UC20 Ignite: How to Market Your School and Sustain Enrollment Amidst COVID-19?

July 8, 2020 Daren Worcester

A banner graphic with the words "Marketing and Enrollment"

The Ignite-style sessions at UC20, created with guidance from Blackbaud K–12’s Advisory Board, delivered fast-paced presentations designed to inspire and spark discussion. In this session on school marketing and enrollment, our panel of school leaders offered advice on word-of-mouth marketing, inbound marketing, communicating the school’s value proposition, and distance learning storytelling to address the challenges facing admissions amidst COVID-19.

Andrea Prothro, director of admissions at Second Baptist School in Houston, Texas, kicked off the session by stressing the importance of word-of-mouth marketing. “If you want to get your constituents talking,” she said, “you need to give them something to talk about!” Her suggestions for kick-starting conversations ranged from focusing on school spirit to building trust with current families through early and frequent communications during times of uncertainty.

Brendan Schneider, director of advancement at Sewickley Academy in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, emphasized that now is the time to focus on inbound marketing. “Why should [schools] engage in inbound marketing now?” he prompted, before explaining that inquires are down, schools are being asked to do more with less due to tightening budgets, and COVID-19 is limiting traditional outbound methods because people are social distancing. In five minutes, he delivered an eight-step plan to implement inbound marketing.

Scott Allenby, director of communications and strategic initiatives at Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire, emphasized the importance of communicating the school’s value proposition amidst COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. “This is our work as educators,” he said. “The problems are not going to go away. They may change, they may evolve, but it’s our families and our colleagues who we need to build that trust with as we’re going to solve problems alongside them.” 

Stacy Jagodowski, marketing and communications director at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles, California spoke to distance learning storytelling. “None of us know exactly what the fall will be like,” she said after delivering tips such as humanizing faculty and valuing traditions. “So our goal of distance learning is to show how we excelled. If we proved that we can stay strong and support our students in the spring, then we’ve set the stage for a successful move back on campus in the fall—even if it’s in a modified fashion.”

If you missed the session, you can view the on-demand recording here. Didn’t register for the conference? No problem! You can still register for UC20 here to access the on-demand recording. 

You may also be interested in our other Ignite session recaps:

About the Author

Daren Worcester

Daren Worcester has been a member of the Blackbaud K-12 team for 17 years, assisting hundreds of independent schools through a variety of website development roles. A former copywriter and a published author with an appetite for SEO, Daren currently serves as the senior content marketing manager for K-12.

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