8 Ways to Market Your School’s Graduates

It’s hard to believe that graduation will soon be here.

I remember a group of seniors one year when I was head of school. They decided that their senior prank would consist of putting dead fish on top of our school building as well as toilet papering the trees. The problem came when the neighbors called the police. Not only did four squad cars come to the campus, but they also sent a helicopter to chase down the students. They rounded up half of the senior class and took them to jail. I remember getting the phone call at 3:30am when I was deep in sleep. The parents weren’t too happy picking them up at jail and dealing with an arrest record (I did work to get this expunged from their record). Needless to say, this wasn’t one of the best PR opportunities I had as a school head!

While your graduates will likely do some type of prank, this is a great time of year for your students, parents and your school community.

This is the culmination of your school’s experience. This is where you are able to see first-hand the fruits of your labor and your student’s successful achievements.

This is also a great time of year to showcase your graduates in your marketing effort by telling their stories (and I know that my seniors that I shared in the opening story will always have a story to tell!).

How are you highlighting your graduates and telling their stories?

The following are eight ways that you can tell stories of your graduates and market your school’s graduating class:

Screenshot 2015-05-06 23.00.581. Picture of Graduating Class – This week I was on the campus of Alverno High School in Sierra Madre, CA, conducting focus groups. As an all-girl’s high school, the students are anticipating graduation in a few weeks. In order to highlight their graduates, a picture of their seniors was taken wearing the sweatshirt of the college they are planning to attend. This picture was posted on Facebook. If your school ends in another grade, such as 5th or 8th, you could apply the same approach but you will want to have them wear a shirt from the school they will be attending next. I have also seen schools use this picture as an ad in a local newspaper as a way to congratulate the graduating class.

2. Graduating Student Stories – Every student graduating from your school has a story to tell. By sending your students a short survey, you can capture what they loved about your school, the impact of a favorite teacher, and their plans for college. These responses can be published on your website and shared on social media.

3. Facebook Posts – One of the best types of posts to feature on your Facebook page are pictures and stories of your students. This is a great place to showcase the stories you have collected. After you have included them on your website, you can post them on your Facebook page during the next month. You could also have fun with this by including a baby picture along with their senior picture. Riverside Christian School, in Yakima, WA, has begun posting senior pictures and a caption that shares where the student will be attending college.

4. Countdown to Graduation – Everyone loves a good countdown, especially your graduates. You could profile a graduate every day on Facebook and/or Instagram with a picture of the student holding a sign with the remaining number of days until graduation. This could be your countdown to graduation which could feature your graduates.

5. Infographic – Stats from your graduating class can be impressive. You could develop an infographic that showcases key stats from your graduating class. For seniors, these stats could include college acceptances, financial aid/scholarships awarded, service hours completed, as well as other fun numbers such as total class hours, number of sports practices, homework assignments and more.

6. “After Your School” Website Section – As you work to collect stories and stats, you will want to create a section on your website to showcase the results of an education at your school. This should use stories, infographics and college/high school acceptances to highlight what happens after students graduate from your school. This will help to focus on your produce and your school’s results, and it will bring your school to life.

7. Video – Not only can pictures and words tell a story, a video can be a powerful way to profile your graduates. Several years ago, I remember the advancement director of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL, took a quick video of their graduates getting ready for an event. The director went down the line of graduates with the video camera asking the seniors where they were going for college. With the end of year events, you will want to videotape special assemblies, ceremonies, trips, projects and speeches. You should even interview some of your graduates on video to capture their stories “in their own words.” These provide great opportunities to promote your product–your graduates.

8. “Through the Eyes of a Graduate” on Instagram – Just as some school marketing directors have turned over their Instagram account to a student or faculty member for a day, why not take the same approach with your graduates. By asking several select graduates to take pictures throughout a day, you can have them showcase their school experiences in a day. You could even have some fun with this by having your seniors chronicle their senior skip day or prank (as long as they don’t end up in jail!).

How are you telling stories of your graduates this year?

Please share any of your ideas or strategies of how you are telling stories of your graduates this year.