Marketing and Development
Marketing and development have become essential activities for everyone who is committed to the mission of Catholic education. It is no longer feasible for Catholic schools to take enrollment and financial support for granted. If those in the field of Catholic education believe their work is to spread the message of Jesus, they must do all they can to keep their schools not only open but vibrant. Catholic schools have never been simply alternatives to public schools; they are a way to continue the teaching ministry of Jesus.
Marketing began in the Catholic Education Office in the late 1980's largely with the support of volunteer consultants and various members of the CEO staff. Beginning in1996 marketing efforts and initiatives have been under the direction of the Director of Marketing and Community Relations.
The focus of the marketing efforts has been the Marketing as Mission Workshop Series that began in 1994 as "Planting the Seeds." Under this program participating schools organize a marketing team and are paired with a marketing professional. The team and its marketing professional attend the series of five workshops, hear presentations from others in the field, and work through a series of steps to develop a long-range strategic marketing plan for their school.
In the winter of 2004 the Education Office partnered with the Office of Stewardship and Development to offer a separate workshop series on development for schools once they have completed the Marketing as Mission workshops. Although marketing and development activities often overlap, this process gives schools the ability to develop plans specifically addressed to enrollment and image issues and to financial issues. The programs are offered at no charge to the schools.
In 2007, we began a comprehensive, and integrated enrollment management initiative entitled “The Art and Science of Enrollment Management.” The Catholic Education Office offered training seminars to all parish elementary schools, and 80% have participated in the development of an individualized school enrollment management plan. Recruitment and retention strategies can be tracked by software included in the program. Schools who have used the program effectively have reported growth or stabilization in their enrollment, despite the economic downturn of the last several years. This program has replaced “Marketing As Mission” and “Marketing As Mission On Line.”
The second component of “The Art and Science of Enrollment Management” was the adoption NCEA "evergreen" logo/tagline, "Catholic Schools - The Good News in Education" as both our general and individual school branding message. The message is rich in suggesting the integration of faith and academics, as well as our call to be evangelizing schools that spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Our fine schools are, truly, the Good News in Education in St. Louis and surrounding counties!
In 2011, the words “We are Alive in Christ!” were added to the logo to reflect Archbishop Robert J. Carlson’s vision for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He identified three key areas as being critical to a vibrant Catholic school:
- The school must have a vibrant Catholic Identity.
- The school must be growing.
- The school must be financially healthy and, at the same time, provide assistance to those who otherwise could not afford to attend a Catholic school
The Mission Advancement Initiative was developed to collect and analyze data. Parish and school leaders, parents and parishioners in all 11 counties of the archdiocese were invited to listening sessions to share with him ideas on how to achieve the three priorities. An on line survey provided an opportunity for those who did not attend a listening session to offer their input. A professional advisory team studied the data collected and submitted a report to Archbishop Carlson with their recommendations.
On March 24, 2011, Archbishop Carlson met with some 400 leaders of Catholic schools and parishes to present “Alive in Christ 2018,“ a pastoral letter on handing on the faith to the young Church. He outlined a plan to reverse the decline in enrollment in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis by the 200th anniversary of Catholic education in St. Louis in 2018.
Over the next months (between March 24, 2011 and November, 2011) four implementation committees developed specific strategies to accomplish the priorities named above:
- Catechesis and Academic Excellence
- Social Justice
Archbishop Carlson presented his ten priorities for the Alive in Christ Initiative on February 2, 2012 to a group of educational leaders at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School.
To read the entire text, visit http://archstl.org/archbisho's-priorities
Although marketing (relationship-building) is critical to the continued strong presence of Catholic schools, public relations can be an adjunct to the marketing efforts. Recognizing this, the Director of Marketing and Community Relations works in collaboration with the Office of Communications to assist individual schools in identifying possible stories for the media, and guiding them in their efforts to acquire media coverage.
The Director of Marketing and Community Relations publishes a weekly newsletter that is transmitted electronically for all schools. (Click on the link to The e-Vangelizer to view archived issues.) Schools may submit information and pictures for inclusion in both the newsletter, and the Catholic Education Office web pages at archstl.org. Please include a statement that signed photo releases (link below) are on file for every person in a photograph, including adults.
New resources are now available to assist schools in the development/evaluation of an enrollment management plan, as well as to assist enrollment management teams in their recruitment and retention strategies. This information can be found under the "Mission Advancement Initiative" tab at left, and clicking on "Priority 5."
For more information contact:
Mrs. Sue Brown
Catholic Education Office
Director of Marketing and Community Relations
20 Archbishop May Drive
St. Louis MO 63119