Past Newsletters

Issue 645 - 29-nov-2015

Student voices generate valuable school marketing opportunities

One highlight of each year’s School Marketing Aforia is when host schools have their students present a musical item. Finding, and creating, opportunities to showcase students’ work beyond your own school community can also be a very effective form of school marketing. I don’t believe it should be the motivation for you or your school but it can certainly be the result if done well.
Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis Tennessee recently entered students in an “All-School A Cappella Challenge” run by Macy’s stores and won $25,000. “The young singers beat out high school a cappella groups from around the country with their video of “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5.” 

The media attention and award would have generated more positive word of mouth than any traditional marketing efforts. One report stated "I think planning was about a month, and then actually filming took a week. That was during our 7th period every single day," senior Anna Jones said. "It was truly a culmination of the past five years about us learning about acapella. How to sing the best we can and how to best record it,” director of fine arts at Briarcrest J.D. Frizzell said. Students said the money will be used for filming more videos and will allow them to go to more local schools to perform.”
Enjoy the video.


> Briarcrest Christian School wins $25000 in a cappella competition  
> Bluff City Schools Wins Acapella Challenge  

Issue 644 - 22-nov-2015

Remembrance Day connects with school’s wider community

Bree Haynes, Manager Marketing and Communications at Ormiston College shared a great initiative which reflects very well on the college and generated positive word of mouth. 

“On Wednesday 11 November, the College held a whole school assembly to commemorate Remembrance Day. This year the service was made even more special with families and friends of the College spending over ten thousand man hours to hand knit almost 7,000 poppies that will be sent off to France, for the 100 Year Anniversary of the Battle of Pozières on 23 July, 2016, honouring the sacrifice of each of the Australian soldiers who lost their lives there.

This amazing community initiative has been very well received by our community. In the first 24 hours alone our Facebook Post (see link below) has reached over 13,200 people, had 240 likes and has been shared almost 100 times. The comments mostly focusing on how proud parents are to be a part of the College and thanking the lead organiser Mrs Samantha Allen (College Parent).”  

Here are three, of the many comments, from the school’s facebook post and photos .

“Absolutely great to see the respect that is being taught to our children in this anniversary year of the Anzacs which carried through to the speech night yesterday for our graduating year 12's!”
"It was a truly beautiful and moving service. The poem about the Poppies moved me to tears. Well done to the MOCCHA Club, OC staff, students and wider OC community, you should all be very proud."
"What a beautiful tribute, thanks you from a mum of a young returned soldier."

Fortunately the school has an active website so stories like this can be recorded and shared. Below is a link to the news story on the school website:
> Families volunteer over ten thousand hours to commemorate our lost Australians 

Issue 644 - 22-nov-2015

Four year olds Melbourne Cup Day generates media attention

In Australia, on the first Tuesday of November, a single horse race generates an enormous amount of media attention. To celebrate the race that stops the nation, Townsville Grammar School’s younger students participated in the annual Pre-Prep Paper Horse Race. It is a day in their calendar that the whole Junior School look forward to, as they too can feel as if they can take part in the Melbourne Cup festivities. The enthusiastic four year olds wear their handcrafted paper horse hats and run 100m on the School Oval, while some other members of the School attend the ‘race’ and cheer on the horses in their big day. Great fun and the activity was reported on by the local TV news media.

Issue 643 - 15-nov-2015

Using billboards for school marketing

What message can you say on a billboard to promote your school? It partly depends on the location. If it will only be seen from cars travelling at speed then a very short message and impression is essential. If there is slow traffic, or people on foot, the message can be a bit longer. At my local suburban shopping centre there are now five schools advertising. These schools are located four to eleven kilometres from the centre. Two use only a single photo while the others have multiple photos. Read the messages and click on the image to open the photo gallery. 

Questions for school marketers:
  1. How much information is too much?
  2. What call to action is appropriate?
  3. Could another school replace your logo and say the same thing?
  4. How many photos are needed to tell a story?
  5. Should we avoid advertising where others already are or join them?
Brigidine College logo and suburb. “Developing resilience and a positive mindset. Discover Brigidine College. Visit our website to book a tour or request a prospectus. Courage, confidence, compassion. A Catholic Independent Secondary School for Girls.” Then street address and website. [11km away]

“More than great memories.” School logo. “Covenant Christian School. Preschool to Year 12. Christian education - it's different. It's worth it. Book a tour and explore.” Then website and street address. [4km away]

Stella Maris College - An independent Catholic Girls College with a strong academic cultural and sporting tradition.” Then the school street address, website and school logo with tagline of "inclusive innovative inspiring.” [8km away]

“Anglican Co-educational Pre-kindergarten to Year 12. Solid Christian foundation. Strong focus on Academic Excellence. Steadfast Commitment to Student Welfare. St Luke’s Grammar School. Dee Why.” Then a phone number. “Tours held every week” and the website. “Enrolment enquiries welcome” then an email address plus the school logo. [6km away]

Thinkers.inq - Play with purpose. An early learning preschool for 3-5 year olds in Terrey Hills. Offering flexible hours 6.45am-6.45pm. 50 weeks a year. Enrol now for 2016.” Then there is a 1300 number. [7km away]

Do you have school billboard advertisements you have created, or even competitors you like – or don’t like? I would love to see them.

