Past Newsletters

Issue 712 - 25-feb-2018

Principal dyes his hair in response to fundraising goal

Principal Peter Randlov of St. Peter Catholic School made a promise: If the school raised $500 during Catholic Schools Week, he would dye his hair its original colour. Students got creative and raised $1,141 in seven days. The white haired Principal now has hair colour of his youth – orange!

This is a great example of a simple and memorable human interest story picked up by their local media. What unusual things have you done at your school?

Source: Principal gives school a hairy challenge

Issue 712 - 25-feb-2018

What is something a teacher had done that you still appreciate?

Marie Lum is an animator who has 47,800 followers on twitter. (Take a moment to consider that potential level of influence – as a comparison Mark Scott, Secretary for NSW Department of Education which employs 49,000 teachers, and is the former head of the ABC, has 122,000 followers). On February 16 2018 Marie asked her followers the question “What’s something a teacher did that still makes you mad?” She had over 6,000 comments. Plenty of people had plenty to say about the negative role of teachers. 

The next day she asked the question “What is something a teacher had done that you still appreciate?” She had 319 comments. The contrast in volume is interesting. Bad news and negative stories were almost 20 times more likely to be retold than positive ones. That may mean we as school marketers need to be broadcasting 20 positive stories for every one negative story discussed in the school carpark.

Nilah Magruder @ ECCC P11 @nilaffle said 
“Senior year of HS, I decided I wanted to apply to art school. I hadn't taken a single art class and didn't have a portfolio. The WHOLE DEPARTMENT rallied around me to get me ready.” 

How many art departments could, or would, do that for a student they had not had in their class? You couldn't write that into a educational instructional teaching manual for your school. I love it .

What positive stories from your current and former students are you recording and sharing about your teachers. I would love to hear them. These past stories are not forgotten and years later will still be generating both positive and negative word of mouth for your school – but you may not know about it. Don’t be afraid to name, identify and honour the teachers who make a positive difference in the life of students. 

Make some time to read some of these positive and negative stories on twitter. You may get some ideas of what stories to be telling to your school community.

> Positive stories
> Negative stories

Source: Twitter users share scarring experiences with teachers that still make their blood boil today

Issue 711 - 18-feb-2018

Try something different with your school promotional videos

On the home page of Woodcroft College is a fun and lively video. The use of a white backdrop, music and no spoken or written words means it is a different format to the vast majority of school promotional videos. It reveals the diversity of educational opportunities, the enjoyment of students and the interaction with teachers - without the distraction of facilities. To me it celebrates and focuses on the people of the school rather than their learning environment.

The video and website were produced by CIMarketing 

Issue 711 - 18-feb-2018

Time your community events for maxium participation

When should you hold community events? In the United States Thanksgiving is a major event and often the time families travel to be together. It is also during school term. Every year for nearly a decade, Valley Christian School has "recognized grandparents as among the important blessings in their students’ lives with a half-day of activities just before Thanksgiving, when relatives might already be visiting from out of town." While hosting events during a busy time of year may not be ideal if it means more will attend then it can be worth considering.

Another school I know alternates between performing a School Musical one year and Grandparents Day the next to help ease the burden on staff. When scheduling a school event consider what larger sporting or community events may either clash with or complement yours.

Source: Grandparents honored for their legacy, love at Valley Christian School 

Issue 711 - 18-feb-2018

Foodbank cookup helps makes a difference

Genesis Christian College ran a “Foodbank” cook up on a Thursday afternoon. Students and staff volunteered their time after school to cook up bulk meals to stock the food bank. Marketing Coordinator Mrs Taryn Thomas explained that "the food bank can be accessed by any family in the school community who may require a meal to help out, whether it be due to time, money or any other constraint. We call these projects, “MAD Projects” – Make a Difference and one is run every term."

A school food bank, community freezer or cook a meal service are all practical ways of helping your community help others in their community. Caring for members of your community is ideally a natural outworking of a school. However creating structures can help encourage and promote it. Allowing recipients to remain anonymous and including an ingredients list are things to consider if you set up a meal service. 

Cooking a meal for someone facing a challenge is not designed as a marketing exercise. Yet the good will, loyalty and positive word of mouth it can generate can be much more than other traditional forms of paid "marketing."

Issue 710 - 11-feb-2018

Generate media attention with fun world records

Setting a world record is something your community will remember and talk about for years to come. Not all world records are hard. The 200 students at St Josephs Catholic School, combining with 200 parents plus staff set a new record for the largest freeze dance. You may remember it from children’s parties where everyone has to freeze when the music stops. Now who knew there was a record for that anyway! Their 412 participants meant they beat the previous record of 390.

