As a parent living in New York City we spent a lot of time investigating and applying to private schools for our children. Indeed, the process is as painful as one may imagine. From the parent and the child interviews, psychological and educational evaluations, to the open houses, the applications and testing process is really a draining and arduous process.
Indeed, during this process, we spent considerable time Googling and reading about the schools, from their own information to that of parents on blogs and forums. Surprisingly, for many schools which charge $30K or more for tuition, it is quite bewildering how few of these schools have decent websites, utilize professional PR firms or have online reputation management programs. Nearly every elite NYC private school has had some sort of scandal (Anywhere there’s kids, there will be trouble), but it is amazing that so few schools spend time online managing their reputation.
Companies competing for business need to be sure their brands are secure and properly promoted. Restaurants work hard for ratings from foodie review sites, and from my own PR experience, clients focus considerable efforts to compete online for clients and customers. So why would schools, which many New Yorkers and indeed many people with preschoolers in cities across the country know are so competitive already, not take the time to get it right online?
On-line discussion boards often carry few to no comment from school administrators, and the on-line and off-line rumor mills seem to churn non-stop. I am frankly surprised that few of them seem to use PR firms. As a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, a friend of mine who graduated our rival school Bronx Science still emails me every time something bad about my alma mater appears in the news (and I graduated 25 years ago).
For schools that charge so much money and compete for the students who they believe will keep the institutions appearing as the beacons of excellence they each claim to be, it seems odd that they don’t spend more time managing the online process.
Ronn is the CEO of 5WPR and author of best selling PR book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, and a regular contributor to Fox News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Insights Wired, Everything-PR and more.