Past Newsletters

Issue 633 - 23-aug-2015

Stand out from competitor schools by doing something different

Rachel Wilkinson, Marketing Manager at Moreton Bay Boys' College wanted to try something new to stand out in the lead up to their Open Day. In the past they had used billboards, bus advertising and traditional media. This year they ventured into new territory - taxi back advertising. Enjoy reading about the response…

“We developed a highly visual campaign with limited words to maximise the impact of the imagery. We used our students and teachers. Even though it was in the lead up to our Open Day we wanted this campaign to be a straight brand awareness campaign for us as too much detail on a moving vehicle is hard to read and take in.”

“We used Rova Taxi media and ran a concurrent social media campaign to encourage our community to spot the cabs and post to their Facebook page. There were terms and conditions to the competition which involved posting the image to personal pages and adding the open day date.”

“The stats and engagement on our Facebook page speak for themselves. On my insights page where I compare other schools and institutions, we rated higher for engagement on the day I posted our ads than the University of Queensland with their 50,000 students (we have 500) We have had our taxi ads shared over 100 times within our community and the engagement on our Facebook page is the largest it has even been in the history of the page.”

“We were originally nervous about taking a risk with this kind of outdoor advertising but by monitoring with a social media competition and by getting our community on board to spot the ads, sharing on Facebook and taking photos the result has been extremely high shares, exposure and engagement exceptional.”

If you want to stand out from the crowd I encourage you to follow Rachel’s example and do school marketing which makes you nervous. It is the sort of thing which will be talked about and remembered. Most school advertising is safe so often ignored. Other comments Rachel received were “really showcasing the personality of the school”, “great campaign”, “love it!” “Best Ad campaign ever.” Each of the adverts in the series specified something a student or teacher ‘liked’ and that they ‘loved’ the College.

Caption: "MR LEWIS likes ACDC and loves Moreton Bay Boy's College." (ACDC is an Australian rock band).

Issue 633 - 23-aug-2015

Marketing your school to prospective teachers

How easy is it for prospective teachers to research your school? Here are some questions to consider:

  1. When a prospective teacher visits your website would it give them an insight into your culture, beliefs, training and expectations of teachers?
  2. School tours are generally for prospective parents. Should we offer them to prospective teachers?
  3. Would a prospective teacher know where to park, walk and the name and face of who they are meeting? 
  4. While they wait for their interview what would they see, read and hear?
Attracting, and retaining, good teachers is a significant part of school marketing but possibly not one we are often involved in.

Emma Clemens is a passionate teacher. Several years ago she taught one of my children. Her “13 Tips to Prepare for Teacher Interviews”  is worth a read. It may give you some insights as a school marketer on a neglected area. Even if a teacher doesn’t gain employment with you they will talk to others about their experience at your school. Teachers talk and parents often ask them for recommendations of schools.

Issue 632 - 16-aug-2015

Are we selling our school or inspiring our students?

How do we want our students to define themselves? Is it by their looks, facebook accounts, choice of music or brand of clothes they wear? Or do we want more for them? This emotive video by Girls Preparatory School doesn’t take a long time to say a lot. In 74 seconds this video reveals something of the school facilities and opportunities but most importantly their philosophy. It speaks to a particular type of student and parent so helps define their target audience. 

Issue 632 - 16-aug-2015

How well does your school website serve your current parents?

Some schools still only treat their website as a marketing tool for prospective parents. More schools are now utilising their websites as a vital and timely tool for reassuring current parents and providing regular information.

Anne Frost from Chelsea Preparatory School in North Durban South Africa says “our current parents use the website all the time. They use it for sports fixtures and results which are so very important with today’s new-age parent. Our website is updated daily with news, photos, forthcoming events etc

“As far as communication with parents in emergencies we have a wonderful communicator called the d6 Communicator. This is a national company and the parents can download it on to their computers and even their cell phones and get all the emergency news if there is anything. Many of the schools in South Africa have this and it works so well for all of us.”

