Lots of schools do not have a centralized marketing communications office, although a strong trend for identifying this function as important to school management is well underway. In a decentralized setting, admissions, development, athletics, summer programs, academic divisions, volunteer leaders and others often are working to produce electronic and print communications separately without too much thought given to coordination of messaging and graphic identity.
The situation is further complicated by non-communicating databases, a jumble of paper and online transactions (applications, enrollment, billing and more) and an increasingly demanding audience for instant news delivered via the website, email, texts, apps, social media and traditional delivery sources.
Without a strong coordinating force guiding communications decisions, a school:
- Spends more money than it needs to, with varying results
- Duplicates efforts in records management
- Strains staff with multiple responsibilities
- Fails to project a coordinated, memorable brand
- Leaves important constituents disappointed or frustrated
If the ability to hire a director of communications is not possible right now, it is still possible to professionalize and streamline your communications function by establishing an internal communications committee. Members of the committee often are:
- Director of admissions
- Director of development
- Director of operations (buildings & grounds, finance)
- Faculty representative
- Parent Relations representative
- Athletic director
- Arts director
- Web master
Plan to meet twice a year as a whole group—in June and January—to go over a schedule that includes production of print and digital publications, special events, outreach and publicity efforts and crisis communications planning.
A smaller group can meet more frequently—once a month is great—to talk about challenges and opportunities and how to solve them. An important secondary benefit to regular meetings across departments is considering the whole school from the outside in, and this moves you much closer to understanding what marketing and branding are all about.