The Eastern Christian WOM Marketing Campaign Takes Off

In August, at an enrollment and marketing planning retreat at Eastern Christian School that I facilitated, the team came up with the idea of purchasing a drone. I must admit that this was a first for me! Eastern Christian is the first school that I have worked with that is using a drone as part of its word of mouth marketing effort.

Literally, their campaign is taking off!

Rudi Gesch, the Director of Enrollment and Marketing, began this position at Eastern Christian this summer. Since he and his colleague, Justin Van Dyke, videographer, photographer and Webmaster, just recently launched their new video as part of their “Soar EC” word of mouth marketing campaign using this drone, I wanted to share a recent interview with Rudi in light of their new “Do Life Big” video.

How did you come up with this idea of purchasing a drone?

“I knew the drone would be a good idea to help showcase our school in a new light. We were founded in 1892, so we’re 122 years old! There are a lot of positives to a community with such rich history and support. But one of the challenges is that people “get used” to seeing Eastern Christian in the “same old way.” The drone allows us to show our facility, programs, and students in a visually stunning and totally new way.

Our mascot is the Eagles and our social/WOM campaign centers around the message #SoarEC. We try to communicate our distinctive- what makes us unique. Every bird flies, Eagles soar. We want to be excellent, innovative and different and this seemed like a great opportunity to capture that.

We talk about “Soaring like Eagles,” so we jumped at the opportunity to showcase an “Eagle’s Eye View” of our campus, students, and programs. The FAA regulations allow for the unit to go up to 400 feet off the ground (though the drone is allegedly capable of 3,000 ft+).”

How do you plan to use the drone?

“This video was the “big kick-off” for marketing usage of the drone camera system. We’re brainstorming about many other uses for this. One option might include a video virtual tour of our campuses that features narrated content about our school’s story.

Beyond that, you can’t beat “B-roll footage” of our campus that the drone produces. We will have MANY future videos where we’re talking about our school- sweeping drone shots of our facilities on a beautiful New Jersey fall day will always be beneficial for this use!

In addition to using the drone for video purposes, it takes stunning high-resolution photo stills that we can use for all of our print marketing as well!”

How easy is it to use? Do you need any training?

“It definitely takes some getting used to- especially before high-level difficulty things like flying it through your school hallways, I’d recommend starting on a soccer field to get the hang of it. This is not like your childhood “remote-control car.” It’s not often that humans have to think about 360 degree spacing 50+ feet off the ground (avoiding trees and telephone wires, etc.).

To operate the camera, the drone pilot downloads a camera app to a smartphone. The phone clips into the remote control that features two joysticks. These two joysticks allow a full range of 360-degree motion. The drone pilot has to consider the altitude, the yaw (twist), the pitch (forwards and backwards movement) and the roll (left-right latitudinal movement).

All of this, by the way, operates independently of the high definition camera that can tilt as well! A wi-fi-boost transmits a “real time” signal to the SmartPhone screen so that the pilot can see exactly what the drone sees as it is happening. We are blessed to have an amazing talent in our Webmaster and visual communications coordinator in that he picked all of this up very intuitively. We couldn’t have done it without him! For other schools considering this, I would definitely encourage finding someone on staff that has a passion for this kind of thing. Trust me—people flock to the drone! Someone in your school community will definitely be interested!”

Tell us about the use of the drone in helping you create your new video.

“The song we chose for our school video/Lip Dub was Jamie Grace’s “Do Life Big.” In addition to being a Christian artist and a catchy pop tune, the lyrics “spread your wings and fly” fit really well with our school, and our #SoarEC campaign that is featured in this video.

While the initial intent was to use it only for the “Soaring campus shots,” some of my favorite shots are actually the “liquidy” smooth pans from 4-20 feet off the ground. Those angles have never before been done on our campuses and wouldn’t be possible without this technology.”

How does the use of your drone relate to your word of mouth marketing campaign – “SoarEC?”

“We had a lot of new, creative things that have come together to make this video special. The message of soaring with literal video content that actually IS soaring gives a great visual impact.

Couple this with lyrics that support our mission and message, and the drone was the perfect tool for this project. The advantage is that the technology is at a price point that makes the tool easily justifiable for a project like this. And now we have the added benefit of owning the drone for any future projects and usage.”

Thanks Rudi for sharing your new video and how you used a drone to capture outstanding footage of your campus.

The video was posted on Tuesday and it has already been shared and liked by many. In fact, Jamie Grace, the artist behind the song featured in the video, shared the Eastern Christian school video on her Facebook page (click to see her Facebook page). She posted this: “I LOVE this video…was almost moved to tears. Such a beautiful community you all are in. Thanks for letting me play a small part in it.” Pretty amazing viral impact!

If any other school enrollment and marketing directors have ideas, suggestions, or questions for Rudi about using a drone for a school video, the Soar EC campaign, or anything else, he is very willing to connect with you. Rudi can be reached at rudigesch@easternchristian.org.

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