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FREE School Marketing Articles

Social Media - An Opportunity or Threat for Schools?

Social Media in Schools | Opportunity or Threat for Schools Bricks don't make a school. People do. We are social organisations of parents, students and staff working together in the mission of training young people.

What role can social media have in schools? Is social media a distraction and a time waster, a mess of bullying and superficial friendships, a huge pool of trivia, an opportunity to connect, a melting pot of ideas, or a platform for education? As Storyteller for Covenant Christian School in Sydney's Northern Beaches, I believe the answer is a resounding 'yes' to all those questions!

In Australia facebook claims to have over 8 million users. Yet modern social media is much more than facebook. Parents, students and school staff use social media personally, yet most Australian schools don't. Why is this? 

As social organisations schools have been reluctant, or slow, to embrace this aspect of our modern society? A survey of 140 Victorian School Principals is reported in "Why Schools are Spooked by Social Media". It is well worth a read.

As a Storyteller my role is to help parents, students and staff, engage with the past, future and current story of the school. Our hope is parents "taste and see that Covenant is good". Social media is a powerful tool to help this. Traditionally websites were, like school newsletters, a one way communication method. Yet if we redefine social media as "people news" it can be a natural way of expressing the life of our school communities.

For a school with just over 800 students Covenant's website www.covenant.nsw.edu.au generates a considerable amount of traffic. On average there are 2,500 unique visits and 4,500 total visits each week. Why? Fresh content, news, video and LOTS of photos. The heart of the website is the interactive blogsite www.ourcovenant.com.au. It has averaged two stories every school day for over three years. 

Students, parents and staff are allowed to comment on articles. Comments need approval before being published. Yes some comments are silly, some are spam but the vast majority are people congratulating, and encouraging one another, and expanding the story.

Since Covenant's YouTube channel was launched in May 2009 it has had over 100,000 video views. With over 160 videos it serves as a wonderful window into the life, colour and variety of Covenant's education, beliefs and sense of community. A couple of videos are professionally edited but the vast majority are not. Most importantly it allows parents to better engage with what is happening in their children's lives. If one Dad, who missed his child's speech at a school assembly, can then watch it online it is worth it. Some videos will have 1,000s of views but those with just one admiring Dad, or overseas grandparent, watching are just as important. That is the power of social media.

Social media is an experiment which Covenant staff are being encouraged to explore. Two staff have administration rights to the main facebook account. Three can run the blogsite while another three have access to the school's Twitter account. Two staff can upload YouTube videos. Some teachers have set up separate facebook pages or blogsites to communicate with students on a subject level. A couple of parents have, with permission, set up pages for a particular year group as the preferred method of making contact with parents about social events.

It is important however that technology be understood as a servant. Group school tours at Covenant finish with a morning tea. Principal Bill Rusin explains the school's vision, the role of parents, staffing policies and the richness of educational experiences provided. One part of his informal presentation is the role of technology. Mr Rusin explains that education is primarily about relationship. The relationship is between a teacher and their students. He reminds parents that technology has for a long time promised to fundamentally change education. 

In the 1920's the introduction of cylindrical records threatened that teachers would become technicians merely playing recordings to students. Audio cassettes, DVD, computers and the internet have all made similar claims. Yet teaching, and especially discipleship, is still about relationships. Technology can provide great tools but it cannot replace the importance of relationship and role modelling. 

Social media is about relationships. If schools refuse to embrace social media then can we claim to be teaching our students how to live as Christians in society? We are called to be in the world but not of it. Social media like technology is neither good nor bad. How it is used does often reflect fallen human society. Yet that does not mean Christians should signal retreat. As Christians we are called to redeem society - to salt it, to add light. Withdrawal from social media does not fulfil that mandate.

At Covenant social media is primarily about connecting with our current community. Yet all schools rely on word of mouth promotion for their future.  Parents believe what other parents say. A basic rule of fishing is to go where the fish are. The same applies to school promotion. There is no point having a large billboard beside a road where no one drives. If social media is seen as the main highway where 8 million members of Australian society travel each day it makes sense to invest some time and energy there.

Importantly as a Preschool to Year 12 school half of the school student population is too young to have a facebook account. While many people perceive facebook as a teenage phenomenon it is actually the older age group who are the biggest users. The purpose of Covenant's facebook account is to connect with parents - not students. Rather than post news and photos on facebook the site is designed to direct people back to the official blogsite which can be accessed by all students. The blogsite gives the school more control over content, makes it easier to remove a photo if requested and monitor comments.

Where to from here in this experiment? Social media does take time and resources. Take small steps. Fear not. Our schools were started by people with vision who shared their passion through personal conversations. These conversations need to continue - yet we now have additional places to share them.

Neil Pierson
Storyteller 
Centre for Marketing Schools
& Covenant Christian School, Sydney

EMAIL: The Illusion of Intimacy

Email communication between schools and their customers offers many benefits, but there are also hidden risks and a need for PR protocols for both staff and parents.
Quick, informal email is a boon to busy professionals in schools; but do you have protocols/guidelines to direct staff on the use of this communication tool.

Time-poor parents love the way email provides 24 hour access to schools. Similarly, staff use email to move information quickly, deliver newsletters, conduct surveys, answer queries, notify dates etc.

There is no doubt that email can enhance parent/school communication and be an effective point of contact.

But beware: email is not as simple and safe as it seems.


The hidden risks

While email may create an aura of intimacy, the harsh reality is that email communication can come back to bite you. Politicians, CEOs and school principals have lost their jobs when private email messages have gone public.

An email in the wrong hands can have devastating consequences. Remember the front-page headlines that shouted revelations from illicit email messages of an affair between the politicians Cheryl Kernot and Gareth Evans. The sizzling emails may have been highly private, but that did not protect the parties from public glare once the media got hold of them.

The most dangerous assumption you can make is that email is secure and confidential.

Email consultant Neil Hymans says that organisations have little understanding of the risks inherent in this communication tool that lulls people into a false sense of security. 

Email messages leave a trail as they move from the sender to the receiver. Each and every email - no matter how trivial or spontaneous - is routed through one or more internet servers. This means that email messages can be recovered from server logs long after both sender and receiver have deleted the message.

The courts regard email as admissible evidence. Indeed, organisations have the right to monitor electronic communication.

Email is easy to monitor and divert without the sender or recipient even realising it.

In some organisations prior to an employee receiving an email account s/he must sign a statement agreeing to the appropriate use of online technology. Employees are also told that emails are routinely monitored. While you may not have actually heard this from your school it is prudent to be able to justify any message you send.

When asked about privacy on the internet, Scott McNeally, CEO of Sun Microsystems made the famous remark: “You have none, get over it!”


Abuses of email

While the speed of email communication has revolutionised access to information, it has also opened up new channels for negative purposes. For example, a disgruntled parent can circulate an email to a whole classroom of parents in a flash. A poorly-worded letter sent from the school to a specific parent can find its way onto multiple screens for group dissection and analysis.

E-rage is all too common. Principals report that an unhappy parent who would not say a word face-to-face feels quite liberated behind the mask of an email.

There are no filters on email. No-one to type a letter and check its tone, no re-reading, no cooling off period, no-one to countersign or approve.

And then there is the accidental spread of private information. All it takes is a wrong name in the TO BOX when addressing a message.


Staff training

Neil Hymans says that very few enterprises have come to grips with the realities and the risks of email, and too few have guidelines on using this communication tool. 

Companies who have undertaken staff training say it has a positive influence on the way people use email, from a security perspective, and also from a customer relations aspect.

The following considerations are presented as a starting point for the formulation of an email protocol for your school and the training of staff.


