Posts Tagged ‘Schools’


Rethinking Communication Tactics in Educational Organizations

By Deborah Mersino

Educational organizations, schools, businesses, and foundations have vast amounts of information to share. So how can they ensure this information doesn’t wind up being ignored? That’s the subject of today’s post. We’re circling back to our “5 Common Marcom Mistakes Made by Educational Organizations and Schools” and focusing on ways to overcome “One-way Communication” propensities.

It makes sense that so many educational institutions and organizations still fall prey to one-way communication strategies and tactics. After all, when you’ve got news to share, it’s natural to want to broadcast it.

However, in a day and age ripe with email burnout, fast-moving Twitter feeds, Netflix, junk mail, mobile screen dominance, Pandora, and enough channels and platforms to keep marketing departments swirling, it’s more critical than ever to understand market segmentation and strategies to support the building of brand evangelists.

Here are three ways to get out of the habit of one-way broadcasting:

  1. Communicate more humanely.
  2. Crowd-source.
  3. Go narrow.

Let’s unpack these.

Communicate more humanely

Schools, foundations, organizations, educational businesses, and nonprofits inherently understand communication. Too often, though, these organizations mimic the old “write it on the board” for the class to see and then stop (thinking it’s enough). We no longer educate our learners this way; yet, we’re still catching on to what communications looks like in world dominated by screens competing for attention.

Tone (showcasing some personality), content, and approach can mean the difference between delighting and dulling relations. You’ll succeed by communicating with campaigns, news, and content that showcases you not only care, but also understand each audience segment’s pain points, personality, and passions. People are simply too busy to pay attention otherwise, and ROI will suffer.


This is not a new concept, but it’s one that educational organizations and schools would be wise to adopt. Educators already know the power of crowd-sourcing. Check out what transpired last month with Connected Educators Month if you need convincing. They embrace it via their blogs, Google+ Hangouts, educational chats on Twitter, and more. Savvy crowd-sourcing is synonymous with engagement.

Whether you want to conduct research, cull resources that will benefit your audiences, and/or want to leverage partnerships, crowd-sourcing can provide you with insights and ideas, as you engage.

Go narrow

This one is likely more obvious, but it’s worth reinforcing. Often times, we still think casting the widest net will garner the best outcomes; however, messaging gets watered down with this approach. Whether you’re a University going after a specific demographic, a nonprofit hoping to gain more pre-K or higher education members or parents, or a Foundation looking to recover lapsed donors, you can’t reach these targets without going narrow and customizing.

I’d even go so far as to challenge you to segment former segments. Dice them down even further. Today’s technology will allow it, and you’ll see new opportunities arising.

Just remember that conducting research on emerging markets or stagnant ones is required. Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to do this in the education field. With better insights and ongoing dialogue, you’ll be more likely to develop and share the right products and services, value propositions, calls to action, and messaging to connect versus shout.

And in the end, isn’t that what we all hope to achieve?


Why Digital Prowess Matters.

By Deborah Mersino

If you identified with the tell-tale signs of poor design from my last post (e.g., clip art apples on your website), I’m hoping you breathed a sense of relief knowing you’re not alone.

The good news is proper design can – and will – create a positive ripple effect for good when aligned with brand positioning. Sage leaders who get support can watch their enrollment numbers, donations, conference registrations, and memberships rise along with their revenues.

Today, let’s move on and address the second of the “Five Common Marcom Mistakes” often made by educational associations and schools – a lack of digital prowess.

Keeping Up

It’s no wonder educational associations and schools struggle with digital prowess. Just 16 years ago, Google was still a dream. {Note: Hard to believe, isn’t it? Here’s hoping you at least rocked the piñata doodle.}

In the last decade, educators have started leveraging everything from whiteboards, apps, administrative software, and Skype to Google Docs, edmodo, blogging, and Twitter. They’re doing this amid dealing with Common Core, shorter schools years, funding disparities, and more.

Simultaneously, association and school leaders must now understand market segmentation, SEO, CMS, and online advertising analytics in a sophisticated manner worthy of new positions and respect. Content specialists, digital marketing managers, and front-end developers are now a requisite to success. Marketing execs should now be fully integrated with IT (perhaps even leading it, but that’s another post}.

Technology has transformed marketing communications; therefore, it’s not surprising many nonprofit and school leaders struggle to keep up with best practices and/or budget properly to achieve success in the new world order.

Just as an educator wouldn’t have a food vendor create his or her next rubric for a PBL project on whether Shakespeare lifted Romeo & Juliet, we shouldn’t expect volunteers and every nonprofit or school exec to know how to increase engagement via a website, an Instagram promotion, a digital show daily, and/or an online advertising campaign. It’s a science unto itself.

If you do nothing else this year besides clarify your brand, you’ll be wise to empower marketing communications staff and/or consultants with digital savvy to grow your organization’s digital footprint.

Remember, it’s okay if you can’t code, add a high-res logo to your Facebook page, monitor a Twitter back-channel, create a conference app, and/or know the difference between unique visitors and hits. It IS essential, though, that you have someone on your team who does.

Stay tuned for more. We’re just getting warmed up!


Five Common Marcom Mistakes of Educational Associations and Schools

By Deborah Mersino

I’ve had the good fortune to interface and work with scores of educational associations and both private and public schools through the years. These inspiring organizations have talented employees and serve their members and communities powerfully; however, many bump up against best practices in marketing communications. While not all are guilty, here are five common marcom mistakes I continue to see.

  1. Poor design sensibilities
  2. Lack of digital prowess
  3. One-way communication
  4. Lack of investment
  5. Poor coordination

Today, I’ll address the first misstep. Read along to discern if you’re guilty or not. {Note: If you’re not, congratulations! If you are, you’re not alone. I’m here to help.}

Poor Design Sensibilities

Admit it. You’ve all seen one…the logo that looks like your brother-in-law’s babysitter designed it while watching Pretty Little Liars and texting…The all-too-familiar logo with some stars and/or outstretched hands…The low-resolution version appearing on the school’s Facebook page…The intentional Comic Sans font on the website or newsletter, which was meant to be kid-like, but actually downplays the intelligence of parents and kids everywhere.

Whether you have mixed five different fonts in one newsletter or still put cartoon clip art in your presentations and advertising – or on your website, your audiences are not going to recognize your brand promise.

I understand nonprofits and schools must often rely on volunteers. I get it. I also know stellar design costs money. However, in today’s digital world, your digital presence is a visual extension of your brand. It impacts the perceptions of members, donors, parents, prospects, and influencers and deserves attention. Not investing can be quite costly in the long run. Whether you’re a $15 million nonprofit or a small school, perception is reality.

Give design its due. Your target audiences will thank you.