Past Newsletters

Issue 676 - 27-nov-2016

The changing face of school newsletters

The Knox School, was one of our host schools for the School Marketing Aforia in 2011. The school publishes their beautifully presented newsletter The Falcon every three weeks. All current parents automatically receive an email alert when a new issue is online. There are a variety of ways to read or receive it:

  • Download a pdf from the website
  • Read it online using Issuu
  • Pick up a hard copy from the Office

Principal Allan Shaw also publishes his article from The Falcon newsletter as a separate blog post. This reuse of material gives it a longer life and enables prospective parents to read his thoughts without going through each newsletter. See > Principal’s Blog 

Issue 676 - 27-nov-2016

What does your school do with old news?

I believe a school website is a window into your community. Many schools have a wealth of stories reported in their school newsletters but new, or prospective, parents may be unaware of these past activities. In 2008 Covenant Christian School launched a news blogsite as part of the website. It has proven to be very popular with five to 10 stories being added each week.

When relaunching the website this year one of the challenges was the sheer number of past stories generated over 8 years. With well over 4,000 posts it was increasingly difficult to find and display. 

One part of the strategy was to disable and delete hundreds of old posts that were no longer considered relevant. The main change was adding more menus to allow visitors more opportunities to filter past stories to their interests. For example students of the graduating ‘Class of 2016’ can filter to just see the past 150 stories involving their own year group. The infinity scroll function means they can keep scrolling back in time like on facebook. Other filters are related to sections of school Preschool to Secondary, subjects or activities with the number of classified stories varying.

Take a look at:
The weekly posts are also shared via the online newsletter > Week 6 Term 4 2016 

Issue 675 - 6-nov-2016

Explain the short and long term impact of unique school systems

Students at Ascham School use a learning and time management structure called the Dalton Plan. It has been used for generations. Rather than a member of staff explaining it they asked current and former students to describe the impact on their learning and time management. This video was created by Alexander Thomas Media Co. By combining older and younger Alumni and a variety of current students with varying interests I feel it connects with a wider audience. Hearing from former students who are still using aspects of the system encourages parents and students that this is not an experiment but something proven over time.

What aspects of your learning program are unique and worth explaining via video? 

Issue 675 - 6-nov-2016

A simple strategy for school marketing research

This week I spent several days at a school research in order to prepare a marketing strategy. I believe marketing without understanding a product is not only difficult, it can be counterproductive. I have seen schools enlist the help of ‘experts’ who end up changing the product and selling something different to the driving vision of the Board or pioneers.

Some of the most insightful comments came from conversations with parents and students. There were words and phrases used by several of them to describe their own school and their experiences. These words will now be incorporated into a new website, advertising, school tours and press releases. Using language already used by your school community to describe themselves means when they see it online it resonates. A good test is that if your school community doesn’t believe your own advertising then it needs to be reviewed.

Chatting with students while they played 10 pin bowling was not something I would have thought of before yet it worked extremely well. It was informal. It was dark. It wasn’t an official ‘interview.’ They were doing something fun. Rather than making it disjointed the cycle of students taking their turn to bowl meant it wasn’t just the bold and outgoing students doing the talking.

Next time you need to find what students are thinking and saying about your school, and others in your market, consider a game of 10 pin bowling.

Issue 674 - 23-oct-2016

Marketing a multiple campus school

Chairo Christian School have four campuses in Victoria with over 1400 students in total. In 2018 they will add a fifth campus 40 minutes away. This presents interesting challenges for marketing to what are effectively separate parent communities located in three, soon to be four, different towns.

Chairo’s latest promotional video deliberately includes footage from the various campuses to help connect with each of the communities. Having viewers able to identify the location, students and staff helps encourage them to watch and share a video. 
The school creates four separate newsletters and manages four facebook accounts to help connect each of the communities with information that is more relevant to each of the campuses.

Issue 674 - 23-oct-2016

What you can do with a big marketing budget

When I watched this promotional video of University of Western Australia I had several competing thoughts. One was “wow this is good and engaging,” to “wow this would have been very expensive to make.” This 75 second videos is movie quality. It also has no words until after 50 seconds. 

What do you think?

Issue 673 - 16-oct-2016

St Benedict’s connects oldest students with youngest

Chantelle Burgin, Head of Marketing at St Benedict's College shared this beautiful story of a new ‘tradition’ they introduced for their students before they graduate.

“The St Benedict’s Junior Preparatory School welcomed back the graduating class of 2016. The Matric boys walked through the corridors of their Junior School, some returning after not seeing it since they started around 2004, some 12 years ago! The Junior Prep boys sang a song from their concert “Celebrate being a hero!” and “when the race is over, let your hair down and have some fun!” Our Matrics where touched by the gesture as well as the words of wisdom from the Headmistress, Marion Mackinnon.

Headboy, Bohlokoa Tlhomola’s opening line was “We are so happy to be here! This is a very nostalgic moment for us Matrics.” He then had to explain what nostalgic meant, while the younger boys looked up at him in awe. They sang the school war cry which almost lifted the rafters of the school, some of the younger boys hearing it for the first time. (See video below).

