The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact us all. There are many questions about the right things to do, especially when it comes to marketing your school.
You certainly want to be respectful of each family’s circumstances, while still doing what you can to deliver your school’s mission, even while you’re at home.
We’ve compiled a list of suggestions. Some of these involve working with prospective families, others about uniting your current ones—all with the goal of strengthening your school community as a whole.
For Prospective Families
Reach out to families in your pipeline. Chances are you had some families in your pipeline before this all happened. Reach out to them by phone with the express intent of asking how they are. Many will remember the care you took, and it keeps the lines of conversation open.
Host virtual tours. Prospective families can’t come to your campus—but many might be considering their education choice now, especially if they’re dissatisfied with their child’s current learning experience. We shared five tips for setting up a virtual Admission Office so you can continue to work with prospective families while remaining respectful of their situation.
Mobilize your ambassadors. Take the temperature of your parent or student ambassadors. If any are willing, see if they can record a video or be available for virtual “meet and greets.” Not everyone will have the time—and that’s ok! But if someone is interested, such communications provide great peer stories for prospective families who won’t have a more traditional enrollment experience. Also, for those ambassadors who are willing, connect them with families in your funnel or those who have been offered acceptance for next school year.
Don’t stop advertising. You just might have to pivot what you advertise. Move away from your "apply now!" message—instead, provide information all families can use and direct your ads there. This shows that you’re supporting the community, and demonstrates your mission at work. Some ideas include:
- a “how-to” blog post or video on something your school teaches (music, art, sports)
- tips for creating an ideal home learning environment
- physical activity ideas for children (and parents!)
- ways parents can talk with their children about COVID-19 and social distancing
Make classes available to the public via social media. Expand your reach and introduce people to what you’re doing through a “music and movement” or “physical activity” class. Parents might want to hop on and see what you’re all about, giving them a chance to see the experience you provide to children every day.
For Current Families
Create a FAQ. You’re probably hearing many of the same questions from families. Create a FAQ document so everyone has a basic understanding of where your school stands and your plan moving forward.
Talk with your families. We love the idea of connecting deeper with your current families. That may involve having your Leadership Team reach out to current families to check in on them. Another option is to rely on staff members who might not have as much to do—hourly employees, aides, or coaches—and have them become liaisons for families each week. Your school might choose to hold virtual parent coffees based on grade level. These can be hosted by an administrator they know and joined each week by other staff members, such as your nurse, finance director, or school counselor. Many parents and students will truly appreciate that your school cares about the well-being of each and every family.
Get leadership involved. There’s no doubt that this is an unsettling time. Your families appreciate hearing from their children’s teachers, but also want to hear from the School Head and top administrators. What’s happening from a leadership perspective? Written emails are great, video is often better. Send out frequent communications through your email channels and post on social media to ensure families know what’s going on, and feel comforted that they’re well taken care of.
Encourage creativity from your teachers. Teachers are innately creative. Ensure they know they can try new things while teaching remotely. Check in on them—how is it going? Is there anything they’d want to share on your school’s website or social media channels to illustrate your mission at work? If you keep the door open and continue encouraging them, your teachers will be excited about the idea of coming forward to share examples of their work in the digital classroom.
Host a virtual spirit week. Your community and mission are what makes your school great. Don’t feel you can’t share it because you’re at home! Host a virtual spirit week, pajama Tuesday, or “show and tell” Thursdays. Gather students on birthdays to sing; be sure to recognize other milestones. This helps students feel like a part of your community and strengthens your bond.
Create Facebook groups. Consider helping families communicate with like-minded peers by creating Facebook groups and inviting them to join. You might want to offer groups by grade level, classroom, or something else that makes sense for your school. Make sure that a school administrator “owns” the Facebook group so you can moderate as needed.
Recap what has happened. Provide weekly wrap-ups of what has been accomplished to keep your community engaged.
We hope these ideas are helpful and spark some new actions you might take at your school.
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