Why, despite funding challenges, schools should still consider investing in PR support

CA’s Education account manager, Kathryn Baldock takes a look at the imperative role of PR in schools.

I have great admiration for teachers. My sister is a teacher and I have friends and acquaintances who are also in the profession. It’s a tough job; it’s widely reported that teachers have low morale, at times suffer bad management and are working to the looming spectre of Ofsted.

Along with pressures on the inside, schools are becoming increasingly vulnerable to – and at the centre of – time-consuming and potentially damaging crises.

Schools are finding themselves frequently headlining in the national news. Already this year, we’ve seen uniform issues (likely to spike again in September), numerous inappropriate student/teacher relationships, issues around academisations and more tragically, responses to student fatalities.

All these events are crises, and many schools may have sought advice in regard to protocol and how to handle the media. In our experience, which is over 20 years’ worth, we know those who have PR crisis management in place tend to fare better than those without.

The American business magnate Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes twenty years to build up a reputation and five minutes to ruin it…”

Many businesses and individuals know this to be true, having fallen from grace – it is also true of schools which hugely depend on their reputation when it comes to student recruitment and funding.

Schools and academies have less money, and like any business (which some may argue is fundamentally what a school is, as it manages a significant budget), marketing and PR are often the services deemed to be non-essential.

“However, at a time when social media is the vehicle for voice, opinion and judgement; social media can act like a backdraft and raze the reputation of any business within minutes, despite the amount of time and due care it has taken to build it up.”

Schools are no different; we know from working with academies the potential damage a comment from a parent or ill-advised posting of a photo can do to shake the foundations of a schools’ reputation.

We know, that despite this being a challenging time for education funding that the need for schools and academies to seek PR services has never been higher – and we, as protectors of reputation, need to respond to this.

If you’d like to find out more about our work in this field, or to have an informal chat about our services, please visit www.educationpr.co.uk or call Kathryn on 0121 702 2525.

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