Saturday, May 26, 2012

Electronic Toolbox

I have a meeting with the Board of Governors in less than hour.  Why wouldn’t I be working on a blog post??  Well, frankly, my head and my notebook are so full of stats, charts, quaint stories, tales of woe, and predictions for the future that my brain needs a rest before I go in the big room.  But one of the things I will be addressing today is our plan to step back and do a serious communications audit this summer.

We have certainly jumped with reckless abandon onto the social media and in-bound marketing wagon.  In the last two years we have launched a very active Facebook and Twitter account.  They are updated almost daily.  We have launched a new website, built for maximum SEO.  We have an equally active blog up and running and we have over 100 videos on our YouTube Channel.  We even have a full-time employee dedicated to the maintenance of all these media.  Our proverbial toolbox is full.  Our proverbial cup overfloweth.

But two statements in the last month have been ricocheting around in my head.  The first comes from the famous columnist Peggy Noonan.  Whether or not you agree with her politics, she is a brilliant writer and her books are wonderful.  The other comes from my dear friend JT Hanley at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California.  He does not have the fame of Peggy Noonan but he should.  He is an educator and a coach without peer.

Talking about President Obama and how his campaign has become expert at mining the internet and the data to be found therein, Noonan, who is not a fan of the president, asks in this column, “If you have fabulous new ways to reach everyone in the world but you have little to say, does that really help you?”  And then my friend JT, speaking on a topic I honestly don’t remember (we were a few martinis and glasses of wine into dinner at that point!), asked, “If you don’t have focus, isn’t your camera just a plastic box?” 

All this got me thinking of our electronic arsenal.  Now that we have built up these resources and filled our toolbox, what do we do next?  We have spent the last two years creating and staffing for this 21st century world of recruitment in which we must be successful but I will admit we have not figured out exactly what to do with it now that we have it.  Or more accurately, we have not figured out the best use of what to do with it.  How do we harness their power, craft the messages, maximize the potential, and build a strategy?

Ask me in September what we accomplished this summer.


  1. Well played, my friend, although using a quote from some dodgy Catholic High School teacher/soccer coach is a little risky... LOL. Great piece, Andrew!!!

  2. Hi Andrew! You said, "I will admit we have not figured out exactly what to do with it now that we have it." We usually say, "We got us here one-a them dang brand things, now what-er we s'posed to do with it???" Many schools find themselves in this position, especially after a brand development exercise. Stewarding the brand -- which is what you're trying to do with enrollment in mind -- is challenging and requires speaking about the school in a consistent (don't read this as "rigid") way to all constituents over a long period of time. Just when you, as an institution, are getting sick of the brand, your audience is just getting the message. Develop a "brand content strategy" and let it guide your way. (We'll be speaking about this at TABS this year. I'll save you a seat ;-) Focus on telling stories that emanate from your brand, and back them up with proof points where appropriate. You can tell a story in 500 words in a school magazine or 140 characters on Twitter. But they all must share one quality. They must all be brand-centric.