You don’t have to be a superhero to deliver a marketing strategy for your multi-academy trust but sometimes it can feel that way: ever vigilant, troubleshooting, spreading good, and wearing Lycra.
The truth is that school marketing does take skill and time but it is ultimately achievable and worthwhile. You can learn to incorporate the tasks and understanding needed to get it right by paying attention to these five key areas.
- Befriend You already understand how important it is for parents to play an active role in their children’s education. They can also present the reputation and qualities of the school in their networks and communities, provided you keep them informed, involved and updated. As well as treating them respectfully – they, too, are trusted partners – you can celebrate their children’s successes, share information, and consult on changes and progression.
- Be seen From play to policy to prospectus – your school’s activities and achievements are news! By regularly appearing on social media, on noticeboards and in conversation, you are building a reputation that increases your engagement.
Academic success and Ofsted backing are a big part of this, but so are everyday pieces of excellence. On World Book Day Harry, Beatrix or Poppy (class 7) Potter all say something about the dynamics and ethos of your school or trust. Activities that are successful at raising funds also deserve time in the spotlight as they let people see the talent and dedication of staff and students.
Most of the significant moments you see in a year are worthy of attention and create visibility for schools and trusts. If there’s any bad news (rare, of course!), already having a place in people’s hearts, minds and local papers can act to bolster your reputation and counter the impact of anything less favourable.
“school marketing does take skill
and time but it is ultimately achievable
It never serves a school well to hide behind closed doors, even doors with the newly designed school crest emblazoned across them. Journalists will be thrilled to be kept informed; provide regular high quality press releases and you’ll give them something to smile about as well as something to print or highlight online. Getting your stories ‘out there’ is largely done by maintaining good relationships with those on the lookout.
If you can make a personal connection then a story may gain even greater traction; for example, some pupils will have parents of renown – Mr Khan the local newsagent being just as valuable as a Britain’s Got Talent winner, (he’s an exceptional newsagent). Features on ex-students who have done well are usually well-received and remember that other forms of celebrity come through, for example, a child being the fourth generation to attend the school – or the first, because Asma’s parents are new to Britain and learning English at school in the evening.
An effective marketing strategy needs to work magic with potential staff as well as parents and students. Make sure your website tells all the stories it needs to make someone want to work there. They may not have seen the local paper or spoken with Mr Khan (imagine!) but you can capture interest with a) stuff that’s supposed to attract them, e.g. teaching technique and school values, and b) stuff that they’ll love because they are humans (don’t interview any that aren’t).
When you come to advertise jobs think about the channels you use; if you’re old enough to remember wading through the Times Educational Supplement or Tuesday’s Guardian, (you should probably retire), you may be interested to know that the former is now an online jobs site called TES, the Guardian is also online as the imaginatively named Guardian Jobs and others, such as Monster and eTeach, are also popular with teachers looking for opportunities.
Be in it for the long haul.
A strategy for marketing your trust or school needs to have started back when you had the Times Ed delivered. Yet it’s never too late because it is important to invest in the future – like any strategy, promoting a school is about planning for and working towards a vision.
When you need to appeal for staff or boost admissions, key activities are underway – you are known and admired, recognised and valued.
You don’t have to be a superhero to deliver your marketing strategy – just be friendly, seen, open, and welcoming… and wear Lycra.
Blue Apple Education are proud to partner with Eduprise, an organisation helping schools and multi-academy trusts grow with the power of digital. Using a range of approaches and tools they help MATs to boost admissions, recruit talented staff, manage public relations, support online learning, and automate processes.