Building a school’s reputation in a social age

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

It is testament to the age we live in that no matter how loudly you shout, there will be very few people outside of your immediate organisational circles who will hear you.

‘You have the best student experience’, you say? What’s that? Your students are setting the pace for academic brilliance? Fabulous. But who’s listening?

Nowadays, we are faced with an unenviable number of competing voices – all jostling for our audience’s attention. So how is it possible, in this age of social media saturation, to build a solid reputation and to get your organisation heard?

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Build an authentic narrative

In a time where image and video-based social media are king, it is more important than ever to display authenticity. However, a cursory glance around most school websites or social feeds shows the same images, the same quotes, all taken from the same kind of people.

Parents, students, industry professionals; they all are vastly more web-wise than they used to be, meaning that the narrative we produce has to be a truthful representation of the organisation we are representing.

But this isn’t something we should shy away from. This is the chance to let the people of the organisation – particularly the students - shine for themselves, to underline the people that make it what it is and to tell the stories that may set apart your organisation from others.

Let students speak for themselves

Case studies have and will always have a place, but audiences need more. We can no longer simply afford to count on the good testimony of our organisation through gleaming prospectuses or an image of a smart student beside a quote about student experience.

Our audience needs to know about the empathy and range of the pastoral care; the unique individual stories that make up the typical student’s day or an example of creative teaching shining a path through successful pedagogy. All of these aspects are easy to capture using everyday devices and simple editing software – but the positive impact to reputation and through an eagerness to show the organisation for what it is, is priceless.

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Which leads nicely on to the final – but most important point: telling the truth.

The phrase ‘a good reputation is hard-won and easily lost’, could never be more fundamental. Look at any public relations failing and a high percentage are examples of organisations either falsifying or being economical with the truth. The media landscape has changed; social media has brought with it intense scrutiny and with it the need for organisations to face up to problems and be open and transparent about shortcomings.

But social media has, for all of its apparent shortcomings, provided us with a platform for instantaneous response – to create a counter narrative of what the organisation is doing to improve. It provides us with the ability to develop engaging content of real tangible positive improvements, enhancing a reputation of openness and authenticity in the process.

In the end, building a reputation isn’t easy. It takes time and creativity – particularly in an age of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Things move fast. But in the end, if as an organisation you concentrate on what you’re good at – not what you think you should be good at, then you are on to a sure-fire way of enhancing your reputation.

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