Build a Better Mousetrap, Then Run an Ad Campaign
It’s not unusual to see some ignominious mention of SLPS in newspaper articles about education. The reference goes something like this: “Districts across the country are facing problems, including the Saint Louis Public Schools, which lost accreditation and blah blah blah …”
This Wall Street Journal article is no exception:
Perhaps the boldest marketing push is in St. Louis. The urban district’s enrollment has plunged 40% in the past decade because of students moving to charter schools and suburban districts. The school district has been through eight superintendents in 10 years and lost its state accreditation. It faces a $53 million deficit and recently closed 14 schools.
But administrators have set aside $1 million for pay for publicity that may include bragging about a top-ranked high school and magnet programs in culinary arts, aeronautics and international studies.
I’ve criticized SLPS in the past for obsessing about logos and bashing charter schools. However, this time around SLPS has good reason for marketing. SLPS has started new programs, like a virtual school and choice schools; it has to tell people about them, or no one will know they exist.
The more innovations SLPS comes up with, the more effective its advertising will be in bringing students back to the district.