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PR for Language Schools

January 05, 2006

Today I'm looking at more of a management issue and giving you my ideas on public relations for ESL schools.

Hello again.

The quality of comments on my "chalk-face" entries is really remarkable. It is gratifying to see teachers from so many different regions engaging in the debates and sharing their ideas and experience.

Good public relations (PR) are an essential aspect of any marketing drive. But this is especially true of businesses that are people-oriented. I say this because good PR helps you build credibility with customers and for any business that sells “intangibles”, such as knowledge, credibility is vital. Many people associate PR with expensive campaigns managed by specialist firms. But you don’t need to hire outside help. Much can be done using your existing staff and resources.

A school’s PR will be targeted at attracting new students and top-quality teachers but also at maximizing the possibility of existing students returning. This means that PR should run all the way through your activities, both in the face you show to the world at large and in how you are perceived on a day-to-day basis while working with students. While it is important to have somebody to take on the role of managing your PR, remember that all your staff are your representatives and students too can be important ambassadors by spreading the word about the quality of their experience.

Many tools exist to help you develop a solid PR base. First make use of the media in the widest possible way. Send regular press releases about your events, achievements and successes to the local press, preferably with photos. Use the talent among your staff by encouraging people to write articles for professional journals, whether print of Internet-based. Establish an interactive website that has a forum for discussion and access to learner aids such as online tests, examinations information, some free material.

Next think of all the target audiences you would like to inform about your school. If you draw your students from the local area, think about the networks that could help you: the Chamber of Commerce, careers advice services, high schools and universities, companies and organizations concerned with tourism. Identify which companies are involved in international business. When you have a list of target audiences, think of how you can inform them. You might have an open evening or go into high schools and universities to talk about the opportunities for learning English and how it can help young people in their careers.

Needless to say your brochure and all other promotional material must be professionally produced and up-to-date. In addition, it needs to reflect the image you wish to project. In an increasingly competitive market, attention to your PR could well make all the difference to your student numbers and the successful recruitment of good teachers.


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