Podcast interview w Rudi Gesch @rudigesch: using a drone for marketing Eastern Christian school (episode #45)

[Scroll to bottom to listen to interview and to visit shownotes of this post for links to items mentioned in this episode]

In this episode of the School Marketing Podcast, I interview Rudi Gesch, Director of Marketing and Enrollment at Eastern Christian School in New Jersey. Eastern Christian School recently launched their Do Life Big video. Like most “school community videos,” and Lip Dubs, Do Life Big features hundreds of smiling, singing, and dancing students from and faculty as they showcase their school’s programs, culture, and facilities, but this has a unique twist that has generated so many comments, social shares, and general “buzz” around the video.


(if video does not play below, visit YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ7oDPI1rR0)

The “music video” portion of the production was simple enough – find some great EC students and teachers to sing and dance along with Jamie Grace’s “Do Life Big”. They then storyboarded the song line by line, and shot a diverse group of students, teachers, facilities and activities to highlight their school.

But what sets this video apart from every other school video that we’ve seen is the amazing aerial footage. So how did we do that?  Meet Eagle Vision 1: Eastern Christian’s newest communications tool. This “quadcopter drone” has four spinning blades that allow an independently operable camera to take photo stills or video from a “near ground hover” to thousands of feet into the sky (though FAA restrictions require EC to keep it below 400 feet.) The fluid movements and spectacular angles allow them to tell EC’s 122 year+ story from vantage points that have never been seen. Rudi adds, “some of the coolest comments have come from long time alumni and supporters of the school who tell us that the school has never looked this good!”

Eastern Christian Drone: Eagle Vision 1

More from Rudi:

“To operate the camera, the drone pilot downloads a camera app to a smartphone. The phone clips into the remote control which features two joysticks. These two joysticks allow a full range of 360 degree motion. Thinking through drone video is a quite a bit more complex that your typical remote control vehicle. The drone pilot has to consider the altitude, the yaw (twist), the pitch (forwards and backwards movement) and the roll (left-right latitudinal movement). All of this, by the way, operates independently of the high definition camera which can tilt as well! A wifi-boost transmits a “real time” signal to the SmartPhone screen so that the pilot can see exactly what the drone sees as it is happening.”

Using the Hashtag: #SoarEC

Rudi explains, “For our marketing purposes at Eastern Christian, when we talk about things that make Eastern Christian School a unique place we talk a lot about ‘Eagle Culture’. We’re proud to be Eagles in the athletic arena, and we’re proud to reference ‘Soaring on Wings Like Eagles‘ as the core piece of our brand. We have been using #SoarEC as a key message of our mission, our message, and our brand. So when the opportunity to land this innovative new way of story-telling became available to us, we had to jump at the chance. If we’re going to ‘soar like eagles’, we wanted to be able to see what eagles see! Oh yeah- and it’s really fun to fly this thing too! The buzz of the students and teachers when they saw the drone in use as part of our video shoot helped make the video an amazing piece. Kids just naturally want to run after it- which, of course makes for great aerial shots of kids running.

Soaring to the Next Level Beyond the use of the drone

Rudi concludes, “We have been striving for excellence in our communications at Eastern Christian. We have felt the need to share more of what God is doing at and through EC with parents, alumni, and those in our broader school community. In an effort to share these stories, we have introduced a “My Story” section of the website to share personal stories from students, faculty, parents and alumni. Also, we have been very active writing posts on our school Blog. In addition, we have filmed several testimonial videos of recent graduates, highlighting the impact EC has had on them. Also, we began an athletic department Twitter page,  built up our social media presence with our Facebook page, Twitter handle, and the introduction of Instagram Fridays where a new teachers “takes over” the school Instagram  account every Friday. Finally, we have invested in technology to better display our beautiful and well equipped campuses.”