5 things to do with parents when you have their attention...

5 things to do with parents when you have their attention...
10 Jul 2023

One of the challenges of modern marketing is getting the attention of people in a world where they are well aware of the tactics of advertisers.

That makes it more important than ever to use time you have with stakeholders wisely. And with most schools identifying current parents as one of their most important stakeholders, that means making the most of the times they're in front of you! 

So, whether it's a class assembly, Parents Evening, sports day, or even the 10 minutes around drop-off and pick-up, what are the best things to do to engage them?

1. Make them feel welcomed. 

It's worth reminding all staff often about the link between pupil numbers and funding. Some parents can be challenging, and often the messages you will be giving out at a Parents Evening won’t be that positive, but every encounter is an opportunity to develop relationships. Things such as providing refreshments, greeting them individually and thanking them for their presence are important. If you want to develop this further, read one of Geoff Ramm's books on 'celebrity' customer service.

2. Remind them of the great things the school is doing. 

A great way of doing this is to have bespoke screens showing news from the school (see TrilbyTV for examples of how to do this), but you don't have to use technology. For example, you could make a display of the best student work in reception, or hand out copies of the school’s newsletter or magazine. One school I know puts QR codes on displays so parents can watch videos about them. Where possible, try to focus these stories on the key messages you want to share - and you could even use your School Media Team to create the content for you.

3. Promote the ways the school will develop in the future. 

As well as reassuring parents that the school is doing well day-to-day, you want them to be able to tell their friends, family and the wider community what is coming next. They may also be able to help you achieve it!

Do this by building a small amount of time into all events for an update on the school's development plan, setting up stalls where they can try out new teaching materials or devices, or just ensuring that staff can talk confidently about the next few years when asked. 

4. Get their views. 

Listening to parents is a key part of marketing, so when you have them in school make the most of this opportunity. You can carry out surveys by setting them up on a tablet and passing it around, or even go ‘old-school’ and hand out paper copies. And if you have time, why not take the opportunity and hold some informal focus groups where you can ask what parents think of the school now and want it to do in the future to help recruitment and retention. 

5. Ask for endorsements. 

I wrote in May about the importance of online reviews of your school - both to help those looking for school places but also to improve your ranking in search engines. Events can be a great time to ask parents for these reviews and endorsements - especially during end of year celebrations for children who are moving on from the school when parents realise the huge impact your school has had!