Past Newsletters

Issue 697 - 13-aug-2017

Virtual Reality video sets a new benchmark for school promotions

David Hayes, Media Communications Manager at Knox Grammar School shared a new 360 degree Virtual Reality video titled ‘With Me Now.' While the uniqueness of this video may be the modern 360 degree viewing it is also a well crafted story showcasing the school’s facilities. The video includes interviews with various students taking about their interests, favourite teachers and what they may like to do after school. This means it works for all viewers.

David’s advice is “to get the most out of this video, watch it on your phone via the YouTube app, turn on the sound and move/tilt your phone, or, better still, use a Virtual Reality headset.” Or you can simply use your mouse to rotate the scene. The video features a music soundtrack performed by the students of Knox. It has already had a great reaction on social media and was showed to prospective families at a Boarding Schools Expo. 

Thank you David and well done to the team at Knox Grammar. Has any other school used VR video yet?

Issue 697 - 13-aug-2017

Apple crumble video proves popular for St Andrew’s School

When your Early Learning Centre kitchen has a lady like Marie Drewett it is worth celebrating and sharing. Karin Dunsford, Director of Development at St Andrew’s School explained “Marie designs and prepares all of the meals for the boys and girls from the age of three year in the centre and they love everything she makes. Parents are always amazed that their children are so keen to try different foods, and they often prefer Marie’s recipes to the ones at home!” In response they made a video of Marie making her famous eggless apple crumble so that parents could make it just like the children have at school.  The video was shared via Facebook and YouTube and now is possibly the most popular recipe with their school community.

Karin also mentioned how “Young children can often be fussy eaters for their parents but at our ELC tables they enjoy the different menu each day. The children are also the ones who set the table and clear away afterwards and at the same time learn about table manners.”

What simple ideas from your own school community could you share in the same way?

Issue 696 - 6-aug-2017

A few minutes work makes a difference in media photographs

Sometimes I see media reporting on schools and don’t know whether to laugh, cry or cringe. Some local media are desperate for stories and schools can be a good source of simple articles. An article > “Heartland Christian School renovates classrooms, sees enrollment growth” is a very positive local news story about a small yet growing school improving its facilities. The article includes many quotes from the Director. However I felt the photo could have told a better story. It is best not to assume that a media photographer will take the time to stage a better photo so it is often up to us to help them in their role. 

It only takes a few extra minutes but to reinforce this schools promise of “Inspiring Excellence in Education” I would offer the following suggestions on improving the photo:
  • Include students (it is holidays so understandable they are absent but inviting some students for a sneak peek of the classrooms would make a better story)
  • Student work displayed on the walls (it is a new room so not always possible)
  • Not having chairs on the desks
  • Not having ‘artwork’ leaning against the wall on the floor
  • Staff member not wearing an IOWA t-shirt (though some may say it sends a positive message of being part of the community)
  • Not having keys around the staff member’s neck
  • Not having an unnatural pose – what is the teacher doing with her right hand?
  • Consider if there was a better angle to take the photo of the room
If you are going to the effort of creating a Press Release or inviting media to your school take a moment to help ensure they have something good to work with. I do understand also that sometimes photographers turn up at the most awkward moments and you need to make do with whoever is available. Local journalists and photographers can be a positive source of word of mouth marketing if treated well as they tend to know, and see, a wide cross section of your community.

Issue 696 - 6-aug-2017

Is your school canteen menu worth media attention?

Does your school canteen and menu form part of your marketing mix in setting your school apart from others in the area? The canteen menu at Northern Beaches Christian School has raised the benchmark among schools and the news was picked up by several media outlets including TV and radio. See  > “No more devon and tomato sauce sandwiches! High school CANTEEN menu featuring turmeric lattes, smashed avo on artisan bread and vegan salted caramel”  The gourmet menu includes “artisian fruit loaf, tapioca pudding, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, 'Nonnas meatballs', deli sandwiches on sourdough, as well as turmeric and chai lattes.”

Several years ago I consulted for an Adventist School. They offered a vegetarian canteen menu in keeping with their beliefs. This menu raised an interesting and unexpected cultural challenge. Having a vegetarian menu was proving attractive to the local, and growing, Hindu community. The positive word of mouth among the Hindu community about the school – and its canteen menu – meant growing numbers of this one local ethnic group were being attracted to the school rather than a wider multicultural cross section of the changing community.

