We were going to save this video till December but decided sharing it now may inspire other schools to consider what they can do. We have seen schools do Christmas assemblies, Christmas cards and Christmas lights. Last year Diocesan School for Girls in New Zealand did a video with their Year 1 students to retell the story of Christmas. It is high on cute factor, relevant for their school audience and something likely to be shared by families so great for word of mouth marketing via social media.
Most schools are limited by time and space. Schools are expensive to start and operate and there are only so many classrooms you can build. The attraction of online education is obvious – both financially and to enable a school to serve more families.
Many schools are creating alternative learning spaces beyond the traditional classroom and libraries. The University of Technology in Sydney has taken the unusual step of deliberately adding spaces for sleeping into a group learning area. The area is open day and night. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sit Swot, Sleep, stated “there are banks of computers and televisions for individual use, workrooms with videoconferencing facilities that vary according to group size, a variety of seating from cushy to studious and nooks for curling up to sleep.”Most schools are content for students to go home at the end of the day. In contrast the University is trying to find ways to help them stay on site longer with the article mentioning the area was full of students at midnight.
Last year I saw a public art project called the Inside Out Project. Over 120,000 people in more than 100 nations have taken part in this large‐format public display of black and white portrait photographs. The photos may cover entire walls of buildings. What appealed to me was how it celebrated people and tried to share something of their message and personality.
We decided to run a variation of it as part of a Year 12 Graduation. Some students had individual portraits and others insisted on being in groups. Some are serious and others quite silly. Two walls of the school Hall was used to display these black and white photos for Graduation and end of school assemblies. Many students and parents requested to take the large format photos home.
Visit: > Year 12 Wall of Celebration
Visit: > Inside Out Project
A highlight this week was attending a Junior School musical at another school I work with in Victoria. The storyline, costumes, music and lighting was wonderful. The message of the musical was very appropriate for the school culture and vision. I made sure to arrive a few minutes early to chat with some of the audience. It was time well spent. Some grandparents were pioneers of the school over 30 years ago and helped me better understand the school’s history. They also provided details of others to talk to.
Dr Linda Vining’s book, > Smart Ideas for School Marketing, has 128 proven ideas for school marketing.
Fin Hatch, Marketing Manager at Mueller College was one of our speakers at the School Marketing Aforia this year with his great insights into social media. For their open day, Mueller College hold an annual fete. But not just any fete! The promotional video leaves you with the distinct impression that this fete is of the modern day variety. There is a Silent Disco using headphones, a paintball skirmish, bumper balls, fireworks, bands, and an Instagram competition with iTunes cards as prizes.
We have seen many school bus advertisements, and a couple of branded cars. Another creative idea is this customised trailer by Kristin School, New Zealand. It may not been seen as often but is still an effective mobile billboard. The trailer is used for the school’s Snowsports athletes and Outdoor Ed students so travels up and down the countryside.
Lucy Wilson, Communications Manager from Kristin School says that the school also uses temporary and moveable trailer billboards for major events such as productions. The billboards, approximately 4m x 2.5m, are parked in areas of high traffic such as outside shopping centres, near sports events, or on the school's road frontage.
Yesterday around Australia we held a Federal (national) election. Voting is compulsory. Many schools are paid to open their doors as polling booths. Sandy Nelson, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School explained having a polling booth has helped put their school on the map in the local area.
More schools are creating blogs and putting news on their websites and facebook pages. When reporting on sporting competitions mention the other school names in full plus any abbreviations. This way when prospective parents are searching online for a particular school by name they may also find your website.
A school website we visited included several tick box options on their online form. A school tour, meeting with Principal, or an enrolment pack were obvious and appropriate choices. However there was also the option of “Meeting with the School Development Manager”.
The concept of a ‘Muck Up’ day for graduating students is being replaced with breakfasts, social service and more controlled activities. Horizon Science Academy Seniors in USA has a unique way of farewelling their students with a science experiment. With over 119,000 views on YouTube their efforts have certainly generated a lot more interest in their Academy.
At the recent School Marketing Aforia I explained that when I started in school marketing someone recommended Dr Linda Vining’s books. It was a good suggestion and I’ve found some fresh ideas from her resources. Sometimes the best new idea for your school will be something already working elsewhere.
What books are you currently reading to stimulate fresh ideas? I am reading Seth Godwin’s book “All marketers are liars / tell stories.”
School satisfaction surveys can give you valuable insights into what is important to your students, staff and parents. Any survey is most effective if your school is willing to make changes based on the feedback. While surveys can help the School Executive hear from students, and parents, the level of participation is often determined by whether the students (or parents) feel it will help. This expectation and school culture is built up over time.
If you don't ask you are guessing, or relying on gut feel. It is better to ask, and be prepared for the possibility of some negative responses, than ignore underlying issues. You will also be encouraged about what students, staff and parents love about your school. You may find some great quotes for use in promotional material. However to ask for feedback and then ignore what people said can be worse than not asking at all.
Most schools tend to do Exit Surveys at the time a student is leaving school. Responses to the same questions six months after graduation may in fact provide more valuable feedback. It may better reflect what they would be saying to other prospective students or parents about their school experiences.
As school marketers what would you do in the situation facing the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School in the USA. Following the tragic death of 26 adults and children the school site closed. The 430 remaining students are using another site in a neighbouring town.
In Australia government funding of non-government schools is quite generous when compared to many nations. It hasn’t always been the case and is a contentious debate among parents, schools and politicians.
This year’s School Marketing Awards were announced at the School Marketing Aforia. The FREE 5 page judging report is available for download >
After a School Marketing Aforia it's always helpful for us to read the Delegate Evaluation Forms. Asking for feedback is vital to know what works and what needs improvement – both for schools and events. Yet like > School Satisfaction Surveys feedback is only helpful if you are prepared to act on the information.
The comments from this year’s delegates reflect how much people appreciated the generosity of others in sharing ideas. This is one of the wonderful aspects of school marketers in the network. The favourite sessions were 'My Best Marketing Idea' and 'Time Management'.
Some of the delegate highlights of the Aforia 2013 were:
Enjoy reviewing the photo gallery from this year’s Aforia. Click to open.
Are children merely suffering from childhood? Is that why they fidget when schools make them sit down for long periods of time expecting them to do ‘clerical’ work? That is one of the views by Ken Robinson. Some people love Ken’s challenging, and almost revolutionary, speeches. Others find him sensational and confrontational.
His reminder that education is about people and not systems is an important one for schools. Parent, and societies, expectations of what education is are being challenged. Ken questions whether learning is going on – not simply is someone teaching. He would rather the natural curiosity of children was fostered than see them comply to a mass education model.
Love him, or hate him, our role as school marketers is to be aware of messages like Ken’s. The video is 19 minutes long but like many delivered through TED worth taking a look at. As always it is interesting to read some > viewer comments below the original video to better understand what some of your current and prospective parents could be saying.
Nambour Christian College makes it obvious who will help prospective parents with their enrolment. Registrar Nicole’s photo is clear, fresh, welcoming and prominent on the school’s website home page.
Many schools are faceless, and their staff nameless. Often the only person on a website is a Principal. First impressions count and it is clear that Nambour Christian College understands parents prefer to interact with a real person.
When you click through, the enrolment process is clearly explained. I am interested that the form only asks for first name and email address. It has been shown that the less you ask upfront the more willing people are to initiate contact. This approach of asking minimal information to start a conversation works for many industries so why not schools.
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 & Jenny Pierson. Neil is a Storyteller. His stories are designed to encourage, equip and connect over 1,000 school marketers.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.