Whenever I consult with independent schools about their communication strategies, I like to ask: “If I said the word marketing in front of a faculty member, what would they say?”

Recently, I heard a response that was quite refreshing. The communications director simply said, “Oh, marketing isn’t a dirty word here.”


I’ve worked with and for independent schools where the mere mention of marketing during a lunchtime conversation would send faculty members ranting and raving about how it’s an education, not an advertising campaign.


I get it. Teachers teach. Their end product is both tangible and abstract. There’s no way to conveniently package it and wrap it in a box.


And marketers market. Even if we hide out in the communications office and update websites, the ultimate goal is to promote the school, its faculty and the students as a way to recruit new faculty, administration, and of course, students.


One of schools’ best marketing and communications resources today is social media. Instead of limiting a message or news story about the tenth grade science fair to the people we know we know, social media allows us the exponential possibility of sharing it with so many that we don’t know. And that makes administrators and faculty alike, nervous.


The loss of control is terrifying for schools that like to keep a tight grip on their reputation. Tossing the message into a giant game of telephone, the analogy that is often made, means that the message could get tangled and mangled and no one would know or be able to reign it in.


Even more, some independent schools like to limit the reach their faculty and students have on social media. What schools think they are doing is controlling their image, but in essence they are destroying it.


Social media is about transparency. And transparency is about getting a naked look at what really goes on. In order for it to work successfully, a school has to have confidence in its faculty, students, parents and alumnae. It has to trust that the school is worth promoting, directly or indirectly.

Instead of worrying about the message your school is sending on social media platforms, consider the message your school is sending by NOT engaging with social media at all.

Marisa Peacock

Principal/Chief Strategist at The Strategic Peacock

Marisa Peacock is the principal and chief strategist for The Strategic Peacock. As a social media strategist and marketing consultant, Marisa helps organizations create and implement online strategies that appropriately target the right audience with the right information using the right media. Additionally, Marisa is an adjunct faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where she teaches Social Media Marketing as a part of the Masters in Business of Art and Design program. She resides in Arlington, VA.