Social distancing, hand sanitisers, year-group bubbles. Where does the 2020 pandemic leave open days and tours? Government guidance recommends that schools consider alternatives to face-to-face open events. For many schools, that means getting creative with school virtual tours.
There are many different ways to pull this off. Here are a few ideas, following a traditional open-day format:
Arriving at the school
Do you have beautiful school grounds or new/historic buildings? You may wish to highlight them with 360° photography or aerial drone footage. Even if this isn’t the case, well-tended spaces communicate care and attention to prospective families.
Stitch 360° photos together to create a sense of walking from room to room. You can even attach videos or text boxes to each scene, to provide context or explain what is happening.
Top tip: avoid filming hand sanitisers or COVID-related signing. This will extend the shelf life of your virtual tour, because it will still be relevant when we hopefully get back to normal.
A warm welcome
An opening message from the head sets the tone for the event and gives parents a feel for the school’s unique culture. However, recording a video message isn’t the same as a live presentation. For one, the audience can choose to switch off much more easily than leaving the school hall.
Aim to get to the point quickly – two minutes would be a fairly long speech. A script can help to make the most out of the viewers’ attention span. Make sure you focus on writing for your specific audience and keep the tone conversational.
Top tip: do a live read-through with a few colleagues. This can highlight any issues with the script and it lets you try out different ideas. (It’s good for dealing with nerves too.)
Video is a great way to tell your school’s story
This is your chance to share your curriculum and extra-curricular activities. Aim for a mix of classroom-based subjects and others that are visually appealing. Hello, science experiments, sports and performing arts! A montage of different scenes can give parents a good idea of what your school has to offer – and what their children might get up to if they join.
Top tip: storyboarding isn’t just for literacy lessons. It’s also a great way of planning out your school virtual tour, to make sure it hits the spot and to prepare your filming schedule. A little planning goes a long way.
‘Now, what is the school food really like?’ Parents love to chat to students to peak behind the scenes. This is hard to pull off in video format, although an online Q&A session is always an option.
Truthfully, many of the parents’ questions are likely to overlap. So why to include interviews with staff, students and current parents in a video FAQ?
School reputations can last a long time and word of mouth holds weight with parents. If your school is trying to change perceptions in the community, this is worth bearing in mind. What are the most common concerns and what can you do to address them? For example, you might wish to highlight success stories and outcomes. Or to offer reassurance on discipline.
Top tip: parents expect schools to put their best foot forward. But if interviewees appear too coached or nervous, this will detract from the message of the video. Don’t put your ‘cast’ on the spot and consider who might enjoy taking part. Their enthusiasm (or otherwise) will make all the difference.
Regardless of what happens with coronavirus restrictions, school virtual tours are here to stay. Like with many different services, people start their research online. They’ll then shortlist the schools they most like the look of. Your website and school virtual tour can make all the difference to driving enrolment beyond 2020.
If you need a hand, the Blue Apple Education team is here to help. Please get in touch today.
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