Just as there are new ways to use recruitment videos, viewbooks and websites for “nonrecruitment” purposes, so too a school can use its magazine, e-news and annual report to enhance recruitment efforts.
Articles in the magazine can help clarify a school’s image and bring people up to date on programs offered. If the public perceives a school as being too artsy, you can run stories on science or math to help balance things out. Contact those parents and alumni who work in scientific fields and include a profile or two to complement a main feature.
If local public schools are deficient in music and drama, a school can underscore its strengths in these areas in weekly/monthly e-news and social media, showing off positive ways in which your students and teachers stand out. Make sure to send your magazine to prospective families as another way of communicating and to inform them of the year’s activities. Don’t wait until a new student has come aboard to put the family on the mailing list.
Annual reports provide schools with a wonderful opportunity to thank donors and volunteers and also to let prospective families have a glimpse at the people who really care about the institution. They will be favorably impressed by the trustee list and others who contribute both time and money to give the school that margin of excellence in programming that can’t be fully funded by tuition alone. Such early lessons in voluntary support will pay off later when it comes time to educate first-time independent school families about the school’s hopes and expectations to supplement tuition income with much needed gifts.
And if you’re not already doing this, take the lead in joining with peer schools to produce digital and/or print communications that will give each participating school visibility in the wider community and a contact for further information. Collective campaigns have positive public relations value for all independent schools and help individual schools get the word out without having to make a major expenditure.
Taking this strategic approach requires a joint and coordinated effort within the school. Move on beyond the isolation of one office from another in planning and managing your brand and you will avoid projecting blurry, fragmented or irrelevant messages about who and what the school is all about.