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The top 10 school prospectus pitfalls - part 2

Posted by Laura Sheahan

The top 10 school prospectus pitfallsIn part 1, we discussed the pitfalls in getting your school’s prospectus right. From getting the communications brief on point, aligning your prospectus against the rest of your school’s communications, to having too much or too little content and having assessed what your competitors are doing. In part 2 of this blog, we will look at six more difficulties, and how to avoid them, when producing a perfect school prospectus.

5. Not using professional imagery
Your image library should be updated each year to reflect the current essence of your school. Check what images currently exist in your school’s database before you engage a professional photographer to create an image library. Assess the images: do they accurately reflect the student mix; are the uniforms current; do the images ‘bring to life’ your school and depict what differentiates it. Images create a visual language that should be consistent with your school’s brand and messaging.

Be sure to think:

  • In terms of an investment rather than an expense for your school.
  • Broadly, contextually and in terms of long-term use for future publications, rather than as a quick short-term update. Schools evolve and so does the essence of it.

6. Cost
Your school’s prospectus is one of the first points of contact a parent and other stakeholders will have with your school. It is a powerful marketing tool, but the cost of producing a prospectus can be significant. Put into perspective though, often the enrolment of just one student will cover the cost of production. 

It is important to ensure that you invest in the production of your initial prospectus as it may be a number of years before it will need to be refreshed.

Invest to cover all facets: copywriting, proofing, designing and printing. Once you have budgeted for this, then you can consider including more ‘bells and whistles’ like folders, pull-outs, laminating or embossing on the cover.

7. Too many stakeholders involved in the editing, proofing and approval process
It is vital that everybody agrees at the communications brief stage who will be the key decision-makers involved in all stages of the prospectus. Try to keep this number to a minimum to ensure that each stage does not take longer than necessary to go through the approval processes. Keep the following three points in mind when reviewing your prospectus prior to reaching print stage: 

  • When reviewing design proofs, always return back to the original communications brief that was signed off.
  • Always reflect on your school’s objectives and values when proofing content, imagery and final layout.
  • When reviewing visuals, make sure you do not put your ‘personal stamp’ on concepts given in the earlier stages. You may like a certain design element, but it may not be on brand. Choose what is best for your school, not yourself.

8. Too many handlers on the project
A major disadvantage of having your prospectus go through too many hands/handlers is knowledge loss. Knowledge is lost and dropped off when staff in your team, or external marketing agency, leave.

Make sure you keep key documents up-to-date, working folders, briefs, supplier quotes, page plans, timelines and all documents together in one set location so an easy handover is achieved if the need arises.

Don’t forget that knowledge should be documented along the way to develop a ‘background/history’ for the prospectus.

9. Timing
Setting a realistic timeframe to begin with will allow the management of the prospectus to run smoothly.Start off by working out your deadline date. Is there an event, like an Open Day that you want the prospectus for? If so, work backwards from that date. Allow sufficient time for briefings, copywriting, designing, proofing, approvals, printing and delivery. 

10. Trying to include absolutely everything
Lastly, think of your prospectus as a living and breathing document that will evolve with your school’s brand.Facilities will change, staff will leave, and students will arrive. These are opportunities for you to re-look at your prospectus every two to three years and re-evaluate it.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to include absolutely everything in the prospectus - it can be captured in other areas of your school’s communications.

Here are some more blogs on communication which might be of interest to you.

At imageseven, we provide ongoing support to several of our clients through our Communication Support Program.

Click here to read a recent blog that explains how the Communication Support Program benefited and optimised marcoms at The Scots College.

The CSP goes beyond a regular agency relationship and provides access to a fully-fledged marketing department at a level of support tailored to specific client needs. school marketing ideas

If your school prospectus has fallen victim to one of these pitfalls, contact us, for a complimentary phone consultation to get it back on track.

Brand counts
Schools who fail to recognise that brand impressions count, risk losing their share of enrolments. imageseven’s brand discovery and definition program will optimise and bring discipline to your school’s brand impressions and support your school’s strategic goals and objectives.

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This blog was written by Laura Sheahan

In her role as Strategic Communications Director at imageseven, Laura manages and develops the company’s European business, drives imageseven’s corporate marcoms, and continues to work with many of her clients in Australia from the Emerald Isle. Outside the office, Laura can be found with friends, on a green perfecting her golf swing or tennis serve, trying out Cork’s trending eateries, or checking out the high street.


Topics: Education, imageseven, Communication, Marcom