When St Aidan's Anglican Girl's School launched their mobile phone app a senior student helped introduce it with a voiceover and animation of what it included. The 2.01 minute video gives a good overview.
The Australian newspaper included this provocative statement “Australia’s perennial "school wars" erupted again this week when the Productivity Commission confirmed the inexorable trend towards non-government schools. Almost 35 per cent of Australian school students (more than 40 per cent at high schools) are now educated in private or non-government schools, up from less than 32 per cent a decade ago and one fifth in the 1960s. > Private Schools aren’t a drain on the systemThe > Productivity Commission’s 510 page report on School Education is not a light document but it is something school marketers in Australia should consider exploring. International readers may be shocked as to how generous Australian governments are towards independent and Catholic schools.
Connecting with other school marketers is a great way of sharing ideas and learning from others. While facebook is good for personal connections it is LinkedIn which dominates work related online networking. These tips may help you improve, or decide to create an online profile.
> 21 Steps to create an awesome LinkedIn profile
I am happy to connect with school marketers online. My own profile is > au.linkedin.com/in/neilpierson/An even better way to connect with other school marketers is face to face at the annual two day School Marketing Aforia. This year it is in Perth 19-20 June.
Misty Adoniou, Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL at University of Canberra wrote an insightful article on > ‘Why good teachers leave.’When teachers are new to your school, parents and students are often curious to learn more about them. Sharing video interviews via your website or newsletter may help them express their passion and vision.
How do you feel about this statement? "The purpose of school is to get kids out of the house so parents don't need to take care of them."
Homeschooler Penelope Trunk states this in an article > 'There is no difference between school content, only school marketing." As you can see from the reader comments there are some heated debates about the topic. School marketing, like many forms of marketing, is often viewed as deceptive, manipulative or unnecessary. Yet in response to these thoughts it is important not to dismiss criticism from home schooling families of our now 'normal' mass education system.
Real people sharing their real stories, emotions, hopes and fears is the heart of word of mouth marketing. It is these stories which will demonstrate if, or how, your school is actually different to another. People can argue about marketing images but sharing actual experiences gives your school marketing a true sense of authenticity.
Grant Birse, Director of Marketing, Communications and Enrolments at Pymble Ladies’ College shared with us their email newsletter and video from the start of the 2014 year. The short 1.40 minute video doesn't include speeches or the school's impressive academic results. In fact the only words are what appears on the screen at the beginning and end. What it does include are girls in relationships who are happy to see each other again after their summer holidays. It includes new families starting school.
The video includes some facilities, and the beautiful school grounds, but they are not the focus. They are merely a backdrop. The video works very well because it says Pymble Ladies' College is about people. With an in-house Audio Visual Producer the video's cinematic standard is reflective of the school's culture. Comments on the school's Facebook account included "Heartwarming!" "Beautiful video I teared up," "Absolutely stunning video! Just loved it!"
One criticism of our education system is that most student work is seen and viewed only by their teacher or their class. Projects, artworks and creative writing may have very limited audiences. A Modern History student’s video explaining the Iranian Revolution was posted on Covenant Christian School’s YouTube channel. It is one of over 400 public videos.Sharing student work publicly has several advantages:
Mobile browsing worldwide has reached 24%. In Australia it is only 20% and New Zealand at 16%. Yet the trends are obvious. How does your school website look on a mobile phone or tablet? While the majority of your visitors will still be using desktops or laptop screens schools cannot ignore the needs of a growing part of their current and prospective audience.
Hopefully this infographic will help. It may be too detailed for many school marketers but could help you talk to your website developers. It is also a good example of an infographic in how it displays information and includes a sense of movement rather than being a static page.
Click here > Website Testing Infographic
While visiting Belgrave Heights Christian School to do a video interview of a teacher I was introduced to Sarah Kelly, Events and Promotion Coordinator. Sarah, as a subscriber to this newsletter, took the opportunity to share with me some of the fascinating history of the school.
Having started with 15 students in 1983 the school grew slowly to 45. However the school lost momentum and most of its enrolments. With only 5 students remaining it looked like the school would close. Surprisingly another school, Hillcrest Christian College, located 30 minutes away called them. This school didn’t have the facilities to cope with their current student numbers. They wondered if they could bus over two classes, and their teachers, while they expanded their own facilities. This ‘loan’ of students for two years enabled Belgrave Heights to regain momentum.
Belgrave Heights then grew to 100 students by the year 2000, and decided to introduce secondary school. Over the past few years the school has grown to over 600 students. They have had continual building projects to keep up with increased demand. Hillcrest has also continued to grow in size and reputation.
Message: Rather than competing with other schools consider if, or how, you could work together towards a common goal. It may be long term or just for a season.
What new ideas are you going to implement in your school marketing in 2014? What worked for you in 2013? Send us an email or give us a call.
Do you need some training? The Diploma in School Marketing is still accepting enrolments for 2014. This six month distance education course is a practical way for school marketers to develop their skills. The assignments of creating a Style Guide and Strategic Marketing Plan help equip graduates to take their school forward.
Read testimonials from graduates at > Diploma in School Marketing
Several schools around the world have sent us Christmas greetings with cards or email. We love the variety of ways schools connect with others at this time of year.
We wanted to share one video which combines a simple slideshow of photos with music and singing by their senior student choir.
