When you invest in your district’s brand and marketing strategy, everyone benefits. It becomes easier to attract more students and talented teachers, improve community engagement and maintain an excellent reputation.
If you need a few ideas for marketing your own district, take a look at what these five diverse districts are doing to build up their brand and achieve their goals.
This Kansas district’s motto of “Education Beyond Expectations” forms the bedrock of the Board of Education’s goals: staffing every classroom with an exemplary teacher and focusing on personalized learning experiences for their 22,000+ students.
First, the Human Resources department developed a new brand based on the qualities they seek in top-notch educators: dedication, collaboration and innovation. They strengthened their employment webpage by showcasing the district’s expectations, professional learning opportunities and stress-free hiring process.
“Having an exemplary teacher in every classroom is one of our top priorities… It is imperative that our website has everything prospective employees are looking for at their fingertips in order to attract great talent.”– Bob Kriefels, Executive Director of Human Resources
Once the website was updated, they used social media and YouTube to highlight the incredible work being done in the district and market themselves as an employer.
Has it worked? Definitely. The district’s educators are highly regarded in the community and have received numerous awards: Kansas Teacher of the Year, Kansas School Psychologist of the Year and Kansas School Counselor of the Year, just to name a few. And these incredible staff are having an impact — student achievement has skyrocketed.
This tiny rural one-building district in Wisconsin may only serve 850 students, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have big dreams for their brand. Led by Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo, author of The Power of Branding, the district maintains a trailblazing digital outreach policy around a single hashtag: #gocrickets.
So far, their initiative has been a tremendous success, with tweets reaching hundreds of thousands of unique users. Sanfelippo’s Twitter account alone has 13,500 followers — a number over ten times higher than Fall Creek’s total population.
With this focus on social media, Fall Creek hopes to boost community support, highlight the learning taking place in the district and improve parental engagement.
“As a parent, if you send a newsletter to my house, I’m not going to see it until the next morning when I’m cleaning out my kid’s backpack in a rush… But if I can just check out that hashtag and see the cool stuff my kid is doing during the day, it makes me feel more like I’m part of it.”
Pandora Radio listeners in Michigan might hear a few unexpected advertisements between songs. Fraser Public School District places advertisements on the internet radio service to convince parents in the area to send their children to one of Fraser’s public schools.
Pandora might seem like an odd choice for ad placement, but it’s a very sophisticated strategy. During high enrollment periods, Fraser Public Schools can zero in on the people most likely to switch schools by targeting zip codes in the area — including those in neighboring districts — and tell listeners about the vibrant education available within their classrooms.
Of course, the district relies on plenty of other channels to get the word out about their student programs. They have advertisements in newspapers and on local television, supported by high-quality videos about how they’re working to redesign education.
This Minnesota district, nestled on the western bays of Lake Minnetonka, faced a decline in student enrollment due to the state’s open enrollment policy and nearby charter schools. So they began marketing the district’s academic programs in local newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations.
In addition, they started a marketing initiative to spark interest in the district while prospective students were still in diapers. Their “Warm Westonka Welcome” program sends a baby bag to new parents in the area. These gift bags include:
A personal welcome from the superintendent
A tote bag and onesie emblazoned with the phrase “A Westonka real-life success story in the making.”
A coupon for a free baby board book from the local library
Westonka Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and Westonka Community Preschool brochures and course catalogs
Afterward, the district follows up by sending young children birthday cards through their fifth birthday. The program reinforces the district tagline:
Small School Advantages. Big School Opportunities. Real-Life Success Stories.
So far, their marketing initiatives have led to success, with enrollment numbers improving significantly. But the Executive Director of Communications, Janet Swiecichowski, doesn’t think their success is entirely due to their marketing strategies. Instead, she attributes the improving enrollment figures to the district brand they have built up.
“They’re probably Googling ‘great education’ and finding Minnetonka… We want families thinking of their school choice to think of Minnetonka as their first choice.”
This Illinois PreK-8 district may have seven different schools, but their brand identity clearly positions them as one unified organization. The district’s site shares a common layout and color scheme with each of the individual school websites, lending a feel of continuity to the entire school system. This consistency stretches across their online hiring system and social media pages as well, which feature custom branding and are actively updated with need-to-know information for stakeholders.
On their site, KSD 140 also makes it easy to find the information you need, whether you are a student, parent, community member, employee or board member — all while prominently featuring their mission statement, messages from the superintendent and student-focused imagery.
Think your district should be on this list? Tell us about your district’s branding and marketing successes on Twitter @FrontlineEdu!
Annie is a writer and part of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She's passionate about learning, exploring data and sharing knowledge. Her specialties include substitute management, the K-12 staffing shortage, and best practices in human capital management.