Marketing the Small Private School: Communicating with Your Community

In the first article in this series, Marketing the Small Private School: The First Steps, we looked at the resources available for marketing the small private school. The assumption which we made in that article was that your school probably couldn't afford a full-time marketing professional. Instead you would assign an existing member of your staff the additional responsibility of handling your marketing. That assumption still stands for purposes of this article. Now we will look at how to use the various resources and tools at our disposal.
The best strategy for successful marketing is to control your message. That means that you have to know who you are speaking to and through what means you can best communicate with them.  Let's use the proven journalist's approach to understanding our communications strategy.
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • Why are we trying to reach them?
  • What are we trying to communicate?
  • How can we reach them most effectively?
  • When should we communicate our message?

This structured approach ensures that your message will be unified and on message as it progresses from your keyboard to the recipients. Let's look at examples of how we can reach each segment of our school community. My suggestions are merely suggestions deigned to get you thinking in a structured manner. Adapt my suggestions to suit your particular requirements.
Communicating with your community
Let's start at the top. 

Who are we trying to reach? Everybody in our community as well as everybody outside it.
Why are we trying to reach them? Because
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Many years ago I had no clue what a private school was, much less how to get into one. I can remember one of my public school classmates announcing that he was going to be attending a private school beginning the next academic year. Indeed about three of my classmates ended up going to what is still a prestigious old Montreal private school, Lower Canada College. I also had a few friends who had transferred in from a boarding school in the Eastern Townships. As I learned a little later, they had been asked to leave the school. In any case, I am trying to make the point that you are not the only person who isn't really sure how private schools work, how to get your child in and so on. So let's keep this really simple. You won't get too stressed. You might actually find it enjoyable finding the right private school for your child. 
The first step in the process is to find schools which you can explore and investigate as part of your personal due diligence. Sending your child to private school is a major commitment both financially and in terms of your investment of your personal time and energy as a parent. So it is important that we get it right.
Fortunately for us just about every private school has some kind of web site. You will find all levels of web sites ranging from embarrassingly amateurish to extremely professional. Don't let a school's web site
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A couple of years ago when tenure for professors began to look like a thing of the past, I remember thinking that tenure for K-12 teachers would probably be next on the chopping block. And so the rumblings which I thought I heard off in the distance were indeed the precursor of a serious storm. With that in mind let's explore the issue and try to understand what is happening with the concept of teacher tenure in the United States.
The California decision
The judge in the case certainly came down hard against teacher tenure. I am not a lawyer but it seemed to me that the root of his judicial displeasure was the way the California statutes had been written. To understand where those laws originated, you have to go back in time to the early part of the twentieth century and indeed even earlier. Back then teachers could be fired when ever a school board or administrator decided. Essentially teachers had no due process. Teacher protection in the form of tenure was a German idea which began to take hold across the United States back in the 1920s and 1930s. Tenure also curbed another abuse of the teaching profession which was interference from politicians. Teaching positions were considered patronage plums that politicians handed out.
In my opinion tenure for public K-12 teachers was a necessary protection a hundred years ago. But as with all things the times have changed. Since pbulic education is governed and
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Test your knowledge of private school facts and trivia with these twenty-one questions and answers.

The Questions
1. How many private schools are there in the U.S.A.?
2. How many boarding schools are there?
3. Which private school offers the most Advanced Placement courses?
4. Which private school is the most expensive?
5. Which private school did Bill Gates graduate from?
6. How many Montessori schools are there in the U.S.A?
7. Where did Reggio-Emilia schools get there name?
8. Who founded the movement which spawned the modern Waldorf schools?
9. Which is the oldest school in the U.S.A.?
10. What was Maria Montessori's degree in?
11. Who was the founder of what we now call the progressive schools movement?
12. What percentage of American students attend private school?
13. What is the name of the schools established by the last Hawaiian princess?
14. Which New England family founded Exeter and Andover?
15. Which Roman Catholic order established a network of prestigious high schools?
16. What grade does Fifth Form refer to?
17. How many Jewish schools are there in Brooklyn, New York?
18. What does the term crew refer to?
19. What is the oldest private school athletic league?
20. What is the name of the independent school association based in Washington, DC?
21. Which private school has the largest endowment?
The Answers:
1. How many private schools are there in the U.S.A.?
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) does a survey of private schools every two years. Their most recent data from the 2011-2012 survey shows 30,861 schools, 4,494,845 students and 466,467 students in schools which are members
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We busy parents use bucket lists to keep ourselves organized. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how we could keep going without bucket lists. If you are thinking about private school for your chil, some of these items might just be on your bucket list too.
Identify 8-10 schools we like.
This is one of the fun parts of choosing a private school. Why? Because most private schools offer video tours both on their web sites and on their YouTube channels. While both web sites and videos are obviously edited carefully to make the best possible impression on you, they are terrific for giving you an overview of programs and the school community. Watch as many videos as you can. Review the academic and sports programs in detail. By casting the net a bit widely in the early stages of choosing a school, you can easily eliminate schools from consideration because they lack something you feel is essential for your child's education.
Visit 3-5 schools this summer and early fall.
Summer and early fall are really the best times to visit schools. Summer has its advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage is that school is not in session. That means you can expect to spend some time with the admissions staff who will have more time to allocate to you than, say, in November or December. Application deadlines are the end of January for many private schools. You can imagine the pressure the admissions team will be under as they
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