Past Newsletters

Issue 719 - 15-apr-2018

Add an Art show to attract a broader crowd

School focused events may not appeal to those members of the community who are not actively looking for a school. Many people have older children, no children, or are content with their choice of school. However attracting more people to a school venue and event can help generate word of mouth in different sections of the local community.

St Philip’s Christian College have an annual Founders Day Fair. This is popular with the school community and both a marketing event as well as a fundraiser. The local media highlighted that the fair included an Art show of students, teachers but also local artists. It is the inclusion of these local artists being on display which can potentially expand the network of visitors.
What could you add to an existing school event to broaden the appeal?

Source: Art show will kick off St Philip’s Christian College Founders Day Fair

Issue 719 - 105-apr-2018

Schools and Daycare centres banned from commercial buildings

Many schools have stories of bureaucratic challenges and obstacles in regard to starting or expanding. Tree of Life Christian School  purchased a vacant commercial building to consolidate their multiple campuses and potentially enable them to double in size to 1300 students. 

The city officials however have banned the rezoning which was required for the school to legally use the property. As only 5% of properties are zoned commercial, which generates more tax revenue, the city officials want it to remain as commercial zoning. The school argued that other day care centres were already using similar commercial spaces. The city officials responded by also banning already operating day care centres.

So, if your school is facing challenges with different levels of government be encouraged that you are not alone.

Source: Judge lets city manipulate zoning to block Christian school

Issue 719 - 15-apr-2018

Immerse the viewer into your school website

When you click on the home page of Christian Brother’s College St Kilda you, as a viewer, are in the bottom of a science beaker in the midst of a class experiment. You are then in a church, raft, and wood fired oven.

This immersive perspective seeks to puts the visitor to the website ‘inside’ the experience. It is engaging and clever – even if unexpected.

Take a look at 

Issue 718 - 8-apr-2018

Author returns to the school which inspired her

A positive endorsement of your school from a former student in a newspaper is worth more than multiple paid advertisements. This is especially so when the endorsement is embedded in a human interest story about the student - rather than seen as a direct promotion.

Author of “Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot,” Mary Elizabeth Blume Stead is including her former school Prince Avenue Christian School on her book tour. What she says about the school reflects well on the school's culture and dedication of teachers.

The article quotes her... 
“No matter where I am—on a walk in the woods or off to India—I am always on the lookout for the next story idea,” she said. “My years at PACS were so special. I’m indebted to so many wonderful teachers who inspired and encouraged me, both spiritually and academically. One person who stood out, she said, is her fourth grade teacher, Linda Gore, who let students borrow books from her personal collection, read “The Chronicles of Narnia” aloud and screened “Anne of Green Gables” during lunch period. Stead’s drama teacher, Candy Todd, helped her develop confidence."

What Alumni stories and endorsements have you shared lately with your community?

Source: PACS alumna and author visits school 

Issue 718 - 8-apr-2018

Proactively address negative perceptions about your school through video

What do ‘people’ in your local community say about your school? Are there perceptions, half truths, or misinformation circulating which stops prospective families even adding your school to their short list of ones to contact? It takes a brave school to be willing to not only admit but to verbalise what negative stories are being told. 

What are the risks? It may:
  • reinforce those perceptions
  • highlight and publicise negative perceptions beyond what may have been a limited audience
  • leave a doubt in a viewer’s mind
What are the benefits? 
  • recognises you are aware of public opinion
  • doing nothing won’t make those stories go away
  • it empowers your current community (students, parents and staff) to share something positive when the negatives come up in conversation
  • it isn’t your normal school promotional video so potentially more likely to generate interest, comments,  discussion and be shared. 
Take a look at how this school bravely addressed negative comments and perceptions. Note how they are raised naturally in conversations with the goal being to show these students are “reassuringly normal.”


Could you list five common negative impressions you need to address for your school? Try it now…

Issue 718 - 8-apr-2018

Finding different places to advertise your school

The local newspaper is still where you will find many schools advertising. It is an easy, predictable, choice for schools. The downside is that your school is often lost in the clutter of other schools with similar messages. Being seen in unusual places is often more likely to spark interest and conversations among both your current and prospective parents and students. 

