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Office of Catholic Schools Enrollment Marketing Newsletter  
May 2012

Marketing & Enrollment Newsletter


There are only a few weeks left in May and pretty soon, the school year will be over.  Before you pack your bags for a well-deserved vacation, take some time and think about your school's summer marketing plan. Summer should be a continuation of your ongoing recruiting and retention efforts.  Below you'll find some suggestions we strongly encourage you to do.

Before your 8th graders graduate and move on to high school, collect some data that will help both your marketing and retention efforts.  Surveying your 8th graders will give you concrete data points  and testimonials for your marketing materials.  Here are a few questions to consider asking.
  • Where do you plan to attend high school next year?
  • Was this high school one of your top choices?
  • Have you received any awards, scholarships or financial aid?
  • In 3 sentences describe how SCHOOL NAME has prepared you for high school. 
  • What is your favorite memory from SCHOOL NAME?
Consider asking them to write an essay talking about their “journey” through your school and how they feel prepared for the next level.  These essays would be excellent to share with current families for retention purposes as well as prospective families. You may want to choose the best essays or survey answers and post them to your website and/or Facebook page.
 
Summer in the Chicagoland area is a busy and exciting time.  Communities come together for sporting events, 4of July parades, Farmers Markets, festivals, fairs and other activities.  Take some time this month to speak to your parents about community events that take place during the summer.  Are these events where school representatives could be present?  Could you walk in the Fourth of July Parade or hand out popsicles at a street or city festival? Create a list of opportunities within your community and how you could ensure that your school has a presence at these events. Take a look at community organization newsletters and websites and talk to the alderman or mayor’s office to learn more about upcoming events. Everyblock.com is also a great resources for finding community events.  Parent involvement is essential when it comes to community outreach.

New Family Sales is critical during June, July and August when the building is empty.  You would not want to lose a prospective family because they couldn’t get in touch you or left a message and never heard back. Customer service during the summer is just as important as during the school year.  Here are some highly recommended actions for summer.
  • Change voicemail greeting for summer schedule, “Still accepting registrations”- THIS IS A MUST!
  • Consider setting up a "mock" classroom for prospective parents to visit on school tour
  • Announce “still accepting registrations” on homepage
  • Ensure contact information reflects any personnel changes and latest tuition prices etc
  • List office hours for school office on website and on front door (In Spanish if necessary)
  • Medical forms, volunteer forms, uniform information posted on website
  • Regular posts on social media
  • Create electronic summer newsletter
 
The summer months are a great time to work on value proposition and brand identity.  June/July are also great months to develop your marketing calendar for next year.  If you’d like someone from OCS to help, just give us a call!

If you are working on a creative project or have an idea, please email us at mippolito@archchicago.org
For more info and resources please visit: http://ocs.archchicago.org/
We appreciate all of the hard work that you are doing and want to continue to support you as much as possible. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance. 

Parent Ambassador Best Practices
RECAP
    


On May 2nd, we held our first ever Parent Ambassador Best Practices Discussion.  We were excited to have 70 school representatives attend the session.  We heard four schools share their best practices around messaging, community outreach, school events, and cultivating membership. After the schools shared their ideas, we broke into small groups. Below you'll find some ideas from the discussions, which we would really encourage you to consider implementing.  

How did you identify/invite Parent Ambassadors?
  • Tapped into the Pre-school parents and got them involved, they are the ones who are going to be here for a longer amount of time.
  • Used faith as a means to connect with parents who are dedicated.
  • Sent an informational letter and a survey to parents and alumni.  We pooled 10 people as a result.
  • Looked for people who are outspoken and always volunteer.
 How are Parent Ambassadors visible?
  • T-shirts, polos, name tags, outgoing personalities.
  • Announcement sent home with photos of Parent Ambassadors and bios/contact information.
  • Parent Ambassadors are visible because they are assisting with events, programs etc in the school.
  • Information about Parent Ambassadors on the website.

Other Recommendations:
  • Parent Ambassadors work off Baptism list and reach out to prospective families at a young age.
  • Parent Ambassadors have a presence at Mother’s Day Program.
  • Parent Ambassadors help with Open House.
  • Ask parents to help with different projects depending on talents and skills- for example some people want to speak at Mass, others can help create brochures, others can help distribute.
  • Tuition discounts available for referring new families.
  • Use parish talents and treasures to find people willing to help market the school.
  • Parents set up table at YMCA and community events.
  • Presence at Summer Camps and Little League games.
  • Ambassador table at surrounding parishes after Mass.
 
Challenge: Time Constraints, Sustaining Enthusiasm
  • Allow children to come to meetings and have babysitter available.
  • Work around parents' schedules and communicate via email.
  • Find ways to appreciate and make Parent Ambassadors feel special.
  • Committees for parents to join may make them feel more involved.
  • Be VERY specific about time commitment and the work you’ll ask parents to do.

Here are five projects for Parent Ambassadors over the summer.
  • Be present at your parish Masses as well as neighboring parishes.
  • Generate listing of upcoming community events and schedule Parent Ambassadors to be present.
  • Be sure that Parent Ambassadors are available to answer questions and give tours during summer months.
  • Ask Parent Ambassadors to canvass local neighborhood businesses.
  • Parent Ambassadors host new family welcome party. 
The Catholic School Advantage: The Campaign to Improve Educational Opportunities for Latino Children
 
A Padrino & a Principal See "Catholic School Advantage" Idea Bearing Fruit
At St. Benedict's Catholic School, in Blue Island, principal Susan Rys and parents at the school are articulating a growing connection to their community. One of the parents, Roberto Reyes, reflects how the school has found its voice to call others into cooperation—and how that voice has acquired a Latino accent—with assistance from the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). Roberto is one of the school's "padrinos," part of a team of padrinos y madrinas (godfathers and godmothers) who help the school extend an invitation to local families. This team, inclined and trained to offer mentoring services and authentic hospitality while also recruiting children for the school, has come about as the result of training in ACE's Catholic School Advantage campaign.

For the full story about St. Benedict’s Parent Ambassadors, visit: http://ace.nd.edu/news/madrinas-and-padrinos-approach-helps-a-chicago-school-build-family-and-community 

  Juana María Sánchez, Field Consultant for the Catholic School Advantage Campaign in the Archdiocese of Chicago provides strategic guidance to selected schools with developing a culturally responsive school climate and marketing and outreach recruitment tactics; positioning schools with successfully serving Latino students; and developing strategic alliances among Latino community organizations to advance recruitment efforts. Please contact Juana.Sanchez.82@nd.edu or (312) 402-5905 for more information.  
June Projects

- Communicate with current families and prospective families about graduation stories and highlights

- Be sure someone will be available throughout the summer to handle questions/tours etc

- Update Voicemail to include summer hours

- Put sign on school door communicating summer hours and contact info for school

- Begin to plan summer activities:

  • Canvassing local businesses
  • Sending mailings
  • Participating in summer festivals/activities
  • Speaking at your mass as well as local parishes without schools
  • Sending press releases
  • Following up with prospective families throughout the summer
  • Reaching out to newly registered families to see if they have questions
  • Host small event at school to bring in new families

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Archdiocese of Chicago
Catholic Schools

835 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611