The world of K-12 education has become an incredibly competitive place in recent years.
Schools and districts have found themselves scrambling to stand out in a crowd that includes neighboring public schools, magnet schools, private institutions, for-profit and nonprofit charters and—in some states—voucher schools.
This has led to a situation in which marketing for schools has become vital. Schools and districts are competing for students and high-quality teachers like never before. Because of this, they must communicate effectively about their achievements, curricula, student services, extracurricular activities and more.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of marketing for schools is to provide key information to many different stakeholders at once. Schools must now brand themselves and develop marketing strategies like those found in the business world. One way they are doing so is through content marketing.
Developing your school marketing strategy
Effective marketing for schools often comes down to answering a series of questions:
- What are our marketing goals?
2. Based on these goals, which stakeholders do we need to engage?
3. What messages do we want our stakeholders to receive?
4. What tools should we use to engage our stakeholders with our messages?
Of the four questions above, messaging is often the most challenging. Essentially, messages are things we want stakeholders to know and understand about your school or district.
To illustrate this, imagine that you could sit down with every member of all your stakeholder groups for a cup of coffee. What three to five things would you want them to take away from your conversations? What would you hope that each of them would communicate to someone else afterward? These are messages.
Implementing your school’s content strategy
Only after you have identified your audience and developed key messages can you start to think about tactics. Depending on your needs and how your audience prefers to receive information, you may wish to publish content through a variety of channels.
The most common for school districts are blog posts, e-newsletters, social media updates and news releases. But there’s no shortage of communication channels available today.
For a growing number of entities in the education world, blogs have become the “home base” of content marketing for schools. On their blogs, schools and districts can share their stories, highlighting test scores, faculty awards, student projects, district milestones, alumni accomplishments and various other points of pride.
The reason this works so well is that school districts can then promote those blog posts via e-blasts to parents, staff and community members. And, of course, districts can use their social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to promote their blog content, as well.
The challenge of content creation
Developing a content marketing strategy is simple enough. Implementing it is a different story.
In an era of budget cuts, many schools and districts struggle to pay for the staff to run their operations—much less embark on a full-fledged marketing campaign. And, unless a district has a full-time communications person, it’s difficult to find the internal capacity to write good content on a consistent basis.
If this is the challenge your school or district faces, consider working with a content creation service that specializes in education. There, you’ll find skilled writers who know the K-12 world and can help you develop the content that will share your district’s story with your stakeholders.
ProPRcopy has worked with dozens of K-12 schools, districts, foundations and education-focused nonprofit organizations. Its sister company, the Donovan Group, is one of the country’s leading school communication firms.