Past Newsletters

Issue 620 - 17-MAY-2015

Satisfying Goldilocks: Telling your school’s story just right!

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.

The reader's interest needs to be piqued almost instantly by the look and feel of your prospectus and website.  Their first response to these marketing tools will be an emotional one, and will determine whether they investigate further.  If they do, quickly satisfying them depends on how easily they can discover your school’s philosophy, distinctives and offerings.

This brings us to the ‘what’ and ‘how’, the content and design elements that will hook browsers into your story and make them readers.

Picture storybooks have a lot to teach us. We love them because clear messages are conveyed with beautiful, easy to assimilate images that are combined with relatively few, large, well-spaced words. Their powerful impact on us validates the use of well-chosen images as the heroes of our hard copy and electronic marketing pages.

Using fewer words to tell our school stories puts the onus on copywriters to be succinct, and on school leaders to review, think through and distil their core messages.  A marketer’s role involves posing the questions that might assist in this important process. Once the message imperatives are decided, summarising them in effective headlines, call outs and captions on each page will allow those with only the time for a cursory glance at your publications to absorb their essence. Prospective students will find this format appealing too.

Like Goldilocks, those impressed with an initial sampling of your story, will find the time to test you further. When school visits and enrolments result, you know the combined strategy for telling your school’s story has been just right.

Hear Robyn expand this idea in her session on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria 

> School Marketing Aforia 2015, June 11-12

Issue 619 - 10-MAY-2015

Are your office staff undermining your school marketing?

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. 

The book Marketing Matters, by Dr Linda Vining, has the following story: 

A mother contemplating a change of school for her daughter, responded to an Open Day advertisement by telephoning for more information.

The school had heavily invested in advertising, but, unfortunately the receptionist who answered the phone dissolved the investment in a matter of minutes.

When the mother asked for details about the function the receptionist obviously knew nothing about it and made no attempt to find out.

After a curt, unresponsive conversation, the prospective parent decided that if this was the way in which parents were treated, this school was not for her.

You can talk about a caring, friendly school in your prospectus, webpage, advertisements and newsletters, but if your school doesn’t live up to the rhetoric at the first point of contact, you have wasted your money.

The Customer Relations Course for school office and support staff is designed to equip busy people with the specialised skills needed to project a professional, caring and efficient face to the outside world, even when the pressure is on. The course has six modules, which are undertaken by distance learning. 

Issue 619 - 10-MAY-2015

Does your school have a plan in the event that severe weather closes the school?

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.  

The Lighthouse website via the school website, directed year groups to activities and YouTube clips relevant to their learning.  They were also directed to completing assessment tasks and home study.

Parents and students were kept up to date via the school’s website, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feed.

This also became a small news item in the local newspaper @School section.  A positive point of difference where other schools were closed in the area, this school’s students had the opportunity to continue with their learning, despite the school closure.

Issue 619 - 10-MAY-2015

Schools and Google+

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.

> Schools and Google+

> School Marketing Aforia 2015 Program

School Marketing Aforia 2015 Program School Marketing Aforia 2015 Program (1180 KB)

Issue 618 - 03-MAY-2015

Smart Ideas for School Marketers # 83

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.

When a crisis strikes, follow these steps:

* Admit the error; don't try to cover it up.
* Empathise with the victims.
* Explain the facts as far as you know them - what happened, to whom and why.  This will help quell rumours.
* Reassure that actions are being taken to reduce/resolve/repair the problem.
This and 127 other ideas can be found in this gem of a book
Smart Ideas for School Marketers

Issue 618 - 03-MAY-2015

The Smartest Teacher ever

For a bit of light-hearted relief, this video shows a clever use of filming to incorporate video in video.  

> The Most Creative Teacher Ever

Issue 618 - 03-MAY-2015

Is education the greatest gift?

Dr Julie Townsend, Headmistress at St Catherine’s in Sydney was quoted in a News Limited article saying "education is the greatest gift you can give a child.” She believes that is "why parents need to think about it early. Education gives your child opportunity and choice, so the sooner a parent can focus on it the better.” This is an example of good media coverage for the school and their philosophy.

As school marketers it is important that we do believe in the value of education. It is very hard to market something you are not passionate about. Yet to do our role I am not sure we each need to believe that education is the greatest gift that parents can give their child. While it is an easy statement to agree to it is vital you understand your own school's philosophy and story.

Understand that parents vary. Some will believe the greatest gift they can give to their family is for one of the parents to be able to stay at home, others choose to spend money on holidays and experiences. Others may invest in extra-curricula activities, buying a house where they want to live, giving to charities, caring for extended family or serving in their community. Paying schools fees is often a sacrifice so part of our role is to continually reassure our current parents they have made a good choice.

Read the full article at > How should you plan your child's education 

St Catherine’s have entered their video in the School Marketing Awards.  Entries close this Friday, 8 May.