Guidelines for staff

Include email protocols in your school’s Style Guide to clarify the school’s regulations and how the communication should look, for example, the fonts to use, colour, background or not, placement of crest and use of capitals. 

Shorthand, abbreviations and SMS should not be used.

Email policy should emphasise that online communication represents the school, not just the individual.

Always spell check/auto correct before sending.

 Bolding, underlining, and capitals should be used sparingly as these are considered “shouting”.

Regard email as a relationship building tool; be brief but courteous. Apply the KISS principle: Keep It Short and  Simple.

Check emails daily. Aim for 24 hour turn around.

Show professional courtesy. End every email with a digital signature stating your name, job title, school and contact details.

Do not send an email when angry. If you are upset when you write it, save it, return to it later, modify it.

Ask a senior staff member to check a response to an aggressive demand or an abusive email. A phone call may be more effective here.

Do not forward chain mail or frivolous emails.

Use ‘out-of-office’ notices to explain a delayed response, e.g. if a member of staff is away or during school holidays.

Have a policy relating to personal email. A sender needs to be aware that all email traffic has the potential to be read by school management. Inform staff, “If you are not prepared to defend it, don’t send it!”

Have a system to check that emails have been attended to. One email can blend with a long list of others and be overlooked.

Eliminate the visual clutter and officious language of email disclaimers. They carry no legal weight.

Prescribe areas to avoid such as discussing a student with another parent, health issues, staff issues, criticism of the school or its representatives. Never blame another person or refer to the actions of others. An email can be used as a legal document.

Beware of the illusion of intimacy. As an overriding barometer, only send an email that you would be happy for the Principal to read and counter sign.

Guidelines for parents who send emails to staff

There is also the issue of parents who send emails to staff. Schools need to provide parents with email protocols. Here are some tips.

Deliver the school’s email protocols to your parents in customer-friendly language; not as a set of rules!

Provide parents with a list of email addresses. Tell them where to direct their enquiries e.g. sports department for match venues, deputy principal for pastoral concerns, student coordinator for curriculum issues.

Sensitive issues should be discussed in person. Advise parents to make an appointment.

Instruct parents when not to communicate via email, for example, absentee notes may need to be hand-written and signed by a parent/guardian.

Remind parents that teachers are mobile rather than desk-based and their response times may not be immediate. Allow 2 to 3 days, (or whatever you decide).

Ask parents to be brief. Suggest a word limit to facilitate a speedy response.

Explain that email is suitable for the transfer of information, but e-rage is not appropriate. If parents have a complaint tell them who to contact and how to present the problem.

Inform parents that all emails are subject to audit, i.e. they may be read by another person other than the receiver.


About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). 
For other marketing strategies see Linda’s book  PURPLE POWER for memorable school marketing.
A useful how-to-guide available from Centre for Marketing Schools is the book The School Style Guide by Linda Vining and Lynette Eggins. 
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to email this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

Creativity and how to get it

Creative Ideas for School Marketing | How to Become Creative Creativity ranks with communication as one of the most important skills for successfully promoting your school, so how can you become more creative?
In today’s education marketplace, you and your competition may be working with the same information and the same target audience. So how can you stand out in a crowded field? 

By being creative! Creativity attracts attention and this gives you a competitive edge. Creative ideas applied to school promotion, and creative solutions applied to public relations, will win positive word-of-mouth referral. 

If you see yourself as not particularly creative don’t worry. It’s OK to borrow ideas and concepts from others. The commercial world is full of ingenious appeal that can be adapted for school use. 

You can even take ideas from history, nature, art and fantasy and put your own spin on them.

You can learn to be imaginative. 

To help generate ideas and open up a huge range of possibilities I have developed the acronym CREATIVE. Use these methods to ignite your inventive talents. 


Combine

What can you combine? 
• A joint promotion with other schools? 
•  A community partnership? 
•  A sharing of costs? 
•  A coupling of events for a brighter effect? 
•  A combination of staff and volunteers?

Rearrange

Keep the best bits, throw out the old and add something new. Try it with an annual event, a website, a new school crest, an outdated policy, a fundraiser, an advertisement, the entrance foyer, the carpark, your office.

Eliminate

What is the main annoyance facing your parents? Eliminate it. Eliminate slow response rates by replacing with email. Eliminate the cost by finding a sponsor. Eliminate poor office PR by training staff in customer relations.

Adapt

Adapt concepts used in the commercial world - an advertisement, a phrase, a song, a fundraising event. When you’re out and about, take digital photographs of the things you like such as signage, posters and merchandise, then play around with them on your computer until you come up with a new look that incorporates your school colours and crest. 
Try adapting your programs to appeal to a specialized market such as the only child.

Talk less and listen more

Whenever I run marketing seminars with staff, parents and governing members I find they come up with brilliant ideas to promote their school. To facilitate creative inspiration throw them a challenge and listen to their responses. What are their needs? Which designs catch their eye? Listen to detect changing social trends. Listen to complaints and use them to become more customer-oriented. 

Invest

Invest time in reading and networking for ideas. Invest $$$ in professional development, courses, meetings and magazines where other peoples’ methods and ideas are discussed. 

Vary

Act like a bower bird and collect samples of brochures, posters, prospectuses, photographs, websites, promo material to stimulate ideas, then vary the design, colours, materials and size to suit your budget and needs. For example, if you are planning to exhibit at an expo take a look at what other schools have done in the past before you design your own unique display.

Enthuse

Be willing to try new things, expand your horizons, do it differently, take a risk, get some professional help and be BOLD.


About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). She is an international authority on school promotion and community relations. 
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to reproduce or transfer any part of this article without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

Customer Relations Training for Non-Teaching Staff

Good manners is an old fashioned word, yet it is a highly desired form of behaviour that adds to a school’s culture of courtesy. To make sure that positive PR greets people at your school, you need to provide professional development in customer relations for non-teaching staff. Below is an outline of different training models?

People who are customer-centric, use respectful words and exercise tact, are an asset to any school. This is particularly true for administrative staff who are important ambassadors for the school when they receive enquiries, take messages and deal with complaints.

If non-teaching staff know how to talk on the phone, dress in a professional manner, meet 'n greet, act calmly in difficult situations, say no politely, and use their body language to convey a friendly message, they cast a culture of courtesy that outwardly suggests that the school operates in a  respectful environment.

But it is a mistake to think that good public relations comes naturally, or that it can be imposed from the top. Good manners is a form of behaviour that is learned, and it needs regular refreshment.
As schools realise the place that office and support staff play in projecting the culture of the school they are investing in PR training for non-teaching staff. I have participated in several different professional development models, three of which are outlined below.

Model 1: Whole school professional development


When Wenona School held a professional development day on a Saturday afternoon they placed different staff segments into different workshops. I facilitated a three-hour session on customer relations, which was specifically designed for people from the office, library, uniform shop, boarding school and maintenance team. The group also included two members of the board of governors. 

We spent a good deal of time talking about their experiences of good and bad customer service. After all, everyone is a customer at some time of the day - on the receiving end of customer service. 
We looked at the workplace image that each person wished to project, for example:  caring, professional, efficient - and discussed the actions that were needed to achieve such image objectives. As a finale, the group developed a customer service creed:  Approachable Always, Wenona Cares.

Having a creed is a good way to sum up a workshop and generate group cohesiveness. One of the most creative creeds I have seen was developed by Northern Beaches Secondary College who used the school’s initials to promise: Nothing But Superior Care. 

When non-teaching staff are included in professional development workshops in this way they always say it makes them feel valued by their school. A feeling of being appreciated and being part of a team is a great motivational force.

