Pip Cleaves
Senior Education Consultant at DLE

Telling the Story of your Institution: Why Tell Your Story?

Get Inspired: Step 1 - Why Tell Your Story

After you have watched the videos by Ben and read the post by Brin, add your thoughts on the topic below to this discussion thread. 

Do you agree with Ben Grey and Brin Best that leaders need to learn to control and tell the stories of their own institutions? Why or why not?

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Darlene Bowman

Posted on 1/17/18 2:59:40 AM Permalink

​I believe it is crucial to tell your own stories of your school. So many amazing and often unexpected experiences arise from the opportunities that we present to our students. It is important to share this publicly and in our own voices (or the voices of our students). Our passions for education and positive student outcomes shine when we control the narrative.

Ari Vega

Posted on 8/21/17 12:11:49 AM Permalink

Leaders do need to learn to control and tell their own stories about their own institutions, because the perception of the school's vision, profile or views may not be readily seen or understood without interpretation by the public.

Chantelle Thompson

Posted on 4/25/17 9:02:13 PM Permalink

​I completely agree, it is essential that an institution control its messaging and actively drive the direction of their stories to achieve maximum impact and engagement. Successfully controlling the narrative about their institution requires careful investigation and strategic thinking about the ways they can coordinate marketing and communications efforts across all areas including: admissions, alumni relations, athletics, public affairs/engagement, research, and student affairs. Everyone within the organization needs to be "in the know" about who the institution is, what they stand for, how they impact their stakeholders, and why it is so important to maintain brand and messaging consistency.

Cheryll Holley

Posted on 8/3/16 5:50:49 PM Permalink

I don't like the use of the word "control" but, yes, the people living the story should be the ones to tell it.

Mae Golden

Posted on 5/26/16 7:45:30 PM Permalink

Yes, there is a need to tell their own stories. Control implies covering up or being selective about the stories. I prefer being proactive about what is told, since it is very easy to only have negative stories told by others. Being proactive implies making the time to tell the important and the positive in order to reflect the good that is being done.

K Barnes

Posted on 4/19/16 8:11:45 PM Permalink

I do agree that the leaders should tell their own institution's story. For the most part, the only constant in any organization is the leadership (unless it is an elected position). The people who are there should be the one to reflect the goals, achievements/outcomes, and spirit of the institution. However, as Ben Grey stated, it should be relatable to the intended audience.

Dennis Price

Posted on 4/15/16 12:51:36 PM Permalink

There's no doubt about it - we need to be the ones telling our story because we (and our students) are constantly creating our story. Admissions and other administrative staff may indeed be a part of the school, but they shouldn't be the only ones telling our story.

Julia Matschukat

Posted on 3/30/16 6:00:59 PM Permalink

I agree. Many schools assume Admissions and Marketing are enough to keep student enrollment up and advertise the school, but Brin and Ben's argument is that PR and storytelling are also crucial. In addition, making sure that you message is consistent and concise is also vital to a successful campaign.

Lynda Holt

Posted on 3/17/16 9:04:17 PM Permalink

It is very important, but not always easy to tell your story. Your story needs to be simple, but all encompassing. The story can also change based on who the audience is. We try to tell the same story to all people, but students and accreditation bodies will want and need to hear the same story with a different message at and different level. Understand what and how other view, think and perceive your message, your story is an important part of telling your tale.

Scott Winland

Posted on 3/13/16 8:33:49 PM Permalink

I agree with Ben Grey and Brian Best that leaders/admins need to control and tell the stories of their own institutions. As lead instructor of a newly developing media program, I see it as imperative that we tell/market our story. We have so many unique offerings and characteristics that are glossed over when admissions' marketing makes strategy. As our program has grown, I see a need to lose the "traditional narrative" around our program, and begin to truly market what it is we're doing now, and where we're headed. I find this to be especially important within a hands-on media program - where there must be an emphasis on job placement/relevancy. We need to say what we are using, how we are using it, and show examples of great projects and events we've created, guest lecturers we've hosted, etc. This should story be updated every year. I think it is also important to communicate who we work with in terms of articulation and accreditation, along with the credentials of our staff, seeing as this is also something that evolves, it should also be updated each year.

Karla Rivera

Posted on 2/2/16 3:49:11 PM Permalink

I completely agree with both the video and the article. I do think that there is an awareness among school administrators that storytelling is important. However, what they do not understand is the process. Often people who are not directly involved in the field believe that video work, web design, etc. are very easy things to do. Even low production value videos have a production and post-production process that sometimes do not fit the timelines in their minds. Are there any articles that can help them understand this?

Deirdre Cerkanowicz

Posted on 2/1/16 11:40:41 PM Permalink

It is very important to control the message. It so easy to focus on the negative. That is what sells the news, but telling personal stories has great impact. My workplace and employees seem afraid to solicit stories or share stories with the public. They get caught up in worrying about legalities and photo releases and not wanting to be known out in public. We need to keep advocating for our public library and share all that people learn and how it impacts them.