What does your canteen say about your school? Are there unexpected opportunities to use it as part of your proactive marketing?

Issue 695 - 30-jul-2017

Dedication videos St Philips Christian College

How do you set the tone for each new year at your school? How do you help your community – both new and returning - know what to expect? Video is one effective way. St Philip's Christian College record video throughout the year and create compilation videos to show during their Dedication Service at the start of the new year.

Video can help create excitement, set a culture, showcase facilities and are easy to share beyond the event. These videos incorporate many students, include time lapse, slow motion and drone footage with a simple backing audio of song. These are not dry historical records, but can also include some humour, yet they do form a rich part of the school’s archival record for the future.

Dedication Video 2017 from St Philip's Christian College on Vimeo.

Dedication Video 2016 from St Philip's Christian College on Vimeo.

Issue 695 - 30-jul-2017

What message does your school fence and signage send to your community?

I recently did a road trip in Western Australia. While most normal people may drive straight past schools I find myself slowing down, stopping and often taking photos for fresh ideas.

Two schools stood out by doing something out of the ordinary. Pemberton District High School (K-10) offers horticulture. Outside their school gate is a permanent fresh produce stall. Even though it was winter, and during school holidays, there was still lemons and parsley available for the local community to enjoy.

St Bernard’s Primary School have decorated their front fence with large colourful poppies painted on metal. These long lasting symbols, along with the words ‘Lest we forget’ create a permanent display honouring those who served in the Australian forces. This simple display on a busy road helps reinforce the school as a local landmark in the community.

Has your school done something different with your school fences and entrances? I would love to hear from you and share it with the network.

Issue 694 - 23-jul-2017

Have a family tell others the advantage of enrolling in your school

Word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing for any school. Video is a way of harnessing and amplifying this. On The Scots College website is a section titled The Scots Advantage. In it they have several stories from former students – some recent and some decades after they graduated. One of these is the Quigley Family

They write…
"The Scots Advantage for me is all about persistence and tenacity; that in this game things can get pretty tough at times. I think Scots teaches you that self-reliance, self-resilience and tenacity to see it through to the end. Scots boys never give up." Tony Quigley
  • Class of 1978
  • Farmer, Trangie NSW
  • Senior Boarder Prefect
  • Sons Tom, George, and Richie all graduated from Scots as Prefects, and Senior members of the Pipes and Drums band, Rowing, and Rugby squads.
You can then watch videos of The Quigley Family's story in beautifully crafted documentary style and interview format. The repetition in each video of the distinctive school emblem helps tie the series together.

Issue 694 - 23-jul-2017

Take people behind the scenes of your school musical

St Philip's Christian College Newcastle created a 15 second television advertisement for their musical production of Mary Poppins as part of their promotions. They also created a Behind the Scenes video to give some insights into how complicated the show was to stage. This is an opportunity to hear from, and see, students which also means it is more likely to be watched and shared by school families.

As well as sharing the video on facebook the College uploaded it to their Vimeo. This strategy of sharing videos in two platforms is wise. Facebook is easy for your school community to share with their network. Vimeo, or YouTube, is generally easier to embed and feature in your website or school newsletters.

Well done St Philips. 

Mary Poppins TVC 15Sec from St Philip's Christian College on Vimeo.

Mary Poppins Behind the Scenes from St Philip's Christian College on Vimeo.

Issue 693 - 16-jul-2017

Helping your Business Manager like you School Year Book

Recently I presented to a group of school Business Managers. When asked about Year Books none of them thought they were a good idea or worthwhile expense. If your Business Manager questions their value for your school here is an idea.

Are there pages of your Year Book which can be adapted into a mini magazine and printed, or available for download, as a window into your school community? If you remove class and year photos from your Year Book it may appeal to a wider audience without concerns about privacy.

This mini-magazine of possibly 20 to 40 pages could, with only changes to page numbers, provide all that work and expense a longer life. Treating 20 to 40 pages as a marketing document may also help convince the Business Manager that the expense of a Year Book can be used to attract prospective parents and not just sit on a shelf until a school reunion.

