10 Ways to Find Time for Great Content Marketing at Boarding School
We know you are busy so we assembled some tips to help you make the most out of your day.
People who can manage their time in our busy connected world are always in demand. Every time I read a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs this is always an attribute they are looking for. Great boarding school content marketers face an uphill struggle with their daily demands. Your school has students in events all day and evening, along with parents that cannot attend. Marketers then have to spend time about reaching out to parents and students who may be interested in their school. Meanwhile your email, social media, phone, and even coworkers are always demanding your attention. I have been there and have some time saving tips to help you out.
With all that is going on it is easy to get caught up in capturing and creating content. Using your content effectively sometimes gets pushed back on the to-do list. When I was in the arena in a small shop, I always had great ideas, but sometimes had trouble finding the time to publish them and effectively market them.
1. Create a Content Calendar
First you need a plan. You need to be able to measure your successes and without a plan you will lose track or get into the loop of pushing things back. Trying to play catch-up will wear you out.
Call your plan a Content Calendar and fill it with planned school events you will want to cover and create content from, leave lots of space as plans will change, new events will be added and new ideas will happen. Choose a publishing schedule (twice weekly blog posts, twitter each morning and afternoon) and leave a space for all you plan to publish.
Next, try to fill in the blanks with ideas of what you publish. Now you are getting a plan together! Most content takes time to create, so make a good estimate of how long it will take you to create it and add it as many days forward as you need. Some content you can create way in advance and there are tools for social media to schedule posting it.
Some content you can create way in advance.
Your content calendar will help you keep track and let you accurately judge your progress. If you need ideas you can download an example content calendar for your school.
2. Use Off-site Publishers
Now that you have your content calendar, make a list of content publishers that regularly publish or may be interested in publishing your content. When you write a blog post, email your list and let them know. This will help to bring traffic to your website and spread the word about your awesome school. This also helps establish you as a go to source for content.
- local news
- school listing sites
- school associations
- industry influencers
- educational associations
- alumni sites
Common off-site publishers include local news, school listing sites, school associations, industry influencers, educational associations, and alumni sites. Facebook does not show your content to everyone who is following you, so send it directly to admins of other facebook pages/groups.
3. Send to School Leads
If your admissions department is sophisticated enough, they should be able to cross reference the interests of their leads with your content. They can then contact leads individually with the new content. If not, you should get a list of leads and send them a link to your new content.
Communication between admissions and prospects greatly increased.
At one of the schools iwhere I have worked, I wrote a system to do this. For example, if a potential student was interested in sports, they received every gallery update and blog post about athletics. When I started doing this, communication between admissions and prospects greatly increased, leading to more students enrolling.
4. Involve Your Students
Your school probably already has a yearbook (or photography) class and maybe a multimedia production class, so you have a base of students to start with. Investing some time getting to know these students and involving them on your projects will take time on the front end but will payoff throughout the school year.
Involving students will payoff throughout the school year.
One year I helped some students create an on-campus video program. The students learned how to conduct an interview, record it, edit it, and publish it. In the beginning, I was very hands on, but was able to transition the bulk of my involvement into short brainstorming sessions in the dining hall. In these sessions we discussed topic ideas and I helped them determine what was important for not just the students but more importantly their audience. We had a professional video introduction created and then made it clear to the audience that this was a student run project. Rarely would you say that it was professional quality, but it was very popular among parents, the student body, and potential students and their families. Often prospective students would bring up the videos during their campus visits. This showed great interest on their behalf. Involving the students does not just help you, it adds to their educational experience and builds pride for the school.
5. Edit Photos Quickly
My photo workflow should best be called "Cut or Cull". Bad photos should be discarded, unless you got a shot of someone who is rarely in front of the camera. Many parents will look at every photo you publish, hoping to catch a glimpse of their student. Great photos (not all of your published photos are great) should be copied to a separate folder for additional editing. This will make it easy to find a “great” photo for your blog post or a slow news day.
Many parents will look at every photo you publish, hoping to catch a glimpse of their student.
After a late night event (or any event), it is important to edit the photos and upload them. Doing this right after the event keeps them fresh in your mind. Sharing them on social media during work hours keeps the event alive and allows parents to brag to their friends about your lively school.
6. Encourage parents to contribute & share content
Speaking of parents, they take a massive amount of photos and videos when they visit campus. Having a shared drive for them to upload their media gives you more of a chance to capture very moving media. Media that you would normally not have had access to.
Having a dialog with parents will help you create your user stories and come up with content ideas.
Having a dialog with parents will help you create your user stories and come up with content ideas. Make sure your parent photographers get credit. Everyone likes to see their name in print. Using parent media also gives a more intimate look into the lives of your students.
Many parents will go out of their way to share content on social media. Make a list of these parents and make sure that they always have some to share. I do not understand why schools will only sell photos. Those are tools for free person-to-person (word of moth) advertising. Selling your photos is akin to selling your brochures. You want to develop all of the parents into social sharers.
7. Outreach to Employees
Create an incentive program for employees to contribute content. Your athletic director knows more about the wrestling program than you do. Your Scholar's Bowl mentor goes to every match. You need to provide them with an outlet and be rewarded for creating content.
Make it easy, seamless, and rewarding to involve marketing.
I worked at a great school where the marketing/communications team created an environment of disincentives, and employees would go out of their way not to help. Awesome things would happen in the classroom and the faculty would refuse to take a quick photo and send it in. This defended their castle but did not help their school.
Sometimes the school photographer cannot be there or is more of a distraction than an asset. Make it easy, seamless, and rewarding to involve marketing. Having a separate email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) will help you keep track and schedule your time and involvement.
Get some fresh air and some fresh content.
Simple cell phone snaps and quick updates can create a lot of content throughout the day. Plan for when you need to get out of your office and go get some fresh air and some fresh content. These walkabouts will often lead to content ideas! Talk with the students as they often know way more about what is going on than the employees do.
9. Social Media will Break your Concentration
You have to be prompt in replying to social media, but that constantly running faucet will get in the way of scheduled work. Handing the reins off to someone else when you need some uninterrupted work time will vastly increase your output.
A constantly running faucet will get in the way of scheduled work.
When I was both the admissions department and the marketing department, my cell phone would invariably demand attention just as soon as I was concentrating on a new way to get the phone to ring. It was very hard for me to hand off the phone for 20-30 minute intervals but it was well worth the time.
10. Measure, Analyze, and Learn
A great boss once told me that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Your content calendar, advertising services, and website analytics provide you with a wealth of information, but that is not all you need. Track your time. See what is stealing your precious resource and come up with a plan to fix those time thieves.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
One thing that time tracking showed me was that I spent way too much time doing research. Spend some time before you leave each day checking out your competition, reading your blogs, and doing other research. This will drastically reduce time you lose throughout the day just checking on one thing. Doing it at the end of the day will give you a good reason to push that work off for more pressing matters. This is also a great way to get the creative juices flowing thinking about new projects and ideas for tomorrow.
Creating thought-provoking original content every day is almost impossible with all the time demands put on you. By being clever and managing your time better you can be even more productive and awesome at your super fun job.
- Create a Content Calendar
- Use Off-Site Publishers
- Send to School Leads
- Involve Your Students
- Edit Photos Quickly
- Encourage Parents to Contribute & Share Content
- Outreach to Employees
- Social Media will Break your Concentration
- Measure, Analyze, and Learn