How to select the right PR agency for a secondary school

(30 Posts)
jhatter Tue 18-Feb-14 20:56:48

Hi,

I am part of a secondary school team that has invited 3 PR agencies to pitch for the school's PR contract.

Does anybody have any PR experience working in the education sector, who could advise what questions I should ask the agencies relating to them working specifically for a secondary school?

Thanks in anticipation to your replies.

ContinentalKat Tue 18-Feb-14 21:02:21

Is this for a state or a private school?

jhatter Tue 18-Feb-14 21:13:16

State.

Paloma12 Tue 18-Feb-14 21:17:53

Depends what you want them for. Promoting the school? Crisis management?

ContinentalKat Tue 18-Feb-14 21:22:23

Experience, past projects, case studies, references, ROI they envisage.
Set very clear targets, how will they achieve them?

I only have experience working with PR agencies, not with PR for secondaries, though.

titchy Tue 18-Feb-14 22:05:20

Why does a state school need a PR agency?

TalkinPeace Tue 18-Feb-14 22:11:16

I wonder how much is being cut from the teaching budget to pay for this vanity project for the head?

RedPencils Tue 18-Feb-14 22:15:11

What do you want them to achieve?

MoreBeta Tue 18-Feb-14 22:16:36

What on earth is going on? Why does any school need a PR agency?

The children at state schools get sent to them and the teachers teach and the Head manages that process.

What public relations is required in that process of delivering state education under the control of an LEA?

TalkinPeace Tue 18-Feb-14 22:19:22

very few secondary schools are still under the control of LEAs

but if the school cannot use its own media / design / english / photography / computing students to put together publicity materials, something is wrong

RuddyDuck Wed 19-Feb-14 04:32:34

I have never heard of a state school using a PR agency. Who is funding this?

caramelwaffle Wed 19-Feb-14 04:35:10

PR agency for state schools? What happened to catchment areas?

GretaWolfcastle Wed 19-Feb-14 04:54:30

Op. You do your own. It's called results.

Philoslothy Wed 19-Feb-14 05:35:57

We have a member of staff whose responsibility , in addition to teaching, is to deal with the press, release positive stories as well as build links with the local community.

I have never heard of a school using a PR company.

MissMarplesBloomers Wed 19-Feb-14 05:43:50

If astate school needs a PR agency it is in trouble.

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 08:38:11

Surely your PR agents should be the Parents?

If I found that a local school was taking money from its teaching or pastoral care budget to spend on external PR companies I would consider that this school had shot themselves in the foot as far as PR was concerned. Totally the wrong kind of publicity as far as I as a parent am concerned.

Clavinova Wed 19-Feb-14 12:56:46

PR is often a blanket term which covers marketing and design; if you look at the websites and prospectuses of many schools now (private and state/academies) you'll see that they're becoming more sophisticated and professional, certainly at senior school level.
From the portfolio of an agency used by a successful girls' school in Bristol (previously stated as an example of an ordinary comp on mumsnet) " Colston's Girls' School invited a group of agencies to tender for its marketing, PR and design requirements. The appointed agency would, design and produce the school's marketing and advertisements."

TalkinPeace - you might be surprised to learn that your dc's school used an agency to "refine their current school identity" and produce its main prospectus.

Caramelwaffle - "What happened to catchment areas?" Most parents have at least some choice of school for their dc and of course they can move into the catchment area of the 'best school'.

TalkinPeace Wed 19-Feb-14 13:04:02

Clavinova
I know that my DCs school has some real oddities going on.
That is one of the reasons I'm against Academies : because there is no proper oversight of the head.

Clavinova Wed 19-Feb-14 13:22:17

TalkinPeace
Then I suppose you can't blame the OP's school for wanting to 'follow the herd.'

TalkinPeace Wed 19-Feb-14 13:42:25

LOL
does not make it right though :-)

Cakebaker35 Wed 19-Feb-14 13:51:38

PR is not marketing, just one small area of it. Be very clear what it is you actually want this agency to do OP - if you've only I invited PR agencies when in fact you want a website for example, then they may well tell you yes we can do that but be aware it won't be their specialism and you would potentially be better off speaking to a web agency or broader marketing agency. My suggestion would be for you to issue a clear brief to them all before the meeting outlining what you're looking for (and what you're not if anything specific) and ask them to present you with suggestions/ideas/case studies which relate to this.

I'm a bit amazed at a state school needing a PR agency too but there we go...

Crosseyedcat Wed 19-Feb-14 13:55:53

To be honest I am a bit annoyed as a tax payer that this is what our money is being spent on (as opposed to education)....

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 14:01:07

Clavinova, I am aware that educational institutions do spend inordinate amounts on the wrong goals. The money my own institution spent on a logo a few years ago was sickening. Doesn't mean I have to be in favour.

prh47bridge Wed 19-Feb-14 15:21:19

Talkinpeace - There are many community schools that also use PR agencies. It is not limited to academies.

I guess the case in favour would be that many schools are appallingly bad at communicating with parents and their local community. Decent PR could help with that and doesn't need to cost very much.

Blu Wed 19-Feb-14 15:36:14

Of course schools use PR- one one way or another.

League tables make it very much in a school's interest to get it's reputation up so that the parents of high achieving children send their kids there instead of any alternative options they may have. And thus keep their results high. These days many parents are highly competitive about the status and reputation of the school their DC attends.

Good PR can raise the status of a school and get the interest of sponsors, potential donors, partners for curricular and extra curricular projects. levels of over-subscription increase the competitive frenzy of parents to get a place - hence advertising on the back of buses when in most areas of London every school is full - so it isn't about filling places. '10 applicants for every place' sharpens parental interest like nothing else!

PR can help gain the interest of local and less local politicians, get parents behind a campaign to buy a playing field or rebuild the science block, seek community support for something they bare doing or seek to do.

And of course, a good website gets good buy in from parents, is helpful and easy to use.

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