Past Newsletters

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Be a participant rather than a spectator in your school experiences

Last week’s three day Silver Duke of Edinburgh hike with 24 teenagers was a rewarding yet challenging experience for me. It was a reminder that a great deal of life education happens outside the classroom. It was also a reminder of how much fitter some teenagers are! Shared experiences between students and staff provide opportunities to see how each other respond. Leaders in a classroom setting can be different to those who rise in outdoor adventures. It was wonderful to see many students serving each other, being pushed beyond their comfort and the encouragement that was given. There was also gratitude for the places we were able to go and the staff who helped make it happen.

It is experiences like this that students and staff will talk about for years to come. I encourage school marketers to take the opportunity to be participants rather than spectators of what your school offers.

Issue 638 - 11-oct-2015

Respect helps hold on to your good teachers

This week I am doing a three day hike in the Blue Mountains as part of the Silver Duke of Edinburgh program. The teacher who runs the program volunteers to lead a group of 20 to 70 teenage students on various two day, three day and longer hikes during the year. It is a big commitment beyond his normal classroom lessons.

He is a younger teacher so this article seemed appropriate to raise. “According to Monash University researcher Dr Philip Riley, 40-50 per cent of young teachers leave within the first five years. With that kind of churn, firing bad teachers is not the issue. Hanging on to good ones is much more of the problem.”

Jane Caro, a vocal supporter of teachers in Australia says in the article “It is hardly surprising that so many of them depart so soon. Watching my daughter in her first 18 months as an English and drama teacher in a Western Sydney public high school has been an education in itself. I have literally never seen anyone work so hard. She leaves home before 6.00 am and rarely returns before 6.00 pm. She plans lessons all holidays, and marks homework and assignments every evening and all weekend. She loves her job, particularly her students, but wonders why she is paid so little in comparison to her Civil Engineer partner who works much shorter hours and has much more administrative support.”

“It's not rocket science. You attract great talent the same way in every profession. You provide good working conditions… give your staff professional respect and courtesy, you trust them to know what they are doing and let them get on with it.”

This week as you see teachers serving, teaching, helping and possibly getting frustrated I encourage you to take the time to give them some encouragement, thanks and respect. The experiences these teachers are creating is the heart of your school and the basis of the stories your students and parents will be telling their friends.

Source: > A little respect: attracting top teachers is not rocket science 

Issue 638 - 11-oct-2015

The power of cinema advertising for schools

The lights dimmed, the curtain pulled back and the advertisements started. Cinema advertising cannot be fast forwarded, muted and the audience are less likely to continue their conversation through it. As my daughter and I waited for the movie Everest to start one advertisement stood out to me. It was for Newington College in Sydney with their consistent theme of “Discover what’s possible.” 

Back in 2010 Newington released a beautiful cinema advertisement which attracted considerable media attention. It was interesting for me to see they have continued to use this advertising medium. As few schools (in Sydney) are currently using this medium it is easier to stand out.  Interestingly Newington College’s main campus is located over 20km from the cinema on the other side of the city. Enjoy this series of advertisements from the College, ranging from 30 to 60 seconds long. 

Lindfield Kindergarten to Year 6 Campus

Cinema Advertisement 2013

Cinema Advertisement 2010

Issue 637 - 20-Sep-2015

Take parents with you on a journey of changing education

Parents have varying expectations of education. Video is one way of explaining to them the directions your school is taking and helping them see how it can be different to their own education. Show and tell can be more powerful than written or spoken words alone. Alana Johnson, of Living Faith Lutheran Primary School shared a video about the opening of their new learning spaces. This is an excerpt from their press release. 

“Times are changing and so is our approach to teaching and learning. After much research and investigation, 2015 saw Living Faith broaden its horizons with the opening of its Learning Plaza for Year 6 students. The Learning Plaza aims to prepare students for their future, not our past… They are no longer confined to a bench mark in Criteria. Students have told us that the three top things that appeal to them and keep them engaged in their learning within the Learning Plaza are: the use of modern technology (iPads, Apple TV), the flexibility to be creative and the agile working spaces.”

Issue 637 - 20-Sep-2015

Is a document always the best choice?

