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Boost Enrollment With Public Relations

Administrators will enjoy these helpful school public relations tips shared by EducationWorld Community blogger Maris Callahan. Be sure to read all of her great advice on PR for schools.

Though a lot of schools turn to public relations only in times of crisis, other schools look to PR as a means of preventing a problem.

Maris Callahan

For instance, schools facing low enrollment rates due to a down economy are increasingly investing in professional marketing programs in order to keep admissions up.

While some administrators suggest that a strong academic program will speak for itself, Lisa Relou, who directs marketing efforts for the Denver Public Schools, recently told the Wall Street Journal that "schools are really getting that they can't just expect students to show up any more. They have to go out and recruit."

Before you grow concerned, keep in mind that recruiting students for a K-12 school does not have to make you feel like a car salesman. Implementing a marketing program that focuses on positioning your school in a flattering way can help increase student recruitment and retention.

Tackle the real issues.  Some marketing professionals will barge into your office wielding a corporate strategy and promising results. Instead of taping a band-aid over your problem, focus on the reasons why your student numbers might be lagging. If your test scores are down, invest in additional training or further education for teachers. If your facilities are outdated, skip the glamorous print ad campaign and purchase some updated equipment so that students--and more importantly, their parents--will know they are receiving a top-notch education.

Implement a personalized program.  Seek out parents of school-aged children and parents of children who will be aging into your school system. Have honest conversations with them about what they are looking for in a school and what your school can do for their child. In a market saturated with social media and mass marketing, a little face time goes a long way. While it might cost your administration some manpower hours, it will pay off in spades if conducted correctly.  

Target the media that your audience consumes.  Private and charter schools might find it tempting to take out ads in local magazines or newspapers, but in actuality, carpooling parents get their news from the radio, and stay-at-home and working parents spend more time online. If you are working with a PR or marketing professional, ensure that he or she knows your goal is quality--reaching the right audience--not quantity.

About the author

A social media expert, freelance writer and public relations professional for many high-profile companies, Maris Callahan is the author and publisher of the food blog In Good Taste and the new Chicago online lifestyle magazine My Daily Find Chicago.


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