Model 2: Small group discussion


In this model the school’s marketing officer, or an outside facilitator, runs an in-service session for non-teaching staff for 60-90 minutes per week using role play and discussion. 

It doesn’t take long to see how important it is for non-teaching staff to come together, to talk and to share information in a structured way.  It helps administrative staff see their role in the big picture and how their actions impact on others. The facilitator needs to generate relevant discussion and keep the group focused. It helps to have a workbook so that participants can prepare for a session beforehand and arrive at the discussion with ideas in mind.

Model 3: Distance learning


Where time is too tight to train staff in groups, or it is impossible to release them from their post for discussion, or it is too expensive to engage an outside facilitator, schools can use the Centre for Marketing Schools distance training course Customer Relations Course for Non-Teaching Staff.  The school enrols a staff member in the course and the candidate receives a workbook and a personal mentor who guides her by phone and email through 6 interactive lessons on essential topics of customer care. These  include managing first impressions, effective communication, body language, people handling and time management.

Edweena Horsley, administrative assistant at Georgiana Molloy Anglican School in Western Australia, undertook the course and said it helped her cope better with the many demands on her time in a busy school. “The course helped me realise that a caring school starts at the front office,” she said. 

Edweena’s handsome Customer Relations Certificate was framed and displayed in Reception as recognition of her achievement and as a subtle marketing tool for people coming through the front door to see that the school takes customer service seriously.

Most administrative staff are not used to studying and do not have the confidence to undertake a course, so a personal mentor is an effective motivator to keep people on track and maintain motivation so the candidate finishes the whole course. In this way Centre for Marketing Schools has a 99% success rate in achieving graduation. 

Training topics


No matter which model of training you use there are certain things that can help non-teaching staff realise their importance in establishing a culture of customer service.

Explain the market forces at work
When staff understand the external political, social and demographic forces that drive school marketing, and the ways that other schools are responding to the changing environment they begin to see the need for better customer relations. It often comes as a surprise to those who are insulated from the competitive edge of education to hear the impact that outside forces are having on schools. 

Identify good and bad customer service
Most workshop participants tell me they have never really stopped to think how they can manage their workplace image or what messages they are projecting about the school, so it is helpful to consider how a professional person talks, listens, looks and acts. 

Often staff do not realise that by ignoring a parent who walks into the office or the uniform shop they are sending negative vibes. Other no-nos are to leave callers hanging-on, to give out wrong information, to pass callers from one person to another and to sound hurried and brusque as though the caller is an interruption.

Modern manners
Good manners change depending on the social milieu. For example, communication manners now include email.  I receive a mountain of email correspondence from schools without an email signature. It fails the most elementary good manners test – identifying who you are.

Every email that goes out from the office should include a professional email signature that identifies the name of the sender, their work title, the school name and location, phone and internet address. As email is a global communication tool, the signature should include country of origin and the international codes for phone etc.  A professional email signature should be included every time on every email. It should be a professional habit. Anything less displays poor business manners. Others notice!

The Centre for Marketing Schools Course in Customer Relations
This course is explained more fully here.  If you would like a brochure on the Centre for Marketing Schools' Customer Relations For Non-Teaching Staff  by distance learning, email office@centreformarketingschools.com.au

About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). 
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to email this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

School Tours

Winning strategies for school tours at Ballarat Grammar School, Victoria, Australia by Rob Olston, Marcia Matthews and Linda Vining 

The School Tour ranks with the front office in establishing the image of your school. It must project warmth, care and professionalism. The preparation for tours must be as thorough as that undertaken by an actor taking to the stage; lines should be learnt, props must be in place, and interaction with the audience takes top priority.

At Ballarat Grammar School, school tours are so effective that the school gains an 85-90% enrolment return. Rob Olston and Marcia Matthews from the Admissions Department, give their tips for a winning performance.


1. Preparation


Know your route. Plot a fluid route that is circular in nature, takes in major highlights and brings the group back to the starting point. Walk your route daily, repairing the torn notice-board; removing broken chairs; cleaning graffiti and removing litter.

Avoid the following:
backtracking; 
locked, barred doors
too many stairs and long corridors
scrabbling around trying to find keys
Have at the ready:
Umbrellas for rain or sun; in school colours of course.
Keys to all areas and to security systems.

Know your visitors. From their enquiry and tour bookings, memorise visitors’ names, where they have been to school and the names of siblings and relatives at your school. Research their connections with your school so that you can show interest in them.

Arrange student guides to accompany your tour. Choose them carefully and instruct them in their role and demeanour - hands out of pockets; talking topics, and what not to say. Student guides can be developed into buddies during the next enrolment phase - the orientation process.


2. Timing Of Visit


Always be ready to meet with parents at THEIR convenience, especially for country families who may be passing through provincial towns on their way to a weekend of family or sports gatherings.
Skillfully endeavour to place the tour to avoid changes in class times, lunch and recess times. Morning tours are best before afternoon restlessness is apparent and lunchtime litter is dispersed.

3. The Arrival


Meet the tourers at the car park/front gate. Allow the car to park and the party to gather their thoughts before approaching; greet them with names, handshakes, smiles; make them feel that they are special visitors.

4. Address Customer Needs Enroute


As you move, talk to the prospective children, discovering their interests and adjusting the tour route so that their interests are highlighted.

Through chatter and an astute mind, discover mum’s and dad’s aspirations for their children. For example, if mum is keen for her daughter to play the violin in an orchestra, highlight the string program within the music department detailing how lessons are conducted and the availability of ancillary music programs.

Never talk, other than in passing, about your own children and their exploits, even though you might be extremely proud of them.

Never take your mobile phone or do other business on tour; this screams inattention.

As you tour, speak to your host students by name and perhaps throw them a question to demonstrate you know them and to display warmth and care for the individual.

Introduce host students by name and invite the visitors to ask them questions. Feel confident to leave the visitors chatting with host students privately for a few minutes. For example, the mother of a prospective boarder may ask the host student about the ease of transition to boarding and will value frank, spontaneous responses.

Don’t talk non-stop, but introduce new information at specific, relevant points. For example, at the swimming pool speak of sports programs; in computer labs talk of technology; in the hydroponics room talk of extension programs.

Don’t labour points but have a flowing, succinct, patter that provides factual content and underlying substance.

Moving through classrooms conducted by competent staff is far more impressive than simply pointing out facilities from a corridor or external footpath.   

Alert staff to tour times and dates.

Know the teachers who are confident in the classroom and who will not be phased if the tour party moves through their classroom, e.g. through a chemistry lab where students are doing practical experiments. Students can be asked to explain the nature of their exercise.

If possible, chat to teachers in areas the group is interested in; boarding masters; music teachers etc.

Classrooms which have separate entry and exit doors are very useful in aiding the fluidity of tour movement.

Involve prospective children in activities. For example, in the gym, give students a turn on a rowing machine; in the music department invite them to blow on a sax or thump on a drum; get them to feel the temperature of the water in the swimming pool!

5. Back To The Admissions Office


Have the School Information Kit prepared in advance with some ‘reminder’ material; e.g. pens, stickers etc. (Don’t go fossicking in a back room to quickly assemble a package).

Have some refreshments on offer.

Point to the toilets nearby, which you have checked for cleanliness and accessories beforehand.

Don’t hurry the group. Allow them to sit and ask as many questions as they need. Continue to give them your full attention.

On departure, invite prospective families to contact you if they have further enquiries, giving them your card and relevant contacts.

6. To Their Car


Walk them to the car with your host students, fare-welling all with handshakes and a positive challenge to the youngsters “Keep up that good work in your maths, Simon!”
Wait as they head down the drive, giving a farewell wave. Hopefully your visitors will feel they have developed new friendships which will strengthen further as their children proceed on to your school.