Both Barker and Pymble Ladies’ College have advertised on the Weatherzone app. The advantages are that you can target prospective customers from State down to postcode level, set the time of day for an advert to be seen, or have it linked to a particular weather condition or forecast. 

While many advertising mediums are biased towards women this one is predominately male.
  • 78% are male
  • 22% are female
  • 43% are aged 30-44
  • 39% are aged 45-64
  • 88% have shopped online in the last year
  • 76% visit Weatherzone at least a few times a week
  • 45% visit Weatherzone at least daily
Your advertisement can be a static image or an animated gif of several images presented as a repeating slideshow.

Issue 717 - 1-apr-2018

Showcase learning outside the classroom

As school marketers we market what we can work with. Some school sites are varied. Some are flat. Some are steep. Some have ample room and others are compact. It is our role to help celebrate what we have, rather than wish for what another school may have. 

Newington College at Lindfield is a Kindergarten to Year 6 school surrounded by bushland. As their website says "On site we have a swimming pool, tennis courts, modern classrooms and beautiful gardens for boys to roam and feel free to learn in." In this promotional video they simply celebrate the outdoor learning spaces with the tagline "Learning is in our nature."

Issue 717 - 1-apr-2018

Knitting group helps school parents connect

What does knitting have to do with school marketing? If knitting helps build community then it can be an important part of your marketing mix.

The Knitting Group at Mount Evelyn Christian School was started by a Mum who wanted to support a specific new homeless mission starting out of local churches. Nicole Nyhouse, Community Relations Officer explained that since then they have increased the amount of missions they support because the group produce so many items! Nicole loves that Mums sit and chat and support each other during these knitting mornings.

As part of her community role Nicole support parents wanting to organise groups, events or fundraising. She offers practical support - choosing a day & time that works for everyone, put it in the school calendar, book the required facilities and promote these events in the weekly newsletter. The Knitting Group has a facebook group which they manage themselves.

Issue 717 - 1-apr-2018

Positive media attention for school banning mobile phones

There was a time when schools always 'talked up' their use of technology. Parents seemed to expect interactive whiteboards, iPads and laptop programs to help them decide which school was better or more modern. Now in an age of Bring-Your-Own-Devices, wireless networking of schools, students listening to music with earphones while studying, iPads and laptops it may be easier to stand out from the crowd if your school talks about how it doesn't use, or rely solely on, technology for education.

Smart phone addictions are now common among students (and parents). Shore, the Church of England Grammar School at North Sydney, is "sticking resolutely to the no phones policy." Students are barred from using mobile phones all day. What's more they (apparently) are not complaining either. Student put their phones in their lockers and there are punishments, which are enforced, if they use their phone during the day. As it has become the accepted, and expected, culture it makes it easier for staff to reinforce the rule.

See more at > Teens embrace school's phone ban  (Note: This is a subscription newspaper 22/2/2018)

Issue 716 - 25-mar-2018

What were the significant moments for you at school?

For many students there is a moment when they start to understand a new concept, discover a skill or passion for something or decide what their future career will be. In less than two minutes the “This is where…” promotional video for Stamford Endowed School celebrates five quite different milestones for students. While you can also observe the facilities, staff and uniform this the power of this video is to prompt a positive emotional response or memory for the viewer. 

Issue 716 - 25-mar-2018

Archaeology at school

When history teachers at Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt realised they needed something more to engage students in archaeology classes, they dug deep (literally) to unearth an awesome solution. They created a space to fun practical lessons by having their own dig site at school where they could bury objects and then uncover then again while learning the process and methodology or archaeology. 

Does your school have a space where you can do something similar? Watch the video.