Issue 643 - 15-nov-2015

Do your school promotional giveaways start conversations?

The university campus where I did my first degree is closing down. I returned to say goodbye and relive some memories. I really liked one of the mementos they had to remember the campus by. While the university campus was known for its architecture, bush setting and naturally the academic subjects the most distinctive feature joked about by students was the carpet. There was kilometres of bright green carpet. It was everywhere. The memento they created was drink coasters of carpet squares. There is no branding but it simply creates a fun talking point.

Do your school mementos start conversations, put a smile on a face, or serve a purpose? Or are they disposed of? I am be curious to hear what you have tried and the response.

Issue 642 - 08-nov-2015

Is a video more effective than a letter to school parents?

In my experience schools produce a lot of written material with letters, forms, newsletters etc. This is fine for parents who like to absorb information that way. Yet as we now attempt to differentiate for learning styles in the classroom the same is required for communication with parents. Nobody expects a letter or school newsletter to ‘go viral.’ Yet with video we often assume that more views means the more successful it has been. I was impressed with Girls Preparatory School Chattanooga TN USA use of videos to do what most schools do with letters.

Their Welcome Back Message for New Middle School Students is a nearly 6 minute video by the Assistant Head of School. In the video the school’s electives and orientation process is explained. Important dates and times are displayed on the screen. This type of message is targeted to a niche audience for a specific purpose and time rather than general promotion. It can therefore be a bit longer than usual, though I think shorter may have been better. 


The school also used video to introduce changes and new staff. For parents who are rarely on site at school, or meeting teachers, seeing a face and hearing a name via video can help reassure them that their children are in good hands. 


I expect most of this information was still contained in letters but parents who prefer video would have appreciated it. And hearing and reading the same message cannot hurt.
What information could you convey via video instead of just letters? The video doesn’t need to be from the Principal. It can be the most relevant person for the message.

Issue 642 - 08-nov-2015

Treat your school fees as a vital marketing document

When prospective parents explore your school website one of the most read, or downloaded, documents will be your school fees. Most schools display their fees and in Australia as we head towards the end of the year many schools will be announcing the fees for 2016. This announcement and document should, I believe, involve School Marketers. I have seen schools with a great website, prospectus and video yet the fee page and document is unprofessional and difficult to calculate and read. Here are some tips.

  • Show or explain what is included, and what is not. 
  • Make it easier for families to calculate total costs for multiple children.
  • Add school branding and taglines or vision. For prospective families this may be the only document they print from the website.
When passing a school I stopped and took a photo of a large bright yellow banner announcing “Discount Fees Up to 45% off.” The bright yellow banner was repeated on the home page of the school website. 

While having the same message on a fence and website was positive I wasn’t sure what message the discount offer was sending to prospective parents and raise these questions to consider.
  • Will discounts help hesitant families to take the step to consider the school?
  • Does it look like the school is desperate?
  • Do discounts attract the type of families the school wants long term?
Here are some other previous articles about school fees that may interest you.

> Anglican School Lowers School Fees 10%

> School drops fees by 42% to attract enrolments

> Paying school fees can become a school marketing issue

Issue 641 - 1-nov-2015

Why would someone want to teach at your school?

Attracting quality applications for teaching roles is important. Sometimes it is based on your school’s location. For others it is your reputation. Harlem Village Academies created a video Why teach with us? to help explain to prospective teachers what attitudes they are looking for. “If you are passionate about education and social justice, join our team of teachers and leaders serving Harlem's children.” The video includes Hugh Jackman as well as TV news interviews with their passionate leader.

What does your school do to explain to prospective teachers “Why teach with us?”

Issue 641 - 1-nov-2015

Communicating major decisions to your school community

Reece Cummings, Communications & Marketing Manager at Canberra Grammar School shared a press release with us of a major change for their school. A decision, for what is considered a ‘boys’ school, to become co-educational is not something to be rushed. The school chose to announce the decision at the same time as relaunching their website If you know news will drive people to your website it is best to be well prepared for it.

I encourage you to explore the new school website and especially how they are communicating their announcement to both current and prospective parents and students.

Here are some quotes from the booklet “Boys and Girls Together for the Future” and the website as they preempt many of the questions that parents will naturally be asking.

"CGS will not be a boys school with some girls, but a School where boys and girls can learn and flourish together in an environment where they are equal citizens, each valued for their talents, personality and qualities that he or she bring to the School."

"We are delighted by this development, which builds on forty years of co-education in our early Primary School."

"This has not been a decision taken lightly nor rapidly, nor will the transition happen all at once; indeed, its pace will in part be determined by community demand and by our desire that no boy currently waiting for a place be disadvantaged."

