Past Newsletters

Issue 615 - 29-MAR-2015

The Benefits of a School Marketing Audit

Auditing your website, school appearance and your school communication, can go a long way towards improving the look and feel of your school for prospective and current families.

Nadia Gay from Ormiston College provides this feedback on the website audit they conducted recently:  

“As I would imagine is the case with many organisations, the evolution of our website is always a strategic priority.  We are currently planning an update and the website audit document has been a particularly handy tool to assist us in developing a brief."

Choose from a School Appearance Audit, a School Communication Audit or a School Website Audit.

Issue 615 - 29-MAR-2015

The power of providing feedback to parents

Marketing a school can be seen as twofold.  External marketing where you present the school to prospective families, and internal marketing, where your focus is on keeping your current families.  

This article from a Catholic
online newsletter highlights the power of a parent’s story.  It illustrates the timeliness of giving feedback to parents about their child’s progress in school.  This could be considered to be internal marketing - meeting the parent’s need for timely communication, and the child’s need for extra support.  Her experience became, “They care about the student every step of the way, and they find a way to work with the kids.”

What does your school do to provide feedback to parents about their child’s progress? For the parent in this article, it made all the difference in her satisfaction with the school. She interpreted this feedback as caring.
The school our children attend provided an interim after 8 weeks of our daughter’s start to high school.  All current subjects are listed, and satisfactory or unsatisfactory columns are ticked in the areas of attitude, homework, organisation and academic progress.  The aim was to identify any issues in students from the very start of their high school life, and provide the opportunity to meet with parents if it was shown that there were difficulties in any area.  This extra level of feedback takes time, but it is effective in settling families into high school.

> Read the article here

Issue 614 - 22-MAR-2015

Point of Difference for Aforia 2015 Host School

The Peninsula School, our host on Day 1 of the School Marketing Aforia this year, has tapped into a flagship program that has become a major attractor of enrolments at the school

The program aims to deliver on the fundamental wish of all parents: that their children will be equipped to find happiness and fulfilment in their lives.  As well as enhancing the academic achievement and wellbeing of students, the program has served to differentiate Peninsula from its competitors in a very significant way. 

Phil Doll, the Director of Positive Education and Marketing at the School, has this to say:  “The Peninsula School’s Positive Education program, which is underpinned by the science of positive psychology, places equal importance on student wellbeing and student academic performance.“

Phil shares some of the outworking of this program in school life:

* Our students have learnt that we can rewire our brains to change our natural bias towards negative thinking. Students are encouraged to start the day by thinking about three things they are most looking forward to that day. At the end of the day, they then dwell on three things that went well for them. Hunting for the good stuff in their lives has clearly helped many to adopt a more optimistic outlook on life and the circumstances in which they find themselves.

* Most students are now able to tell you that expressing gratitude to others is a good thing as it not only makes the recipient feel good about themselves, but also improves our own levels of positive emotion. Many keep a gratitude journal and readily add comments to the gratitude walls that exist in our sub schools. 

* Our Middle School students wrote a gratitude letter to someone special in their lives. The letters often went to parents or a primary teacher to whom the student felt indebted.  The positive emotions that followed this exercise were simply stunning. Students reported a whole range of reactions; feeling good about themselves, feeling proud of their action and simply feeling happy that they had done a good thing for someone else. Many of the recipients of the letters contacted the school to share their joy in receiving their letter. Parents reported that this simple exercise had brought them much closer to their children, whilst many of the teachers described receiving the letter as a career highlight.

Question:  What distinctive does your school have that sets you apart from your competitors?  Are you using these in your school marketing?

We look forward to being hosted by The Peninsula School on Day 1 of the School Marketing Aforia, 11-12 June 2015.

For more information and to register:  

Issue 614 - 22-MAR-2015

A School’s Inspirational Facebook Following

Kristin School in Auckland, New Zealand is a school with a great Facebook following. The school has four different pages. These include the main school page , a page for Kristin Alumni, one for the Kristin Family and Friends parent network, and one specifically targeted to senior students preparing for tertiary study called Kristin Futures .

