You can have the most exciting tech initiative out there. But if no one knows about it, then it may as well not even exist.
The truth is: If you want parents, teachers, and decision makers to get behind your tech initiatives, you’ve got to be savvy about getting (and keeping) their attention. Successful educators have to become armchair advertising executives, selling what they’re doing and proving why it’s so successful.
By marketing your tech initiatives, you can:
- gain and keep critical support from district and community stakeholders,
- increase the chances of securing support for future tech programs, and
- inspire other educators and school districts to bring tech initiatives into their classes.
So the question then becomes: What’s the best way for educators to market themselves? How do they emphasize the importance of technology for their students’ education?
The Importance of Making Noise
A paper from the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) draws attention to the pillars of digital leadership—three of which stress the importance of making noise in your community.
- Communication: Show and Tell. Two-way communication between stakeholders (parents, educators, teachers, administrators, boards of directors) is of the utmost importance. It’s about engaging with stakeholders on multiple fronts and tapping into the power of new social media platforms. Take a look at a sample communication plan from The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for ideas on how to communicate better.
- Public Relations: Tell Your Story. Even school districts need PR strategies to highlight what they’re doing right with their tech program. With so many negative attitudes about the state of education, cultivating good public relations goes a long way toward transforming this pessimism into optimism. The NSPRA has a helpful guide to starting your own PR program.
- Branding: Build Your Identity.. Branding isn’t just for chain restaurants and laundry detergents. Educational leaders can also build an authentic “identity” stakeholders can depend on. What makes your particular school or district stand out? Cantiague Elementary School on Long Island, New York is one of the many schools across the nation that understands the importance of cultivating a school brand.
Successful Marketing Strategies
The question then becomes: What’s the best way for districts to better sell an existing tech program — or one that’s currently in the works?
Here are five strategies you may find helpful.
1. Choose a Good Name
Names are important. Choosing the right one for your program is one of the easiest ways to generate excitement. But the name will be used everywhere, so it has to be the right one.
Try giving your program a name that’s symbolic, meaningful, or catchy. You could also try an acronym. The goal is to make the name easy to remember—and easy for others to talk about. For example, Miami Dade County Public Schools calls their tech program “Wi-Fi on the Go.” Cincinnati Public Schools calls their program “Tomorrow*ed.”
2. Create Some Handouts
Handouts can still be an effective way to communicate with stakeholders. The key is brevity. Make sure you keep handouts to-the-point. Instead of an info dump, include a link to a website where readers can get more specific details. Eye-catching layouts also help.
Some additional tips for distributing handouts:
- Have teachers hand them out in class for students to take home.
- Have them on hand during parent-teacher meetings and back-to-school night.
- Place them in school offices, waiting areas, and on hallway bulletin boards.
- Include them with regularly scheduled communications.
3. Send a Text Message
Sending a short text message is another effective way to talk with parents, especially if your schools collect parent cell phone numbers. Most students who benefit from Kajeet Education Broadband don’t have reliable Internet at home. But it’s likely they (or their parents) will have a cell phone able to receive text messages.
As with other written communication, make sure your texts are simple and easy to read. Don’t inundate stakeholders with dozens of messages that are just copy-and-pasted versions of a handout.
4. Record a Phone Message
Some families don’t own, or can’t afford, cell phones. But they’ll more than likely have a landline. To reach them, try automated phone messaging, which sends a prerecorded message directly to a home’s landline.
There are a number of cost-effective services out there, including
Make sure to keep your recorded message short and simple.
5. Start Getting Social
Social media is a powerful tool for bringing schools and stakeholders together, and for getting everyone to join the conversation about your program.
- Blogs. Never underestimate the power of the written word. Blogs offer stakeholders a place where they can read about your success in greater detail.
- Instagram. Pictures speak thousands of words. Try documenting students using the technology you’ve incorporated in your schools, whether smartboards or mobile learning games.
- Twitter/Facebook. These platforms are great way to quickly share meeting notes and school news. You can even set up a separate account specifically for your program.
- LinkedIn. Every educator is part of a larger community. By connecting with professional peers, you can share information, offer inspiration, and get new ideas for your school’s program.
Take the Time
Of course, one of the biggest hurdles to marketing is time. It can often seem like a daunting task to find opportunities to spread the word. But there’s no need to pay an advertising firm big bucks to create your story, especially when it’s easy to take charge yourself.
Truly effective marketing for your tech initiatives, it turns out, isn’t time consuming. All it requires: a few spare minutes and a desire to share your school’s story.
Want to bring a safe, affordable new tech initiative to your school? Discover why the Kajeet Education Broadband is more than just Internet. It’s the key to success for students who need to learn anytime, anywhere.