Issue 693 - 16-jul-2017

How to get 99 percent in all your exams

Most schools use facebook to post news and photos about their school events. The Scots College however share thought provoking articles about homesickness, exams, leadership, being outdoors, emotional intelligence and goal setting at Their “How to get 99% in all your exams” is by a former student with his personal tips to students. It is on their school website and was posted on facebook.

This is a good example of “in-bound” online marketing. They may not be directly promoting The Scots College but rather providing information of interest to a wider audience, attracting attention from people who may not have considered the school, and raising their profile. It is information that is written to be shared beyond the school’s existing parent community. Visitors to the website are then able to download a school magazine in exchange for their name and email address. When downloading you can watch a video, subscribe to more information or book a school tour. 

Issue 692 - 2-jul-2017

Creating short school videos which are easy to share

When you have a serious message to communicate more schools are turning to video. The community of Catholic schools chose to create a series of videos to raise their concerns over recent changes to the government funding of schools. 

The videos were short enough to watch and therefore more likely to be shared. They used a mix of music, images and text to give an overview to parents. Creating multiple videos also means they are more likely to be shared or viewed. 

Issue 692 - 2-jul-2017

Schools team up with real estate agents to create promotional videos

Creating promotional videos can be expensive. Rather than asking schools to pay for videos a media company in Arizona approached real estate agents to fund them. The agents get an ad attached to the video they sponsor.

Are there opportunities for your school to work with local real estates or other businesses to help do joint promotions? Do you have examples of how you have already done this?

Learn more at: > Ads created for public schools to lure parents, students

Issue 691 - 4-jun-2017

Helping families understand your enrolment process

How easy do you make it for new families to enrol? Jodie Kensington of Catholic College Wodonga shared with me their new enrolment page of the website. I think it is very well designed to help families understand and walk through the four stage process of: 

  • Research
  • Enrolling
  • Accepting and securing a place
  • Familiarisation
The professionally presented 36 page Enrolment Handbook, under the Research section, is a clever way of answering most of the frequent questions up front.

Take a look at

Jodie says “I’ve been mulling over how to do the enrolment process differently for well over a year and the website redevelopment was part of that. We started with a total overhaul of the Enrolment Handbook last year. What was its purpose and its audience? What was the purpose of the Family Handbook issued in June/July to new families? Why the double up on information?  Now we have one document.  It follow a 4 step process that families take when deciding which school they want to enrol into. This is based on experience, questions asked on tour, and when they were asked along the whole enrolment process.  Our staff, our information evenings, Open Day etc, constantly refer to the handbook as the ‘one stop shop’ as refer families to start their answering their questions from there."

Well done Jodie and thanks for sharing what you are doing.

Issue 691 - 4-jun-2017

School photos – to photoshop or not?

Taking school photos is big business. In Australia purchasing individual, and class photos, is still an expected part of school life for most students. This surprises me when we these students are probably the most photographed generation ever. 
After several decades using large school photography companies this year we engaged a small boutique firm. A major reason was the level of care taken creating customised school specific back drops and the patience, directing and skill of taking multiple photos of individual students till the photographer was happy. This contrasted with the previous production line process of speeding through the individual portraits. 

The proposed increased use of photoshop was however an important consideration. The taking of multiple photos of class groups allows the swapping of a student’s face if they blink, are distracted, or are not smiling with another photo where they are. While this will make a better photo, and is still ‘real’, it is no longer the traditional snapshot in time which may cause laughter or embarrassment in years to come. Messy hair, crooked teeth and ties not being quite straight are all things I prefer to keep authentic.

A recent article, Photoshopping school photos is a modern day tragedy encouraged discussion of this issue. The article quotes a mother Ange Pickett whose son had teeth photoshopped saying “I want my son to be able look back over all his school photos and see how he has changed. It was also important for our son to know we love him as he looks now. Accepting the Photoshopped photo says to him that we think there is something wrong with how he looks”.

School photos are part of the marketing mix of your school. They are a record of school life. I believe it is something we as school marketers should consider and agree upon the level of photoshopping which you will allow. 

