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Standing Out in the Age of Choice: Dad’s Video for School Appeal

As competition for student enrollment heats up, school district leaders are pulling out all the stops to ensure their schools remain the first choice for families.

Charters and private schools famously use advertising and marketing to build their brand in hopes of siphoning families from the public school system. Now, many public school leaders are working to beat the rising tide of alternative education providers at their own game.

“We embrace school choice because we believe we can convince the public to choose us,” Erin Helm, Communications Director at Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) in Arizona, tells ABC 15, adding, “marketing is a very important part of that.”

Where many districts have struggled to scrap together budgets for TV, radio, or web advertising, SUSD recently partnered with local community members to launch a new school marketing campaign for free.

As ABC 15 Arizona reports, Mark Wahlstrom, a district parent who happens to own a media company in the Scottsdale area, produced promotional highlight reels for each school in the district. The cost of production is funded by local real estate ads linked to each video.

Wahlstrom says the campaign’s success comes not from the production value of the videos, but from the schools themselves. “They’ve got a great story,” he tells ABC 15. “It’s our job to help them tell that story and get out there.”

For more on the video marketing campaign, check out ABC 15’s report below:

SUSD’s story is yet one more example of a community coming together to bolster the profile of its local public schools.

While savvy guerilla marketing can help spread the word, relying on ads or videos to stave off shrinking enrollments probably isn’t the best course.

As school marketing consultant Joel Gagne says in a recent guide from K12 Insight on school market share (K12 Insight produces TrustED), public schools have a stronger advantage than they sometimes realize.

“Established schools have inherent advantages. They are a significant part of the fabric of their community. Many times, they are the largest employer in their community. If K12 leaders are smart and communicate to their stakeholders well, they can use these advantages.”

Has your school or district invested in marketing to stay competitive? Has it worked? What else are you doing to retain and attract students and families? Tell us in the comments.