Gathering community, having fun, and in this case also raising money for ill children all helped generate positive media attention and word of mouth. 

What fun things have you done at your school? 

Source – article and video at: World record in freeze dance set by Placentia’s St. Joseph Catholic School 

Issue 710 - 11-feb-2018

Census data to help school marketers

How well do you know your local suburbs? How many school age children are there, how many schools, how many families choose Catholic or Independent Schools instead of Government ones?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has a wealth of Census data for school marketers researching for the Diploma in School Marketing. The Age Victoria newspaper took some of this Census data and made a simple lookup system enabling you to see what percentage of families in a suburb choose each of the main education systems. The data identifies Primary and Secondary age which can also be quite different. If your school is in Australia I encourage you to take some time to learn more about your local suburb. It all helps when talking with families who may be surprised.

Go to: Where do your neighbours send their kids to school?

Issue 709 - 4-feb-2018

Can you deliver what your school marketing promises?

The marketing campaign for the Macquarie Graduate School of Management is heavily driven by its recent success in international rankings. However the Australian newspaper reported "Leading business school the Macquarie Graduate School of Management has taken a reputation hit after it dropped out of the prestigious Financial Times Global MBA ranking because too few of its alumni replied to a survey."

Knowing what to include in our marketing campaigns is challenging. If rankings can be affected simply by how many students participate in a survey then it can be beyond our control. Schools which market heavily on their academic success may have ups and downs depending on the particular cohort of students each year. One school I worked with had very strong academics but found that as a result it attracted families who only wanted the results without embracing the school’s unique philosophy and culture and therefore were often frustrated. Another school promised strong academics in all their marketing material but results were actually quite average – which again caused negative word of mouth. 

Our role as school marketers is to celebrate our school community in a realistic way. I believe true stories of real students and their families are the best way. A testimonial is hard to dispute.

What is a great story you are sharing in your school marketing?

Source: MGSM drops out of Financial Times Global MBA ranking

Issue 709 - 4-feb-2018

Do you belong in a school?

After being a Principal at St Augustine’s College in Sydney for 15 years Mr Cleary left to become chief executive of the NRL's Manly Sea Eagles Rugby League Club. During his time at school it from 440 to 1350 students. When interviewed by the Herald he said "I'm an administrator, a builder, and Manly brought me in because they saw me build a lot of buildings opposite Brookvale Oval. It was a move that wasn't fulfilling for me after a short period of time.  What I'm bringing from that experience is I belong in schools." Mr Cleary is now Principal at All Saints College Maitland.

Do you BELONG in schools? It is an interesting and challenging question to ask yourself. Schools are communities of people. One person recently described it to me as a “family business.” Like a family business it comes with relationship challenges and opportunities. As school marketers we are introducing and welcoming new members into that family business each year so it is important we feel we belong in that family as it will come across in our words, actions and attitudes.

Source: All Saint College at Maitland overhauls links between its campuses 

Issue 709 - 4-feb-2018

Setting expectations for your students

Like many schools the Inter-community School (ICS) in Zurich summaries their vision for students in three short statements. The ‘rule of three’ works in many situations as it makes things easier to remember. The first two statements are similar to many schools:

  • Achieve your Potential
  • Pursue your Passion
It was the third one that took my attention
  • Fulfil your Responsibility
In an age of ‘personal rights’ it is refreshing to see a school marketing ‘responsibility’ up front rather than only mentioning it once the students are enrolled. 

The promotional video on the school’s home page then goes on to explain the expectations for students, staff and parents. Setting expectations early is important. Unmet expectations, or schools who overpromise what they are providing, is often the cause of resentment among families and negative word of mouth.

Watch the video at: Learning at ICS

Issue 708 - 28-jan-2018

How will your school address bullying this year?

Bullying, and your schools reputation of how it is dealt with can form a significant part of your word of mouth marketing – both positively and negatively. 

Often it is the students who have changed schools in the past six to twelve months who are most aware of the cultural differences between your school and their previous one. It is good to talk to them. It was refreshing to hear from a student at one school I did work for that the students there were “freakishly friendly.” While ‘freakishly’ wasn’t the word I would use it carried how much of a contrast it had been to have other students proactively interested in, engaging with and welcoming him and not just for the first week. At the same school a student was eventually expelled for repeated bullying. Surprisingly the child’s parents felt it was well handled by the school and appropriate so still enrolled their younger children over the coming years. At another school a student identified that bullying was noticed quicker at her new school. Having words and responses from actual students, rather than stating the policies, can help when you are talking with prospective parents who raise the issue of bullying. 

