past five years about us learning about acapella. How to sing the best we can and how to best record it,” director of fine arts at Briarcrest J.D. Frizzell said. Students said the money will be used for filming more videos and will allow them to go to more local schools to perform.”
Enjoy the video.


> Briarcrest Christian School wins $25000 in a cappella competition  
> Bluff City Schools Wins Acapella Challenge  

Issue 644 - 22-nov-2015

Remembrance Day connects with school’s wider community

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. 

“On Wednesday 11 November, the College held a whole school assembly to commemorate Remembrance Day. This year the service was made even more special with families and friends of the College spending over ten thousand man hours to hand knit almost 7,000 poppies that will be sent off to France, for the 100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Pozières on 23 July, 2016, honouring the sacrifice of each of the Australian soldiers who lost their lives there.

This amazing community initiative has been very well received by our community. In the first 24 hours alone our Facebook Post (see link below) has reached over 13,200 people, had 240 likes and has been shared almost 100 times. The comments mostly focusing on how proud parents are to be a part of the College and thanking the lead organiser Mrs Samantha Allen (College Parent).”  

Here are three, of the many comments, from the school’s facebook post and photos .

“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."

Fortunately the school has an active website so stories like this can be recorded and shared. Below is a link to the news story on the school website:
> Families volunteer over ten thousand hours to commemorate our lost Australians 

Issue 644 - 22-nov-2015

Four year olds Melbourne Cup Day generates media attention

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.

Issue 643 - 15-nov-2015

Using billboards for school marketing

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. 

Questions for school marketers:
  1. How much information is too much?
  2. What call to action is appropriate?
  3. Could another school replace your logo and say the same thing?
  4. How many photos are needed to tell a story?
  5. Should we avoid advertising where others already are or join them?
Brigidine College logo and suburb. “Developing resilience and a positive mindset. Discover Brigidine College. Visit our website to book a tour or request a prospectus. Courage, confidence, compassion. A Catholic Independent Secondary School for Girls.” Then street address and website. [11km away]

“More than great memories.” School logo. “Covenant Christian School. Preschool to Year 12. Christian education - it's different. It's worth it. Book a tour and explore.” Then website and street address. [4km away]

Stella Maris College - An independent Catholic Girls College with a strong academic cultural and sporting tradition.” Then the school street address, website and school logo with tagline of "inclusive innovative inspiring.” [8km away]

“Anglican Co-educational Pre-kindergarten to Year 12. Solid Christian foundation. Strong focus on Academic Excellence. Steadfast Commitment to Student Welfare. St Luke’s Grammar School. Dee Why.” Then a phone number. “Tours held every week” and the website. “Enrolment enquiries welcome” then an email address plus the school logo. [6km away]

Thinkers.inq - Play with purpose. An early learning preschool for 3-5 year olds in Terrey Hills. Offering flexible hours 6.45am-6.45pm. 50 weeks a year. Enrol now for 2016.” Then there is a 1300 number. [7km away]

Do you have school billboard advertisements you have created, or even competitors you like – or don’t like? I would love to see them.

Issue 643 - 15-nov-2015

Do your school promotional giveaways start conversations?

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.

Do your school mementos start conversations, put a smile on a face, or serve a purpose? Or are they disposed of? I am be curious to hear what you have tried and the response.

Issue 642 - 08-nov-2015

Is a video more effective than a letter to school parents?

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.

Their Welcome Back Message for New Middle School Students is a nearly 6 minute video by the Assistant Head of School. In the video the school’s electives and orientation process is explained. Important dates and times are displayed on the screen. This type of message is targeted to a niche audience for a specific purpose and time rather than general promotion. It can therefore be a bit longer than usual, though I think shorter may have been better. 


The school also used video to introduce changes and new staff. For parents who are rarely on site at school, or meeting teachers, seeing a face and hearing a name via video can help reassure them that their children are in good hands. 


I expect most of this information was still contained in letters but parents who prefer video would have appreciated it. And hearing and reading the same message cannot hurt.
What information could you convey via video instead of just letters? The video doesn’t need to be from the Principal. It can be the most relevant person for the message.

Issue 642 - 08-nov-2015

Treat your school fees as a vital marketing document

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.

  • Show or explain what is included, and what is not. 
  • Make it easier for families to calculate total costs for multiple children.
  • Add school branding and taglines or vision. For prospective families this may be the only document they print from the website.
When passing a school I stopped and took a photo of a large bright yellow banner announcing “Discount Fees Up to 45% off.” The bright yellow banner was repeated on the home page of the school website. 

While having the same message on a fence and website was positive I wasn’t sure what message the discount offer was sending to prospective parents and raise these questions to consider.
  • Will discounts help hesitant families to take the step to consider the school?
  • Does it look like the school is desperate?
  • Do discounts attract the type of families the school wants long term?
Here are some other previous articles about school fees that may interest you.

> Anglican School Lowers School Fees 10%

> School drops fees by 42% to attract enrolments

> Paying school fees can become a school marketing issue