Having promoted single sex education it can be a challenge to now promote the benefits of coeducation. Rather than ignoring the concern the booklet addresses this, and many other questions.

"We know, therefore, that this decision will be welcomed by many; indeed we know that many parents have called for it for years, or, in frustration, have chosen other schools instead of ours. We recognise, too, however, that for some this is not the choice that they made in joining the School nor will it seem a reflection of the School’s predominantly masculine history and traditions. We respect that and have not rushed towards this change, which will be introduced over a number of years. Ultimately, however, we know that this step is in the interests of our students. It will provide them with an education that best prepares them for their future in the modern world. It is also essential for the School’s on-going capacity to flourish."

"There are far greater differences in learning styles within each gender group than there are between the two."

Well done Reece and team on helping communicate this change.

Issue 640 - 25-Oct-2015

How do you advertise marketing roles at your school?

Your recruitment advertisements for teachers, administration support and other staff offer a window into your school community. Take a look at your job advertisements. Do they reflect your school well?

Michelle Favero, Marketing and Communications Manager at Emanuel School recently advertised for a marketing role. The creativity of the advertisement appealed to me so I wanted to share it with you. If you want to attract creative people it can pay to do something out of the ordinary. One word stands out to me in the advert. It is the word “love” and it is used twice. 

Do you have other examples of job advertisements the network could learn from?

Issue 640 - 25-Oct2015

Mark Zuckerberg invests in the future of schools

Breaking away from how we do schools is challenging. A recent article Mark Zuckerberg invests in the future of schools tells the story of AltSchool. It is a deliberately alternative school which celebrates its differences rather than trying to be the same as other schools. It is a bold strategy which will attract one niche segment of the community while repelling others.

Some quotes:
“There’s no such thing as a third-grader,” says Ventilla. “There’s each child who has their own experience.”
Other terms AltSchool avoids are “teachers”, “schools” and “classrooms”. Rather there are “educators”, “learning labs” and “studios”.
There’s no bell to signal the end of a period or recess. Instead, “learning blocks” are meant to end organically. Bells feel too disconnected from the real world.

You, and your school leadership, may not like alternative schools – or they may. Our role is to recognise their selling points and attraction so we can better understand our own offering.

Issue 640 - 25-Oct-2015

What motivates your school volunteers?

As you read this I will be recovering from a 111km overnight canoe race – hopefully having finished it. The race attracts hundreds of paddlers with a wide variety of craft, age, fitness and motivation. An event like this relies on hundreds of volunteers at various checkpoints. What motivates these volunteers? Is it shared experiences, friendship, feeling like being part of something bigger, excitement, a desire to give something back, or simply having something to talk about when people ask “what did you do on the weekend?” 

This canoe race wouldn’t happen without these valuable volunteers. The same is true of many schools. Understanding the variety of reasons parents, grandparents and locals serve in schools, or how to motivate them, was why Dr Linda Vining wrote the book Working with Volunteers in Schools. This book has been around for a while but still is a valuable resource to understand how to deal with volunteers and also how to make the volunteer process a positive one.

Check it out at CMS Books.

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Segregation by schools

Responding to the increasing multiculturalism, especially in major population areas, can be a challenge for schools. Like attracts like. For some parents multiculturalism is an attraction and an opportunity for their child. For other parents multiculturalism, or culture imbalances, can be threatening. Often in Australia the media uses sensational language and advocates the benefits of multiculturalism. As a school marketer is it important however that you understand your own school community and culture rather than assume everyone thinks like you. 

A Sydney Morning Herald article under the title of ‘The Sydney Schools becoming anglo ghettos’’ identified “11 private high schools in the [lower North Shore of Sydney] area where the proportion of students from language backgrounds other than English was at or below 20 per cent. Queenwood School for Girls in Mosman had the lowest share (2 per cent) followed by St Ignatius College Riverview in Lane Cove (5 per cent) and Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney (6 per cent). However, in two selective public high schools in the area - North Sydney Boys and North Sydney Girls - the proportion of students from a language background other than English was above 90 per cent. At the nearby comprehensive public schools Chatswood High and Willoughby Girls High the proportion was 76 per cent and 57 per cent respectively. "You can walk between some of these schools in a few minutes and yet one is like a white bubble and the other is like a non-white bubble," 

The writer sees this situation as a problem. Others would see it as healthy that parents have options of what communities they choose to be part of. How does your school celebrate its' culture?

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Celebrate what makes your school unique

Most schools do most things the same even if the quality of facilities may vary. When a school chooses to do something different it will attract some people while repelling others. This takes courage. West Rise Junior School in East Sussex is unconventional. This promotional introduction video celebrates what they do differently. With a weekly radio shows, clay pigeon shooting, archery, fires and animals the curriculum is not your standard private English school offering.

What does your school do which is unique? Video can often be the best way to demonstrate it.

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.”