About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). 
For more information on marketing strategies see Linda’s book  “Purple Power for Memorable School Marketing”
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to email this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

Market Position

What position does your school hold in the marketplace?

Stop . . .  This question does not ask where you see yourself; rather it asks how other people see you? 

That’s quite a different proposition.


When this question was put to Julie Brentson, registrar at Investigator College as part of her coursework for the Diploma in School Marketing, she set about finding out just what the local population thought about her school. She was in for a few surprises.

Wearing her corporate uniform and name badge, Julie canvassed the opinions of local business people within a one-kilometre radius of the school. She introduced herself and informed respondents that she was undertaking market research on community perceptions about Investigator College. As part of the conversation she asked two questions: How would you describe Investigator College to someone new to the area? What do you know about the College (if anything)?

“It was a bit confronting at first,” said Julie,  “but I used to work in real estate and my experience in the field came back, and progressively I began to relax and enjoy it.”

Investigator College is a Christian School situated on the Murray River, 80 kilometres south of Adelaide. Julie conducted her research in Goolwa,  a rural town with a local population of 6,500. The school has 650 students from reception to year 12 spread across two campuses. Six years ago it underwent a management and name change.

Julie discovered that outsiders held an assortment of perceptions, and, generally speaking, were not well-informed about the school. In some cases, the facts they gave back to her were wrong or outdated. 

The local real estate agent knew very little about the school and this was a worry because Goolwa is a revitalizing town that is attracting young families looking for a lifestyle change. 
“The local real estate office is usually the first port of call for people coming to live in Goolwa, and the question a family invariably asks is the name of the good schools in the area,” said Julie. 

Her small sample was a convincing indication that the marketing office had a lot of work to do to reposition the school and develop an accurate identity in the community’s mind. Her research and action plan formed part of her final assignment for her diploma, which was to prepare a strategic marketing plan for Investigator College.

Defining your position in the marketplace


Market position is a reflection of your image. It is the perception that lives in the minds of your target audience; for example, you may see your school as progressive, creative and well-managed, with good academic results and a focus on the performing arts. In contrast, the community, for whatever reason, may see you as that singing and dancing school with noisy, unkempt kids without a uniform and not much discipline. The former is your view; the latter is your market position. 

Market position happens whether or not you do anything about it, and is often measured relative to the position of your competitors.

 If you manage your image and project a clear, consistent identity you can reposition your school in the collective mind, but market position is something that needs constant maintenance. 
Market position can be fragile, as many a school has found after an unhappy run of media glare. The first thing you need to do is gather valid data on how you are seen beyond the rosy glow of your loyal supporters. The market research undertaken by Investigator College is an excellent starting point.

Next you need to manage your image by defining the market position you want to achieve, and work to put this in place. When I asked Julie what she would like people to be saying about Investigator College she replied: “a very good, school, from reception to year 12.” As a marketer it takes a lot of hard work to plant this simple image in the collective mind. Here are suggestions to guide you.

6 steps to reposition your school


Know the message you want to get out
Simplify the school’s identity and make sure all staff are pulling in the same direction with a clear understanding of the quality features of the school, its strategic direction, its ethos and image objectives. Talk about this regularly with both teaching and non-teaching staff.
  
Define your target audience 
Anyone who has an opinion about the school that they discuss with others is your target audience. This includes your present, former and prospective students, parents and staff, local business people, other educational institutions, and any other groups that are relevant to you, such as clergy. You need to plant and maintain a positive, accurate image of your school in their minds. 

Decide how you will reach people
Schools have many channels of communication to reach their target audiences – consider what they read, what they do and where they gather; and be there. 

Ensure quality of promotional material
Consistency is important so make sure you have quality promotional material, a good website and a style guide for internal use. 

Train staff 
Operating in a competitive market environment is a new concept for staff (teaching and non-teaching) so they need training to help them understand market forces, the attributes of a customer friendly school, and why they should pull together to project a unified image. 

Evaluate 
Some of your marketing strategies will be successful and others will not, so you need a way to track and record the effectiveness of different approaches. It’s a good idea to use SMART objectives. This acronym stands for objectives that are 
Specific - goals that are expressed as a number, frequency, or percentage.
Measurable – methods to measure outcomes in quantitative terms.
Achievable – resources, the time, the right people, the political environment, the budget to get results.
Relevant – objectives that will benefit your school.
Time defined – action plans with a start and finish time.

With a Strategic Marketing Plan with SMART objectives you are ready to raise awareness about your school’s positive features and develop a fresh new identity. I find it takes about 10 months to change community perception, so don’t expect an instant turn-around. Gradually you will hear a different sort of talk– there will be a consistent positive buzz that you will hear wherever you go. When people genuinely start feeding back to you the information you have been projecting outwards you will know that your repositioning strategy is working.

About the author
Dr Linda Vining was the Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). 
For more information on marketing strategies see Linda’s book  “Purple Power for Memorable School Marketing”
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to email this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

School Marketing using Modern Communication Technology

An increasing number of schools are using new communication technologies in school marketing to attract and retain families and enhance community relations with their former students and other community members. This article explores the communication revolution taking place in school marketing and gives examples of schools that are pushing the marketing frontiers using digital technology. 

Adam Triode is a 34-year-old father who is in the market for schools for his two sons. Adam has grown up with the internet and he thinks and communicates in contemporary ways. He does not read newspapers or watch TV. Because he is time-poor he avoids Open Days and School Tours but he says he likes Education Expos where he can examine many schools in one location. He looks at his Facebook accounts each morning before he looks at his emails. He stays connected to his former school and former classmates via social networking. 

Adam is typical of the time poor modern parent. Schools that want to engage with such parents cannot take the old methods of marketing and apply them in a contemporary setting. A radical shift is needed. Modern communication tools can help schools talk to this demographic. This includes the e-prospectus, online newsletters, videos, websites, blogs and social media. 

Schools in the reception to Year 12 marketplace have a captive audience. With few exceptions, all children enter the school system and work their way through. As school marketers, unlike our counterparts in retail, we don’t have to convince our clients to buy education over a competing product. But we do have to convince them to buy our package or brand over another school’s offerings and we have to continually assure them that they made the right choice when they selected our school to educate their children. 

Private, Catholic and government schools spend thousands of dollars doing this. They conscientiously package and brand their distinctive services for both local and overseas markets, because a discerning public wants good quality, easily accessible information to help them make complex decisions. 

Being distinctive in a crowded school marketplace


Operating in a market environment has prompted schools to develop distinctive features and package and brand themselves in response to the prevailing market forces. For example, a drop in national boarding school enrolments has prompted boarding schools to re-engineer their product by offering casual boarding and weekly boarding. Some call it boutique boarding. As a consequence of biting headlines about sexual abuse and bullying, boarding schools have also become more responsive to customer concerns, hence the development of training program for staff working in residential care. Boarding schools are becoming more open and accountable and using online communication to enhance school /parent relations. 

Long established schools in ageing residential areas face enrolment fallout as kids grow up and move out. The recent demise of historic Annesley College in Adelaide in 2010 after over 100 years, and the closure of many city schools is testament to this demographic change. As the local market dries up, many inner city schools are importing students from overseas and turning to untapped niche market segments, such as indigenous students and refugee families. This requires a different sort of outreach.

Newly established schools in population growth areas respond to a different set of market forces. They vie for credibility delivered by bright students who help build their academic reputation. They project vitality and zest via youthful images, dazzling colours, sparkling prospectuses and modern interactive websites using blogs, and other interactive media.  
Not surprisingly, schools in a competitive marketplace look for niche and emerging markets to expand their student population. Distinctive offerings include innovative programs for gifted and talented students, scholarships, bursaries and fee reductions for a private education, special programs for sporting stars (Westfields Sports High School) and excellent opportunities for music maestros (Conservatorium High School). 

