20 October What's Trending: Virtual Open Days and Parent Advocates
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Virtual open days

20 October What’s Trending: Virtual Open Days and Parent Advocates

School open days are usually held in the Autumn. It’s a chance for a school to show off what they have to offer. And for families to get a feel for a school first hand. Also, to check out the facilities and meet pupils and staff.

Virtual Open Days

Due to the pandemic schools are unable to open their doors to physical visits. So instead many are hosting virtual open days. Four basic tips for making this a success:

  • Pay attention to lighting, camera positioning and sound. Such as use of photography bounce cards and high quality microphones.
  • Pre-record a tour of the school and interviews with pupils.
  • Assign a moderator to capture questions during senior staff presentations.
  • Lastly, record your open day. In case parents have poor wifi and drop out. Or couldn’t attend on the day.

Commissioning videos can be expensive. Now with new video production tools on the market, we are seeing school marketing professionals creating their own videos. Mobile phone video footage or a montage of still photographs provides an effective tour of the school’s facilities. Combine this with some pupil interviews and you have all the necessary raw material. Tools such as Camtasia and Canva make editing and ‘post production’ a breeze.

Some virtual conference platforms such as Hopin and Babl support participants getting to know each other. Traditionally these informal chats with fellow parents on Open Day tour can play a key part in their decision.

And the reason why the more savvy school marketing departments are recruiting parents to become their ‘brand advocates’. For instance, asking parents to speak to prospective parents on 1-to-1 video calls.

Parent advocates

This approach is currently on trend with broader marketing techniques. Data backs up that people trust ‘brand advocates’ or ambassadors. More so than other sources. It’s not surprising therefore that parents trust other parents. So how can schools identify, recruit and support them?

To find suitable parent advocates use science rather than bias. In other words look at the data. In particular, contributions to your school community. If your school is a on Classlist, you receive a weekly insight report that highlights your most valuable contributors. This shows you which parents in your community are helpful and trusted by their peers.

Schools with thriving communities have parents adopting advocacy type behaviour. The best schools can score as high as 10% of their parents classified as advocates. And it is these parents that are taking leadership roles by helping with fundraising, acting as parent governors and recommending your school for example. Ideally, your marketing team is moving parents up the pipeline. From disengaged to highly committed to your school doing well.

Selecting open day parent helpers

Otherwise, you could source advocates from your PTA. They are often unsung super heroes that know your school inside and out.

Less reliable, see which of your parents are most engaged on your social media channels. If they regularly share your material this may be a good sign. But check out who else they follow and their account more generally. Just to ensure their tweets are consistent with your school’s brand values.

Give support and show appreciation

Usually brand ambassadors and advocates receive payment or benefits in kind. Whereas in the case of parent advocates a show of appreciation will suffice.

If your parents are calling prospective parents support them by giving them a FAQs (frequently asked questions) sheet. Not only will this give them confidence when making calls it helps to put your school’s best face forward.

For more school community trends click on the link here.

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