It is currently school holidays in Sydney Australia. Yet for 6 days I am with over 20 Year 11 students, staff and several former students serving, learning and experiencing life with an Aboriginal community in Yarrabah Queensland. This is the 10th year of these trips, but my first. The relationships developed over those 10 years have been mutually beneficial for both communities. The fact that so many former students return, at their own expense, even after graduation demonstrates the impact the trips have had on them.
Many schools include radio advertisements in their marketing mix. Here are some ways to extend the impact of this medium beyond those who listen to any particular station.
Michelle Favero, Marketing and Communications Manager at Emanuel School attended, and presented at, the recent School Marketing Aforia. Below is the delightful auto responder she set up during her absence.
Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office at a Schools Marketing Conference learning new ways to promote our wonderful school. Sorry I can't get to your email until next week when I return, filled with exciting ideas.Michelle FaveroMarketing and Communications ManagerEmanuel SchoolAddress / Phone / Website details
Barker College in Sydney took out half page advertisements in a local community newspaper. Rather than the more common promotion of an open day or tours they raised curiousity by mentioning two activities students had taken part in. The short teaser finished with “For the full story see our website”. On their website home page was a repetition of the same heading from the advertisement, a similar thumbnail photo, and a link to the longer story.
Yesterday I was honoured to attend an 80th birthday party. It was of the Deputy Principal from my Sydney High School. I have kept in contact with Errol Duck Chong and continue to be grateful for the impact he had on the school and myself. Errol is a rare man. 20 years after I left the school, with 1,200 students, he was able to help me identify the 240 people in my own year group by name, their sibling’s names and often the names of their parents. Although these students were in my own year there were many I realised I had never met.
I recently visited a school for the first time. There was a great team, passionate teachers with a good location and facilities. One team member had to leave the meeting to conduct a school tour for a prospective family. I asked “How do they find you?” She thought I meant “How did they find out about the school?” Instead I meant… “When they park their car how will they know where to find you?” I had the experience earlier and knew it could be difficult for first timers.
Students, parents and staff may all appreciate great educational facilities, well trained teachers and even our school website, but ultimately they will remember relationships and the experiences they shared. This video tells a real story. It's a story of a young man and his elementary school teacher and her lifetime commitment to her students and their lives – beyond school.
My Google Alerts recently directed me to an article on ‘How to spot if a school is right for you when job hunting’. The article, written for teachers, highlighted that how schools treat prospective teachers says a lot about their culture. The article concluded with this amusing, but true statement
Each teacher who applies but DOESN’T get employed by your school has still had an experience with your school and is likely to tell others about it – positively or negatively. While most school marketers are not involved in recruitment remember that our teachers actually do more ‘marketing’ than any of us. They have networks and parents often respect their advice when asking about local schools.
How you and your staff treat teachers in training on professional placement at your school is another opportunity. Take the time to meet, greet and engage with ‘prac’ teachers. They can be a source of great information and insight about your school plus other schools they may have been to.
Why a prospective parent, student or teacher chooses your school often comes down to “that gut feeling.” How we treat people creates feelings that can override any logic or rational decision making.
Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting says “Publishing a document that nobody reads, or that people don't understand, or that users don't act on, is a waste. It's very risky to assume that a published document is achieving its purpose. Test early, test frequently to check that your document is hitting the mark with users.”
Many schools have policies and strategies on bullying. Instead of focusing on what NOT to do students at East Ridge Middle School have been challenged to do 1,000 acts of kindness. The media, and several bloggers picked up on the initiative.
When you have a group of schools to promote video can be an effective way of presenting a united vision.
A highlight of the past six years has been attending the annual School Marketing Aforia. Visiting other schools, exploring, and discussing ideas is an essential part of our role - and it is good to do as often as you can.
I recently took advantage of an Information Evening at a local school. It had been several years since my last visit so I was keen to see their new facilities and how they presented their story.
What impressed me most was their use of students from Kindergarten (5 year old) to Year 12 (17-18 year old). Rather than relying on the staff they had a panel of students being interviewed. Hearing from students, in their own words, about their passions, interests and how and what they were learning was refreshing. Too often schools can rely on their Principal or senior staff to present. Students may not be as polished but they often come across as more authentic. While seeing the school's new facilities was good the lasting impression was of articulate, confident and expressive students with a personal love for their school. I imagine many other prospective parents would have left with the same thoughts.
The two day School Marketing Aforia includes tours of two schools. It provides an interactive forum for discussion and learning from others who understand the challenges of your role.
Further to a recent newsletter item, after wild weather in Sydney, Australia some schools were closed due to flooding, loss of power and fallen trees blocking roads. Three of our local schools were closed. One school posted on their website the following:
I was recently asked to travel interstate for a meeting of five school Principals to take part in their discussions about launching new websites. They had already been doing some great work in planning and considering what they wanted. The challenge I presented was in regard to who the main audience for the website was to be.
They had previously decided that 80% of the audience would be prospective parents, leaving only 20% for the existing school community. I suggested they flip this view of their website. Here are some of my reasons why:
What do you include in a school promotional video? St Catherine’s School decided to break away from the traditional video. It is music only, with only two written words. There are no interviews, no parents and no staff. It includes all the students, some of their facilities and a wonderful sense of movement and joy. A drone was used for the final shot.
Robyn Armstrong of Chapter Three will be leading an interactive session at the School Marketing Aforia, 11-12 June 2015. Her session will explore tips for telling your school story effectively and efficiently, keeping time poor prospective parents in mind.
School support staff often have more interactions with parents and community members than any other school personnel. They are also school marketers. That’s why skills in customer relations are so important for customer facing staff.
St Paul’s Catholic College, Manly closed during severe weather recently, due to a power outage which lasted several days. They had an innovative way for students to stay engaged, giving them the opportunity to switch to a virtual classroom.
Storm article St Paul's (432 KB)
Mike Leembruggen, is our guest speaker at the School Marketing Aforia 0n 11-12 June on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. At the Aforia, Mike will be speaking on new trends in digital marketing and increasing your website conversion, as well as effective digital marketing strategies and how to create a winning campaign.He has an informative video for schools if you are looking at setting up Google accounts, and linking that to Google+, which increases your search engine optimization.
> School Marketing Aforia 2015 Program
School Marketing Aforia 2015 Program (1180 KB)
Schools are human systems and kids are loose cannons. It's inevitable that there will be slip ups, mistakes, bad behaviour, even disasters. You cannot control everybody.
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