Pittsburgh Steelers, Spirit Wear and Private Schools

Last Christmas I gave each of my boys the choice to go on a weekend trip sometime this year wherever they wanted to go. It was their choice.

My youngest son’s first choice was Pittsburgh. Of all the places that he could have picked, he chose Pittsburgh. Why?  

Well, he is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan and he wanted to go to a game at Heinz Field. I also love the Steelers. Growing up in Michigan, it was frustrating to root for the Lions. I started watching the Steelers during their dynasty years in the 70’s.

This past weekend we went to Pittsburgh. This was our first time in the city. Brendan Schneider, blog author at schneiderb.com, gave us some Pittsburgh travel advice and even helped us get tickets for the game (Thanks Brendan!).  

The weekend was a perfect father and son getaway. We ate at Jerome Bettis’ Grille, shopped in several Steelers’ stores, went on a three river cruise, and, of course, saw the Steelers beat the Redskins on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon.

While I could continue to tell you more about our awesome weekend, I wanted to share with you one thing that I saw and experienced. 

I was amazed to see Steeler clothes on everyone, everywhere. It started on the plane to Pittsburgh as we saw several passengers wearing Steelers clothes. And then, from our arrival in the Pittsburgh airport to being greeted in our hotel by staff wearing Steeler shirts and jerseys, the Steeler gear was visible everywhere. Even when we visited the NFL Hall of Fame on Saturday, which is two hours away from Pittsburgh, Steeler shirts and jerseys dominated the clothing of choice for the visitors. For the game we wore Steeler’s t-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, jackets, gloves, hats and proudly waved our Terrible Towels. My son even wore his newly purchased Steeler’s throwback jersey for the game!

It was great to feel part of Steeler Nation and to wear our Steeler clothes throughout the weekend. I must say that I am proud to be a fan.  

My experience got me thinking about private schools and marketing (after all that is my job and what I get paid to think about!).

School clothing and spirit wear can be a great way to market your school. If your parents, student, faculty and alumni are passionate about their school, they will be passionate about their clothing choices—as long as you have something that they can wear. Based on what I have seen in schools and experienced in Pittsburgh, I wanted to share some important things to consider about spirit wear:

1.         Invest in quality, school-branded apparel – No one wants to wear something that looks cheap. In fact, no one would even purchase it. Therefore, it is critical that you order quality spirit wear that brands your school consistently.

2.         Involve parents and students in your spirit wear purchases – If you want to get parents and students excited about wearing your school’s spirit wear, then you will want to involve them in the decision.

3.         Use a company that specializes in sprit wear – While you might be able to manage your own inventory at an on-campus store, it is easier to partner with another company to set up your spirit wear store. I did a quick Google search and found www.prepsportswear.com, a company that will set up your store and customize personalized orders for your fans. Don’t take this as an endorsement for this company, but it is an example of what your school can do. Are there any companies that you work with for your school spirit wear?

4.         Give some of your school spirit-wear away – You should set aside marketing dollars in your budget for some spirit wear that you can give away. Everyone likes a free gift. Whether you give a nice sweatshirt or polo shirt to your parent ambassadors or to student volunteers, it is likely that this will be worn. 

The key thing to remember is that you have passionate fans at your school. With this passion comes the desire to proudly wear your spirit wear. Therefore, it’s critical for you and your school to make this a priority in your marketing strategy.

Are your faculty, parents, students and alumni proud to wear spirit wear with your school name and logo on it?

Do you have “cool” spirit wear to give or sell to your faculty, parents, students and alumni?

What spirit wear strategies works for your school?


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10 Responses to Pittsburgh Steelers, Spirit Wear and Private Schools

  1. Rick,
    First, great advice about school spirit wear! I also have something on hand in my office to give to either current or prospective families when needed! They appreciate the gift and I inevitably always see them wearing the gear and as a result – supporting the school.
    Second, I’m so glad you guys enjoyed Pittsburgh and the Steelers! Going to a Steeler game in Pittsburgh is truly a unique experience and one that I’m glad you were able to do.

  2. Linda Sherlock says:

    Rick, I’m a huge fan of school spiritwear! My son is a freshman at the University of OK and he received at least 10 different free OU tshirts between his first campus tour and move-in day. In my former job as Director of Admissions at a K-12 school, we would choose 1 or 2 days each summer when our students and parents would wear a school tshirt – we would call it something “catchy” and email our families asking them show their spirit!

  3. Lynette Otis says:

    At Shalom School we give spirtwear t-shirts (onsies to our babies)to all newly enrolled students. We also have a bin near our library where people can recycle spirtwear that no longer fits so others can take freely. Every Friday is spirtwear day, and also our students wear spirtwear on fieldtrips. Our elementary grades also had a tie-dye expert come to help each class dye t-shirts of their “class” colors. It’s really neat to see the unity of colors around our campus.

  4. Karen Moschetto says:

    Really enjoyed this post- thank you! Very curious to hear your opinion on whether or not all of your spirit wear should be in school colors. It seems to be a topic of discussion for us as our school store likes to give some variety of color choices for some items.

    • Thanks Karen. You ask a great question! I think the priority should be to provide school spirit wear in the school colors. It is all about keeping the brand consistent and seeing this consistency in the community. When I visited the Steeles store, everything was in black and yellow. While there might be a few exceptions there, keep in mind that color is part of your brand and you want to protect it as best as you can. Hope this helps!

  5. We have sports water bottles available as part of spirit wear for our students and do give quite a few away. When they are playing on a community team their ICS water bottle sits on the bench or table with everyone else’s. It’s a great way to be seen among peers and parents of the same ages as our kids.

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