Issue 617 - 26-APR-2015

Facebook to develop school community

Michelle Favero, Communications and Marketing Manager at Emanuel School, shared something with us that she has implemented at the school.  They have started what they call the “Emanuel Shuk” (shuk is a Hebrew word for marketplace). It is a closed Facebook page for their parents to sell, trade, buy and give away items.  

They also allow parents to advertise their businesses. Michelle said, “It has been very popular already and is an excellent way to recycle unwanted items (and for parents make a bit of money on the side too!). On the first day we had 78 members within about three hours! 

It is becoming a great way to engage our community.  We have found that as our parents become more engaged, it increases the School’s reputation and word of mouth referrals.

Issue 617 - 26-04-2015

Are you friends with school parents on social media?

Facebook can be a huge help or hindrance for school marketers. Many schools have their own account and use it to keep parents informed. It can be a very effective tool for communication with modern parents and students.  

Some schools have a policy of staff not being allowed to be 'friends' with parents, or students. At my school I can befriend parents, but not current students. In my role I try to befriend both staff and parents - not in an official capacity - but me as an individual. A benefit is that it can help prompt conversations when I meet parents face to face. It can also be a timely way of hearing both frustrations and delights about the school.

As an example a school mother posted a photo of her two children with the caption "Walking away from a parent teacher interview at the school... Hubby squeezes my hand and with tears in his eyes says, ‘Princess, our boys are in safe hands’."

This mother is naturally not paid to promote the school. Yet her heartfelt, positive comments to her social network is worth far more than any amount of paid advertising. Negative comments can also undermine your advertising. Parents believe parents. Liking, commenting and interacting with school parents in your community takes wisdom but can give you valuable insight for your role.

The School Marketing Aforia 0n 11-12 June in Victoria will feature a workshop session on Social Media:  Preparation and Response.  Does your school have appropriate social media response plans in place? This session will explore simple ways you can prepare and equip your school for a digital world.

School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form (2111 KB)

Issue 616 - 19-APR-2015

Making your distinctives clear via video

Video enables prospective parents to better understand your school. This video by St Andrews Christian College makes clear their distinctive flavour, culture and what they value as important. Hearing from staff, parents and students reflects the importance they place on the individuals in their community. Sending a clear message is the goal of your marketing. It is often easier for your message to appeal to a defined niche than to attract enquiries from parents who may be impressed with your facilities, academics, location and uniform, but not align with your philosophy.

If your school has produced a promotional video, consider entering it in the School Marketing Awards.  There are also categories for websites and prospectuses.

School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form School Marketing Awards 2015 Entry Form (10814 KB)

Entries close 8 May

Issue 616 - 19-APR-2015

Population trends key to future school planning

Understanding changing demographics is important as a school marketer.  The media, and your national statistics bureau, can hold interesting information on population trends, and the subsequent need for schools to accommodate growth or decline. This was highlighted in a Sydney newspaper article :

> NSW needs 385 new classrooms every year for a decade 

The article raised the concern that "The Catholic sector and independent schools may not have the infrastructure to maintain their current share of students and cope with the resulting high demand in the short to medium term. This may lead to a rise in the proportion of students entering government schools, at least in some areas."

Catholic and independent schools in these areas of population growth can plan now to not only fill classrooms to capacity, but perhaps consider adding demountable classrooms to cope with expected demands.  The downside of adding demountable classrooms is often the sacrificing of play space.  

Another article, Primary cause for move is school overcrowding, explains ''When Chatswood High students are out in break times, there is simply not enough ground space for them … It's impossible for kids to have a game of soccer on the oval because that's the only place for kids to go and sit and eat their lunch or walk around.''

Understanding your school’s demographics can help reduce surprises. A Module in the Diploma in School Marketing requires you to research, amongst other things, demographic trends.  This is one way you can discover possible future growth areas in your region, enabling you to plan for the future.

Issue 616 - 19-APR-2015

Mobilegeddon is coming on April 21 - are you ready?

Google has announced a major update, intended to take place on April 21, warning that they will start favouring mobile-friendly websites in search results. Experts predict a “significant impact” to businesses worldwide, expecting a greater impact than previous Google updates due to the relatively low number of mobile-friendly websites.

Given that in 2014 Google accounted for almost 70% of search engine enquiries and increasingly schools are reporting their website is a major source of enrolment inquiries, this could have a major impact on schools.
See this article for more information 

> Mobilegeddon is coming on April 21

Schools should check their website using Google's online test 

> Google's Mobile friendly online test

If your site is not mobile-friendly, you will need to contact your website provider to ensure your website is optimised for mobile devices.

Some more reading can be found on Google’s blogspot 

> Further reading on mobile friendly sites

Issue 615 - 29-MAR-2015

Fun Run connects school with their community

I recently returned to my Primary School. It was fun to explore, to reminisce and to note the changes that had taken place over more than 30 years.

