June 14, 2020
While communities still feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, your school can and should continue marketing. However, your messaging must shift.
This is a time to reach out to people in solidarity and empathy. Create connections with new parents while also strengthening relationships with your current families. We recommend reviewing the following areas to continue marketing your school successfully.
Your previous marketing efforts were probably focused on driving leads to applications. That approach needs to be adapted to fit the current climate. You want to create a broader audience at the top of the admission funnel.
Many families are delaying any plans they had for enrolling or re-enrolling their children until the economy is firmer and they are confident that campuses are safe. Generate content to warm this audience for when they are ready to consider enrolling or returning to private schools.
If your school pivoted well to distance learning with minimal academic disruption, be sure to use this information in your marketing efforts. Highlight what your school has done to handle the crisis and incorporate what you have learned in your communications.
Create marketing videos that demonstrate your remote instruction value proposition. Images of students and faculty engaged in distance learning are a powerful draw and show how your school has made a successful transition.
Create content for digital marketing campaigns. Write blog posts that position your school as a leader in remote education; promote your early childhood education program or your boarding program. Publish these campaigns in the next few weeks to lay the foundation for interested families. Generate lead magnets and contact templates; they attract families actively seeking out private school education.
Email marketing engagement is stronger than ever because families have less distraction. Allocate resources to create emails that link to contact forms and answer submissions from them. These leads are vital to maintain a steady pipeline.
Promote Health and Wellness
The work your school has done to ensure the health and safety of students and faculty is also an asset for marketing. Share your efforts to keep your campus safe by disseminating your updated health monitoring and enhanced cleaning protocols.
Tune in to live webinars every week during the school year to get specific, research-backed insight you can immediately apply at your school.
One of the best marketing tools is positive word of mouth from current happy families. With activities transitioning to virtual experience, you may have even more media content featuring students and their work, thanks to everything being on video. However, new waivers are required to share this content.
Include a media disclaimer in your contract that gives your school permission to use these videos in your materials. This disclaimer must be updated to cover virtual learning environments. Be sure to include this in both continuous enrollment agreements and new contracts.
Online learning platforms and other educational applications present a security challenge for schools. You must do everything you can to protect students and their data. Even when the worst of the pandemic has passed, many schools will continue to use online learning tools. Create and publish updated policies for protecting students and their data in your online applications.
This is also a perfect time to look at your crisis communication plan. Reflect on how you performed over the last three months. Decide what was done well and what needs improvement. Update the plan with changes for the future.
Plans for the 2020–21 School Year
Most people were unprepared for a pandemic and parents gave schools a pass this spring. But in the fall, you must have communication plans prepared for various learning scenarios that may play out—blended, on campus, or fully remote.
Develop a communication plan that addresses each possible course of action, including transitions to remote learning and how hybrid classes will operate. This will help to alleviate anxiety for students and parents.
Share your plans for reopening campus in the fall through a re-entry planning program or pamphlet. Emphasize that you're providing as much information as possible, and that families should look forward to more detailed explanations as opening day approaches.
Be transparent and address issues that cannot be resolved. Share what your Reopening Task Force is doing to get those answers. If you have taken a survey of your constituents about how they perceive the school’s handling of the pandemic, share positive results.
Enhance your back-to-school communications by addressing both new and returning families. Include weekly calendars for new students. Employ strategic communication to prevent increased “summer melt” where some families choose not to matriculate. Frequent communication can keep families from changing plans.
Promotional marketing efforts cannot cease in the face of uncertainty. Concerns about the future are more easily answered when your school positions itself as a leader protecting faculty and families.
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