Issue 690 - 28-may-2017

Tell one student’s story to attract more like them

The more student stories you tell the more likely another prospective student or parent is likely to identity with their journey. This beautiful video from Brigidine College St Ives promotes their dance program. However in doing so it promotes the school culture, facilities and dedication of staff. 

Issue 690 - 28-may-2017

What is your role in school marketing?

“Your job as a marketer is to leave the brand in at least as good a shape as when you inherited it. And if the right choice is to maintain the status quo, then job done.” This is a good quote to re-read. 

Each of us are responsible to play a part in a season in the life of our school. We are part of the story. I find this sobering. The quote is from > Naughty Client School: marketing ethics and what not to do.

Understanding the role of ethics in school marketing is important. I believe there is no point teaching ethics to students if the adults are not practicing it. Do students and parents read our school advertisements and marketing materials and respond with “Yes! That’s true.” Or do they say “that’s not my experience” or worse?

The article also says…  “Marketing used to be the department that did the colouring in. Now we’re drawing the lines that everyone else colours in. And we all know why. The balance of power has shifted. Once brands were powerful and customers were grateful. Now customers are powerful and brands are grateful. So CEOs are desperately looking for help with truly understanding customers. And it’s what we’ve always done as marketers. It’s meant the marketing department finally has a prime seat at the boardroom table.”

Issue 689 - 14-may-21017

School lip sync video with a community difference

Over the years many schools have done clever lip sync videos to popular songs and in the process incorporated many students and staff. It can be a clever way of creating something easy to share while also showing off many of your school facilities.
However this week FCJ College in Benalla Victoria released a fun video combining students, staff and a local aged care facility. The result is something which obviously brought a great deal of pleasure to the elderly residents and provided an opportunity for them to spend time with young people. It also shows you that an old and familiar song can be better than a modern one if you want to engage an older audience.

This video is not merely a promotional tool. Principal Joanne Rock says “For the past weeks our Year 7s have been forging a special bond with the residents at Cooinda with singing lessons from Wellbeing director Catherine Burton. Some year 10 English students have also had the privilege to write the memoirs of 6 very special residents.” This community partnership came together with a concert titled “Let's Find our Voice!”

Issue 688 - 7-may-2017

Why choose a girl’s school?

What is distinctive about your school? Why do parents and students choose your school over another option? Finding these unique aspects and sharing them is a key part of telling your story well. Brigidine College St Ives has a short animated video of the advantage of attending a girl’s school. 

This is the text that accompanies the video “When a girl enters the doors at Brigidine each day the girls can be themselves, as glorious as that is. They can laugh, cry, yell out loud, work hard or run around and have fun. They don't have to impress anyone: just learn how to be themselves. And while they are learning how to be themselves, they are in an environment that supports their growth, allows them to make mistakes and helps them fix their mistakes. A fabulous journey as they make their way into adulthood.”

What unique aspect of your school could (or have) you tell with animation?

Issue 688 - 7-may-2017

Don’t hide from, or ignore, awkward questions

How do you make a 45 to 60 minute bus trip each way to and from school sound attractive? Next year when Flinders Christian School’s Traralgon campus is transferred to being part of the multi-campus Chairo Christian School it will become a “Kindergarten to Year 8 campus, with the parents of Years 9 to 12 students being encouraged to send their children” to the Drouin Campus. 

The transition began this year with Year 11 students catching a bus to Drouin. This week the school released a video telling the story of one staff member, and two students, and their own experiences. I feel their honesty of sharing the positives and negatives gives the video an authenticity often missing from promotional material. 

Well done Chairo.

Issue 687 - 30-apr-2017

If you tell stories promoting your school is easy

The Wilderness School in Adelaide have created a series of videos of students and parents. Each allows a student, or parent, to tell their own story. It provides a beautiful insight into the school's culture and vision. Each story promotes the school yet in a refreshingly 'non-promotional' way.

The “I am…” series is of students and the “Side by side” is from parents. With each video being around two minutes there is enough time to engage but not too long to switch off.


Take a look also at “I am Bella, Molly, Sophie, Lowell and Melarn” and the ‘Side by Side’ series by exploring the school's YouTube Channel at > Wilderness School YouTube