Normally the school is locked up and closed to the general public behind high security gates. The gates were flung open as part of a fundraising initiative. Rather than a traditional school fete the local community were invited to participate in a 2km, 5km or 10km fun run. The school was the starting and finishing point. The event proved to be very popular. There was also an element of school fete with local or parent businesses setting up stalls on the oval.

There were several aspects that impressed me.

Prominent well designed roadside banners
The coloured t-shirts were vibrant
It generated funds from those outside the parent community
Local children were introduced to the grounds and play equipment
Numbered bibs and timing chips were professionally done
It was well organised with areas for runners clothes and bags
People could preregister online or on the day
It reinforced the message of health and exercise
The profile of the school was raised as streams of runners went around local streets
An extensive team manned the course for safety and directions
The local print media and even television covered the event

The coloured t-shirts created an ongoing talking point as participants went back into their local community, streets and shopping centres.

How is your school connecting with the community and allowing former students to visit?

> Read the article published in the local newspaper

> See the school fun run featured on Channel Ten News weather report

Issue 615 - 29-MAR-2015

The Benefits of a School Marketing Audit

Auditing your website, school appearance and your school communication, can go a long way towards improving the look and feel of your school for prospective and current families.

Nadia Gay from Ormiston College provides this feedback on the website audit they conducted recently:  

“As I would imagine is the case with many organisations, the evolution of our website is always a strategic priority.  We are currently planning an update and the website audit document has been a particularly handy tool to assist us in developing a brief."

Choose from a School Appearance Audit, a School Communication Audit or a School Website Audit.

Issue 615 - 29-MAR-2015

The power of providing feedback to parents

Marketing a school can be seen as twofold.  External marketing where you present the school to prospective families, and internal marketing, where your focus is on keeping your current families.  

This article from a Catholic
online newsletter highlights the power of a parent’s story.  It illustrates the timeliness of giving feedback to parents about their child’s progress in school.  This could be considered to be internal marketing - meeting the parent’s need for timely communication, and the child’s need for extra support.  Her experience became, “They care about the student every step of the way, and they find a way to work with the kids.”

What does your school do to provide feedback to parents about their child’s progress? For the parent in this article, it made all the difference in her satisfaction with the school. She interpreted this feedback as caring.
The school our children attend provided an interim after 8 weeks of our daughter’s start to high school.  All current subjects are listed, and satisfactory or unsatisfactory columns are ticked in the areas of attitude, homework, organisation and academic progress.  The aim was to identify any issues in students from the very start of their high school life, and provide the opportunity to meet with parents if it was shown that there were difficulties in any area.  This extra level of feedback takes time, but it is effective in settling families into high school.

> Read the article here

Issue 614 - 22-MAR-2015

Point of Difference for Aforia 2015 Host School

The Peninsula School, our host on Day 1 of the School Marketing Aforia this year, has tapped into a flagship program that has become a major attractor of enrolments at the school

The program aims to deliver on the fundamental wish of all parents: that their children will be equipped to find happiness and fulfilment in their lives.  As well as enhancing the academic achievement and wellbeing of students, the program has served to differentiate Peninsula from its competitors in a very significant way. 

Phil Doll, the Director of Positive Education and Marketing at the School, has this to say:  “The Peninsula School’s Positive Education program, which is underpinned by the science of positive psychology, places equal importance on student wellbeing and student academic performance.“

Phil shares some of the outworking of this program in school life:

* Our students have learnt that we can rewire our brains to change our natural bias towards negative thinking. Students are encouraged to start the day by thinking about three things they are most looking forward to that day. At the end of the day, they then dwell on three things that went well for them. Hunting for the good stuff in their lives has clearly helped many to adopt a more optimistic outlook on life and the circumstances in which they find themselves.

* Most students are now able to tell you that expressing gratitude to others is a good thing as it not only makes the recipient feel good about themselves, but also improves our own levels of positive emotion. Many keep a gratitude journal and readily add comments to the gratitude walls that exist in our sub schools. 

* Our Middle School students wrote a gratitude letter to someone special in their lives. The letters often went to parents or a primary teacher to whom the student felt indebted.  The positive emotions that followed this exercise were simply stunning. Students reported a whole range of reactions; feeling good about themselves, feeling proud of their action and simply feeling happy that they had done a good thing for someone else. Many of the recipients of the letters contacted the school to share their joy in receiving their letter. Parents reported that this simple exercise had brought them much closer to their children, whilst many of the teachers described receiving the letter as a career highlight.

Question:  What distinctive does your school have that sets you apart from your competitors?  Are you using these in your school marketing?

We look forward to being hosted by The Peninsula School on Day 1 of the School Marketing Aforia, 11-12 June 2015.