The video also reminds us of the diversity of subscribers to this newsletter. Tracy Tigchelaar Marketing and Communications Manager at the The British School in The Netherlands sent an email with a graphic linking to their website for us to watch this video.
We hope you enjoy it, and consider adopting the idea for your own school community. The video is not high tech or designed to go viral. It is designed to include as many students as possible, share their singing with a wider audience and build a sense of community.
This school promotional video is now three years old. It is wonderful example of showing the culture, facilities and diversity of students at school. The lip-syncing video was created as part of Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s 135th birthday.The video transitions from location to location are simple and effective. My favourite piece is when the lip-syncing stops at 3.38 and the girls take over with a school chant.
Cain MacDonald, Principal at Victory Lutheran College has been studying a Diploma in School Marketing. When visiting his K-12 school he told me of a simple strategy to help build relationships among his growing number of staff.
At the beginning of the year staff are given the name of another staff member like a ‘Secret Santa’. Throughout the year they are to do random acts of kindness to that person. It may be cards, flowers, washing up, presents or encouraging notes. Whatever they can think of. They are not to disclose their identity.
At the end of year staff gathering each staff member is allowed three guesses to identify who they suspect is their ‘Secret Santa’. The person then identifies themself. Naturally some staff will deliberately do random acts of kindness for other staff to make it harder to guess.
The activity creates a culture of appreciation, makes work more enjoyable, surprising, and encourages staff to think beyond their own faculty or area of the school.
Happy staff are your best school marketers. They talk. Prospective parents ask their opinion. Finding ways for your staff to feel appreciated, connected, and part of a healthy community, may be more effective than any planned advertising campaign.
Last week I visited four schools in Victoria. Talking with other school marketers, exploring schools, and meeting staff, is something I love doing. I find schools very generous with ideas.
Often school marketers are isolated. Some just need to bounce ideas around, or talk with someone who shares their passion. The two day School Marketing Aforia is something I look forward to each year. The roving format of visiting schools and hearing stories from other school marketers is the highlight for me.
The School Marketing Aforia for 2014 will be held in Perth on June 19-20. Our host schools are Guildford Grammar School and Lake Joondalup Baptist College. Perth Australia June 19-20.
A Christian school, celebrating their 35th birthday, asked me to help them tell their story. Part of my response was to interview pioneering parents, teachers and students. I believe sharing their stories will help current and prospective parents better understand the school’s purpose and vision. The ‘WHY’ behind the creation of your particular school is an important part of your unique story.
This particular school, in a rural community, was a joint effort by parents in Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist and Christian Revival Crusade churches. By choosing to work together, rather than each creating their own school, they helped unite Christians in their community.
Action: Recording and sharing your school history takes time and energy. Video can help you tell much more than relying only on photos and text.
A large banner promoting a school in New South Wales was hung across the main street of town. It was quickly taken down. Why? A typo. Instead of “College” it had misspelled it as “Colledge”.
Deidre Proxenos, Director of Marketing & Foundation at Dainfern College, Johannesburg, South Africa is taking a proactive step to reduce typos in their school communications. She shared “We have found that communication with parents is really so crucial. With every staff member having access to email and sms functionality to both parents and students - we find that many emails are going out and often with spelling errors - which is so unprofessional. We have now employed a full time communications manager. ANY letter, email or SMS that goes out to our parents or students - will need to be run by her first. We truly believe this consistency will assist in improving our image. No matter what we say with our marketing material - one email to parents with five errors in it - can truly do a lot of damage!”
Message: Parents expect schools, and teachers, to be role models in spelling and grammar. Repeated mistakes undermine their confidence. Have someone else read over school material before sending it out.
Schools rely on volunteers for many things. Managing them can be a stressful task. How schools treat, train and motivate their volunteers can greatly influence what they tell their friends about your school.
Caring for your volunteers may be your single most important school marketing strategy.
Dr Linda Vining’s 50 page book > Working with Volunteers in Schools includes the following topics:
University of Technology Sydney is spending A$1billion dollars over 10 years on expanding their city campus. Rather than relying on traditional posters and newsletters the University created an animated video to help tell the story. Each time they introduce a statistic they link it to something which students and staff can relate to. For example stating that they were excavating 175,000 cubic metres is an unknown amount to most people. Equating it to 70 Olympic size swimming pools gives it meaning.
The expanded campus will accommodate over 8,000 more students.
The message: Try different ways to communicate your news. Connect abstract concepts to something real. Importantly link your news to a “What’s in it for me?” This means your viewers are not left with a “so what?” feeling at the end.
In Australia the discussion of funding government and private education is often in the news. Our media can tend to focus on what are considered newsworthy extreme examples of under resourced and what are considered ‘over’ resourced schools.
Private schools have an opportunity to educate parents so they can engage in meaningful, rather than sensational, conversations with friends and neighbours. Real numbers give parents greater confidence to combat sensational stories. The Australian Association of Christian Schools chose to create a website solely on the topic > School Funding. The use of graphs, infographics, bullet points keeps it clean, easy to read and not overwhelming. Two headings of ‘Facts’ and ‘Furphies’ (Australian slang for lies) helps set a more conversational tone.An interesting and simple statistic from the website is:
I received an email inviting me to attend a one day workshop. I read it partly out of curiosity. I then read it again trying to decipher what was on offer. The email was for training in what I will call ‘X’ and ‘Y’.
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.