Who would have thought that open event season 2020 would feature empty corridors, classrooms and playgrounds? As a society, we are creatures of habit and we like patterns, regularity, familiarity…but this is the year we have to do things differently, starting with your school’s traditional open mornings, days, evenings, tours… We can no longer run the same events that we have for years, tweaking here and there, in the hope that when we open our doors hordes of prospective pupils and their families will come
Have you spent the summer devising your campaigns knowing that to be effective there has to be a ‘call to action’? Traditionally this ‘call’ has been to visit the school – to find out more by talking to pupils and staff, visiting classrooms and taking part in activities. Not so in 2020 – so what have you got planned?
To those schools that are in full planning mode (we know who you are) – well done! For those that need a ‘start of term’ team pep talk here are some non-negotiables. You need to run an equivalent open event season in whatever shape or guise – this is expected and it’s difficult to change parental expectations at this stage of the admissions process.
Plan the events themselves now – ‘virtual’ is the buzz word of the season! Pre-promotion is vital to garner interest – be creative, think of engaging tasks or competitions to entice interest and to give longevity to your campaigns. Bring your school to life from a whole range of different perspectives – the pupils, the teachers, different departments, current parents – this is the time for everyone to get in front of a camera (still or movie). Keep your audience interested with lively entertainment – people respond well to music, humour and seeing genuine passion on the subject matter.
Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and that will work across phases:
- Camera, lights, action…. post short ‘interesting’ films on every social media platform you have available, including your website.
- Don’t forget to use previous years’ footage/photography including musical/drama performances, sporting achievements, extra-curricular activities - showcasing the true 360° pupil experience.
- Arrange a movie hour (with branded school popcorn) for prospective parents and pupils in primary schools (for secondary school recruitment) and a shorter version for primary school recruitment in pre-schools or nurseries.
- Keep marketing and promoting your school up until the closing date for applications – this date will not change!
Do not delay, start your teaser campaigns now to gather momentum and interest. So out with the old and in with the new. These are exciting times ahead for the brave and the bold!