Schools pay to advertise

Tired of losing students to charter schools, private schools and suburban alternatives, urban districts are hiring marketing consultants and running ads, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Administrators say they are working hard to improve academics — but it can’t hurt to burnish their image as well. 

The are recording radio ads, filming TV infomercials and buying address lists for direct-mail campaigns. Other efforts, by both districts and individual schools, call for catering Mexican dinners for potential students, making sales pitches at churches and hiring branding experts to redesign logos.

“Schools are really getting that they can’t just expect students to show up any more,” said Lisa Relou, who directs marketing efforts for the Denver Public Schools. “They have to go out and recruit.”

Some charter schools also run ads to recruit students — including boasting of higher graduation rates than district-run schools. But KIPP decided that recruitment ads make a school sound “desperate.”
Advertising can backfire if the public decides a district is wasting money on image that could have been spent on substance.

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