Religion places many schools in a clearly defined market position and these schools capitalise on a values-rich ethos.

Single sex schools draw clear-cut pictures about their unique benefits.  Promotional material of other schools may concentrate on leadership. At The King’s School in Sydney, headmaster Dr Tim Hawkes has written a book on boys’ education and toured the state presenting public lectures on ways to motivate boys’ learning. Girls’ schools are equally aggressive in the marketplace with slogans such as “All She Can Be’ (The Glennie School, Queensland). Others convincingly sell the advantages of co-education, such as a global perspective promoted by Sandringham College in Victoria.

For a long time, technology has set some schools apart. MLC School for Girls in Melbourne is a market leader in this field and has built a competitive advantage by promoting computer-assisted learning. The school’s powerful marketing attracts parents keen to secure a technological future for their daughters. 

An emerging target for the market conscious school is the early adolescent sector. Trinity Lutheran College in Ashmore Queensland appointed a Head of Middle School with a qualification in school marketing. Another emerging target market is early childhood education. Prince Alfred College in Adelaide and Caulfield Girls Grammar School in Victoria boasts state-of-the-art, award-winning facilities in their early learning centres. 

Selective high schools such as James Ruse High in NSW, offer benefits for students intent on academic achievement. Every year their HSC results are their strongest selling point. (but over 95% Asian)

Vocational colleges such as St Patrick’s Technical College in Adelaide are gaining ground in a competitive marketplace by offering career pathways. 

Other schools differentiate themselves by promoting language studies or specialisation in the performing arts. A well-promoted reputation for environmental studies is a strong selling point for The Hills Grammar School at Dural in NSW.

A Jazz Academy at the enterprising Tenison Woods College in South attracts regional and international students to the specialist Year 13 high-profile course. www.tenison.adl.catholic.edu.au
No matter the specialisation a school may offer, or its geographic location, it needs to get the message out far and wide to attract enrolments.

Technology delivers school marketing message


Time-poor people want easy access to quality information. They want it fast and simple and preferably as visual language. They also like interactive communication where they can have their say. Market oriented school are using the following digital methods to satisfy these needs: 

Good School Websites


An interactive website has the potential to engage readers and drive them deeper into a school. Below are examples from the School Marketing Awards that show how innovative schools are applying modern communication techniques.

Each year the Centre for Marketing Schools run the international School Marketing Awards to recognise excellence in promotional productions. The Gold Award at the 2010 School Marketing Awards went to Newington College in Sydney. The judges described the website as ‘sophisticated with good functionality and design’.
Take a look at www.newingtoncollege.nsw.edu.au

Judges were impressed with the biography blocks that highlight members of staff, the video blocks (YouTube) and the map blocks that use google maps to embed locations (such as sports fixtures). They liked the easy downloads for a range of enrolment forms. They also pointed to the event calendar that is accessible from the home page and each campus page. They appreciated the high level of search engine capability. 

As a marketing document they appreciated that the home page identified the school by answering three essential marketing questions: Who? What? Where? Contact details were on every page in the footer.

This clever market oriented school integrates its advertising with its website. Look at its sensational cinema advertisement on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wq4PYHHCMk

In 2009, a winning website was Covenant Christian School in NSW. This website continues to evolve with outstanding content and interactivity. Instead of creating one website the school decided to create three linked sites. Each is designed for a distinct audience. The main site www.covenant.nsw.edu.au is for prospective parents, the second and most popular is a blogsite for the current community, and the third for former students and staff.  Although the school only has 800 students the website averages over 3,000 visits each week. With over 2000 pages and a clever use of keywords, the site performs very well with search engines.

A School Tour on DVD has been an effective tool for helping existing families share the school with others. Offering the free DVD and school tours are a major focus of the website. Being willing to try new things has helped the school grow more in three years than in the previous ten. 

The school’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/covenantschool has over 100 videos. This combined with facebook and twitter allows families to have a greater insight into the life of the school. Marketing Manager, Neil Pierson says, “I keep discovering new things with the world of connecting people. While Covenant have embraced a lot of new ideas there is so much more we could do!!”

School Promotional Videos


Some people will wade through pages of text but these people are getting thin on the ground...there is no better way to communicate the uniqueness of your school and convey what business you are actually in than video. It can bring your school to life.

Some will say, “hang on... we’re stretched enough already, how do we do all of this?”

Well, you have within your students a resource already expert in many new media trends and processes as the following examples demonstrate.

Tamani Anderson Powell is the Director of Marketing for the Magnet Schools in Wake County, North Carolina, USA. She uses videos to promote her cluster of public schools. Students Mary and Dolphus made one of these videos. It’s original and creative, possibly a little long, but worth a look www.wcpss.net  

Another comes from Beechwood School in the UK where students have used video clips to add a fresh look to their website www.beechwood.org.uk

A good video is catching. This one from Hope Christian School has gone around the world in a viral way www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zGFqSji420 

The Why Christian Schools  blogsite  includes over 100 promotional videos from Christian schools around the world.

It seems that expensive clichéd videos are passé. Authenticity is the new language of the marketplace and that’s why student-made, natural productions (with all their technical imperfections ... not slick productions, but fun-filled, home-made efforts) are holding our attention.

The NSW Department of Education and Training has launched a major project encouraging schools to work with students to produce digital promotional material for use on the school’s website. The project is called the Great Schools ‘Show-off’. Ros Bastian, Senior Promotions Officer, says, “We want everyone to find out more about our great public schools. Through this new and exciting schools promotion project, schools are being encouraged to tell their school story, to let everyone know of the outstanding work being done in NSW public schools. Students are producing amazing videos, vodcasts, web pages and a variety of other technology based materials. Working under the guidance of a teacher, students will be encouraged to use these skills to create a short promotional film, video, animation or other digital or photographic material to use on their school website, and elsewhere, to promote their school’s successes and achievements to their local community.”

School Video Testimonials


Another effective marketing device is testimonial interviews. A contemporary presentation using video interviews on ‘Why choose a Christian school’ uses interviews with parents and teachers in a powerful way  

‘Why Christian Schools’ was created by Neil Pierson to help address questions parents ask about Christian Schools. Neil says . . . 
“When I meet marketers from other schools I realise that parents are asking the same questions everywhere, yet no-one seems to be using video to answer these common questions. I hope this will be a helpful tool for schools to start discussions with parents.” 
Videography and the interview style are also being used as a tool for recording the history of a school. Covenant Christian School is 32-years-old and the school has just released edited footage on YouTube of old interviews with the school’s pioneers. Neil Pierson says, “Our aim is to communicate the school’s vision to a new generation”. Take a look at this moving footage at
www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYgjEvMD6i8)

While making your own video is lots of fun, there are some things you need to be aware of when making natural/authentic videos on YouTube. Here are a few . . .
-  It is illegal to use copyright music. 
-  Be careful about letting comments go up automatically rather than selecting "comments allowed with approval". 
-  The school can lose control over a video if it is posted on another person’s channel (eg a former student’s channel). 
-  Make sure you have permission from the people who appear in the video.

Social media creates interactive culture in schools


Today, school communications are going interactive driven by product innovation and society’s growing digital literacy. You may ask “is it the school’s place to be hosting social media conversations for parents? You bet. In a world where it is difficult to get busy parents engaged with our schools, the new way of building community is online.