Does your school rely too much on written documents, emails and printed marketing material? Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting suggests “Sometimes meeting face to face is more effective than writing. Or perhaps a telephone conversation. One of the disadvantages of a letter, email or other document is the time gap between writing and reading. You can exchange ideas faster by talking. Follow up later with a written record of the conversation and agreement if necessary.”

Verbal communication helps build relationships. It can appear to be more time consuming but often it is quicker and clearer.

Issue 637 - 20-sep-2015

The two questions to ask your Alumni

Deidré Proxenos, Marketing Manager of Dainfern College explained she had feedback from parents that they were not well informed about what the College’s alumni achieved after school. Deidre contacted a few alumni and asked them to answer two questions 

1. What are you doing now?
2. How had Dainfern College helped you with your studies and career? 

Deidre got a 90% response. She explains “the feedback was actually overwhelming. It think because it was also only two questions and I asked for only two paragraphs - it wasn't a mammoth task for them. We included one paragraph per week in all our newsletters (Prep school and High school) with an introduction as to why we were including it. We also put these on our alumni facebook page and included them in our termly alumni newsletter. We have had fantastic feedback from our parents, other alumni and strangely enough, also ex-staff who still stay in touch with us.”

Deidre believes “parents need to see beyond the final school year and this enables them to see that our students are equipped for the future and well prepared for the BIG world.”

Issue 636 - 13-Sept-2015

Surveying students and parents is a good reality check

In Australia, Year 12 students are nearing completion of their education. In the coming months there will be graduations, formals and final exams. This may be the last time your school can engage with them and hear their feedback. For some parents it will also be the end of a long session of association with your school and the community. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen on what they loved, were frustrated by and their suggestions for the future. Their comments can be food for thought or gold for your marketing.

The Centre for Marketing Schools offers a range of online and paper based surveys to assist schools in asking for, collating and tracking feedback. See the range > School Satisfaction Survey 


Issue 636 - 13-Sept-2015

Promotional video brings together school community

When your school’s Alumni and parent community includes film makers, editors, script writers and advertising professionals it makes sense to engage them in promotional efforts. 

Barrenjoey High School, a government school in Sydney, involved 120 students in their video. The backing music, Paper Aeroplane, is performed by students with permission from the artists. The video includes snippers of sport, music, food, art, sport grounds, library, an awards presentation and parents with their children. The physical location is shown by use of a drone. While several schools may offer surfing for school sport, Barrenjoey is unusual in that Avalon Beach is a short walk away. 

See how the local newspaper reported on the video production > Barrenjoey High’s promotional video draws on legendary alumni 

Issue 636 - 13-Sep-2015

Spot typos before your school parents do

Jack Goodman, CEO and Founder, of spotted a typo in a quote I included in last week's newsletter. He offers a timely reminder that “Schools need to be so careful about grammar, spelling and punctuation. Because even if kids don't know it, parents often do, and it can be incredibly off-putting. Even a small mistake in a school report can destroy confidence so quickly.”

The challenge in schools is that some teachers are brilliant in the classroom but not when it comes to spelling and grammar. The parents may not see them in the classroom and can only base their impression on written communication. Having a centralised proof reader, and standardised format for communication to parents may slow down the process, but can dramatically reduce the number of errors both in text and design. As Jack says “I always wonder about pointing out typos, though in the end, I think it's the right thing to do. This can turn into a compulsion if one isn't careful!”

If you know a teacher at your school who is a poor speller, offer to help them. It may help your school reputation and also save them embarrassment.

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Early leaving of teachers from career hurts schools

New teachers can inject fresh ideas and passion into the classroom. If they are career changers then they also bring life experience. Caring for all teachers is important, yet new teachers are the ones more likely to resign. One article, ‘Young educators are resigning from their jobs at an alarming rate’, stated “They [new teachers], generally speaking, can handle the kids OK, unless they’re put into extremely difficult classes, which does happen sometimes. But some of them said what they weren’t prepared for was the staffroom.”  

