Why School MarCom People Are Overworked

In the last 10 or 15 years, independent schools have made great strides in their commitment to marketing and communications. Schools are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts, both in how they market and communicate and in the content of their MarCom. Every school who contacts us at Turnaround for the first time wants to talk about their brand because they know how important it is to their efforts, and we have seen the level of experience and knowledge of directors of marketing and communications grow tremendously.


What has yet to catch up at most schools is a financial commitment in terms of number of employees working in MarCom. As the responsibilities of the MarCom department have grown to include not only the traditional work for the departments of admissions, development and alumnae/i relations but also web site content, blogs, design, multiple social media channels, video and photography, at most schools there has been very little change in the number of people in doing this work. And because of this what we have seen is those who do work in MarCom are under constant pressure to simply get their job done, losing the battle for timely execution of their duties and rarely, if ever, having time for critical strategic thinking and planning.

Here are real school employee department totals (both full and part time) at 13 schools:

See the pattern? People doing the work of MarCom for the entire school often do it with only 25-50% as many people as there are in admissions and development. Now I’m not saying that there should be the same amount. I get it. Admissions and development departments are direct revenue generators so they certainly deserve to be properly staffed. But without MarCom, these departments would be significantly less effective at their jobs. Significantly. And MarCom has grown to be an essential department to the overall wellbeing of the school.

My point is that as the depth and breadth of the work required of MarCom has grown, there has not been a commensurate growth in the financial commitment to the department, i.e. the number of staff. The result is that almost every director of MarCom we know is completely overwhelmed.

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