One of the most surprising developments is that people don’t visit websites in the numbers they once did. This seems incongruous considering that we are more web savvy, connected and being subjected to more content than ever before. The big change is that websites are no longer the font of all knowledge. Content is being pushed out, replaced by social media, which is creating and absorbing much of our time online.

What does all this mean to schools? It means that if your communication and marketing strategy is confined to the cyclical newsletter and institutional website, you’re falling behind.
Schools are marketing to a new parent body. Websites aren’t enough any more. You have to stay ahead with technology. This includes Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and Blogs, websites optimised for mobile phones, RSS Feeds delivering up to date news, and Forums. Businesses are delivering these to computers, smart phones and now iPads because they realise that to get their message heard they need to deliver it in a medium that customers want... not the way they want. 

Marketing in the digital age is not just about pushing out messages that people will “buy”... it’s also about opening up your community to the outside world and letting others get involved.
Social media is giving schools the opportunity to develop a sharing and collaborative culture – 86% of Australians online are looking to fellow internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands ... why not aim to get the same level of support flowing through a school community and out into the broader community.

And what part do you think kids play in choosing a school these days? You better believe that it’s significant. And you also better believe that they’ve done their research... but they didn’t check out web sites first. No, they spoke to their “friends”.

When I was at school, out of a student population of 1100 students my network was probably 5 or 10 close friends. Sometimes we’d have pen pals as an alternative to school friends. Today, networks are huge and constantly changing. Connecting with those networks is a primary focus (not just of students but also of young parents) and they seek opinions from their network of “friends”. They trust what their friends say. When Adam Torode was looking for schools for his two boys he went to his online network and asked his friends to relate their experiences with schools. On this basis he developed a short list. This is the power of new media.

School Blogs 


Feedback from customers is valuable information and an exciting way to engage and interact with your audience. By hosting a blog site, a school can play host to two-way conversations, allowing the entire community to engage. 

Covenant Christian School in Sydney averages two new stories each school day on their blogsite. It makes extensive use of photos and video. In three years the blogsite now has over 1,000 stories and 10,000 photos. Students, parents and staff regularly add comments to the stories. The comments need to be approved before being displayed. Neil Pierson says “it has allowed our community to engage and better understand what is happening at the school and congratulate each other. Parents and students love seeing photos of themselves. The blogsite helps demonstrate and reassure current parents that the school is providing a rich and varied education”.

Here’s an example of a blog making a Principal more personable and accessible. The Knox School in Victoria broadcasts a Principal’s Blog each week on its website www.knox.vic.edu.au. Principal Suzanne McChesney gives an account of her week listing highlights with her personal thoughts and aspirations and an occasional cute photograph. It gives her the freedom to express her human side in a personal conversation with the reader. She is holding a relationship building conversation that allows a parent to ask the Principal at Saturday sport, “How did you enjoy the film last week that you went to see at the Dendy Theatre on Thursday night?”

A Canadian arts publicist, Rebecca Coleman, who specialises in social media writes:
”In the past we employed ‘spray and pray’: i.e. you got as much marketing material as possible, and put it in as many places as possible. Your goal was to reach as wide an audience as possible, because you never knew where they were. I’m talking billboards, TV commercials, sides of buses, ads in the newspaper, posters, postcards, websites . . . the whole works. The problem with spray and pray is that it’s expensive. And the return on your investment was minimal, maybe, if you were lucky, 10%. Today, marketers are looking for niche markets via social media.  But you can’t just spray and pray to new niche markets using the same methods. Marketing Tweets and Facebook work if the receiver knows who you are and they are already interested in what you do. They inform in a timely, personal way, but they are a real turn-off if you are just trying to sell something. The secret of social media is to think relationship, not ‘bums' on seats.

School E-Prospectus


People want information quickly, preferably as visual images. Here’s a school that has dispensed with the traditional prospectus and uses video to present a parent’s view, a teacher’s view and a student’s view of the school www.pilgrim.sa.edu.au/Default.aspx?tabid=67

Another outstanding, fully electronic prospectus with automatic page -turning comes from Bloxham School, a small school in rural England www.bloxhamschool.com

School E-newsletter


When Fernhurst School in North England changed direction it needed a vehicle to communicate this. The school’s new mission is to get
disaffected and/or disengaged learners back into positive education via a vocational route. Take a look at their new e-letter eepurl.com/bCG2b 
Marketing Coordinator Jenny England set up the newsletter using mailchimp and she suggests that others many find this useful. 

She writes . . . This high-tech newsletter is completely free and pretty straightforward. It's got people talking about our school in a positive way. It is fab for market research. I can track exactly who opened it, how many times they viewed it and which link was clicked on the most often. 

School Newsletters on mobile phone


Parents don’t connect in the car park the way once did – the pace and pressure of modern life has seen to that. But, if you want to move from simply being an information provider to community builder you need to move your marketing strategy from “one to many” to a “many to many” format.
 
School newsletters should consider moving to an online optimised format. This is important with the growing use of smart phones... Mum and Dad, and prospective parents, now have the ability to connect with school content on the run via their mobiles. Giving parents options on how to receive information is important. The traditional paper newsletter may still work for 30% of your parents but the others may prefer electronic versions. The purpose of a newsletter is communication. Therefore it is essential to use the mediums your clients use.

And don’t underestimate the mobile phone. It’s going to become the primary source of communication and information gathering. Organic LED screens as thin as paper that can be folded and taken anywhere will solve the issue of information display. 

Mobile phones incorporating miniature projection capabilities will also make any clear surface ideal for display.

So, simply by delivering information in more contemporary mechanisms and allowing for two way communications, you automatically lift parental and student involvement and promote engagement. 

Continuous school marketing


So there are many channels to connect with parents to promote the school and build community relations, but once is not enough. You need a continuous marketing strategy to convey your message to your audience in different ways, with spaced repetition, over time.

You need to approach a prospect no less than seven times before giving up and moving on. A system of multiple exposures works best. For schools this may mean reiterations via advertising, website, internet, expos, mail-outs, follow-up emails and follow-up phone calls Different communication spaced apart (2 weeks to start then less frequently) can effectively build top-of-the-mind awareness.

A priority for the future will be to manage community involvement in schools and to build stronger bonds with the rising tide of vocal and discerning customers. Smart players in the marketplace realise that the methods and thinking that got them to where they are today will definitely not get them to where they want to be tomorrow.

About the authors
Dr Linda Vining was the Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools. Neil Pierson is the new Director and co-wrote this article for Mal Lee.

School Anniversary to Promote Your School

School Anniversary Celebration | School Marketing & Promotion Ideas Your school anniversary celebration is a perfect opportunity to showcase the present, against the backdrop of the past. And it offers great potential as a PR event. It can advance a positive image of your school and unite your local community. When planning your celebration check these 12 marketing points. 

1.  Focus on the school's future  

The most important question to ask before the hard work begins is: “Why are we doing this? How can it advance our school?” It’s very easy to get carried away with displays and entertainment and neglect to plan for tangible benefits to the school. 

When a small school with declining enrolments reflected on its centenary celebrations, the principal realised that they had failed to attract the people they most wanted – young, prospective families. Most of the visitors were 50+ and they had come to look back. “In retrospect, we realised we had failed to target the young families in our district; the people we wanted most to visit our school. Goodwill is great, but the wrong audience can be an enormous effort for little real return to the school,” she said. 

Set your goals early so you don’t fall into this trap. 

2.  Decide what you want to achieve

An anniverary celebration is a time to throw open your school to the public. Some of your aims may be to:
  • Build community awareness. 
  • Present a dynamic or a new image. 
  • Use the past to showcase the present.
  • Unify the school community.
  • Establish external partnerships.
  • Attract prospective families. 
  • Build a database of former students.
  • Gather historical material. 

