News Flash For All School Administrators: What you do in the next 60 days can have a major impact on your school marketing efforts for the entire year and beyond.
The “Back to School” season, September and October, is the one time of the year when you have everyone’s attention. They are excited and energized to have begun a new school year and are looking for reasons to become your school’s biggest fans. It is important to give parents every opportunity to show that they are on your team.
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Here are 5 ways you can use this time of year to take advantage of this parental excitement and willingness to support you in marketing your school and make strides in securing next fall’s enrollment.
- KICK YOUR RETENTION STRATEGY INTO HIGH GEAR.
Believe it or not, parents and students alike are already forming opinions about their satisfaction level with your school and are deciding if they will enroll for another year.
Some things you can do in the early fall to help parents fall in love with your school are:
- Invite families to a Back to School picnic. Food, games and fellowship offer guaranteed good times and great sentiments about your school community.
- Create a buddy program. Assign parent and student ambassadors to help transition all the newbies to your school community.
- Hold a Back to School Night. Make it upbeat and brief. Offer opportunities to learn about school activities and allow time for classroom visits. Demonstrate that communication is a two-way street in your building and do what is necessary to facilitate conversation between parents, teachers and staff.
- Host a Parent’s Day. Honoring your parents and inviting them to visit and participate in the classroom goes a long way in creating an environment of partnership within your school community.
- Utilize Parent-Teacher Conferences as a School Marketing Opportunity. Empower your faculty to start talking about the benefits of next year’s program when they meet with parents.
- CREATE A WOW MOMENT.
Think about a way to build unity within your community while doing something unusual to delight your students, parents and teachers.
One school held a pep rally early in the year which included a visit from the school’s mascot. If you have a House program, you could plan an induction ceremony or House competition.
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Some schools have held a themed day with focused instruction around a period of history, such as Colonial America or ancient Egypt, and allowed students to dress up in period clothing for the event.
Consider coordinating other academic-focused events, such as a STEM day or reading festival. Or a simple activity such as offering each class popsicles on a hot afternoon. The idea is to get a buzz going by stepping away from the normal routine for a while.
Don’t blow your opportunity to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the start of the new school year. Engaging your parents now in your school marketing efforts will allow them to become your school’s biggest fans and can go a long way in helping you achieve your retention and enrollment goals for this year and beyond.
- RECRUIT WORD OF MOUTH TEAM.
Every school needs an empowered team of parent ambassadors who will talk about the school and promote it in your community like it\’s their job. There are a variety of ways to employ a word of mouth strategy, including some behind the scenes tasks that parents can do in the evenings from their couch and others involving well-connected parents who have a powerful network of friends and colleagues. Find both types and get them on your team.
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- FAMILY NIGHTS.
Hosting an Open House event in which a student’s entire family can visit the school and classroom in an informal and laid back setting builds the parent-teacher relationship. It also eliminates the pressure and expectations of a formal sit-down meeting. Allowing students to bring siblings and parents to their classroom ensures a greater sense of confidence within the student and gives parents to see the day-to-day operation of their child’s education.
- COMMUNITY COLLABORATION- School can develop partnerships with neighboring businesses and organizations to provide services to the community.
You’re probably doing some level of parent outreach in all of these areas. Maybe you’re sending home updates on classroom activity, organizing PTO meetings, and even developing community service initiatives. Perhaps you’re including parents in school decisions and offering volunteer opportunities in the classroom.
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