Improving SEO for Schools Marketing
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption in the education sector, affecting 1.6 billion students the world over (1). Hong Kong schools have suffered their fair share of disruption owing to the protests in 2019 and the multiple waves of COVID-19 forcing school closures. However, schools and students shown remarkable resilience, flexibility and have been innovative in ensuring best in class education is provided via online means where possible. The worst may be behind us, but in the event it’s not, how can we manage this.
How can schools improve SEO:
- There is no better time than now to improve your school’s brand-awareness especially in the new normal of blended learning
- Improve SEO by integrating right key words, images, blogs on your school’s website while ensuring website is optimised for mobile use
- Blended or hybrid learning is here to stay. What is your school’s reputation in this space? Where possible become a thought-leader and develop best in class framework which may be marketed to other schools.
- Share the success stories, promote your school’s academic and extra-curricular achievements on your website and social media
- Use social media effectively, consider standardising hashtags that are have strong hit points
- Community is key- foster a community, promoting loyalty where the brand then speaks for itself- think online zoom bingo nights, trivia or games night for the parents, students and teachers
- Engage in the local community
Internal stakeholder management:
Teachers have no doubt been thrown into this situation ‘cold turkey’ and have had to develop innovative methods to deliver learning while grappling with the added challenge of keeping the students engaged across a screen.
- Be clear and consistent in communications to all staff members and teachers.
- Offer clear guidance on how teaching is to be provided- methodology and mode of delivery, number of contact hours, articulate role of teaching assistants and support staff. Get creative in how support staff can best support teachers
- Explore technology where classes can be made more interactive and flexible to support online learning
- Where possible standardise methodology of delivery and resources to ensure consistent service is provided
- Encourage learning, provide the resources needed and take on board all feedback obtained
External stakeholder management:
Parents and caregivers switching between the various hats and attempting to be home educators will appreciate guidance on teaching methods, curriculum and resources. Offering a sense of the school ‘holding their hands’ on this unprecedented journey may provide them a sense of support and comfort.
- Ensure communication is calm, clear, concise and consistent (the 4 C’s)
- Where possible, provide sufficient clarity and where that is not possible, a ‘placeholder’ note or better yet videos from the school leadership and teachers in the environment is likely to build trust
- Providing resources ahead of time, example having a weekly learning plan with resources communicated ahead of time will enable parents to plan the week ahead
- Keeping close contact with the parent community is key. Undertaking surveys to understand concerns, priorities, challenges and tailoring programmes to ensure concerns are alleviated
- Identifying the needs of students and families particularly disadvantaged families and ensuring no student or is left behind for lack of resources
How to prepare for the next crisis
While the last year has encouraged schools to think outside the box, here are a few tips to ensure the next wave if any is better managed.
- There is no better time than now to explore what technology will ensure a continued smooth, secure and effective delivery in this potentially ongoing new normal of hybrid or blended learning- what is working, what can be improved?
- Invest in a communications specialist and have a clear crisis communications plan. More often than not, crisis communications tend to be reactive and fall on the lap of the principal or leadership with little professional communications experience
- Consider offering additional pastoral or counselling support for students and families as a safe way to share concerns in a confidential manner
- Set up a planning team early and make parents and stakeholders part of the planning team
Being in such a pivotal sector where the education and empowerment of an entire generation is in play, we are in this together to ensure no child gets left behind. To quote Gandhi, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Written exclusively for WOI by Lisel Varley
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