The communications and marketing team is responsible for the school’s voice, branding, and marketing materials, including but not limited to the school’s website, social media presence, digital and print advertising, direct email, and public relations efforts, as well as the school’s major publications, such as the EMS Newsletter and Apple Tree Magazine. In addition, the team manages community-wide EMS outreach, partners with EMS offices on message clarity and delivery, and collaborates across departments to streamline and simplify systems to improve the experience of enrolled and enrolling families.
While the communications and marketing team has completed a number of enhancements during the past 12 months, those below may be of greatest interest to the broader EMS community.
A Unified Message
The Elisabeth Morrow School community is incredibly proud of all that it has collectively accomplished, and there are many reasons why one would endorse the school. In fact, if one were to ask a community member what makes the school so special, each answer might be unique. However, a single, unified message reflected throughout the community is much more powerful than providing a wealth of information on a variety of positive experiences. Prospective families are shopping for benefits for their children and must be explicitly guided to connect what EMS does to the benefits they seek.
Beginning in the 2021–2022 academic year and concluding in the 2022–2023 academic year, The Elisabeth Morrow School worked in partnership with EdwardsCo, a consulting firm that specializes in independent school marketing, to identify and refine a consistent message to prospective families that aligns the school’s distinctive strengths with their priorities. EdwardsCo developed and refined the message by speaking with three categories of families — those who inquired but did not apply, accepted but did not enroll, and newly enrolled — as well as a project team with representatives from across the school’s constituencies (faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, alumni, and current and past parents).
A Consistent Message
In the late summer and fall of 2022, EdwardsCo conducted several on-site training sessions with key groups to share their findings. Ongoing training will continue throughout the year and EdwardsCo’s findings are being integrated into multiple touch points (word-of-mouth training, advertising, presentations) for a strong, consistent message.
Improving Emergency Communications
During the 2021–2021 school year, the Communications and Marketing team began work in partnership with the Technology group to identify a better tool for distributing emergency communications. The previous system presented several issues, including an occasional lag in message deployment and manual data entry through a siloed data system. The school’s new system, called SchoolMessenger, is under the umbrella of Intrado, which has an outstanding message delivery record. In addition, it offers EMS the ability to feed contact information directly from the student information system (Blackbaud/myEMS) once every 24 hours, ensuring that communication records are up-to-date. As an added benefit once the full setup is completed, families will be able to specify communications channels for each type of communication defined. For example, a parent might specify that notification of weather-related closures should only be sent to the email addresses on record while early dismissal notifications should be sent to all methods of contact on record.
Launching the Newsletter
The EMS Newsletter, launched in late fall of 2022, highlights the latest news and achievements of The Elisabeth Morrow School and its students, alumni, faculty, and staff. By delivering updates in this format, EMS can offer engagement by linking to in-depth articles on the website, featuring short bursts of information, and highlighting context external to EMS. By offering content that is of interest to multiple constituents, the EMS Newsletter is both a retention and recruitment tool. The frequency of publication will start slow, alternating with magazine production to reach readers twice annually. In time, production may ramp up to 2–3 times per semester.
Enhancements to myEMS Resources
In September, families may have noticed a change in the resources within myEMS. Aiming to make navigation more intuitive, the Marketing and Communications team worked with internal partners to review and reorganize the content.
Online Review Campaign
Reviews factor into third-party school rankings and are critical to recruiting the next generation of students to The Elisabeth Morrow School. During the school search process, prospective parents look to online reviews from current and former parents, alumni, and current students to get a sense of the school and its community. These reviews, written by individuals in the community, are independent of the school’s marketing initiatives and so provide an authentic perspective that is invaluable to families exploring our school. Recognizing their importance, the Communications and Marketing team has partnered with the admissions and advancement teams, the Board of Trustees, and the Parents Association to implement a monthly schedule, helping to ensure a steady stream of reviews throughout the year.
Highlights from EMS’ divisions and administrative departments
2022–2023 State of the School: Updates from Chilton House, Little School, and Morrow House, as well as Enrollment, Advancement, Auxiliary Programs, Communications & Marketing, Facilities & Operations, Finances, and Community Highlights