The Matrics then went into the boys’ classrooms to distribute some cupcakes and to chat to the boys about their memories from their Junior Prep days, offering some inspiration going forward, highlights from their school years, and some little tips on what not to get up to! They also enjoyed some moments on the jungle gym and shooting the hoop in the playground. They encouraged the boys to join in with everything that Bennies has to offer and hang onto their friends, as that way, their Bennies experience will be awesome.”

Issue 673 - 16-oct-2016

Short student stories told with cartoon animation

The University of Western Australia has been using facebook for advertising by sharing short stories of inspiring students. Two of these stories are told in 32 second videos using cartoon animation. 

What impressed me about these videos is how much of a story they can tell in a short time. Being short it is more likely to be watched in full on facebook. By using animation I also felt more engaged with the story than potentially being distracted by the real life images. 

The University has set up a separate area of their website at to share inspiring stories from graduates. 

With 70,000 views on YouTube the story of Claire McGlew, a legally blind student who choose to study music at the University, is a good reminder that obstacles to study can be overcome. Has your school used animation to tell a story?

Issue 672 - 18-sep-2016

400 students singing to dying teacher captures media attention

Simply loving your staff can help your wider community learn about what is really important to your school community. When Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville realised that one of their teachers only had days to live the school did something very different. They transported over 400 of their 1,200 students to the front yard of teacher, Ben Ellis’ home and sang Christian songs with, and to, him.

Their response to this tragic situation captured attention and, although certainly not the goal, gained them more good will and positive word of mouth (including a spot on Good Morning America) than any deliberate marketing campaign. Sometimes simply sharing activities which reflect and reveal the heart of your school community is all that is needed.

Story at > Nashville teacher, Ben Ellis, dies days after touching musical tribute from students

Issue 672 - 18-sep-2016

School Murals Workshop

Murals are a simple way to brighten up a school wall. Sharon Rowland of in Sydney has been creating murals for over 10 years. Many of these have been at schools and include staff and students in the process after they receive some training from her. 

Sharon says “My workshops with school students have been structured in such a way as to introduce valuable drawing skills gradually in order to encourage confidence and enthusiastic engagement. Workshops have included the creation of logos, murals, mascots, community art projects and events and team building days.” Sharon is a former primary school art teacher with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts. 

Learn more at > 

Issue 672 - 18-sep-2016

Answer school parent questions with a real life story

David Hayes Media Communications Manager at Knox Grammar School shared a new video they released about one of their boarders, Jack.

The two minute > video Knox Grammar School Boarding – Jack’s Story explores his journey, starting as a new boarder at Knox in 2016. For this project, the school went and filmed with the family on their property in rural NSW. David explained “For the first time, we advertised on TV in rural NSW (during the Olympics), with some excellent results and feedback – many Knox boarding parents saw it. We have also used targeted Facebook advertising to reach rural families and given it to our boarding community for them to share through their networks.”

This personal interest story is supplemented by another longer video explaining more about boarding experience and answers many questions a parent (and son) would have.

See > Life as a Knox Boarder.

Well done David and team.

Issue 671 - 4-sep-2016

Facebook versus YouTube counting video views

I recently uploaded a four minute video to Covenant Christian School’s Facebook page . This was a video embedded in the updated school website but one I imagined many current parents would not yet have seen. At almost five minutes I felt it was a bit long for Facebook but worth a try.

It was encouraging that the video had over 4,000 views in a few days. However it is very important to understand what Facebook counts as a view is not what I would count. Facebook automatically starts a video when you are scrolling through your feed. If a video can play for just 3 seconds before you scroll past it counts as a view. When I checked the 10 second mark the views had dropped to closer to 2,000 views.

What was most encouraging about using Facebook was the opportunity for comments and parents sharing among our community and the resulting increase in engagement and page likes.

In contrast YouTube only counts a view around the 30 second mark which is possibly a more accurate measure of some level of viewer engagement.

Issue 671 - 4-sep-2016

The Donvale Difference told in video story

Donvale Christian School have created a series of story videos. While promoting the school they do so simply by revealing something of the culture among students, staff and parents. Using real or relatable stories, rather than being overtly promotional, can create more of an emotional response from viewers. These three videos help answer three important questions about their school culture.

1. How do students treat one another? > The Donvale Difference: Guitar 
2. How do staff work with students and parents? > The Donvale Difference: Cake
3. How do parents care for one another? This one is clever in using Dads rather than Mums. > The Donvale Difference: Coffee 

Issue 671 - 4-sep-2016

Building community with birthday greetings on school LED screen

Davidson High School in Sydney’s northern beaches uses an LED screen for a variety of messages to students and parents. However it is only the congratulations and birthday greetings that are likely to end up on facebook. 

Your current parents are in relationship with others in your local community. Finding and creating appropriate opportunities for parents to photograph, and share these in their social media platforms, can be a simple way of building local word of mouth marketing for your school.

