1.  Utilize Email Marketing

Keeping people continually informed and interested in your school and its events is a difficult task (in addition to the rest of the toils of operating a school). An email marketing campaign makes keeping in touch with parents and community members simple, and is well worth the minimal effort. The following are some quick tips to develop a successful email marketing campaign.

  • Tailor emails for Each Recipient’s Interests: In order to be successful with an email campaign you must know what your recipients find valuable. There are a few options to achieve this. When your recipients first sign up for your email be sure to include boxes they can check to receive information for each club, student organization, sports team, as well as general school news or other topically related content. Another option is to include surveys and polls with each email, this way you can continually react to your recipients desires even if they change.
  • Establish a Schedule for Writing and Distributing: Establishing a set frequency is required to hold people’s attention and keep them looking forward to receiving your emails. You must find a balanced based on available resources, your ability to create valuable information, and your recipient’s desires.
  • Email Marketing Software: Email marketing software is a great investment as it integrates database information and designs specific emails for each recipient group. The obvious benefit is the time saved by eliminating the need to manually compose each email and enter data. EmailLabs.com provides good API software.

2.  Incorporate a Web Calendar

It’s essential to integrate a web calendar into the school website. Period. A web calendar allows visitors to quickly check up on current events, and even add to their own calendars. They can also be customized to different groups, and updated easily by many users simultaneously. There are many web calendar applications out there. Trumba event calendars
(www.trumba.com) are easy to use and offer several useful features. Both Google and Yahoo also offer free event calendars.

3.  Host Blogs/Forums

As stated earlier, keeping your school in the fore-front of people’s minds should be the overall goal; a blog on your school webpage is an efficient way to accomplish this. Creating separate blogs for each student activity group will allow visitors to easily find the blogs that interest them. For example, the head football coach might maintain a blog on the football page. Remember to include pictures in your blogs for visual reference. For more valuable info on creating a great blog visit buildabetterblog.com.

4.  Integrate Wiki Pages

A Wiki page is a webpage with the capability of being edited by authorized website visitors. Not many schools have wiki pages, which presents a great opportunity for your school. Sports teams, music and choral departments, and student organizations should each have a dedicated wiki page on your school’s website. Wiki pages communicate real, personal experiences and interaction, and invoke excitement. Parents, students, or anyone involved can post pictures, stories, and comments relating to each entity. Not only will this create a sense of involvement for contributors, but the insightful content will also spark the interest of non-contributing visitors. PBwiki provides a wiki application that makes creating media rich wiki pages a breeze. For more information on general wiki page creation, visit www.intersci.ss.uci.edu.

5.  Post Regular Video and Podcasts

Podcasts are utilized even less often by schools than wikis, but are a great way to promote student events. Podcasts are similar to blogs in that they can easily be published, syndicated, shared and accessed by the general public; the main difference being the information is audio and video rather than just text. Collect audio and video files of existing moments during athletic events, band concerts, theater events, etc. Users can help spread the word by downloading the files and sharing them via iPod, email, Facebook or MySpace posts. Podcasts go a long way toward creating buzz and excitement for your events.

It’s important to post new podcasts regularly, otherwise the appeal is lost. In order to preserve talk and excitement, people must have something new to talk about. Apple.com has more info on podcasts.

6.  Establish RSS Feeds

An RSS (“real simple syndication”) feed is vital to the effectiveness of the above components. Subscribers are automatically updated on new website content or events without having to regularly check your website. New podcasts or video content, newsletters, blog posts, school news, or current events should be put on your RSS feed homepage. An RSS feed can also be integrated with your web calendar or published on other web sites. Ultimately an RSS allows even the most time constrained individuals to stay up-to-date on your schools news and events. For more info on creating RSS feeds visit WilsonWeb.com.

7.  Consider Social Networking

As the web continues to grow more “social” a number of opportunities are presented that allow for efficient and effective communication with the people involved with your school. Post some of your better videos, stories and pictures on sites like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. Doing these things will go toward creating an adequate web presence, an element that will directly affect event attendance.

You might not want to get too entrenched with social networking, but you don’t want to get left behind either. Place someone in charge of keeping track of the constant changes in technology this way your school can react strategically. Making your media and information easy to obtain will increase the chance that it will become widely distributed.