Sport is a big part of many school communities. Chelsea’s website even includes directions to Sport Fixtures. The timely posting of sport results means interested parents don’t need to wait for the next newsletter. Updating a school website DAILY is a big commitment so a team approach is often needed. Once you train parents to expect it is important to maintain it.

Issue 632 - 16-aug-2015

What does your email footer say about your school?

“Nurturing reading whilst embracing technology.” That is the tagline for Chelsea Preparatory School in Durban South Africa this year. The tagline appears on their website, in newsletters but also in their email footer. A graphic of five students holding books and tablets is a visual demonstration reinforcing their key message. One of their newsletters urges, whilst talking about their tablet program, “Please don’t ever forget the power of reading. We will be encouraging the children to read for enjoyment this year and hope our parents will join us in this venture.”

If you have a seasonal message you want parents to be continually reminded about then an email footer can be an good, and often forgotten, solution.

Some tips for email graphics:
  • Only include a website address in a graphic if it can have a hyperlink. 
  • Understand that some devices will not display email graphics so don’t them for vital information.
  • Contact details and school website addresses included in graphics can look good but mean an interested person cannot copy the details but rather has to retype them.
  • Ask your IT Department. Even small graphics in everyone’s emails can eventually take up a lot of memory on school servers.

Issue 631 - 9-aug-2015

An honest self appraisal is vital for school marketers

Module Three of the Diploma in School Marketing requires students to conduct a self appraisal of their customer service skills. I found this recent response refreshingly honest.

“I am not a great listener. I often finish sentences before a speaker. I listen primarily for facts rather than emotions. When I am upset I may give a negative attitude on the phone and in person. I dislike criticism, am defensive to customer complaints and do not like change!”

Do you recognise any of these traits in yourself? I am sure this student is not alone. Our roles demand we interact with a variety of people – internally and externally - so being aware of our personality traits is a great starting point for change. 

The final of the six modules of the Diploma in School Marketing is preparing a strategic marketing plan for your school. is it time you considered enrolling? We have students from around the world enrolled in this 6 month distance education course? Read some testimonies at > Diploma in School Marketing

Issue 631 - 9-aug-2015

Don’t take our word for it listen to the students

Video is a powerful tool for school marketing. Prospective parents expect the Principal, Registrar and teachers to say good things about their school. They are paid to. That’s why parent and student testimonies are so much more powerful. Central Coast Grammar School have created a series of six videos under the title ‘Student Voices.’ Each video introduces a different student. The variety of ages and gender help give prospective parents, and students, a greater chance of identifying with themselves.

See the series at: > Student Voices 

Issue 631 - 9-aug-2015

Introduce your School Registrar via video

Many schools hide the identity of their Registrar or Enrolments Manager behind generic ‘enrolment’ email addresses on their website. In contrast Central Coast Grammar School  helps prospective parents by introducing their Registrar Sarah Barker with:

  • A photo
  • Her full name
  • An email address
  • A 36 second video introduction
Combining name, face and even voice through this short video introduces a wonderful human touch putting parents at ease in what is the start of an extremely important relationship. 

Issue 631 - 9-aug-2015

Short school videos don’t need to tell the whole story

This week we received an email from Central Coast Grammar School as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. It had a simple message and a link to a 41 second video.

The brief message read “A huge thank you to our present and past community of students, parents, teachers and partners for our three decades of incredible success. 30 years of achievements, 30 years of growth, 30 years of gratitude”

They acknowledge that the video was created by a past student Tom Caska.

I like the video for several reasons.
  • It marked a significant milestone in the school’s history
  • It involves lots of students
  • It doesn’t try to do, say or promote too much
  • It is easy to share

Issue 630 - 2-aug-2015

Embedding hyperlinks to your website in YouTube videos

YouTube is a wonderful tool for school marketers. The service has its issues but also continues to evolve with features. A video by the University of Tampa Florida helps prepare prospective new for what to expect when they come for a tour. It includes;

  • Where to park and walk
  • What footwear to have
  • To bring sun glasses and sun screen
At 0.39 and 1.39 the video includes a clickable hyperlink to download a pdf map of UT.

