The world of public education is constantly changing, and school leaders must be nimble in how they communicate with their parents, staff, students, community members and other stakeholders. In this environment, effective school district marketing has become increasingly important.
Telling your school district’s story
There are great things happening in your schools every day, but it can be difficult to share those stories without effective marketing and communication. Furthermore, the news media tends to focus on the negative things that sometimes happen in schools, failing to cover how schools are providing children with outstanding experiences and opportunities.
Sound school district marketing empowers you to share all that makes your schools and community special. You can ensure your stakeholders know about the unique learning experiences, student or faculty achievements and other important milestones, and your efforts to continually improve to the benefit of your students.
Marketing leads to greater engagement
When you engage in sound marketing and communication, you will often find that parents, staff, community members and other stakeholders become more tuned in to your school district. They start to feel more strongly that the success of the district is an important part of the vitality of their community as a whole.
You’ll also likely see more meaningful levels of parental involvement. And, as all school leaders know, engaged parents lead to higher attendance rates and improved student achievement.
Making your school district a destination
Families have increasing numbers of choices when it comes to where their children attend school. Not only are there private and voucher school options, but programs like open enrollment can also allow families to enroll their children in neighboring public school districts.
In this environment, effective school district marketing is critical. As a school leader, you must position your district as a destination for students and families. This can help boost enrollment and improve the image of your organization in the eyes of your most critical stakeholders.
Reach those who don’t have a natural connection to your schools
Most schools and districts do a good job communicating with their primary stakeholders: parents, students and staff. While that’s certainly important, it’s worth remembering that these people may only represent, at most, 30 percent of your stakeholders. What about the remaining 70 percent?
Cohesive school district marketing enables you to reach those who may not have a direct connection to your schools. This includes non-parents, the parents of students who have graduated from your schools, alumni, local public officials, reporters and civic groups. These stakeholders can serve as passionate advocates for you schools—they just may need a little push.
Getting started with school district marketing
Most educational leaders will tell you that the idea of marketing makes them a little uncomfortable. It doesn’t always feel natural to think about marketing in a context outside of the business world.
To start the process, think about all the people you would like to be able to reach on a regular basis, beyond the folks with whom you communicate currently. Then, brainstorm three things you would like each of those stakeholders to know and understand about your district. Finally, consider the tools you can use (such as e-newsletters, blogging, social media, etc.) to reach those stakeholders.
While establishing a truly comprehensive school district marketing plan involves a much more intensive process, taking these initial steps will get you on the right path to reaching your communication and stakeholder engagement goals.
The Donovan Group provides communications and marketing services to schools, districts and education organizations across the United States.