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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
Jack Goodman, CEO and Founder, of www.YourTutor.com.au 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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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;
Report available from > Sciencedirect.com
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!!!”
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.
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.”
How easy is it for prospective teachers to research your school? Here are some questions to consider:
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.
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.
The Centre for Marketing Schools is an international network of people passionate about schools. Founded by Dr Linda Vining the Centre is now led by Neil Pierson.
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