Director of School Relations Pamela Peryman says the school’s multi-channel Facebook strategy has enabled relevant information to be distributed quickly, efficiently and at levels that are appropriate to each group. “The segmentation of our Facebook groups is important. Our Kristin Futures page, for example, shares multiple posts daily. If we were to push this information via our main school page, the volume of content would be overwhelming for the followers who are not focused on tertiary studies at this time, such as families from our Kindergarten. A multi-channel approach allows us to capitalise on the marketing opportunities within each network while ensuring the information remains relevant to our followers.”

With a total following of over 3280 across the four pages, Facebook provides an alternative channel for direct and immediate communication. 

While the initial motivator for establishing a social media presence was driven by marketing, the school has seen additional benefits. “The four Kristin Facebook pages support our school website, which remains the primary source of information for parents and prospective families,” says Pamela. “Driving users back to the website has been effective, particularly in times of crisis, such as the lockdown we experienced last year. Critical updates were posted to the homepage and all Facebook followers were advised to visit the website for the latest developments. This redirected parents who would otherwise have called the school office and enabled our staff to focus on the situation at hand.”

Kristin regularly shares photos, videos, events and links, which usually reach between 400 and 1,000 Facebook users. A recent video from Kristin Junior School was shared over 100 times, had over 11,000 views and reached 23,300 Facebook users.

> Facebook video attracts 11,000 views

Issue 613 - 15-MAR-2015

Are our graduating students prepared for life?

I read this comment from a student of a school in USA and thought it could apply anywhere. “Dear High School, Instead of useless math formulas and Freudian English analyses, you should have taught me about taxes, résumés, and cover letters. I'm not ready for the real world.”
In one Australian school I visited I saw a very practical life lesson. All Year 12 girls (ie the age most start driving) were being shown how to change a car tyre. Students had turns doing parts of the process. They also learnt how to check oil and water levels and tyre pressure. The lesson was done by the maintenance man. He had realised, by experience helping former students, that this simple life lesson had been missed. It was probably worth ‘missing’ 25 minutes of another subject.

Issue 613 - 15-MAR-2015

School Website Content

There are many aspects to a great website – from vibrant photos, engaging video and easy navigation, but something that is not often talked about is a website’s content.

In their book for small business, Content Rules, Handley and Chapman suggest, “Produce great stuff, and your customers will come to you. Produce really great stuff, and your customers will share and disseminate your message for you. More than ever before, content is king! Content rules!”

In the school context, there are two key questions that need to be answered when you are considering the subject of content:

1.  What content can you generate that will be interesting and appealing to your current and prospective parents as well as the community at large?

“Content may rule, but your online content must be the right sort of content:  Customer-focused, authentic, compelling, entertaining, surprising, valuable, interesting. In other words, you must earn the attention of people,” says Michael Stelzner, in his book, Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition.  He goes on to say that “When you offer great content—such as detailed how-to articles, expert interviews, case studies, and videos—that focuses on helping other people solve their problems, you’ll experience growth.”

Some examples of how-to articles, and content rich subjects for schools are:

How to prepare a child to start school
Learning styles and what style is your child?  This content could detail how each learning style is incorporated in the classroom at your school
How to support a child during the HSC year
What is the difference between a public and private school?
For a faith based school: How is faith and learning connected in every subject area?
Tips for parenting teenagers
Life experiences of the faculty enhances learning in the classroom
Raising kids in a digital age

2.  Once the content has been developed, there are several ways to consider delivering the content online:

Video seminars and Podcasts - of seminars held at the school
eBooks and webinars are two other ways by which content can be disseminated, and related back to your school for those searching for information.

Thank you to Rick Newberry, Enrollment Catalyst, for allowing us to use the content of his blog for this story.