For more information and to register:  

Issue 614 - 22-MAR-2015

A School’s Inspirational Facebook Following

Kristin School in Auckland, New Zealand is a school with a great Facebook following. The school has four different pages. These include the main school page , a page for Kristin Alumni, one for the Kristin Family and Friends parent network, and one specifically targeted to senior students preparing for tertiary study called Kristin Futures .

Director of School Relations Pamela Peryman says the school’s multi-channel Facebook strategy has enabled relevant information to be distributed quickly, efficiently and at levels that are appropriate to each group. “The segmentation of our Facebook groups is important. Our Kristin Futures page, for example, shares multiple posts daily. If we were to push this information via our main school page, the volume of content would be overwhelming for the followers who are not focused on tertiary studies at this time, such as families from our Kindergarten. A multi-channel approach allows us to capitalise on the marketing opportunities within each network while ensuring the information remains relevant to our followers.”

With a total following of over 3280 across the four pages, Facebook provides an alternative channel for direct and immediate communication. 

While the initial motivator for establishing a social media presence was driven by marketing, the school has seen additional benefits. “The four Kristin Facebook pages support our school website, which remains the primary source of information for parents and prospective families,” says Pamela. “Driving users back to the website has been effective, particularly in times of crisis, such as the lockdown we experienced last year. Critical updates were posted to the homepage and all Facebook followers were advised to visit the website for the latest developments. This redirected parents who would otherwise have called the school office and enabled our staff to focus on the situation at hand.”

Kristin regularly shares photos, videos, events and links, which usually reach between 400 and 1,000 Facebook users. A recent video from Kristin Junior School was shared over 100 times, had over 11,000 views and reached 23,300 Facebook users.

> Facebook video attracts 11,000 views

Issue 613 - 15-MAR-2015

Are our graduating students prepared for life?

I read this comment from a student of a school in USA and thought it could apply anywhere. “Dear High School, Instead of useless math formulas and Freudian English analyses, you should have taught me about taxes, résumés, and cover letters. I'm not ready for the real world.”
In one Australian school I visited I saw a very practical life lesson. All Year 12 girls (ie the age most start driving) were being shown how to change a car tyre. Students had turns doing parts of the process. They also learnt how to check oil and water levels and tyre pressure. The lesson was done by the maintenance man. He had realised, by experience helping former students, that this simple life lesson had been missed. It was probably worth ‘missing’ 25 minutes of another subject.

Issue 613 - 15-MAR-2015

School Website Content

There are many aspects to a great website – from vibrant photos, engaging video and easy navigation, but something that is not often talked about is a website’s content.

In their book for small business, Content Rules, Handley and Chapman suggest, “Produce great stuff, and your customers will come to you. Produce really great stuff, and your customers will share and disseminate your message for you. More than ever before, content is king! Content rules!”

In the school context, there are two key questions that need to be answered when you are considering the subject of content:

1.  What content can you generate that will be interesting and appealing to your current and prospective parents as well as the community at large?

“Content may rule, but your online content must be the right sort of content:  Customer-focused, authentic, compelling, entertaining, surprising, valuable, interesting. In other words, you must earn the attention of people,” says Michael Stelzner, in his book, Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition.  He goes on to say that “When you offer great content—such as detailed how-to articles, expert interviews, case studies, and videos—that focuses on helping other people solve their problems, you’ll experience growth.”

Some examples of how-to articles, and content rich subjects for schools are:

How to prepare a child to start school
Learning styles and what style is your child?  This content could detail how each learning style is incorporated in the classroom at your school
How to support a child during the HSC year
What is the difference between a public and private school?
For a faith based school: How is faith and learning connected in every subject area?
Tips for parenting teenagers
Life experiences of the faculty enhances learning in the classroom
Raising kids in a digital age

2.  Once the content has been developed, there are several ways to consider delivering the content online:

Video seminars and Podcasts - of seminars held at the school
eBooks and webinars are two other ways by which content can be disseminated, and related back to your school for those searching for information.

Thank you to Rick Newberry, Enrollment Catalyst, for allowing us to use the content of his blog for this story.

If your school has had a new or updated website in the last 12 months, enter it in the School Marketing Awards 

Issue 612 - 08-MAR-2015

Creating a School Style Guide

A Style Guide is a set of standards for visual communication.  It provides guidelines for print and digital communication and ensures that every area of the school has a clear understanding of the approved design elements.

Susan Curtin, Registrar at Macquarie Anglican Grammar School provides this review: 
“The school's name, crest and slogan represent a simple, powerful statement about your school and why it exists. These symbols grace all of your printed and digital information and people make judgements about your school on the basis of the communication they receive.  Therefore everyone at the school should know the style standards and follow them. A style guide provides these instructions.”

It’s another tool in the marketers belt to see your school promoted with excellence.

Be guided through how to make a Style Guide through this manual from our online bookshop