3.  Design a centenary logo

Mark this special occasion with a special logo. Get professional design help for this job. Use your school crest to develop your 100 year symbol, making sure the name of the school is highlighted. The logo becomes the visual symbol to use on letterhead, banners, merchandise etc. A big paper carry-bag for collectibles is a great place to show off your centenary logo.

4.  Promote in the right places

Think strategically and never assume an audience will show up. Promote your event where your target audience will see it. For ex-ample, newspapers and magazines reach the older set. Younger families are more likely to see a poster at the pre-school, shopping centre or on the gym notice board. Put up appealing posters where children go. 

Put an announcement in other school newsletters and personally invite P&C committees from surrounding schools. Do a local letterbox drop. Get the librarians from the municipal library involved.

  • Develop a promotional centenary web page with all the details of what’s on, when and where. Also mention parking and catering arrangements. 
  • Issue personal invitations to community members and invite them to have their photos taken for posterity on this historic occasion. 
  • Think big; invite the Prime Minister, the Minister for Education, local politicians and any other VIPs you fancy.
  • Prepare a one-page background briefing with photographs to accompany invitations and to submit with your media releases.

5.  Have something to sell

Souvenirs sell like hotcakes and are revenue raisers, so have a selection of crested ware for young and old. Quality embossed glasses and vases appeal to the older set. Tea towels are popular for people wanting to buy a small item and they make a good gift to send to those who cannot attend. T-shirts, rulers, water bottles and medallions attract the children.

A celebration port, a celebration plate, a centenary rose or a celebration tree to plant in the home garden or at the school are popular ideas. If you are planning to propagate a new rose named after your school you should allow 2 years to breed it and it will cost about $3,000. A rose breeder that I can recommend is Roses Roses in Adelaide. Ph 08 8556 2955 

Sell souvenirs early to publicise the centenary. And at the end of the event, use them as thank-you gifts. Be generous with souvenirs and be prepared to give them away as PR tools.  They are of little value after the event.

6.  Prepare a pictorial publication

A centenary celebration is not complete without a history book. You can do it in print and/or on the internet. If you are a government school the place to start is the education department’s history unit. You may even get financial assistance. A book is a focal point for community involvement, but you need to make an early start. 

Looking back is fine, but schools are all about looking forward, so include photos and stories of the here-and-now. Do comparative studies by taking a present day photograph that parallels an historic picture and put them side by side. Write captions that link past achievements with future plans and advancement. Show how the past has provided a strong foundation for the present and the future.

7.  Raise Money to stage your celebration 

Many months before its celebration day, Byron Bay Public School held a family dinner party. Dress was turn of the century. A sing-along with a repertoire from long ago, and legs of lamb cooked on gas barbeques with damper bread and billy tea created an historical mood. Principal Helene Nichols said the night was a great financial success and created the right community atmosphere and raised the funding for all the hard work that was to follow. 

Anniversary celebrations, especially a centenary, are likely to appeal to sponsors because they offer wide exposure to the local community. Arrange for sponsors to finance your centenary book. For example, put a price of $100 on each page. Across the bottom of the page print the sponsor’s name, for example: ‘This page was donated by The Jones Family” or “Page sponsored by the Sunshine Valley Tennis Club’.

8.  Capture it on film

Budget for a competent photographer. After all, this only happens once. Beforehand, think how you want to use the photos e.g. newsletter, website, annual report, archives, local newspapers, national press etc. The photographer should be briefed to take:
  • Photos of the formalities, including VIPs, guest speakers, ceremony highlights, presentations.
  • Portrait shots of significant individuals, identified by the school beforehand.
  • Shots that contrast then and now. 
  • Families associated with the school over the generations.
  • Small group shots of the principal and staff with school captains and other students.
  • The youngest pupil with the oldest ex-student (good for press releases).
  • Shots of sponsors and/or their products to send as a follow-up and thank you. Make sure sponsors’ logos appear in the background of many of your photos.

9.  Provide entertainment 

In addition to speeches and presentations, offer a variety of activities to attract and entertain a crowd, such as pageants, music, dance through the ages, a fashion parade of historical costumes, lessons conducted in nineteenth century style, displays of historical items, old-time sports activities and a time capsule. Provide plenty of seats in shady locations and don’t forget a wet weather plan.  To guarantee a fulsome crowd you may decide to link your centenary to an open day, education week, a church service, another historical celebration or a festival in the district.

10. Get ready to receive visitors 

Your school will be on show and people will judge its quality by the simplest things, so present your best face. Get out the paint pot. Using school colours give a coat of paint to seats, railings, gates and garbage bins. Spruce up the garden and organise the parking lot. Make sure signs are fresh and notice boards are up-to-date and interesting. Dust away cobwebs and aim for sparkling glass windows everywhere. Remember the bathrooms. In other words, prepare your place by looking at it through the eyes of a visitor.

11. Involve the community

A school anniversary celebration offers enormous PR potential. If you see it as a rallying point that pulls your community together, you will assemble a diverse committee of staff and ex-staff, parents, former parents, former students and community members. 

A good community focus can be developed around a project such as the renovation of an old building or an old room, which can be re-named “The Centenary Room”.  People will throw up amazing ideas, but it is important not to lose sight of what the school is trying to achieve. Keep your goals in mind. Committee energy may need to be subtly channelled by school leaders to deliver a public relations event that will leave a positive impression in the community and build external partnerships. Common mistakes that leave a poor impression or lead to poor PR include:
  • Over optimistic plans that try to do too much.
  • Insufficient lead time to research, plan and prepare.
  • Failing to make plans for bad weather.
  • Too few volunteers on duty.
  • Parking chaos.
  • Too many speeches and not enough activities.
  • Last minute press releases that miss media deadlines. 
  • Insufficient publicity to target audiences.
  • Rubbish everywhere. Too few garbage bins.
  • Poor catering.
  • A poor range of souvenirs. 

12. Plan post school anniversary celebration PR 

The job is not finished until the official thank you letters have gone out to volunteers, visitors, speakers, sponsors and the media. Return all items lent to the school with a note of appreciation. It’s a good idea to start a catalogue in a special book early in the planning. For each item received, record and details of lender, a description of the item, points of interest, date received, special instructions for return and the date and method of return. When the event is over bring it to a wholesome wrap-up by debriefing and throwing a party to show appreciation to volunteers and staff. 

About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools. For other marketing strategies see Linda’s book  PURPLE POWER for memorable school marketing.
© Copyright applies. It is illegal to email or copy this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.
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School Website Design with CIMarketing

CIMarketing is a school web design specialist, offering you a complete online marketing solution. Let us help you!

As a marketing consultant and Director of the Centre for Marketing Schools I visit a lot of school websites. It's a hobby and a passion. There are some great ones. There are many ordinary ones. Some … well… need major work.

The Centre for Marketing Schools do not build websites… but we certainly know people who do.

Some web designers are graphic designers, others are web marketers. I would recommend the second. Covenant Christian School’s website was created by  former student Mark Barrett of CIMarketing. I have since used Mark and his team personally for several other client websites. They have also built several websites for people who asked for my recommendation.

Mark’s personal knowledge of the school did help the process. Yet it was his experience and expertise as a online marketer which was most important.

The CIMarketing team come up with ideas. They see what's working. They are passionate. They have gone beyond my brief and created, and continued to create, websites that work. Web 2.0 is all about two way interaction rather than a one way presentation of information. CIMarketing build on the Business Catalyst platform owned by Adobe. The platform makes it so much easier to expand and develop. It is worth finding a good platform as otherwise it can really limit your options.

I endorse and recommend the CIMarketing team. They have made this website as well. If you are wanting a website then include them in the discussions. I have been glad we did.

