I admit that my possibly offensive title probably sounds like I think volunteers are a nuisance. Actually, the point of this article is to help you find practical ways to involve school volunteers who are always asking, “how can I help?”
First of all, while volunteers are a blessing, they come with conditions. It cannot be denied that volunteers on your marketing team operate differently than paid staff or outsourced consultants. Administrative officials and hired contractors work for results which are often tied to how much money they make or how long they keep their job. It’s one reason to consider NOT assigning critical, timely marketing tasks to volunteers. While they may indicate a willingness and eagerness to help, they MAY not operate with the same sense of urgency you have. Nor may they offer the same level of excellence you would demand of an employee or contractor. You want to have the freedom to dislike their work without feeling like you are going to offend them and run them off from volunteering ever again (or worse, writing a bad review about your school . . . uh, see #7 below). You want to be able to “fire” them if they do not perform. But how do you fire a non-paid volunteer?
So what jobs can you create for your eager beavers? Here are 7 ideas your school volunteers can do from any computer or mobile device: (more…)
As the Head of School, you want to have a voice where parents, students, alumni and prospective families hear directly from you. While inviting them to campus a few times a year may allow you face-to-face interaction, people nowadays expect more frequent communication.
Watch the video below to learn how to set up your own Head of School blog in 15 minutes or less using WordPress, one of the most popular blogging platforms.
RECOMMENDED LINK: https://www.yourschoolmarketing.com/hostgator
.In case you are new to blogging, here are 3 ways a Head of School can effectively blog for your school:
- PERSONALITY – your school, especially to prospective families, is an institution. While you likely are familiar with the many families and faces of your school, to the prospective family, you are a building with brick walls and curriculum. Having a weekly or biweekly blog (or more often, but not less), these families get to your heart and your vision. Even current families and alumni (who may not know you if there were different administrators) will be encouraged by learning more about the individual leading their school. You can be serious, funny, or offer a combination of emotions that stimulate interest in your school. Let them know about your family, your hobbies, and the things you do outside the school, too.
- MULTI-SENSORY – most of the time, we think of blogs as platforms for written content. However, from time to time, or exclusively, you can offer a video blog (or “vlog”) if you find this easier or more effective than writing. In a vlog, families and students are inspired by your words, but also captivated by your body language and eye contact.
- CHALLENGE – when choosing your content to blog about, consider more than just boring announcements about the latest fundraising campaign. Rather, take trending topics (especially peruse Facebook and Twitter for what’s on the minds of people) and address these from your point of view. Perhaps there is education legislation that needs explaining, a spiritual examination of a controversial topic in the news or providing a unique worldview challenge for a global crisis making headlines. You are a leader so use this platform to show your students and families what kind of leader you really are!
Additional blog resources:
Your prospective parent is looking for evidence of your school’s greatness. Are you creating a pathway for them to discover your unique offerings?
You cannot assume every potential family is ready to enroll. Some are only becoming aware of your existence, while some are somewhere in between. Are you providing each family profile the right kind of steps to move them to the next level?
Read this guest article that Randy wrote “Providing Stepping Stones Not Stumbling Blocks“.
While I’ve written many times that “content is king”, I think the important distinction is that “shareable content is king.” In our cluttered world, there’s a lot of content out there in our news feed, in our news stream, on our pin boards, and in our email inboxes. But often it is nothing by noise, spam, or just irrelevant chatter in our digital mailboxes. The foundation of a solid social media system for your school is to connect relevant content with the right audience who will pass it on to others with a similar need.
First of all, where do you get this relevant content that is worth sharing? Recently, I wrote “3 Places to Get Ideas for Your School’s Blog Content.” I found another article listing “12 Characteristics of Highly Shared Content”. The key is to listen to your audience’s needs. Ask them for input. Write what they are asking about, not just what you want to say.
Once you have great quality blog content, it’s time to share it for optimal exposure and maximum impact:
- Tweet your blog article, not just once, but over a period of time (or at peak moments during your marketing season)
- Post this article on your school’s Facebook page
- Put a link to this article in your school’s email marketing newsletter (where you hopefully have numerous prospective families on the list)
- As a follow-up to a family who came for a tour, you can email them links to articles that speak specifically to each family’s concerns
- Pin your article to a parent-related board on Pinterest
Shareable content is highly-relevant information that your audience has asked you for or that you know they need to understand it. Shareable content cuts through the clutter in our world and resonates with the needs of your immediate audience, and then they share it with others who have a similar need.
FINAL TIP: Writing shareable content for your families may force you to think differently about your intended audience. While current families may be the first to read your article, your final destination is really the laptop of the prospective family who currently has a friend whose kids are enrolled at your school. Armed with the right kind of relevant content, your current families become ambassadors who can passively promote your school by passing a link to a friend via email, Twitter or Facebook. For example, highly shareable content may be “How the class size at my son’s school increased his grades from Cs to all As!” or “How a smaller classroom environment has turned my wallflower daughter into a social butterfly.” Current families read (and maybe write) this content and then stand positioned to post such insights all over Facebook, Twitter and on their Pinterest board about their kids’ school.
ACTION: If you need ideas on setting up your school’s social media system, contact us for your FREE 30-minute phone consultation. No obligation to sign up for anything – just an opportunity for us to listen to your needs, share ideas and help you lay out a plan that will work for you.
When talking with private school clients about creating high-value blog content for their social media system, one of the most common questions I get is, “what do I write about?” Admittedly, it’s so much easier to think of self-promotional content (i.e., your next marketing preview event, a statistic about your school’s college acceptance rate, school growth, class size, etc..) But your social media system must include educational and informational content that will resonate with prospective families.
The 3 most common places where you can receive inspiration for your high-value blog content are:
- ONLINE RESOURCES – as seen in the image above, the NAIS website has a parent section (click “Parents” at the top as indicated in the photo). You’ll find a number of articles that are talking about issues NAIS has deemed important to prospective independent school parents. These are likely YOUR prospective parents as well. Get clues from these articles to craft your own articles, or simply link to articles on sites like NAIS to provide high-value content to your families. You can also get content ideas from other parent forums at Private School Review or GreatSchools (look for their “Hot Topics” forum) and even the educational areas of national news sites like CNN or FoxNews.
- ADMISSION Q&A – think through the 5 most common questions prospective families ask about your school during your preview events or school tours. These are excellent starting places for blog content. While a blog post answering questions about your school’s tuition rates may not sound very riveting, it could give you a foundation for talking about the VALUE your school offers a prospective family, a discussion of financial aid solutions, or an opportunity to highlight current families who have made the sacrifice to afford your school. When one prospective family watches a compelling 5 min video blog from one of your current families, there is an opportunity to move past the dilemma of “how could we ever?” to a more positive “we can do this!” attitude about enrolling in your school.
- CONVERSATIONS EVERYWHERE – asking questions on your school’s Facebook page can extend the opportunity for your prospective families to understanding more about the spiritual, academic or character-building advantages that your school offers. Ask prospective families to submit questions via Facebook or Twitter and then answer them on your blog. Every member of the marketing/communication/admission team and parent organization should start keeping a record of FAQs they get asked at church, at the little league game, or while sitting across from their friends at the coffee shop. These questions, concerns and curiosities of prospective families are your basis for every educational blog post you write.
*UPDATE* – If it can be of some help, I’ve recently a “Parent Articles” board on Pinterest to help you have a go-to resource for relevant articles that you can tweet out or include in your email or Facebook updates.