Students from Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School created a video to show what a difference speaking well of each other makes instead of putting each other down.

Watch the video: > How would you describe yourself 

Issue 708 - 28-jan-2018

Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams - the debate of school funding

Mention government school funding at a gathering and it is likely to generate an interesting and lively discussion. Funding models vary over time, state by state and country by country. Educating your parent (and student) communities to be able to confidently discuss the topic, beyond what they read in the media, can be part of a school marketing role.

In the USA a documentary, “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” profiles four American families and is being shown in several schools as a public event. These four families claim their "pursuit of educational opportunity is impeded by so-called Blaine Amendments, which prohibit state money from supporting families sending their children to religiously affiliated schools. There are 38 states with constitutions that contain Blaine Amendments."

Watch the trailer 

Source: Film Screenings at Area Catholic Schools to Educate Public about Barriers to School Choice 

Issue 708 - 28-jan-2018

Students told to dream BIG but not about marrying a prince

Callie Webb, Communication Director at Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School, Los Angeles has been busy. When a former student, Meghan Markle, announces their engagement to a member of the British Royal family you can imagine the media interest it generates for their former school. Callie knows the media frenzy is likely to wane “although it's been great publicity.” 

How does, or would, your school treat former students who have a high profile? I feel this school has responded well to media by also taking the opportunity to celebrate and remind people of the other current and former students at the school. They were already aware of, and proud of, Meghan’s achievements without highlighting her on their school website.

On their facebook they posted:
"Over 10,000 women of great heart and right conscience have graduated from Immaculate Heart, and we are proud to count actress and humanitarian @meghanmarkle among them. Today, we send her our very best wishes as she celebrates her engagement to His Royal Highness Prince Harry."

Callie’s quote "We always tell our students to dream big, but not necessarily about marrying a prince!" is a good summary of the school and great snippet for media.

Would your school be ready to face positive, or negative, media attention for one of your former students?
Source: > Royal engagement announcement brings attention to Catholic school 

Photo: CNS photo/Toby Melville, Reuters

Issue 707 - 21-jan-2018

The myth of perpetual school growth

This year I am helping organise a 40th birthday celebration for a school. The school is healthy, growing and enjoys a good reputation. There is reason to celebrate, to remember and be optimistic about the future. Yet I often read of schools closing and realise that even after 100 years a school is not immune to changing demographics, competition, financial pressure or mismanagement, economic downtown or scandals. 

I meet some school marketers who believe in never ending growth for their school. When faced with stagnant or declining enrolments they naturally struggle. In the article > Glendale Catholic school shutting its doors this year due to plunge in enrolment it explains how the school went from 200 to 100 students in only six years and so became unviable to continue.

Being aware of the changing demographics and schooling options in your area is especially important for school marketers.  Take some time in 2018 to research what is happening around you and plan accordingly. This research forms part of the six month distance education Diploma in School Marketing offered by the Centre for Marketing Schools. Learn more at > Diploma in School Marketing 

Issue 707 - 21-jan-2018

Bullet proof backpacks coming to your school soon

When your school offers $120 Ballistic Panels to insert into your backpack to stop bullets you know that society is changing. Florida Christian School was mentioned in media articles after offering these panels to families. While the school has not had any shootings it does reflect an increased anxiety among parents – especially in USA. I am not sure whether this response is helping further raise parental anxiety or a way of a school proactively recognising and responding to the fear that is already there. I imagine they are not customised to show the school logo!

Similar panels are also available publicly. For example the kevlar Bullet Blocker  panel weighs only 10oz (less than a can of soda) and comes in a variety of colours. Their website has a testimonial from a grandmother buying one for her school age grandchild.

Source: Florida school sells bulletproof backpack inserts in response to mass shootings 

Issue 707 - 21-jan-2018

What did your graduating students do to thank your school?

What is the culture in your school? Do you give gifts to students as they graduate? Do you give gifts to their parents? Do students give gifts - and if so to whom? It may be worth sowing ideas to your students in younger years to think outside the box.

