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The Holy Trinity of school advancement: PR, Marketing and Educational Development… August 6, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, Marketing, New releases.
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As promised, some further information on the latest title in the Leading Schools of the 21st Century series. Nigel Richardson, former Head of The Perse School, Cambridge, The Dragon School, Oxford, and chairman of the HMC, has been involved in the series from the very beginning and tells us that the book has come along at just the right time for the independent sector…

Public Relations, Marketing and Educational Development is Volume Six in JCEL’s Leading Schools series. Earlier books have focused on the work of Heads; senior management teams; Heads of department; newly qualified teachers and those involved in pastoral work.

Once again HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is co-sponsor – this time with AMDIS (The Association of Marketing and Development in Independent Schools) and IDPE, (The Institute of Development Professionals in Education).

Why this book, and why now? Lots of reasons…

Schools increasingly recognise the professional and technical expertise which can be used in these three areas to support their work: three areas which make up a virtuous circle.

Where Public Relations is concerned, the independent sector is never far from public scrutiny. Reputation, and its management, matter. Schools must work hard to win – and to retain – friends and customers.

For the customer, the economic downturn since 2007 and the prospect of rising taxation, higher university fees, increased healthcare and pension charges and continuing house price inflation (in the long-term, as least) prompt two big questions. Is an independent education really worth it? Can I afford it, either for the whole of my children’s education or for certain parts of it? Hence the importance of good marketing.

The way in which we market ourselves is changing, too. The book dwells a great deal on the importance of market research and market strategy – and on the challenges posed by the dramatic growth of the internet, websites and new social networking media. Some schools have adjusted very quickly to these opportunities; others have barely begun. In small day schools and large, federated-house boarding schools alike, the admissions department must be well-ordered and efficient; it is responsible for processing the outcomes of the strategy.

Meanwhile in terms of educational development, many schools will rely increasingly on income produced other than by fees – both to promote greater access through bursaries and in order to fund their major capital development. Because many current parents cannot pay more, schools will have to be more proactive in finding private individuals as benefactors: hence the need to look for former pupils and other potential donors who have made large fortunes whilst still quite young; to promote legacy campaigns and to run a successful Telethon. The Development Director’s success depends a great deal on good PR, too. Thus we come round the virtuous circle to the point at which we began.

We have encouraged our contributors to centre their advice on their own experience; to write as they feel, in these three areas of work which are so closely interlinked and so many-faceted. We hope this book will inform, challenge, and above all make readers think. Editing it has certainly given me plenty of food for thought – and I’ve learned a lot in the process.

Nigel Richardson, co-editor

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