Issue 716 - 1-apr-2018

Designing schools for future education

Sandeep Amin, an architect with DesignInc, introduced a recent presentation in Sydney explaining the responsibility he felt investing public money for future generations. He talked about two school projects:

  • Ultimo Pyrmont School
  • Lindfield Learning Village
The Ultimo Pyrmont School, on a steep block, was totally refurbished in 2002. Fifteen years later it is being demolished and completely replaced. With 300 students from Kindergarten to Year 6 the new facilities are expected to cater for 800 students.
So how do you demolish an existing school with 300 students and build another? A 'pop-up' school has been created across the road in a public park with the new school expected to be opened in 2020. This use of a local park I imagine would not be an option available to non-Government schools!

When surveyed it was found very few students lived in a house with a yard. Almost all lived in apartments. This is not surprising given that the school is located a few hundred metres from Sydney's Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Approximately 73% of students speak a language other than English with around 38% of students speaking Chinese. The inclusion of deep planting with trees and sunlit spaces was considered important aspects of the school in such a densely populated urban environment.
Incorporating public access spaces for a covered market area and a full basketball court means the local community will be able to use some of the facilities outside of school hours. This is something I believe more schools should explore.

The second project presented by Sandeep Amin was converting the former Ku-ring-gai campus of UTS (University of Technology Sydney) where I did my Business Degree into a school. “The building is heritage-listed and its adaptation will bring it up to current codes, accommodating around 2,000 students and 200 teachers. Its upgrade will harmonise with the existing building language, while additions will be clearly expressed in new geometries and materials.”

With many local public schools overcrowded this conversion will relieve some pressure but also potentially attract a broader demographic of the community with its innovative spaces and attempts at staged based, rather than age based, learning. The dramatic Brutalist architecture of concrete is being softened with colour, roof top playgrounds and learning spaces.

More information:
Design for new high-rise Ultimo Public School revealed
DesignInc Ultimo-Pyrmont Public School 
School Infrasture NSW School Overview

Issue 715 - 18-mar-2018

When schools change direction they can lose their current families

A school has been in the media quite a bit regarding the removal of a senior staff member. I won’t name the school. What did interest me most were comments about recent changes of focus at the school. 

One article reported “For several months now, the school council has been bombarded with emails and letters expressing concerns about the direction of the school such as its current preoccupation with academic excellence at the expense of the more holistic offering that they were known for. This change in emphasis has left students and staff feeling pressurised and led to a massive staff turnover over the past four years.” (Source available)

When school leaders seek to emphasise, or promote, a particular aspect of school – in this case academics – it may alienate those who were attracted to the school for other reasons. As a school marketer it is important to understand what your school’s reputation is. It is often why your current community enrolled. Changing a reputation takes time. It can also encourage families to reconsider their options. School leadership need to be confident that any new direction will retain existing families and staff, or be compensated enough by attracting new families and staff. Sometimes it is better to serve a niche market very well than be constantly competing with multiple schools who end up looking very similar.

Issue 715 - 17-mar-2018

Celebrate the individuals in your school

Are you aware of the interests and abilities of your students beyond school? What stories could you weave into your next School Tour or promotional video? It is often the unusual stories which people will remember.

This video, by the use of text on screen, highlights the diversity of the school community beyond the usual classroom academics. I love the statement “a great school should be a place of curiosity.” What mix of stories could you weave together as you explored your school with a video camera. This video also shows facilities, uniform and teacher interaction but without that being the focus.

Issue 714 - 11-mar-2018

How does your school help families with relocating?

Some schools attract more international or relocating families than others. While hosting new parents at the start of the new school year is effective it can miss those families who enrol during the year. Deidré Proxenos, Marketing Manager at Dainfern College explained "We have many families that come from overseas so for them to settle in takes a bit longer. We have a "new parents welcome committee" which is made up of volunteer parents who have been through the same thing - moving here and enrolling their children. We have a tea with all new parents at the beginning of the year where they can meet the Principals, meet the whole committee and ask any questions they have. They also get to meet other new parents in the same situation. BUT before they arrive, our parents committee phones them and welcomes them to the school and asks if they can assist with anything - sometimes it is where do I find a doctor, or a party venue? We find this really does assist families to settle in quickly. We have this tea termly as we have families starting all the time during the year. We have had very positive feedback with our approach."

Thanks for sharing this creative and practical approach Deidré.

Issue 714 - 11-3-2018

What are you trying to do with your school video?

