Seven good reasons to build relationships with local schools
Clients often ask us if we can help them to build relationships within their local community and schools are a great place to start.
As a South Yorkshire based PR agency, we work closely with clients to improve both their community engagement and their media relations and secure long term productive relationships between businesses and schools. Many of our clients reap huge benefits from working directly with local schools and colleges, here are just some of the reasons why we believe it is so important.
1. It generates goodwill in the community
It is important for both SMEs and larger organisations to be seen to be engaging in a positive way in their communities. Whether they are a manufacturer, construction company or service business, there can be so many positive benefits from being involved.
First things first, when a client approaches us to engage more closely with young people, we make sure we carry out appropriate research into individual schools, their strengths and capabilities. We then recommend the primary and secondary schools that best meet the client’s objectives and are based within the local area. Where necessary, we hold meetings with headteachers and teachers where we discuss particular areas of interest for our clients, such as the environment. In some cases, we have helped schools to set up eco-groups or healthy eating clubs and have had regular engagement and activities in this area.
From the start, we agree a programme of activity with the school that involves an acceptable level of involvement for both parties. As teaching staff are so busy, our role it to keep the contact and relationship going with the relevant people, to make the process as seamless as possible!
2. It can help you recruit the next generation of employees!
Sometimes companies don’t worry about recruiting the next generation until it’s too late. They put out an advert for apprentices or graduate level staff and are often surprised that they don’t generate much interest. This is why engaging with schools and colleges in the local area is so important. If you have involvement with the school or college once or twice a year, it is surprising how the pupils (and parents!) remember this and how it can help to encourage them to apply for roles after school. Even if you don’t recruit many young people from schools or colleges, it can be a good way to let them have taster of your industry to find out whether it is right for them.
In some cases, we manage work experience programmes for our clients with local schools and for many of our clients, we arrange mentoring projects or for them to take part in talks or industry days to give pupils a better insight. This is always really worthwhile and has benefits both for the company and the school.
3. Raise awareness with parents
Something which is often overlooked is the importance of parent power and how working with schools can help raise awareness with parents and make them more likely to buying your products or services, particularly if you are an independent local business. We would never advocate directly trying to sell to parents via the school, but it’s a good way to raise brand awareness.
We can advise on sponsorship of activities involving schools, without companies ‘over-branding’ or breaching any education guidelines. We also regularly arrange for clients to attend school fetes or festivals and have products and materials available with fun things to do for the children, which again helps to build a relationship with parents and the community.
4. Secure some great publicity
Stories written about successful challenges, awards events or activities between a business and a school will always make for interesting local publicity. Every year, we secure hundreds of column inches in local newspapers and online magazines when our clients have worked on a project or activity with a school. This helps to create a feelgood factor in the community and is great publicity both for the school and the business.
5. It gives young people a real life experience
When children engage with business people, it can bring a whole new dimension to the classroom. Often having a business person giving a real life experience of the world of work can reach out to those pupils who may not be the most academic, but have entrepreneurial skills. This does not necessarily need to be a business owner or manager, it could be an Apprentice, junior member of staff or trainee.
Often we arrange digital, marketing or technology challenges on behalf of our clients with school pupils, asking them to create a video, give a business presentation, design an App or produce a TV advert. With our clients supporting them with both practical skills and real life experience, the results can be phenomenal. As young people often think ‘outside the box’ this also means that they can come up with very different ideas that a business may find useless to apply back in the workplace!
6. Spread safety messages
If a business has a potential issue with young people straying onto its land, onto its premises or getting involved with activities that could potentially be harmful, working with local schools can be a way to address this. For example, cement plants may see young people every summer swimming in former quarry lakes and there is a very real risk of death or injury. By working with local schools, organisations can demonstrate the very real dangers and allow the young people to understand the reasons why they shouldn’t stray onto construction sites or swim in open water. This can be done in an interactive, fun, yet informative way, rather than simply lecturing them about the dangers. We have had some excellent results with this type of activity.
7. Increase motivation!
Enhancing staff morale and motivation is a great reason for getting involved with schools and colleges. It is often underestimated by employers just how much employees can get out of working with young people. This could be on challenges, on mentoring projects, or just giving up some time to listen to pupils read in class. Many of our clients allow staff at least one day per year to get involved in this type of volunteering, which helps give back to the local community and creates a real feeling of goodwill for staff. It is often motivational to younger people who find new strengths and it allows them to lead a project, which helps them to develop and hone their skills.
Many of our business to business clients are involved with educational campaigns across the country, managed by Dragonfly PR.
If you need a helping hand with engaging with your local schools, or to raise your awareness through a Public Relations campaign, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our PR Team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01709 300130.