Issue 670 - 28-aug-2016

Overcoming challenges to create a school promotional video

Kathy Webb, College Registrar at Brigidine College shared her experience of creating a promotional video for the College. Discussions and planning began in 2015 with the storyboard idea which was workshopped with a focus group of students across all year levels.  Students were asked: “What they loved about Brigidine, personal challenges and rewards and what made our school different/special.” From the focus groups, a script was developed which are largely the girls’ wording.
An external videographer worked over two days across the school. We didn’t have much luck with the weather as you may notice the senior girl has raindrops falling on her shoulders.

Kathy explains a complication they had “was that a new uniform was introduced gradually during 2015. So we had to delay filming until 2016, when the WHOLE school would be in the same new uniform. We did not stop the whole school to film but rather selected the girls for the ‘key roles’ and largely just came to their timetabled classes to film. All of class shots, were just us on a ‘normal working day.’ Kathy did share one regret “we would have liked to use an original musical score created by our Year 12 Music Extension students yet unfortunately curriculum demands didn’t quite allow this to happen.”

When the video was shown to the whole school for the first time on Brigidine Day in July 2016, you could have heard ‘a pin drop’. At the end, there was just the most amazing whole assembly applause. There were whispers of ‘awesome’ ‘amazing’ etc.  The younger students liked that a whole range of students across all year levels appeared.

Well done Kathy and team. It is a lovely video and insight into the College and worth the effort.

Issue 670 - 28-aug-2016

Tell a single student story in video

In most cities TV advertising is considered too expensive. Yet video combined with Facebook can be very powerful. Michelle West, Marketing and Communications Manager at Cedars Christian College shared their latest TV advertisement. It was aired throughout the Olympics in regional Illawarra area. The video briefly tells a story of a single student Penny Mitchell, achieving her dreams and that the College helped her. 

Importantly they didn't just air on TV but also through Facebook. Michelle says "We have had great feedback so far with over 12,000 views on Facebook also." In fact there are 216 likes, 59 shares and 44 comments including this one "Penny is great. Known her all her life. What a legend!" It is this personal connection, and other students sharing and seeing themselves in a video, which can make Facebook such a powerful tool to take a good video further into your community.

Well done Michelle and the Cedars team. The video was created by Daniel Cartwright of No limit Pictures and the school is "thrilled with his amazing work!!"

Issue 669 - 21-aug-2016

Do you past students have a story to tell?

Finding and sharing human interest stories from past generations of students can connect emotionally with your current and prospective families. Pymble Ladies’ College captured the memories and thoughts of three generations as part of their centenary celebrations. These are not celebrities. They are relatable and simply sharing some of their experiences of school life and how the school is part of their own family folklore. They speak of education but especially friendships.

Watch the 2:18 minute video at > Three Generations 

Issue 669 - 21-aug-2016

Why school archives are important

Why was your school started? What was the vision? Who was involved? Who has had a significant impact along the way? The story of your school is the shared experiences of your community – past and current. These stories are shared beyond your school and form a significant part of the word-of-mouth about your school. These stories will be both good and bad. 

Cranbrook School employ a professional archivist. Below is an extract from their website. Importantly they identify that the archives are “used to support and enhance current decision-making.” Schools can drift. School marketers who understand the history can find a wealth of stories to share.

“Established in 1974 and staffed by a professional Archivist since 1987, the mission of the Cranbrook School Archives is to ensure the preservation in perpetuity of those official and unofficial records and artefacts appraised to be of permanent value and significance to the continuing history, heritage and management of Cranbrook School. The Archives acts as the corporate memory of Cranbrook School and is an integral part of the School fabric.

These records and artefacts are made available for use on behalf of past, present and future generations and are used to support and enhance current decision-making. The School is committed to making accessible its history, heritage and culture to members of the School community and public. Enquiries regarding access to the Archives should be made to the Archivist.

The Archives includes the in-house records of the School of permanent value and the Heritage Collection of movable objects of cultural heritage significance to the School. Photographs, items of uniform, school registers, the school magazine, other school publications, prize lists, architectural plans and oral history recordings are examples.”

Source: > Cranbrook Archives 

Issue 669 - 21-Aug-2016

Graduation tunnel helps connect students

Deidré Proxenos, Marketing Manager from Dainfern College shared their idea for celebrating graduation.

“We have started a tunnel of ALL our learners throughout the school. On the last day of Grade 12 when we have our Valedictory service. They line up on both sides of a pathway and the matrics make their way through them - shaking hands, giving hugs, doing high fives - it is a huge highlight in our calendar. It is a very emotional time and wonderful way to send them off campus and on their way to their futures.”

Issue 668 - 7-aug-2016

How does your school celebrate graduation?

In Australia we are heading into the final weeks of schooling for Year 12. Last year staff at Abbotsford Christian School did a parody version of the song “Let them go”. It’s a fun, little bit silly but memorable way of involving a large number of staff in the graduation. How does your school celebrate? I would love to share other ideas in the newsletter.