Affixxius Films in the UK have produced many promotional videos for schools. You can explore their portfolio at > 

They have also produced a video titled “Our Approach to Film Production in Schools." In it Miles Latham, Managing Partner, explains their philosophy and practice. He highlights that “film is the most emotional medium we have” and that the goal is to create a “special emotional connection” and “make people feel.” Many school promotional videos are true, factual, comprehensive and quite dull. I like how Affixxius have decided not to try to tell the whole story but rather they do want to take the viewer on an emotional journey so they seek out more information.

What video companies would you recommend to other schools?

Issue 714 - 11-3-2018

Sharing positive comments from the public about your students

When students misbehave in public it can undermine your marketing efforts and tarnish the school’s reputation. However when students behave well it can have the opposite effect. Sharing, and celebrating, those moments when the public notices the good your students are doing can be important in further creating a positive culture. 

On Narooma High School’s facebook they posted positive feedback from someone who had stayed in a caravan park with a bus load of students. The couple expected the worst – noise and silliness - and were surprised enough by the contrast to contact the school with their positive feedback. 

When you have good feedback like this facebook is a great place to share it.

Issue 713 - 4-mar-2018

How does your Open Day / Night advertisement compare?

March in Sydney is obviously the time for schools to have Open Days or Open Nights. The local newspaper has several pages of advertisements. While the role of print media has diminished it can still be a powerful tool in the marketing mix. However when so many schools are promoting similar events it can be difficult to stand out. Often we create advertisements and they look great on our computer screen but then when displayed on a busy page they can be lost in the clutter.

Take a look at the collection of 22 advertisements below.

Some questions to ask:
  1. If my advertisement was on the same page as these which would a reader notice first?
  2. How much text works best?
  3. Can I read the text?
  4. Is a bigger advertisement better?
  5. Which photos stand out? Why?
  6. Are staged or natural photos better? Why?
  7. Who is in the photos (students / parents / Principal) and what does it say about the school?
  8. Could you replace your school name and be saying exactly the same thing, or do you have something unique to say?
  9. What Open time works best for both your school and visitors – morning, afternoon, evening?
  10. Is this advertisement a good use of a marketing budget?
  11. How would I measure the return on investment – ie will I ask visitors how they knew the Open Day was on? 
  12. Do you only include the website or promote social media channels?
  13. Do I mention the Registrar by name?
  14. Do people need to book / register?
St Augustine’s have at least three advertisements, each using a different image so when combined tell more of a story than simply repeating the same advert three times. 

Two of the schools have limited parking or access. One is next door to a major hospital construction site with their normal main access being restricted to a temporarily one way road. In response these schools both offer a shuttle bus for visitors.

One of the photos is cropped from a larger photo so actually becomes quite unnatural. See if you can spot the spare hand! It is easy to do but something to be careful with. 


Issue 713 - 4-mar-2018

New Parent Dinner builds community

What do you do to help welcome new families to your school? Nicole Nyhouse, Community Relations Officer at Mount Evelyn Christian School hosts a New Parent Dinner once a year in February.  The event is not compulsory but still well attended by our new parents.  There is no cost to parents.

Nicole sends out personalised invitations.  “If they can't make it in your first year, we invite them again a second time. We don't invite after the second year - by then parents have been at the school for a while and will have a lay of the land and made connections with staff & other parents.”

Senior staff and the school board attend as well as Foundation and Year 7 teachers. These are the main entry years for students. The Principal, board chair, and leaders give a short presentation. Nicole’s vision is to build community, enable connections and give new parents a snapshot of what is important to us and other sections of the school. “It is always a positive evening where parents leave feeling very informed and valued.”

Issue 712 - 25-feb-2018

What message do your bins tell about your school?

Walking around schools I do take notice of litter. In an age of environmental awareness and increasing responsibility, some schools have introduced different bins for each type of waste. I was impressed to see at Abbotsleigh a sign on the side of their bins.

The sign said “Garbage Bin. You are recycling when you use this bin. All our waste goes to Doyle’s MURF Centre and is sorted and recycled where possible.”