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How do schools know what you do?

How do culture and heritage organisations promote learning programmes to schools? Read this article to find out what approaches might work for you.

How do you get information about your programmes to your audiences?

Most cultural and heritage institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand have an online presence, most often in the form of a website. In recognition of the needs of different audiences, some institutions are present on multiple platforms. What is the best way to let schools know about your new programmes?

Website

If a teacher wants to find out about your programme, websites are often the first place they visit. Make sure that your page is easy to find, information is up-to-date, well organised and addresses the main questions teachers might have. Ensure you include a way to contact your educators. While many websites are static, meaning they mostly stay the same, you want to make sure that your content can be updated swiftly when required.

Strictly speaking, blogs count as social media, but many websites include a blogging function. A blog is an online journal of posts, written by individuals or groups, with the most recent post at the top. Posts might include a tag which allows to group similar posts together. Posting to a blog can be one way of providing up-to-date content for visitors to your website.

Social Media

Many young people, families, whānau and caregivers, and teachers use social media daily. If this is where your audience is, it makes sense to come to them. Some settings also use a social media platform instead of a website. But how do you use social media effectively? The article How Museums Can Use Social Media from Museum Next shares some helpful insights:

  • Use social media as another tool to accomplish your institution’s mission.
  • Explore your voice and tone and adapt for the chosen channel.
  • Social Media is a conversation, not a broadcast: Schedule time to answer questions and participate in conversations.
  • Explore suitable hashtags
  • Join relevant groups to connect with your audiences but make sure you read the group’s T&Cs before you advertise your programmes.

Before you start posting, check with your marketing and communications teams about the social media guidelines for your organisation.
Further reading: Keep the Conversation Going: How Museums Use Social Media to Engage the Public by Rachel Gonzalez MSc in The Museum Scholar, Volume1, Number 1, 1997.

Email newsletters

Most cultural and heritage settings in Aotearoa New Zealand email a newsletter to a list of contacts at regular intervals. Basic newsletters can be created in any word-processing application and emailed manually. If you have a relatively large database, consider using a newsletter service. Mailchimp seems to be a common choice around the country, and if you are interested in finding the right service for you, check out this article The best email newsletter software: 9 email marketing services for your business in 2021.

Think carefully about the timing and frequency of newsletters: When are your teachers most receptive to your news? And how will you make sure that your email stands out in their inbox?

Teacher events

Don’t underestimate the power of bringing a group of teachers to your setting: Let them see for themselves why their students must not miss the learning opportunities you have to offer. It might sound ironic to suggest you organise a physical event in a course about online programmes, but it works!

Choose your audience: While it is easier for local teachers to attend, some might be willing to travel. If you have a connection to your local Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning, they might be able to share the invitation across their cluster of schools.

Select a suitable day, time and topic, like the launch of a new exhibition the teachers have not seen yet. Show your manaakitanga | hospitality with refreshments if appropriate and something for them to take away – a copy of a resource, a flyer, a little token of your appreciation.

Hint: While you have a captive audience, why not pick their brains on other new ideas and programmes?

We feel we need to mention print advertising, but this does not seem to be as effective as in the past. Many publications have moved online so investigate whether they offer online advertising.

Presentations at hui and conferences

While the thought of presenting to teachers might be daunting to some, teachers really appreciate it when you add a different perspective to their conference programme. Connect with your local Kāhui Ako, chat with your local teachers about any subject associations they belong to or conferences they attend. While you are there, participate in other workshops and presentations for your own professional learning.

As you can see, there are many opportunities to get your message out to schools. What have you tried before, has it worked well? What would you like to try out?
Please use the comments to share your experiences.

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