Neil Pierson
Storyteller - Centre for Marketing Schools


Cut the Cost of your School Electricity Lighting

Smart schools are discovering ways to cut costs and at the same time improve the environment. How would your school like to save A$24,000 per year on electricity costs? 

Would that saving put a smile on your Business Manager's face and give you a chance to increase your marketing budget? That is what Covenant Christian School on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is expecting.

Covenant has over 800 students. That means a lot of classrooms and a lot of light bulbs. Actually there were 1,390 fluorescent light tubes. One day a team of technicians explored the school. They were counting light tubes and armed with light meters to record how much light was being generated. Some rooms were brighter than they needed to be. Others were darker. Some rooms had good light in places, but possibly not over the computer keyboards where it most counts for staff on computers.

The team was from the Carbon Reduction Institute. They are passionate about the environment and business minded. They are approved to generate Energy Savings Certificates by the NSW Government. They are proactively helping many organisations, including schools, reduce their carbon footprint - which is great, yet they also save businesses money.

Over a few days in the holidays a team of workers swept through the school changing over the fluorescent light tubes. The new ones are thinner, produce dramatically less heat and create a brighter light. Due to very generous government rebates the overall expense to the school is expected to take less than six months to recoup. From there on it is ongoing electricity savings for the school. The current rebate scheme only applies in NSW Australia. 

If you are interested to know more email Storyteller Neil Pierson > Yes tell me more about CRI

Quick facts:

  • 50% energy savings in common scenarios
  • lasts over 8 times longer than a standard fluorescent tube
  • includes a minimum 2 year warranty

Did you know? - Quick History of Light Bulbs

In 1879 Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan developed the first incandescent lamp. It reportedly lasted a remarkable 13.5 hours. Edison continued experimenting and created filaments which eventually lasted 1,200 hours. The humble lightbulb changed society. 

However in the last decade the Western World has recognised that traditional light bulbs are terribly inefficient in terms of energy use. Only four to six percent of the electrical power was used for visible light. The vast majority was wasted as heat. They literally burnt money. Fortunately many homes have now converted to the more energy efficient compact fluorescent lambs.

Yet schools and businesses don't tend to use lightbulbs. They use traditional long fluorescent lamps.  Developed in the 1930's these use less energy, waste less heat and last 10 to 20 times as long as an incandescent bulb. They were remarkable. Yet sadly little has changed in the design for over 70 years - even with rising electricity costs. Fortunately the New Generation of fluorescent lamps are thinner, use less raw materials to make, save 45% of energy consumption and last longer.

QR Stuff - Harness the power of mobile

Make it easy for the increasing numbers of people surfing the web via mobile to find you. QR Codes are those funny little squares which are popping up everywhere. 

QR stands for Quick Response. Using a smart phone camera the Code is scanned and prompts an action. With increasing number of people accessing the internet via mobile their popularity is set to grow. Scanning a QR Code could open a website, open an email, make a phone call or link direct to an online video. It is a quick and easy way of adding life and interaction to your school marketing materials.

Many websites offer QR Code generators. The Centre for Marketing Schools recommends QR Stuff. QR Stuff enable you to generate, track traffic, and EDIT the action taken. This ongoing flexibility makes it much easier for you as a school marketer. Changing where a QR Code directs the user can means the viewer can always be taken to your latest material.

LogoInn School Logo Design

Need a new School Logo design? Low cost online option. Create a logo for school events, fundraising program.

School Logo Design is Important

Are you wanting a new school logo? Or do you just need a new logo to promote your After School Program? Don’t settle for a boring logo created in Microsoft Word or Publisher. The internet now gives you access to a world of designers at good prices.

A good logo can make a big difference in setting first impressions.  What do people say about your logo? Would they use any of these words:

  • Unprofessional
  • Old fashioned
  • Busy
  • Cluttered
  • Ugly
  • Confusing

If so then whatever people say about the logo they are likely to attribute the same qualities to the entire school.

Changing your main school logo is not something to be treated lightly. As well as the history connected to a logo there are practical considerations to be budgeted for. Stationery, uniform, signage and website would all need to change. I have twice been involved in changing a logo for a corporation. While I loved the process of being presented with loads of designs it was extremely time consuming. Logos are extremely subjective. Rarely will you have a logo that everyone likes – no matter what your budget!

Other Logos for Schools

Schools often have other uses for other less important logos. They are often easier to change.

Having a school fair? A concert? Launching a fundraising drive? A professional logo can often quickly lift first impressions of the school activity.

Over the years I have used the online logo design company LogoInn for four logo projects. LogoInn are based in the UK. Each time I have chosen the ‘Unlimited Package’ as it usually takes quite a few revisions before I sign off on a logo I am happy with.

Advantages of LogoInn for Logo Designs

  • very economical. Their logo design packages are extremely cheap
  • basic stationery of business card, letterhead and email footer is included. This is usually extra with designers
  • includes logo files in all the formats both your printers and staff would need
  • they can also design brochures and websites
Disadvantages
  • designs are rarely ‘outstanding’
  • stationery is basic
  • you may not feel like you deal with ‘people’ as all feedback is via a website (some would say this is an advantage as
  • although changes are made in 48 hours it does slow down the process
  • you need to have some idea of what you do and don’t want for your brief

At Covenant Christian School we wanted to promote the ‘After School Care’ Program. The existing brochure for it did the job but wasn’t very attractive. Having LogoInn design a logo for the brochure lifted its’ whole appearance.

When the school launched online Gifted & Talented / Extension & Enrichment Courses we again turned to LogoInn to create a logo. 

Both our Centre for Marketing Schools and Marketplace Answers logos were created by LogoInn.

For value for money LogoInn are hard to beat. Check them out. Mention you heard about them from Centre for Marketing Schools.

TekSkin

Customised laptop skin for student and staff notebooks. Huge range. Great prices.

Customised School Laptop Skins

Tekskin is a customised skin stuck on the cover / lid of your laptop computer. It is a simple, inexpensive and extremely effective way of branding laptop computers for your school staff and students. When I first saw a Tekskin I was impressed. I was introduced to the idea by a member of the School Marketers Network.

The range of customised designs is HUGE. Your school logo, student name and any information can be individually added to each skin.

Advantages of Tekskins for schools

  • promote your school wherever the laptop goes
  • improved personal ‘ownership’ of laptop computers if students select design
  • less mistakes with students picking up the wrong laptop
  • adds colour to the classroom

How schools choose a laptop skin design

  1. All staff and students receive a standard design – add school logo, name & code # if needed
  2. Select 10 to 20 “School Approved” designs for students and staff to select from

Personally I prefer the second option. Students already wear uniforms – their laptop can be a way to express some of their own personality. Have a class of students pick the top designs for their year group. Make sure there is a mix of males and females. Have someone on staff eliminate any inappropriate ones. Some designs while attractive to students may not be consistent with your branding! Also some may not work with your school logo design. Change some of the mix of designs each year.

Things to watch out for with laptop computer skins

a) Give the exact measurements of your laptop flat surface area. (Laptops come in so many sizes).
b) If the edges are tapered make the skin dimension smaller as you don’t want them peeling off
c) Ask for a sample and attach it to a laptop to check it works
d) Allow time between ordering for printing and adhering them before delivery to students
e) Expect to reorder some as new students come and some skins are damaged

Tip with attaching Tekskin Customised Laptop Skins…

It does take time to peel and correctly adhere the skins to a batch of laptops. It is best done by a team rather than left up to the individual staff member or student.
Steve the owner of Tekskin is easy to deal with. Let him know you heard about Tekskin from the Centre for Marketing Schools.

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