Simon Hepburn, Founder of Marketing Advice for Schools, offers his advice on promoting your school’s plus points with great marketing skills.
1. Be careful when using names
Have a clear policy when it comes to use pupils’ names and likenesses in your marketing activities. I’d recommend offering an opt-out on images and an opt-in on names, but only use names when a child has done something special.
2. What’s your USP?
Make sure that you and all staff know what makes your school special and different – what’s your unique selling point? If you’re not sure, consult a range of stakeholders – your teachers, governors, PTA, parents, the pupils themselves – to find out.
3. Back up your claims
Identify those stories and parental comments that prove your school is different and record them in various forms of media, be it text, audio or video. If possible, try to involve your students in the recording process.
4. Distribute your stories
Once you have the material for those stories, share them widely both internally and externally. You could do this via a blog on your school’s website or through emailed or printed newsletters. You could even set up your own internet radio channel, or ‘TV station’ via a streaming video feed or YouTube channel. Mention your stories in any paid adverts you place, and be sure to refer to them when speaking to prospective parents. To get a sense of what this might look like, check out the blogs, videos and other promotional activities undertaken by Whitefield Primary School in Liverpool at whitefieldprimaryschool.co.uk.
5. Embrace social media
Social media doesn’t have to be something to fear. Find out what services your parents use (eg Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) and share your good news – but also be sure to monitor what people are saying about your school and respond promptly and positively to any feedback or criticism.
6. Stay in the loop
Read the local press and share your great stories with local journalists who regularly write on school issues through letters and press releases – but don’t expect them to run every story!
Simon Hepburn is the Founder of Marketing Advice for Schools, which provides schools with marketing training, consultancy, inspiration and advice; for more information, visit marketingadviceforschools.com or follow @mktadvice4schls.