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School District Public Relations and Marketing

I often hear the terms marketing, advertising, communications, and public relations used interchangeably. As a result, let’s take a high level look at all of them.

Advertising is promotion through a purchase. TV, radio, digital, and print are common advertising buys. Certainly, a school district can use one or all to reach an audience. 

School district public relations involves managing your district’s image. Therefore, crisis communications, media relations, and press releases are all part of public relations.

Moreover, to support school district PR,  the National School Public Relations Association provides its members training and professional development. Members know the importance of media training and handling crises.

In addition, communications are both internal and external. For example, school district communications include distribution points like email, text, and robocalls. Moreover, school newsletters, website, and publications are all terrific ways to share the great things happening in schools.

However, the way districts use these distribution points depends on purpose. Here are some examples:

  • Internal email – daily communications with district staff and campuses
  • External email – vendors, media, families, partners
  • Robocalls – alerts, important information, emergency communications
  • Newsletters – news and events for staff, families and community
  • Website – about the district, academic offerings, jobs, parent information, staff access, registration, news, events
  • Publications – brochures, postcards, annual report

School district marketing

Marketing is a system that includes communications. In addition, marketing involves PR, advertising, promotion, and even sales.

School districts can use marketing to promote the district as a whole. Likewise, marketing is also used for a focused effort like Pre-K registration or bus driver recruitment.

Firstly, within the marketing plan, there might be a few or many tactics. Secondly, the focused effort might have one specific target audience or many audiences. And finally, the tactics often need to reach that audience in several ways. Let’s use bus driver recruitment as an example:

Bus driver recruitment marketing plan:

  1. The goal is to fill 15 job openings by the end of May
  2. Our budget is $500
  3. The target market is people interested in part-time, flexible work. We need to do research on who that is and where to find them
  4. Tactics include: internal communications, website, social media ads, media outreach, event/career fair booth, and video
  5. Creative ideas: bus driver testimonial Instagram reels, a day with a bus driver, photo shoot, get to know us, hashtag sign campaign, and referral bonus incentive, digital ads

In conclusion, whether you’re promoting job openings, district brand pillars, schools, an event, programs, or enrollment, you need marketing to achieve your goals.