You may also like to watch > How to Add a Clickable Link to Your YouTube Video and Redirect Any where online 

Issue 630 - 2-aug-2015

Don't assume others know all the words you do

A tip from Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting  is a good reminder for school marketers who are often working with documents written by educators.

“If you have completed some studies beyond high school you will likely have a broader vocabulary than many other people. And if you have studied specialised knowledge you will know words that others don't. Make your writing accessible to as many people as possible by limiting your word choice to common words, perhaps only to those found in a newspaper.”

Issue 630 - 2-aug-2015

Helping students and parents know who is who in your school

Jean Christie from Emmanuel College in Warrnambool Victoria recognises the need to help new students, and parents, to be able to identify and know more about staff.  She makes a booklet with photos of and biographies of teachers and gives it to all new, and Year 7 families, starting at the College. 

She says “this allows parents to know the faces and a little bit about each staff member, including qualifications, experience and the extra things they do around the school. Usually I have just included all teachers that Year 7’s would have along with key personnel such as Wellbeing, Learning Centre, Administration and IT  staff. The most difficult part is getting the bio information from teachers. I find that threatening to write, “He enjoys stamp collecting and walking alone on the beach” can be effective in obtaining replies!”

Issue 629 - 26-jul-2015

Lip sync school video includes a serious message

This promotional video for Maranatha Christian School combines an introduction and welcome from the Principal before students perform a lip sync of a popular song. It is an interesting combination. Lip syncing school videos are popular, easily shareable and can show lots of students and facilities. However they rarely say much about the school culture or beliefs so this is an attempt to mix the two elements.

Issue 629 - 26-jul-2015

Failure to demonstrate Duty of Care can harm your school reputation

When I was at school six to eight students would be crammed into a teacher's large 4WD, dropped off at a lake with school canoes and picked up 90 minutes later. As a group of adventurous teenagers we had a great unsupervised time including exploring creeks and drainage tunnels. 

Earlier this year I took a group of 20 students canoeing for school sport. I paddled with the group. We also had two of the canoe hire company staff join us. We all wore life jackets and the three adults split up to supervise. In contrast to my school days the biggest danger the group faced was crossing a six lane road at the traffic lights after being dropped off by the school bus.

The issue of Duty of Care is a serious one for schools. The two examples above demonstrate two extremes separated by a few decades. What does Duty of Care have to do with school marketing? A recent case of a school Principal being suspended due to repeated beaches of duty of care is a warning that a school’s good reputation can be damaged by exposing students to unreasonable risks even if no students are injured.

> Principal suspended after breaching duty of care during risky outdoor activities

Issue 629 - 26-jul-2015

Tips for conducting night time school tours

Most schools conduct tours or hold Open Days during daylight hours. However it means some interested parents are not available. I recently attended a very popular Parent Information Night at a local school with around 250 other prospective parents and children. 

Here are some ideas based on my experience and thoughts:
  • Have people directing visitors to parking and along the route to the meeting place. 
  • Welcome late people with enthusiasm. If someone is running late but still decided to come a friendly welcome can reassure them it was still worth coming.  
  • Turn on lights in all the classrooms, even if your tour group is not going into each of them. (This can be a challenge with modern sensor lights and timers. If so have a team of people run around to re-activate them). 
  • Use interactive white boards to show slideshows of student activities. Empty classrooms can be dull. Help your prospective parents understand what is normally going on in the space. The slideshow don’t need audio, and may not be watched fully, but will offer a window into the school and help generate questions – or answer them.
  • Involve students. Parents believe parents and students believe students. It is important to hear from teachers and leaders but let those who are experiencing your ‘product’ be heard.
  • Plan the outdoor tour route based on lighting. Taking a group from bright classrooms outside into the darkness while trying to find a switch for spotlights can lose momentum.
  • Return visitors to where the tour started or the car park. It is easy to disorientate new people at night time. We are familiar with our school layout. New visitors will not be.
  • Communicate well with cleaners. Having corridors blocked with rubbish bins or vacuum cleaner cords may happen but could potentially be minimised or avoided with planning.
  • Take a note of trip hazards and adjust the tour route or improve lighting (or even better remove the hazard).