Earlier this year I visited a school to assist with some marketing ideas. I also learnt from them. One innovation I liked was that rather than having a teacher’s aid, they had introduced some Floating Teachers. These Floating Teachers were new teaching graduates. Rather than allocating them a single class to teach, and all the responsibility that goes with it, they were effectively continuing their training. They had exposure to multiple classrooms, teachers and students. They could take a single lesson, a whole day or possibly a week for one class. When staff were sick they could relieve them, at a cheaper rate than a casual, but were already more involved and familiar with the class. I expect this model will result in better retention of new teachers as well as improved teacher training.

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Catholic schools in USA enrolments decline 63%

In Australia, one in five students is educated in a Catholic school. The movement is healthy and growing. However, in the USA it is a different story. It is good for us, as school marketers, to understand that society expectations and demographics can change dramatically and none of our schools are guaranteed to survive.

When announcing the closure of another school, as reported in the article Final Mass: When a Catholic School runs out of money , a spokesperson for the Diocese of Cincinnati said “We close schools, ultimately, because they're out of money. We examined every manner of restoring that school. ... We believe in Catholic education, and when we close a school, something dies."

The article puts the closure in perspective with these statistics - “While some are exploding, turning away hopeful applicants, others are dwindling to nothing. In the early 1960s, there were more than 5.2 million students in nearly 13,000 Catholic schools in the US, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Today, that number is down to 1.9 million."

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Showcasing student work in opening of new building

When Northern Beaches Christian School  opened their latest building, the Manhattan & The City  precinct, they used a stunning fly-through video which was created by two students. This building project is a fairly radical educational design concept for schools. 


During construction, the school also had a professional video created. The beauty of this video is how it included interviews of students and teachers talking about the educational opportunities the new building would provide.


Issue 634 - 30-aug-2015

Hugh Jackman fails at teacher interview

Your teachers are the face of your school. They are the ones who create the experiences for students. They are the ones students talk about to their parents and friends. The general word-of-mouth conversations about your school has more to do with your teachers than your facilities, events or academic record.

Helping prospective, and current teachers, understand what is expected of them at your school is important. Harlem Academy in USA had actor Hugh Jackman assist them in showing what a teacher is not. Enjoy this humorous video of him being interviewed for a teaching role. Over the years since it was released this video has generated the school a lot of interest from teachers – and parents.

Issue 634 - 30-aug-2015

A new list of questions for parent enrolment interviews

If academic results is what your Primary school is known for then in your next enrolment interview you could consider asking parents these unusual, and potentially controversial, questions;

  • Did you both finish Year 12 education?
  • How many hours does the mother work?
  • What was your child’s birth weight?
  • How many books do you have in your home?
An Australian research project of Primary school aged children in Year 3 and Year 5 (9 and 11 year olds) suggests these factors have a significant influence on a child’s academic ability.
See > Private school education has little effect on a child’s academic success

Report available from >

Issue 634 - 30-aug-2015

Old fashioned fun with school colouring in competition

For their Spring Fair Arden Anglican School school in Sydney chose to have colouring in competition. Part of their promotion included “This year the world has been taken by storm with the ‘Back to the Future’ craze of colouring-in. So join the craze and colour away. Go on – you know you want to!!!”

There was three age categories with entry requiring a gold coin donation. Prizes were vouchers for toys, books stories or colouring in books. To enter students downloaded the age appropriate colouring in sheet from the website and brought it along to the Marketing and Enrolments Tent for judging on the day.
What other popular (and positive) crazes can your school take advantage of in their marketing. 

Issue 633 - 23-aug-2015

EduCon Asia K-12 International Schools Conference Singapore 19-20 October

Last year I attended this fascinating two day conference and ran a workshop. This year I have been invited back and will be running a half day workshop on school marketing. If you work in an international school, or are seeking to understand the dramatic changes happening in the international market of education, this event is well worthwhile.

Several schools sending delegates are franchises, or additional campuses for well established schools looking to expand their brand and global impact. One of my favourite speakers was Peter Kenny, a director of Branksome Hall Asia. This is a brand new school on Jeju Island in South Korea. It was created as a second campus for Branksome Hall based in Ontario Canada. Enjoy this video tour of the school and you will see there is serious investment occurring in this sector. 

If you are interested in attending please let me know as may be able to arrange a discount for members of our network.

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.