If your school has had a new or updated website in the last 12 months, enter it in the School Marketing Awards 

Issue 612 - 08-MAR-2015

Creating a School Style Guide

A Style Guide is a set of standards for visual communication.  It provides guidelines for print and digital communication and ensures that every area of the school has a clear understanding of the approved design elements.

Susan Curtin, Registrar at Macquarie Anglican Grammar School provides this review: 
“The school's name, crest and slogan represent a simple, powerful statement about your school and why it exists. These symbols grace all of your printed and digital information and people make judgements about your school on the basis of the communication they receive.  Therefore everyone at the school should know the style standards and follow them. A style guide provides these instructions.”

It’s another tool in the marketers belt to see your school promoted with excellence.

Be guided through how to make a Style Guide through this manual from our online bookshop 

Issue 612 - 08-MAR-2015

School Promotional Video Idea

This campaign by Thankyou Water is very clever, combining social justice, charity, business, consumerism and social media.  It is a reminder that young people can make a difference and use their skills for good.  It is also illustrates another way to create video that engages and tells a story.

> The Thankyou Water campaign

The personal interaction and conversation with the viewer is part of what makes this video engaging. The use of physical graphics and even a radio to introduce music adds interest.

Have any of you used this technique in school promotional videos?  

If your school has produced a promotional video in the last 12 months consider entering it in the School Marketing Awards  

School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form (10814 KB)

Issue 612 - 08-MAR-2015

Who can speak on behalf of your school?

When the media are looking for a story they may not go through the official channels. Often they are just after a comment, so may talk to the receptionist, or another staff member. It seems harmless enough. However it can be difficult to maintain a consistent message, and comments may not be representative of the school. Does your school have an appointed contact person to speak to the media?  By doing so, do we stifle freedom of speech?  

Skyline College in the USA had a policy that only the school’s marketing director should speak with the media.  This would seem to be a good idea.  The policy had been in place since 2006, but when staff were reminded of it the email generated debate.  It appears the staff felt that they were being precluded from freedom of speech.  “The intentions of the policy were good, but not articulated correctly” said the chancellor of the College district. This story ended up in the media.

If you create or emphasise a policy, whether it be a privacy policy or a media policy, be clear about the reasons for it to avoid any repercussions from misinterpretation or misunderstanding. 

> Read the media article here

Issue 611 - 01-MAR-2015

When do you call a school big?

Is there an ideal size for a school? We attended a secondary school of 1,200 people from Year 7 to 12. At the time we didn't think of the size, although looking back now we realise it was a good size school. Several independent schools have opened nearby and that school is now under 900 students.

Covenant Christian School where I am given great freedom to experiment with marketing is growing. Back in 1978 the pioneers thought 300 students would be a large school. It is now approaching 900. This continued growth raises challenges. As a preschool to Year 12 school the growth is concentrated on the Secondary School Years 7 to 12. That means new buildings, reassigning play space, additional staff and parking.  One of the features of a Preschool to Year 12 is being able to come together for General Assemblies. Growing to 900 may threaten that due to the physical size of the Hall.   So there are advantages and disadvantages to growth.  All of these need to be considered.

Across the road from Covenant is a Kindergarten to Year 6 school. After over 30 years it still only caters for 20 to 28 students. It serves a very distinct target audience. In a similar way the prospectus for Fintona Girls School won our School Marketing Award in 2012.  It deliberately celebrates Fintona being a small school. 

Canbury School about-our-school describes itself as "small, and deliberately so. With only a maximum of 65 pupils on roll each is treated very much as an individual, hence our motto “An individual approach to success”.”

Whatever the size of your school it is important to think ahead with your marketing. It can be tempting to promote "small class sizes" and "small school community" but it can end up being a trap. If the reason you have small class sizes is because you don't have enough students yet, then it may be best not to mention it. However if it is a deliberate strategy, or a physical limitation of your grounds or council limits, then declare it loudly.