Issue 627 - 12-jul-2015

School Marketing Website Awards 2015

GOLD Award 2015
St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School

SILVER Award 2015
Beechboro Christian School

Mundaring Christian College


Download the Judges Report to understand better the criteria and comments.

School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT (641 KB)

Issue 627 - 12-jul-2015

School Marketing Prospectus Awards 2015

Each year Centre for Marketing Schools evaluates the effectiveness of prospectuses from a variety of schools. The role of the school prospectus is continually being questioned. These schools have chosen to continue to use printed prospectuses as part of their promotion to parents. Download the Judges Report to understand better the criteria and comments.

GOLD Award 2015
Knox Grammar School, NSW

SILVER Award 2015
St Anne’s Diocesan College South Africa

SILVER Award 2015
Emanuel School, NSW

Ravenswood, NSW

School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT (641 KB)

Issue 627 - 12-jul-2015

School Marketing VIDEO Awards 2015

This year our judges gave a significantly higher score to the winning video. As a result we have introduced a Diamond Award.  Download the Judges Report to understand better the criteria and comments. 

DIAMOND Award 2015
West Moreton Anglican College, QLD

SILVER Award 2015
Knox Grammar School, NSW

The Scots School Albury, NSW

Mundaring Christian School


St Catherine’s Waverley, NSW

School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT School Marketing Awards 2015 REPORT (641 KB)

Issue 628 - 19-jul-2015

Be proactive in handling school parent concerns

Your school’s reputation is a fragile thing. Don’t take a good one for granted. Allegations of breaches in child protection, even historical ones, can bring your school’s name into the media for all the wrong reasons. One school, which as far as I am aware, do not have any allegations against them, took a proactive stance through an open letter to their school community. I have removed references to the school but believe it could be used as a good model for others.

An Open Letter to the [School Name] Community from the Head, [Name] regarding allegations of child sexual abuse - Historical Matters
With the increased level of public awareness and concern arising from past breaches of trust in child protection matters, it is natural for people to reflect on experiences in their lives, particularly during their time in school. The Council of [School Name] encourages any member of the [School Name] community who may have matters of concern from their time at [School Name] to make contact with us. To assist with this process, the School has established a Confidential Help Line [1800 Number]. 

However, if you would prefer to write to us, please use the following email address concerns@[Schoolwebsite].  This confidential email address is managed by our Senior Counsellor, [Name].

If any member of the [School Name] community wishes to discuss any matter personally with me or someone from the School, please do not hesitate to contact the School. Please be assured that all matters raised with the School will be treated with the utmost confidentiality, compassion and respect. Our prayerful support is offered to every generation that makes up our community of [School Name].

Yours sincerely

Here are a few lessons:
  • Be proactive rather than only reactive
  • Recognise that your school has a responsibility for past generations – not just current families.
  • Having such a letter coming from the leader of the school demonstrates it is important.
  • Encouraging responses sends a positive message to the whole community that things will not be hidden.
  • Advise who will be hearing any concerns raised (not the current school leader).
  • Give multiple options of how people can raise any concerns.
  • Ensure confidentiality.

Issue 628 - 19-jul-2015

A good school video can last for years

When considering promotional videos for your school the expense of a professional quality production can seem daunting for many school budgets. A good video can be used for years. Since 26 January 2012 the John Paul College 'Spirit Video' has received over 100,000 views on YouTube.

I believe the ongoing success of this video has several factors.
  • It includes LOTS of people. The more people in a video the more people who will watch and then share it.
  • It showcases the school facilities without a sales spiel
  • It is fun and shows students having fun
  • It demonstrates students and staff would have had to work well together
  • It doesn’t try to tell the whole school story
A video like this is not designed to explain the school’s philosophy, curriculum or history. It serves as a reassurance and celebration piece for the current community and an invitation to the wider community to learn more.


As school marketers you may also appreciate the ‘Behind the scenes’ video to better understand what was involved.