Blogging shouldn’t seem like a new fandangled idea any more, especially as you delve into your position as school marketer. You might be hearing about it in conference sessions, in articles about school social media impact, or from other education blogs.
Blogging for schools is not a new concept, that’s for sure.
The goal of blogs, in general, is to connect with other people interested in the same subject. For the school marketer, this means connecting with parents, students, and the ever important taxpayer. But before you sign up for your very own school blog, let’s consider some of the pros and cons:
Advantages of a School Blog
- Easy to create. There are many easy-to-use blogging programs, which are often free to educators. You don’t need to have any special or technical skills like coding or HTML to start or maintain school blogs anymore.
- You control the message. Many school administrators we work with have a love/hate relationship with various communication channels and may be apprehensive toward the idea of a school blog. Often, it is because they feel betrayed when their carefully choreographed interview is twisted beyond recognition after they see it in print (or on the local TV news). If you are in charge of marketing your school, you can overcome this apprehension. Help your administration understand that their words in a blog can’t be misquoted. In addition, there is ample space to explain things carefully and in detail.
Word of caution: proof your blogs carefully, and never hit that publish button when emotions are running high. If you are a school marketer, build trust with your administration one blog at a time. Our communication coordinators send out press releases for their districts on an almost weekly basis, but nothing is sent until their administrative supervisor has a chance to approve the message.
- You can respond to the rumor mill or media. A blog gives you a forum for an immediate response to that runaway rumor train. You can stop it in its tracks or at least present the school’s perspective in a timely manner. As you build a rapport and engage parents and community members, they will turn to your blog as a trusted source, giving you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to runaway rumors.
- Create relationships with the media. Once you have established a readership and you blog regularly, you may find that traditional media will contact you for comments and input on other educational topics. We call that “becoming an expert in your field.” And it’s something all bloggers strive for. Your blog can create positive exposure for your school and for you because you will become a respected resource.
- Share the good news. A school blog is a great way to highlight your school’s success in depth. Use the space to recognize staff, tell great stories, show off student achievements, and provide updates. Use it in tandem with your school website and social media platforms. Drive traffic to learn more about your programs and join you on school social media where you can give snippets of your good news.
- Marketing and school public relations benefits. School marketers can use a blog as a marketing and public relations tool. A school blog is your own personal electronic newspaper and can get the community involved, keep them informed, and respond to concerns. More importantly, you can build your brand. Your school brand is the exemplification of your school mission, vision, and values. A blog is an opportunity to tell the stories that show how you accomplish your mission, strive toward your vision, and demonstrate your values.
- Inbound marketing lead generation. A blog, which includes topics that appeal to your ideal customers and their needs, adds the type of valuable content to your school website that will draw potential customers to you. It is one of the best ways to increase your SEO rankings, which means you’ll be found by those who are interested in your topics. By including a call to action (CTA) and free content for download, you can turn your blog into a lead generation magnet to be used for increasing enrollment or recruiting high-quality staff.
- Make you real. Your blog can help parents and students get to know your school—not just your professional role, but the real person behind the role. We relate to one another as humans, and it is this quality that builds relationships, trust, and, understanding. A blog is a way to show your public your human side (especially that of your administration). And that can carry a lot of weight when needed (like when you need to educate the public about an important topic, address a controversial subject, or garner support for an important cause).
Challenges of a School Blog
- It takes time. Ah, time! It is the one thing of which you have very little to spare. If you are going to start a blog, you need to schedule it into your day and absolutely commit to it. To make a school blog successful, we highly recommend using an editorial calendar to plan out topics and posting times. The time you take to organize upfront will pay off as your blog gains readership.
- It takes patience. Most successful blogs don’t happen overnight. It takes patience and perseverance. An effective and informative blog will enjoy word-of-mouth growth, but that takes time. So, if you commit to this, plan to hang in there.
- It takes thick skin. Yes, your words and intentions can be misunderstood. That can be frustrating. Also, people who feel anonymous will say things in comments that they would never say face-to-face. An effective blogger learns how to respond to both positive and negative comments.
- It takes motivation. You need to decide if creating and maintaining a blog for your school is for you. It could be an individual blog that only you write, or you could involve others and make it a group blog you take turns posting. But, however you do it, you’ll want to be sure there is enough motivation behind the process to see it through.
Learn more about the ins and outs of creating effective communication using a blog. We highly recommend the book “The School Administrator’s Guide to Blogging: A New Way to Connect with the Community” by Mark J. Stock.
Check with other schools or administrators who keep up a blog to see how they do it. Eric Sheninger is an administrator who has been blogging for years and has become very successful at it. For a great example, check out his blog titled “A Principal’s Reflections.”
Because a blog takes time and commitment, maybe you’ll need a little help getting it done. That’s where
School Webmasters can help. Contact us today.
Katie Brooks, School PR Specialist