For the last couple of weeks I’ve been temping in a school… not just any school, but a prestigious Independent School. In their marketing department!
I had no idea that such things existed, but apparently an Independent School is very much a business. As such, it has things like a dedicated marketing department. And it’s a very busy department. There is a very strict ‘brand’ that must be adhered to. Such as always writing the word ‘School’ with a capital ‘S’ whenever the School in question is mentioned. I see I’ve already been indoctrinated into the ‘brand’ just by automatically typing the word ‘School’ with an uppercase S!
The School has to sell itself to prospective parents.
Unlike in the State sector, where the school your child attends is driven by your geographical location and if there are places, the Independent schools all compete for your business. It’s entirely your choice where your child is educated. And there’s a lot of choice.
The marketing department creates all posters for all school events, from fetes to school productions and open days. Like most schools, they have a weekly newsletter that is e-mailed out to parents, keeping them informed of all the great things going on within the school. Along with these, there are termly magazines, for the Prep School and the Senior School. There are annual magazines. Programmes for the Rugby and Cricket tours (which go to places such as Sri Lanka!)
I was fascinated to learn that many of the jobs that fall to the teachers in State run schools, are all done by dedicated teams of people… In a State school, the news is written by the teachers, it is their responsibility to take photos of events and post them (usually via the school secretary) to the school website.
Not in this Independent School! The amount of work that is done by the marketing department is vast… the tweets, the Facebook posts, the website updates, the posters, tickets for shows, letters home… The more I saw what happened there the more I came to realise… the teachers were expected to just… well… teach! What a revelation!
Teachers came to us to tell us what they needed, and went away again to do their job. When I couldn’t disguise my astonishment to how this all worked, when I told the people I was working with what happens in most State schools I’ve worked in, I was told ‘Oh, they (the teachers) wouldn’t do that here’.
The ‘brand’ is massively important here. The lettering all must be same (helvetica neue light size 11, to be exact in this case!). The wording must adhere to the brand policy. Everything is uniform, the colours reflect the school uniform colours.
Although I enjoy the creative aspect of writing copy and creating aesthetically pleasing pages, the creativity is confined within strict parameters. The pages are proof read, re-jigged, proofed again, proofed by another 2 colleagues before being proofed twice by the Headmaster/mistress. Everything, even the phrasing in writing, must reflect how the School wants to be viewed by the outside world. It’s a long process.
But I’m finding this all rather good fun!