In my last post, I laid out the framework for developing a consistent institutional voice through all areas of your school’s marketing initiatives. At the end of that post, I discussed the need to build a sound architecture for your school’s marketing and communications plan. This post focuses on the foundation of that architecture: content themes.
Why Content Themes Matter?
Your school most likely has clear themes toward which your communication efforts are working. They are the educational themes that undergird your school. They are the themes that resonate with alumni and hopefully attract new families. They are themes all faculty would agree serve as the cornerstones of your school’s mission. But do all departments within your school use consistent language around those themes? Do those themes help drive the decision-making process in your classrooms, Admissions and Development offices, as well as at the Board level?
Importance of Shared Language
At Proctor Academy, our school motto “Live to Learn, Learn to Live” serves as our foundational content theme. We believe everything we do helps students learn how to live healthy, engaging, ethical lives, and helps students learn how they, as individuals, learn so they can impact their world beyond Proctor. No one at Proctor would disagree these two themes are at the foundation of what we do, but it is eye-opening to hear how different departments articulate these two themes. Our role as a Communications/Marketing office is to provide a framework around which these themes can be communicated consistently and effectively, while using shared language. We do not seek to micromanage the message, but rather provide structure around the message.
Application of Shared Language
A recent meeting around marketing efforts of our upcoming capital campaign brought to light just how disparate the language is around these themes among Board members, faculty, Administration, fundraisers, and our Admissions team. We all know our school, but we didn’t know how we wanted to talk about it. Since there was never any debate of who we were, we never spent time solidifying the language we should use to describe ourselves. Over the past few months, we have spent time solidifying how we will talk about our core competencies as a school, which will in turn enhance the effectiveness of our marketing and branding efforts across the board. We are a work in progress, but we are taking good steps toward using shared language to describe our main content themes, regardless of who is talking about them.
What About You?
What are the content themes toward which your marketing efforts are directed? Does your Admissions team describe your school the same way your Development office does? Would your faculty and Board of Trustees use the same phrases to describe your school’s core message? If not, it might be time to bring more voices to the table and to develop shared language around the content themes you are marketing each and every day.