The prospectus has been a staple of school marketing for many years, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great medium to share information about school life, your curriculum, and your values.
But as the school website becomes more and more critical to your marketing strategies, what does this mean for your prospectus?
In the digital era, the role of prospectus is undoubtedly changing, but it’s no less important. So how do you make sure that your school prospectus is relevant, engaging and shows off the best your school has to offer?
In this blog, we’ve pulled together a list of the most important ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ when it comes to prospectuses, using our wide range of expertise in school marketing and communication.
DO keep to brand and your school’s USP
Let’s start with the most important; your branding. As with all school marketing activities, it’s important to make sure you stick closely to your overarching message. Does your school pride itself on its diversity, inclusivity, or sustainability?
You’ve likely thought about your school’s value, ethos and mission statements for other activities, so make sure to get the message across here, too. Like your school website and social media channels, your prospectus is a place to make sure your prospective families know what you stand for, and what you take pride in. So don’t leave them in any doubt!
DON’T rely solely on the prospectus to tell people about your school
We’ve already touched on this, but it is important to keep in mind that your prospectus is not your only channel to tell people about your school. Think about how you can direct people to your school website, and attract followers on your social media channels.
Not only does this mean you have much more space to tell people about all of the fantastic work that happens at your school, but it can also enable you to keep your audience engaged for long. For instance, social media channels give you a perfect opportunity to show people what it’s like inside your school on a day-to-day basis - something that can’t be replicated by a prospectus!
And, from a prospectus point of view, it means you can focus on your core messaging, without worrying about having to cram in as much information as possible. Keep your content on point and relevant. Think about:
Your school’s mission statement
Comments and views from your staff and students
Information about your courses
The application process
DO make it personal
While the core purpose of a prospectus is to convey information about your school and curriculum, laying out the basics without any personality is not likely to grab much attention.
The truth is that selecting a school, or even the courses that they want to study, is a big decision for any student, and something that may well impact their lives for years to come.
Your prospectus needs to be able to support that decision by speaking to your audience on a more emotional level; they don’t just want to know where your school is, or what your curriculum is, they also want to know what is going to be like to study there.
And who better to tell them than your current students? Ask your current students what it is about the school, or their courses, that they enjoy. What was it that attracted them, and how did they come to the right decision? Make sure to include direct quotes in your prospectus to bring the more logistical information to life.
DON’T let it get out of date
Compiling a prospectus can be a time-consuming process, and you’re not likely to want to sit down and re-do a lot of the work year on year. Moreover, unless your school has undergone a radical transformation, or your curriculum has been significantly overhauled, the chances are most of the content will be more or less the same.
Minimise your workload by making sure your prospectus won’t be out of date mere months after you’ve completed it. Try to avoid putting a year on it; it may be that you do need to slightly revisit the content before the next academic year, but it may not. By putting a year on your prospectus, you’re guaranteeing that you need to revisit, year on year, school or curriculum changes or not.
Another example of easily dated information is including any technical information that changes each year. If you know that the information you are putting down will change every year, think about using a different channel to convey it. For instance, perhaps you could pair your prospectus with a letter or leaflet, or upload the information to your website and direct prospective parents and students to it with a link.
DO ensure the prospectus is in the right format
It isn’t just your content that needs to be appealing. As with any brochure, your prospectus needs to look attractive and in-keeping with your school’s brand. For instance, if one of your school’s key mission statements looks at diversity and inclusivity, you’ll want to make sure that the images used throughout your prospectus convey that message.
And it’s not just about imagery and branding. Think about how you’re going to use your prospectus. Will it be a hand out at Open Days, or a call to action in your digital marketing that prospective parents and students can access online? Perhaps both?
Whatever the channel, make sure your prospectus is created in the right format, and this will be different for digital and print. For instance, when you’re thinking about digital channels, make sure the content is easily accessible and legible on a computer screen. For print, you need to make sure the document has been set up to be print-ready, and that any imagery you use is a high enough resolution that it won’t become distorted when it’s printed.
The easiest way to make sure your prospectuses are ready for your chosen format is to enlist the help of a design team.
DON’T spend too much money on printing
It can be tempting to have hard copies of your school prospectus constantly to hand, but in truth most parents will read your prospectus on a screen.
In today’s digital world, there’s a time and a place for printed copies of prospectuses. It still remains common (and perhaps even expected!) to hand out a printed prospectus at Open Events, but in most other cases, a digital copy will work just as well and will save your school money in the long run. Printing your prospectus to a good standard is an expensive endeavour, so it makes sense to limit it to when it is really needed.
It’s also worth keeping in mind the environmental impact too, particularly if your school promotes sustainability. The less printing, the better! And, what better way to promote your values than embedding them in your relationship with parents and students, right from the start?
How We Can Help
Your school prospectus remains core to your school admissions campaign, and with the right expertise, informative content and an engaging message, your school can drive a noticeable uptake in admissions.
But getting it right can be no mean feat, which is why we’re here to help. Creating the best possible prospectus to represent your school takes a broad range of expertise, and the team here at Eduprise has over 20 years’ experience helping schools and Trusts just like yours.