Happy Catholic Schools Week 2014!
Back in 2007, I published “Celebrate Catholic Schools” as the Marketing Matter for Catholic Schools Week. Sadly, I didn’t follow one of the primary tenets of marketing – repetition. And continued repetition, even when you think the message has been received.
In a nutshell, my theory was that our society’s propensity for headline news, soundbites, and double entendre has turned what was supposed to be a positive event – Catholic Schools Week – into a mindset that may have led to a decline in school enrollment, since the phrase sounds the same as “Catholic Schools Weak.”
After publishing the article, and hearing some buzz that things were indeed going to change, I stopped talking about it, waiting for the announcement of the theme for 2009. When I found it was “Celebrate Service,” but still had the words “Catholic Schools Week” associated with it, I realized that I the message hadn’t been fully received and understood.
Five years later, we now “Celebrate Catholic Schools,” but the media still calls it “Catholic Schools Week,” and so do most of the schools that plan their events for this week. As per usual, sub-zero weather will no doubt cause event cancellation this week too.
So if your school is closed tomorrow because of the weather, it’s a good time to evaluate. Are you:
- Contacting parents to get their commitment to return next year
- Talking to parents – face to face – that aren’t in our school and asking them to “come and see”
- Visiting your school’s supporting parishes and talking with potential parents – information nights, pulpit talks, at new member breakfast gatherings, or as they’re exiting Mass
- Having open houses EVERY WEEK – rather than once or twice a year
- Inviting parents of pre-schoolers to participate in the life of the school – rather than treating them as pre-schoolers, treat them as part of the school community by encouraging their participation at PTG meetings and activities
- Asking current parents to be ambassadors of our school to the greater community. Remember – parents talk to parents
- Asking students to invite their friends (that aren’t in your school) to an “Invite Your Friend to School Day.” Remember – kids talk to kids
Since NCEA has adopted the “Celebrate Catholic Schools” idea, the next step is to “Celebrate Catholic Schools Month” rather than a just a week. Let this week be a starting point to your commitment to redouble your marketing efforts, and keep on marketing, even after you think the message has been received and understood, constantly celebrating YOUR school! Making the connections among your parents, parishes that support your school, and the community on an ongoing basis for the entire year strengthens your school’s image as an asset to the community more than any week-long campaign will.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2014 (Original Publication Date: 20090126)