As school marketers these are important discussions to have. Here are some key questions:

1. Will the reason our current community choose, and like, our school be impacted if we increase/reduce class sizes and overall school size?
2. Are we attracting families we actually want?
3. Could we regret this marketing message in five years time?
4.  What impact will growth have on the way our school currently runs?  What will we need to do differently to absorb that impact?

Issue 611 - 01-MAR-2015

Are teachers effective school marketers?

Who is responsible for school marketing?  Do the teachers at your school see themselves as school marketers?  Whether they know it or not, they are.  Every day they are interacting with students and parents. They are fuelling your word of mouth either positively or negatively.  

A public school in Nashville, USA has taken this a step further, asking teachers to door knock in their local region.  Their goal was to raise the profile of the school amongst the pre-kindergarten age group in the area. 

Read the story here > Teachers go door knocking in Nashville

Issue 611 - 01-MAR-2015

Video series highlights school’s every opportunity

Westminster School has embraced the power of video in school promotion.  On the home page of their website are a range of videos featuring different areas of the school, from early years through to senior years and Boarding. 

Miranda Starke, Director of Development, shared, “Video is a powerful insight into Westminster and the value of our education. We’ve been putting more resources into high quality web video since 2013 when we relaunched our website and our School brand using the strapline ‘Every Opportunity’. We have updated the homepage videos to ensure the faces, footage and the information stay current, fresh and relevant. 

‘Every Opportunity’ is a concept that every student and staff member at Westminster embraces and genuinely believes in and through video we can demonstrate why this is the case. Our suite of videos highlight that Westminster students are happy, relaxed, confident and successful, that our facilities are extensive and world class, that we provide a huge range of subject choices and co-curricular opportunities, and that we have a strong culture of learning and all-round excellence while still being a warm, welcoming and down to earth community.”

> Video of Preparatory School, Westminster School 

If your school has developed a new or updated website, prospectus or video in the last 18 months, enter it in the School Marketing Awards, which judges excellence in school marketing.  Winners will be announced at the School Marketing Aforia in Victoria in June.

School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form (10814 KB)

School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form (2111 KB)

Issue 610 - 22-FEB-2015

Read the Wind

Smart Ideas for School Marketers is a book that is full of 128 quick tips to focus you in your role of school marketing.

> Tip 50: Read the Wind

Take on the role of the school ferret and find out what’s happening in the world beyond your school.

Competitive intelligence can help you anticipate market changes, second guess your competitors’ plans, learn from others’ mistakes and successes, and head off disasters.

Don’t become stale and fail to pick up signals because you are too internally focused.

Visit the books and resources page of the website here 

Issue 610 - 22-FEB-2015

School Video Promotes Big Picture

This video from Wenona School  gives the clear message that the school doesn’t just focus on the basics of education.  Their bigger picture of education is conveyed – to prepare children for life and future careers.  The school recognises that many of these careers don’t even exist yet.  They have deducted that many of those careers will be in the STEM field – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.  

In letting the students do most of the talking, you are really getting a sense of the school and how much they love being there.

> Renaissance women at Wenona School

Issue 610 - 22-FEB-2015

A different approach to school advertising

We love how school marketers are innovative.  It is a creative role with so much scope for trying something new – if you are brave.  Barrye Dickinson from The Knox School in Victoria, and a favourite presenter at our School Marketing Aforias over the years, has shared with us one of his school’s recent ads.

Barrye says, “For years I’ve been saying that schools play it too safe and that most school ads look identical to each other.  Well, we’ve recently launched a new campaign, which effectively says nothing about us, but in a visual way, makes people stop and look and perhaps take the bait to call for more info.  We workshopped this amongst some press reps who seemed excited that something would look different.”

Click on thumbnail for larger graphic.

