Donovan Group Insights

How Are You Getting the Word Out?

Exciting things are happening in your district. The public should know about them! Your first instinct is probably to post upcoming events on your district calendar. That’s a good start, but your efforts shouldn’t stop there. Your district calendar is just one of many ways to spread the word about school events.

A successful event starts with effective marketing. Take advantage of all the media channels at your district’s disposal. A comprehensive marketing approach can help you engage more stakeholders and boost attendance rates. Most importantly, getting the word out will make stakeholders feel welcome in your school community.

Events connect you to the community

It’s easy to engage stakeholders who are closely tied to your schools. Students, teachers, staff and parents are quick to get involved because the district is a big part of their lives. District leaders frequently communicate with these groups, too, so they’re more likely to hear about (and attend) upcoming school events.

By contrast, it’s more difficult to engage people who don’t have a clear connection to your schools. District leaders have to work harder to engage members of the general public, such as alumni, senior citizens, non-parent adults, business owners, elected officials and many other groups. Without effective, consistent communication, less involved stakeholders often feel left out of the loop.

School events are a great opportunity to help community members become more involved with your district. When you advertise public events, you’re letting stakeholders know there’s a place for them in your school community. Oftentimes, you’ll find that community members want to get involved. They just don’t know how. Events are the connective thread between your schools and the community at large.

Think bigger than the district calendar

One of the quickest ways to get the word out is by posting events on your district calendar. Stakeholders can learn about upcoming games, fundraisers and board meetings, all in one central location. Plus, calendars can boost attendance by notifying stakeholders about an event several months in advance. No matter what type of event they’re interested in, stakeholders are sure to find it on the calendar.

Your district calendar is a great resource for stakeholders. Unfortunately, many district leaders use their calendars as the only form of marketing for school events. Not all stakeholders will go out of their way to check the district calendar. Since your calendar serves as the master schedule, it can be tedious for stakeholders to sift through a year’s worth of events just to find what they’re looking for. Your district calendar is a good starting point, but it shouldn’t be the only way stakeholders hear about upcoming events.

School events require a multi-faceted marketing approach. The more channels you use, the more stakeholders you’ll reach. And the more stakeholders you reach, the more people will attend your events. In addition to your district calendar, you can advertise upcoming events via social media, email, print materials and even the local media.

Create social media posts and graphics

Over the past decade, social media has quickly become one of the most effective ways to connect with stakeholders. For many people, your district’s social media page is the first place they’ll look for event information. Social media posts are good at grabbing people’s attention because they’re short, sweet and to the point. In just a couple short sentences, you can communicate the most essential event details—the date, time, location and admission fee (if there is one).

Social media is a great communication tool because most people are online already. As they scroll through their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds, stakeholders will come across a post from your district advertising an upcoming event. Stakeholders aren’t going to search for your district calendar if they don’t want to. You have to meet stakeholders where they are!

You can grab people’s attention even more by incorporating graphics into your district’s social media posts. Social media is an inherently visual platform, so use that as an opportunity to communicate through eye-catching fonts, colors and designs. Graphics can advertise an event quickly and more effectively than words alone.

Promote events through email

Email is another great way to spread the word about school events. Email can help you reach the people who’ve subscribed to your district newsletter. In addition to parents and family members, newsletters have the potential to reach a wide range of stakeholder groups in the broader community. Email is also good at engaging the stakeholders who are active online but don’t go on social media very often.

A couple quick tips can help you get the most out of email marketing. Make sure you have a catchy subject line, so stakeholders are more likely to click on it. If you haven’t done so already, create a section in your district newsletter that’s dedicated to promoting upcoming events. That way, stakeholders will know exactly where to look for opportunities to get involved. Advertise an event in several issues of the newsletter so that stakeholders get plenty of chances to hear about it.

Make effective use of print materials

In today’s digital world, district leaders primarily use online platforms to advertise upcoming events. At the same time, print materials are still highly effective means of communication. Posters, fliers, mailers and take-home letters can reach a wide audience, both inside and outside your schools. District leaders should combine print and digital media to gain maximum visibility for their events.

Each type of print material can help you connect with a different stakeholder group. Posters and banners can let students know about upcoming events as they walk through the halls. Take-home letters can inform parents and families about opportunities to chaperone field trips or volunteer at fundraising events. Fliers can keep community members up to date about school events when they’re posted to public bulletin boards. Leveraging a variety of print materials can help you reach more stakeholders with your marketing efforts.

Spread the word through local reporters

Marketing doesn’t have to be confined to your district’s “owned” media channels. In addition to social media, email and print materials, you can spread the word about upcoming events by connecting with local-area reporters. There’s a big misconception that reporters only cover negative stories about school districts. But news doesn’t have to be negative! When you establish strong relationships with local reporters, they can become powerful advocates for your district.

Be proactive in your relationships with reporters. Instead of waiting for them to reach out, take the initiative by telling them about all the great things that are happening in your district. Ask if they can cover a story about your high school track team going to state conference. Ask them to promote an upcoming gala that will raise money for a local nonprofit. You can’t control the media, but you can at least guide them in the right direction.

You want school events to be a success. To make that happen, events need a comprehensive marketing approach. It’s not enough to post events on your district calendar. Advertising through various channels will maximize the number of people who hear about an event. And when more people hear about an event, more people are likely to attend. Get the word out, and get stakeholders involved!

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