During their time at school senior students at Salisbury Christian School did ministry work in Jose Galvez, Peru. Following their experiences the students wanted to give the community there something that would leave an impact. "This student-led effort was able to raise $16,000 for an ultrasound. Salisbury Christian hopes to head back to Peru with another group of students so they can see how the device being used." This is a meaningful gift which the students worked for rather than were charged for as sometimes happens with school gifts. The gift of an ultrasound had the added benefit of attracting media attention and potentially generating far more goodwill and positive word of mouth for the school than their other marketing activities.

Source: Salisbury Christian School donates prenatal ultrasound to a clinic in Peru 

Issue 706 - 17-dec-2017

Is your school using Twitter to connect with students and parents?

The University of Kansas has an active Twitter account with over 71.6 thousand followers. The University's top five social media channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Senior digital strategist Katie McCurry says “My goal for KU, especially with Twitter, is finding those prospective students who are excited about coming here and finding those students who are on the fence or maybe do not have all the information about financial resources and scholarships and being able to provide that information quickly,” she said.  McCurry does this by “using her social media team to target their core audience of 24-35 year olds in the Kansas City area on Twitter and 18-24 year olds in Lawrence on Facebook.”

Social Media is something many schools shy away from, feel overwhelmed by, are afraid of or simply put in the too hard basket. Appointing someone like Katie McCurry can help. The time commitment for managing multiple channels effectively can be significant. I recently heard a presenter encouraging schools to embrace it - and noticed he was responding to request at all hours of the day, night and weekends. I could see, and feel, the reluctance in the room of school administration teams. It do require commitment, a team but possibly most of all a decision to respond to people when they are online and wanting to connect. The concept of only responding to enquiries during "Office Hours" continues to be challenged.

Source: How KU uses Twitter to provide campus updates and reach prospective students

Issue 706 - 17-dec-2017

Is it time to unlock the gate during school holidays?

During holidays in Australia most schools close and lock their gates. It reduces the need for maintenance, supervision and incidences of vandalism. However what if schools opened their playgrounds to the public? What is prospective families could come and play? 

NSW Department of Education has decided to open up 42 schools for community use from 8am to 6pm. “Instead of locking the gate this summer, the trial program will share this public space to allow people to exercise and play at their local school over summer holiday break.”  

The idea flows from a concept in New York. "When New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his goal to ensure that by 2030 every single New Yorker would live within a 10-minute walk from a park, the idea seemed preposterously ambitious — impossible, even." However " the city had already identified schoolyards as deeply underused resources, used only a few hours per day and only by the school population. The rest of the time — weekends, evenings and summers — most schoolyards were fenced and locked to the surrounding communities."

“Our schools need to be more than brick and mortar structures with classrooms, gymnasiums, and auditoriums that come alive between the opening and closing bells; they are true assets for the entire community that must be mobilized to provide safe spaces for children and families throughout the day, every day,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
Is it time for your school to consider unlocking the gates? What marketing opportunities would it present to make use of your facilities during school holidays?

Learn more at:

Issue 705 - 10-dec-2017

Dresses and skirts banned for Kindergarten to encourage play

School uniforms are often a contentious issue. Changing them is also. Sandy Nelson, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Lowtherhall Anglican Grammar School shared the launch of new uniforms, the philosophy behind the changes and some of the process. A committee of dedicated students, Old Grammarians, staff and parents has worked for 24 months to develop the new wardrobe. The uniform will be phased in from the beginning of 2018 and to 2020. 

Girls will now have a choice of a skirt, dress, pants or shorts. Students in Kindergarten to Year 1 will not be allowed to wear a dress or skirt at all. This is to encourage active play. The wardrobe was designed by well-known RM Williams designer Mr Jonathan Ward. Sandy says “We also wanted to “stand out” from the other schools in our area (who all have navy blazers and until now we did too!). Jonathan reintroduced a blue that was prominent in our school dresses back in the 1940s.”

The launch video covers topics of why do we wear a uniform, the changing role of women and the activities they partake in.  Importantly it also includes student reactions to the uniform and the options it introduces. Items of current uniform that are no longer required are able to be donated to schools in Tanzania.

You may also like to explore the Advocacy Group > Girls Uniform Agenda 

Issue 705 - 10-dec-2017

Cybersafety videos promote ‘Make a choice you won’t regret’ message

The marketing team at Diocese of Townsville Catholic Education created a series of videos with students from their schools.  Christina Pery, Communications and Special Projects Manager, says they have received a great reception on social media. “We are extending the campaign by filming similar videos in our regional schools to promote these important messages. We found that using local students of various ages, and then launching the #makeachoiceyouwontregret campaign in each school with the students from the video has been a very successful way to get these important messages across.” 

Watch the four videos at: