Brainstorming for a marketing plan

Published 7:24 am Friday, April 21, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The slogan read, “Committed to Every Student's Success.”
It appeared on a power point slide during a presentation by Brandywine Community Schools Superintendent Gary Rider. The meeting, held in the library of the Brandywine Middle/Senior High School Tuesday evening, was a brainstorming session to create a marketing plan for the school system and its community.
In order to create the home-made method for promoting the district, Rider turned to members of the community to discuss how they would like to see Brandywine portrayed to the public.
Those in attendance were invited because of the varying perspectives they brought to the forum, Rider said. The list included students, retirees, business people with no connection to the district, school board members and other Brandywine staff, including principals and teachers.
Prior to Wednesday's forum, Rider said he gathered a core group of people with advertising and marketing backgrounds to provide the members of the community session with a general place to start.
Included in the original core group were Brandywine school board member and retail advertising manager for Leader Publications Dennis Hinsey, as well as the director of finance and operations for the district, Sue Furney.
Those from the core group served as facilitators at each table of community members, leading discussions on topics such as what the district should focus on while building relationships with the media and public.
Each brainstorming session lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.
Many agreed the district should focus on creating an identification for itself by improving the Web site, building a solid alumni association and creating several “points of pride” associated with the schools.
A majority of the participants also expressed a need to become a Blue Ribbon School. The program is a branch of the No Child Left Behind Policy that acknowledges a school for outstanding academic performance in its state and for showing large improvements in student success.
Rider also cautioned the group to consider cost when devising potential strategies for marketing Brandywine.
The best method of promoting the district may already be in place, and, may be the most cost-effective way available.
It was the Brandywine staff, Rider suggested, that could have the most influence on families trying to decide on a school district.