Setting up your School Media Crew to help market your school
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
The importance of video for us all to communicate couldn’t be more prominent in the last 18 months, tik tok has come from nowhere in four years and business leaders wonder at how they can ever sustain video based marketing strategies and communications.
Similarly school leaders have exactly the same problem. Over the last 18 months it can be said that many more aspects of school life have been shared with parents and online communities than ever before with positive impact. It’s now a question of how those video interactions are made sustainable and put to good strategic school use.
It’s really quite simple, “get the kids to do it”. In the same way as your school already embraces the richness of its staff and students to do all manner of activities and clubs you can do the same here, and all the while knowing that ultimately the students’ experiences are building their CV’s for their future benefit in a video intense world.
Students at Orwell Park School reporting on the Motorsports Day
It is suggested that School Business Leaders (ISBL Professional Standards) spend 20% of their time marketing their schools. In my experience very few would say that they spend more than 2% if they were asked as the other aspects of their job are so overwhelming on time. That’s a real shame because celebrating and sharing all the wonderful things that students and staff do everyday is one of the most important things that can be done to raise the self esteem of our students, their teachers and the whole school community, ahead of student and teacher recruitment. In the past I’ve worked with schools to create marketing videos and in my experience those videos are at their most powerful when you have genuine student commentary about their school and how much they value it.
ISBL Professional Standards - https://isbl.org.uk/
So how can you get your School Media Crew started to ultimately support your school improvement plans? Here are some tips to help you get your crew underway:
Schedule - what's coming up in the school calendar? This is a good starting point to make a list of all the amazing things that go on in your school and from which to then create content. In my experience you’ll soon realise that it’s not about writing the story and creating the resultant video, it's about which of the many opportunities that already exist are you going to capture?
Stories - each term your school most likely has a, “hero event”, as Simon Hepburn from Marketing Advice for Schools calls them. So that would be a drama production for example that involves a lot of effort and which gradually builds up to the performance throughout the term. Obviously the end production is an opportunity but think back from there to what is going on this week in that build up, that is a story in itself, for example the Art Department sketching out the backdrop design for the drama production. Consulting the schools schedule and working back really does make the process of what you are going to cover so much easier and with richer content.
Schools have got great stories that they can share all the time.
Students - so your crew. How are you going to recruit them? I’d suggest a combination of asking who your colleagues would suggest in a staff meeting with also putting a poster up for volunteers. Your colleagues will instinctively rattle off a few names and you’ll probably know those already. Make sure that you search further, starting a School Media Crew is an opportunity to give more students the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. In my early years of teaching I remember recruiting two students to the drama production set crew to help put the set together, one was fondly known as, “spanner man”, by the rest of the team and in later life they now lead an engineering business.
Staff - colleagues are the life-blood of any school. How can you capture their enthusiasm and support? Simple, help them share all of the great things that they do with their students be it in the classroom, the sportshall, drama theatre or out and about. If you can get your colleagues into the mindset that their activities end with celebrating what their students achieve in their planning then that is a win for everyone and builds up sustainability.
Sustainability - one of the key questions that senior leadership should ask about any School Media Crew starting out, or indeed a question that you as the activity owner should also ask your colleagues, “how is this all going to be sustainable?” There needs to be commitment and ultimately some budget in order to start and sustain your School Media Crew activity as your parents, community and marketing efforts will become reliant on it. I think that we have all probably explored an organisation’s social media and seen a flurry followed by a lull or even worse absence for a period of time.
Safeguarding - it goes without saying that safeguarding is of the utmost importance and needs to be considered in every aspect of the School Media Crew’s work. What school policies are in place or need writing in order to make sure that all is understood? Schools have policies covering the use of student images and those are a good place to start working through the safe boundaries for all.
Systems - as ever all needs to be efficient, simple and effective in order to work and be sustainable in a school environment. Short and punchy video packages will be far more easy to create, edit if necessary and publish. Over the years I have heard time and time again how teaching colleagues have taken the time to video something but then sadly it has never been shared as time has moved on. Setting out the main bullet points in the stories with colleagues is key. Choose technology that is simple, robust and effective, something that we will be talking more about in future posts.
Skills - interesting one. When you start out there will be skills that you need to develop in your team and then make sure are inherited to younger students coming through. Your School Media Crew has the opportunity to form a team of students from across your school with different skills that would not normally come together so naturally; there is the story writer, the presenter/reporter, the videographer, the sound engineer and video editor depending on how complex you want or can get. The one thing that you can use here in your quest to support your School Media Crew with school budget is to continuously state that your crew are developing really important skills that will add to their life chances, and which is ultimately also cost effective to the school!
Sequence - by now you’ll probably realise the importance of starting small, focussing on a small sequence of events and content in order to make all manageable. Getting that formula right and sequencing all is going to be the most important job for you and other colleagues overseeing the School Media Crew. Your sequence is going to be the means by which all is planned, manageable and delivered.
Socialise - so this is where the content ends up. Doesn’t automatically mean on the school’s social media, all though that would be good! Many schools have digital signage or private intranets for students and parents, all provide opportunities to publish and promote the media created, for people to come together, socialise, and celebrate the great things that their school and all in it has achieved.
We hope that this starts to help you get your School Media Crew up and running. We believe that your School Media Crew could add significant value to your school’s self-esteem and marketing outreach in an efficient manner. If you’d like some help and advice on setting up your School Media Crew then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.