The final term in schools always seems different from the others.

Exams are largely done, some students will have already left, trips and residentials take place. The summer holidays are within grasp for exhausted teachers.

It’s also the time to organise open events, design and write prospectuses, have photos taken.

This year is different of course. All the norms have been rudely jettisoned.

For school leaders, the discussions are already taking place about how open events might look like, if indeed they happen at all. Will ongoing social distancing make them redundant for this year?

Probably. This strange state of affairs, however, should not mean that schools stop thinking about recruitment. In fact, with the traditional methods possibly not available to them, it could be more important than ever to get it right.

There are some alternatives, though, and with all of them, professionalism is key. Schools – some schools – are notoriously slapdash when it comes to presenting a professional image. Recruitment is vital and an amateurish campaign will do more harm than good. People remember such things.

Our 6 different ways of running open evening:

Virtual tours. Create a stunning video, showcasing everything that is good about your school. It needs, however, to be professional. A teacher running round with an iPhone and a piece of free editing software doesn’t cut it. Look to have a professional film made which will stand the test of time and have real wow factor. Most of us can take decent footage with our phones but only the pros can combine all this with a real eye for what works and cracking editing. Read more here
Oh, and film it on a sunny day!!!
An extra thought: Without children, schools are very different places. Student-led virtual tours are always best so how do you do it? Could this be a nice project for the children of key workers who are still in school? Filming is a very safe activity and with the right health and safety in place, it would be a nice reward for those children.

Facebook campaign. Some schools are very wary of Facebook but as a means of targeting the right people, it has few equals. For a very small budget (as little as £10/day) you can reach thousands of the right people and build up a database of prospective parents. Don’t, however, fall into the trap of thinking ‘boost post’ is the answer. It isn’t. You need a proper campaign, with the right ads and aimed at the right people. We won national acclaim for a schools Facebook campaign last year. Here. Ask us how we did it.

Build a mailing list. This is quite strategic and can begin even with parents of children who are a couple of years away from joining your school. The key is DATA DATA DATA. By having lots of opportunities for those parents to find out more about your school, you can create a database which will allow you to share (without bombarding) good news and information. In time, the parents will feel they are almost part of the school family already. Ask us how we can help you create it.

21st Century prospectus. The prospectus in print form still has lot of value but this year it might be time to rethink. If you do have a prospectus, look to send it out, beautifully presented to everyone on mailing lists. However there is more you can do. Video prospectuses with 1st person testimonials by students and parents can be powerful, but remember – it needs to be professional.
An extra thought: A print prospectus is still a valuable marketing tool so make them so they don’t date easily. If going to the expense of print at least make them work for two years.  You can always do a new welcome insert from the head each year.

Hyperlocal press. The local press scene has changed in the last few years and one innovation has been micro press operations, serving specific communities, such as the Voice series in Bristol. These publications can reach your prospective parents very effectively. Cultivate relationships and make sure these publications are spreading your good news and information.

Website: Your website is the front door to the school and given that real doors might be shut to visitors for a while, does the home page and the rest of the site do enough?  Is it easy to find parent view/testimonials?
Watch out for our upcoming blog on websites

The Local Voice team can help with all aspects of your media. Get in touch here or call Rich on 0777 555 0607. We offer a FREE consultation service so don’t hesitate to contact us.

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