May 2, 2013
ow will your district compete when parents decide which school their child will attend? In these days of charter schools, private schools, home schools and for-profit ventures, how can your district be a district of choice?
We begin with one easy simple question: Why? Why worry about marketing your district? Why bother? We’ve always been here…and we’ll always be here. We’re the public schools. Parents need us. Society needs us.
Marketing is an essential part of a school district’s communication plan, as it is in any successful business. All districts should have a communication plan that is used thoughtfully, not sitting on a shelf collecting dust. If you are not engaging in communications and marketing, you could very well be failing at the ballot box – or worse – out of business completely.
Communication leads to understanding. Understanding leads to broader public support. Broader public support leads to progress in education. Support for public education is absolutely essential if it is to survive. Public education is being attacked and criticized more and more every day. As the district faces the challenges of the future, the need for strong public support is clear.
Tax revolts, charter schools, schools of choice, home schools, for-profit schools which guaranteed results, attacks from special interest groups, continue to pressure for accountability. This increases the need for public schools to market their wares–not simply churn out favorable p.r.–but market.
The most effective principals, teachers and other school leaders at all levels, public and private, are learning that marketing is a necessary tool for support, credibility and in today’s market…survival.
So how should I market my district?
Effective marketing is a systematic approach to building a relationship between your district and the people you want to attract i.e. students, parents, teachers, alumni, potential consumers, and the wider public.
- Recognize and believe that the students and their parents are the districts customers. Customer service must be at the very core of how the district is run.
- Motivate the staff and employees to serve as dedicated champions for the students and cheerleaders for the district. In other words, they must live the concepts of excellence and service.
- Take the districts message on the road. Don’t wait for people in your community to come to you. You must aggressively reach out to them. Only through the combined support and efforts of everyone directly and indirectly associated with your district will you attain meaningful and lasting public confidence.
Marketing is absolutely essential to build positive images about your district and instill pride in the staff and students. It can enhance internal and external awareness of the good work being accomplished by the district and “weatherproof” you from the many challenges that, inevitably, lie ahead.