Issue 609 - 15-FEB-2015

Parents make themselves easy victims of deceptive marketing

This article highlights an interesting scenario that came to light recently in China.  An extracurricular training school has been accused of falsifying high demand, and having staff do positive online reviews.  To quote the article:

“Although it's true that many excellent schools are difficult to get into, it doesn't mean that a school is excellent just because it is difficult to get into. There can be many reasons why a school is difficult to get into. Most of them have nothing to do with the quality of the education they provide.” 
“Like scarcity, popularity alone doesn't make a product or service any good. The reason is that popularity tends to feed off itself. As more people do something, the more others want to do it - if only to avoid being left out, or left behind. This is especially true in competitive situations. As it turns out, many parents in Shanghai are hyper competitive about the children's education, making them perfect victims for the school's marketing machinations. “
Our schools rely on repeat business. Using deceptive marketing can erode goodwill and positive word of mouth.

The more your marketing represents reality, with real stories, by real people, the more secure your school’s future….and you should be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

Parents make themselves easy victims of deceptive marketing

Issue 609 - 15-FEB-2015

What makes a good school marketer?

The role of a school marketer is varied and interesting. We each have different skills, talents and interests. A recent job advertisement for a school marketer stated these were the essential qualities:

• Strong oral and written communication skills and excellent presentation and interpersonal skills • Excellent time management and administration skills • Effective proof reading and an eye for detail • Ability to work effectively and harmoniously within a school environment and as part of a team • Ability to set goals and priorities and work under minimal supervision • An understanding of social media • Excellent computer literacy, including Microsoft Office, and the ability to learn software applicable to the position requirements • A sense of humour!

Proof reading, the combination of teamwork with minimal supervision, and a sense of humour are our favourites. A sense of humour certainly helps. How many of these skills do you find you need in your role? 

Meeting with other school marketers can be the encouragement you may need in a very demanding role.  Pick up some new ideas, expand your network and have some laughs at this year's School Marketing Aforia!  Early bird rate closes on 28 February.

School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form (2111 KB)

Issue 609 - 15-FEB-2015

Use of Video on School Websites

Schools are really starting to discover the power of using video on their websites to promote aspects of their school.  

David Hayes, Media Communications Coordinator, shared with us their  video which captures the life, colour, joy and variety on offer at Knox Grammar School.  It captures the community and culture of Knox brilliantly.

It is the latest in a range of videos on their website which cover the various age groups, an address from the Headmaster and Boarding, amongst others.  Thank you David for sharing your video with us!

We are excited to launch the School Marketing Awards today which runs to encourage excellence in school marketing.  Enter your school in one or all of the following categories:
Video (a popular category introduced last year)

Winners will be announced at this year’s School Marketing Aforia in June.  Entry Form below: 

No media download found. 

> Lanterns performed by the students of Knox Grammar School

Issue 608 - 8-feb-2015

If your school marketing message isn't getting results, this could be why

One of the main reasons a school’s marketing message doesn’t get results is that schools have a very broad and undefined message they put out to attract prospective families.

Often times when I ask about their point of difference, they say “we are a very caring school” which is great, but not always the most effective campaign message as most schools are caring or are naturally perceived to be caring.

For an external promotional campaign you want to use some hard hitting facts and emotional desires that will draw people to your school. Most importantly, you want to be communicating to the right audience about what they are looking for.

I’ve put together a worksheet to help you identify and create your marketing message/s. The main point in doing this is to separate your overall message into smaller messages that can be delivered over time. As you move more into digital marketing, this can be achieved much easier than in traditional marketing.

>> Watch the video and download the worksheet

Article written by Mike Leembruggen

Issue 608 - 08-FEB-2015

Jacaranda wood recycled for College altar

After last week’s story about the challenge of losing a school landmark, Kathy Webb shared her school’s story with us.  Kathy is a long time friend of the School Marketer’s Network and College Registrar from Brigidine College in Queensland, Australia.  

Kathy shares, “We had a jacaranda tree near the admin building which had to come down due to safety. The wood from the tree was made into a beautiful handcrafted altar which allows the symbol to continue.

Also, smaller pieces of wood were carved and polished and used as gifts for long serving staff members, and the colour jacaranda (purple) became the colour associated with our new House.
This way the tree ‘lives on’.” *

*photo not representative of actual tree