Why use video to promote your school?

As a promotional school video producer, I have been surprised by some of the schools that have commissioned me to make a promotional video. Whilst there are many schools that have a real need to showcase what they do, others already seem to be doing a fantastic job. The very best understand how powerful video can be as part of a wider parental engagement strategy.

I was recently called in to a primary school which is massively oversubscribed with hundreds of applications. Just 30 places full every year. They were a bit concerned about the competition, namely other local schools with videos on their websites. But more importantly, they realised that they couldn’t afford to be complacent in today’s educational environment. They were concerned that parents might think it was pointless applying to such an oversubscribed school. They were even worried this might mean that applications may decrease over time.

If a school in this situation has realised the potential of a promotional video, is it something that every school needs?

The aim of a Promotional School Video

Every school that I have worked for has had the same reason to commission a promotional video. To showcase all the best things about the school that can’t be shown by more conventional ways. Open Evenings and prospectuses are great in their own ways, no question. But to capture the genuine feel of the school there is no better method than video.

I have a list of questions that I ask every school. The ones that most excite the senior leaders that I speak to are;

  • ‘What are you most proud of about the school?’
  • ‘What does the school do that people don’t know about?’
  • ‘How do you want to present your school to the world?’

These questions really get them thinking about the school. They often remind them what it is they love about being a teacher in their school. It’s at this point in the initial meeting that their eyes start to light up as they think of the many things that can encapsulate the feel of their school at its best.

When parents view your promotional video they can see for themselves all the things that the headteacher’s carefully written script at the Open Evening is trying to convey. Let’s take a typical line about behaviour, “Behaviour is good in this school, and your child will feel safe here”. At an open evening, you would probably display this on a big screen.

The Power of a Promotional School Video

Now imagine a video sequence of shots taken from across the school to illustrate the same point. Instead of the silent, still image carefully composed by the photographer, we now see pupils in lessons captivated by the learning experience. We see hands shooting up to answer questions. Children asking questions of their classmates around them. Hands writing, drawing and building. A close-up on a child’s face as they are deep in concentration. The growing smile as they start to achieve their goal. This is the power of video. It is much more powerful than a simple comment and stays in the viewers mind.

We all know what’s good (and bad) about our schools because we’re in them every day. But the parents who made the decision to send their children to your school? They did so after spending probably no more than an hour in them. The truth is, that there are amazing things going behind even the most run-down of facades.

As a videographer I’m privileged to go into a variety of schools and am constantly amazed at the things that I see; things that the staff often take for granted. When I tell them how amazing their displays are, how fantastic their lessons are, or how well behaved the children are you can see their faces light up because it’s something that they just take for granted. My fresh perspective often reinforces what they came into teaching for. Even better, when they see how great it looks on the screen they actually get to see it for themselves.

Stepping in front of camera

You may be reading this, agreeing that a promo video would be great for your school. But you may be starting to realise that you might have to be in it. There will be a small minority of you who are excited about that. More often than not, the vast majority of people in schools will already be thinking of avoidance strategies to ensure that you won’t get filmed. An outsider may view this as strange. How can someone who stands up in front of lots of people every day, get nervous standing in front of one person with a video camera. But it happens in every school I have ever worked in.

I have spent close to twenty years as a teacher filming in schools in which I have been employed. I've also produced professional videos for schools and I can attest to the fact that this is true of almost every teacher I come across. You need your teachers to look relaxed and say the right things on camera. Given the right conditions, they will.

Working with the staff to ensure that they are comfortable is one of the most important aspects of showing your school off in the best way. There will be another blog post on this later, and spending the time to get this right will be essential to promoting your school.

Get started with a promotional school video

With the right planning, production and editing, a promotional video for your school will capture the true essence of what makes it special. It will ensure that parents put your school first when completing the application. The video can stand on its own, or work alongside other conventional methods of promotion. But the video itself is the key. In this age of digital media, in getting your message across to the most people. Whether you attempt the production yourself, or contact us to create a professional production at an affordable price, you’ll have a great time during the process and end up with a marketing tool that works.

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