How principals are leading change through social media

by Brett Henebery31 Oct 2016

With community engagement being a critical factor for school exposure and reputation, what tools they use – and how they use them – to improve in this area can be game-changing.

Dylan Malloch, director of marketing and communications at St Paul’s School, located in Queensland, knows the value of this all too well.

He has revolutionised the internal and external marketing functions of his school through spearheading a charge into digital advertising and social media engagement.

Malloch’s approaches have since been imitated by several schools across Brisbane which are riding the coattails of the St Paul’s marketing approach, such as copying campaigns, hashtags and Open Mornings.

When it comes to what inspired his decision to shake-up this area of the school, Malloch pointed to the fact that social media has become a “ubiquitous influence” in schools.

“However, it’s also incredibly targeted. You can pitch a message at a specific suburb, a specific age group and a specific lifestyle,” he said.

“Rather than relying on traditional school media approaches of mass communication that aren’t measurable, social media lets you identify whether your messages are reaching who they need to, how well they are working, and identifying areas for improvement.”

Malloch said that in some marketing areas, social media is still seen as a personal enjoyment rather than a business investment channel. 

“It can be quite technical and a little overwhelming for some, so that may explain why some are hesitant to embrace it and investigate its potential,” he said.

“The most significant reward for a principal who revamps their school’s branding and strategic communications is to stay relevant. The world is changing at a rate not seen since the industrial revolution.”

Malloch said that if schools can “lead the change rather than be led by it”, they could be the educators in terms of marketing expertise, rather than the ones receiving an education.

Roberto Omozusi is the director of Principal Creative Communications (PCC), an organisation comprising of communications experts helping schools develop their own unique brand and stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive environment.

Omozusi told The Educator that while it’s easy for schools to conduct and monitor community engagement, doing this on an ongoing basis can be difficult.

“At PCC we start with the belief that all schools are unique and should be treated as such. Using our unique coaching and consulting methodology, we work with our clients to understand their particular needs, challenges and nuances,” he said.

“We then use these learnings to develop and provide our client schools with digital tools, such as our unique proprietary social media platform, to help them achieve their stated strategic objectives, whether they be community engagement, student engagement and staff empowerment and development.”

Omozusi said his organisation develops and implements digital and social media solutions that are “completely measurable” and deliver “a clear return on investment” both financially and in terms of effort employed by the school and its staff.

“This makes it a ‘no brainer’ for the savvy schools looking to take advantage of this rapidly growing and fast evolving opportunity,” he said.

“Recently, we have found more schools are approaching us, with a view to working with us to develop a long term communications plan for their school. Furthermore, we are increasingly being asked by some of these schools to help them implement and manage such communications plans going forward.”

Omozusi pointed out that it was particularly interesting that the specific requirements of these schools range from driving new parent enquiries and enrolments right through to brand maintenance and reputation management,  such as ensuring that the schools brand remains relevant in its community.

“Digitally led solutions such as social media have become pervasive and omnipresent in today’s society. What’s more, the pace of development is increasing exponentially with each passing week,” he said.

“From a standing start just over a decade ago, social medial and digital communications have undoubtedly become the most efficient and effective engagement tools that exist. What’s more, these tools are now accepted, and indeed demanded by some communities all around the country.”