Improve School PR – Increase Enrolment

Can effective marketing improve school PR and increase enrolment?

Term one is crunch time for parents to make the important decision on which secondary school is right for their child.  Schools are a flurry of open day preparation, school tours, signs, marketing materials being created and collated.   Schools must cut through the noise at this time to express to potential new families what the school really stands for?  Marketing materials and processes should provide an authentic experience enabling parents to make an informed decision.

Most schools do not have huge budgets to spend on marketing to increase enrolment. Strategic communication planning in the promotion of the school, the public perception of the school through digital, print and spoken word will give potential families an authentic experience of what the school stands for.  When we talk about marketing in the context of schools we are not selling soap powder, we are inviting students and families to buy into a community.   The experience is different in each school community.  What suits one child can be a terrible fit for another.  Being able to accurately articulate this experience to parents is the key to school marketing success.

The following five tips will help improve school PR and increase enrolment.

1  The admissions leader is an integral PR role to market the school

The person in charge of attracting families and students to a school and increase enrolment may be described as many titles such as; head of admissions; enrolments; registrar or community engagement.  This person should drive the marketing of the school and its public relations, media and social media, events such as tours, open days and information sessions.  An experienced leader with qualifications in communication and marketing should bring about systems thinking to ensure a consistent approach to the feel and message of how a school expresses what they stand for.

2  Unique message

Have a single sentence or phrase that sums up the culture of the school.  If parents are able to clearly understand and remember they will feel they know the school and feel connected. Connected parents will have a higher likelihood of enrolling.  Keep it:

  • authentic
  • simple
  • memorable


  • No message at all – families won’t immediately know what your school stands for and may recall other school’s messages with ease
  • Multiple messages – cause confusion
  • Acronyms – only meaningful to the person who created them, confusing, easy to forget
  • Cliche or overused phrases – sound too much like a hard sell
  • A message that is not consistent with what the school does

3. Embody the message 

It is not enough to make a claim.  True understanding and influence come when claims are backed up by evidence.  For example if a school’s message was ‘leadership and learning’  ABC Grammar could choose to have their students take active roles in the open days and tours, use student stories on leadership experiences as the main focus of marketing materials, have students speak at targeted feeder primary schools, create student success story media releases.  Authentic marketing will cut through the glossy marketing of other schools and ring true with potential families and students.

4.   Keep consistent

The starting point of any printed, digital or face to face interaction a school creates should be to have a consistent feel to embody the school message.  Use language that is consistent, choose images that visually represent and share stories that demonstrate the message over and over again.  Review school touchpoints with potential families and staff.  If for example if a school message was ‘technology and learning’ yet if when a parent visits reception they need to complete a paper forms the inconsistency will contradict the school message.

5.   School PR is 365 days per year, not just term one

Following on from point 4 consistency is key in the delivery an authentic message.  If a parent visits the school social media site in September will they see old posts from back in May? Social media works by being a regular forum for engagement.  The school year follows a set calendar of activities and deadlines.  An effective school PR empowers staff to share what is happening in their classroom at the time, student achievements, engaging learning activities, transparency with the broader community.  These are the authentic moments that potential families really want to know about and will influence them more than a glossy brochure.

Elaine Doyle offers strategic communication reviews, strategies for schools and businesses.

Contact us to book a free consultation.