Dan Donovan

Posted on 12/27/15 12:42:34 AM Permalink

I agree with Mr. Grey and Mr. Best that leaders need to learn to control and tell the stories of their own institutions. Not to mislead, which some institutions have used, for example vocational schools who controlled their stories to inflate job and salary prospects to attract students. But instead, to share their strengths, to create a richer narrative. I teach a public school that is nearly a hundred years old, it has a rich history, but also periods of low achievement and poor infrastructure. And because that experience of low achievement and poor infrastructure are not too far in the past they can easily be the dominate narrative. But in recent years our school has spent millions updating the facilities, attracting new young staff, and is providing students a superior education, but that old narrative still can dominate. But, I see if we mean by controlling the narrative, we market the our strengths, we create positive exposure for the good things that are happening, that invest in media and to control the narrative, then I am all for it. So often though, especially at the public elementary and secondary level the resources, the common sense, or even the drive to use media resources to tell that story is lacking or very unfunded.

Michael Jon Axl

Posted on 11/11/15 9:41:43 PM Permalink

In this day and age it would and should be considered irresponsible for a school or learning institute to not be involved directly in the community. This are the minds of the next generation that will be involved with the community in the future. The parents, teachers, superintendent's, everyone involved with the school or organization in the community should be involved from the information taught to the activities beyond the classroom.

Nirupama Narasimhan

Posted on 10/22/15 10:27:12 AM Permalink

It is true that every institution should tell its story to the public and to its stakeholders. At the same time, it shouldn't turn out be pure fiction and end up portraying an image that the institution doesn't hold up to. A good web site supported by credentials such as accreditation by recognized accrediting agencies will go a long way in attracting motivated students.

The story that we narrate should be supported by evidence that the site itself should convince visitors. So it's not all about bells and whistles and responsiveness - it's something much deeper than that.

daniel Mullings

Posted on 9/21/15 4:58:00 AM Permalink

I agree with them for the need to learn to control and tell the story as it is.

Institutions run on being successful or popular, if people don't like them attendance, funding dries up, bad press rears its ugly head and jobs and lives are affected. When watching the video it reminded me of the time when I look at my granddaughter school's website and I thought nice marketing must have cost them the earth, but that's not the school that I know and what's missing is that story the real story one that people would share for the right reason.

Tom Lucero

Posted on 8/21/15 3:58:23 AM Permalink

What I find interesting about the presentation is the idea that we tell the stories our school community wants to hear versus the stories we want to tell them. I believe sometimes these line up and the stories we tell are what the parents and others want to hear. I also feel there is a direct link between the school spirit and pride the students have toward their school and the image of the school itself. If we can tell our story and build our image, school spirit should improve.

emily panter

Posted on 7/17/15 2:23:19 AM Permalink

Yes, I agree that the more involved, invested and vocal people are about something helps keep them motivated and interested in the output of the item being promoted.

William Lambert

Posted on 6/29/15 10:11:49 AM Permalink

Thankfully we have a first rate marketing department who promote our College in a very positive way. However, there is no room for complacency, as there are many colleges nearby vying for students. I agree that "telling the story" is very important, right down to those discussions you have when networking. As a practitioner as well as an educator I brand companies large and small and my mantra, for a very long time, has been "you need to tell your story'

tunisha summers

Posted on 6/16/15 8:06:00 PM Permalink

It is important for us to be open and share our stories in the community. This is where our students and parents spend their time.

stuart murdoch

Posted on 5/18/15 12:33:14 AM Permalink

As we are facing lower and lower enrolments in our vocational college it has become paramount we need to get the story of our strengths out into the community. This ensures the survival of our jobs but also keeps the knowledge base for some of focused and specialised areas alive and well and growing. The question remains of course how do we do this?

Julie Richard

Posted on 5/6/15 10:15:27 PM Permalink

I am in the process of building a theatre program in my community through the middle school and high school. I believe that telling the story of how the students benefit by being in the program from a personal point of view rather than just promoting the productions will be more effective in creating an interest base and community support.

By showing what our schools have to offer by way of experiences and first hand accounts we will be documenting the events and promoting our district and school to others trying to decide where to purchase houses.

I'm excited that technology has come so far and as he pointed out in the video everyone has the tools to tell a visually interesting story with quality images.

Laura Keegan

Posted on 4/22/15 5:39:11 PM Permalink

Any kind of narrative (personal, institutional etc..) will communicate in a different way, and often humanize. These videos were great components to inspire. Whether adapting the narrative of an institution for marketing or public relations needs, or for admissions/audience development - it is just one tool, but effective. Most exciting was to see parents noted and profiled. Now - my friends with their first or second child- struggle with 'what district' to align with and geographical needs, cost, overall quality are all concerns. These narratives can go a long way to overcome those concerns and provide a picture of the outcome, a story about the quality and an justification for the cost.

geoffrey orayo

Posted on 3/19/15 8:17:29 AM Permalink

Am truly inspired and also agree with Mr.Best and Mr. Grey

Anamika Biswas

Posted on 2/19/15 6:52:12 AM Permalink

very inspiring talk. it brings out an introspective self to realize what mistakes we are making. We need to sell our story, before people began to create stories about us.

Clinton Walden

Posted on 12/30/14 8:33:41 PM Permalink

I think Mr. Best gives the more quantitative side and Mr. Grey gives the more qualitative side of the case for being active and eager to tell the story of your institution. While I quibble a bit with the word "control"- I think the stories that are difficult and show the failings of the institution need to be told, too- the everyday stories of or ordinary kids, teachers and staff doing extraordinary things can do wonders in building morale and creating a positive momentum.

Diana Frick

Posted on 12/19/14 6:08:23 PM Permalink

Great information! We are a small Christian school looking to expand and reach out in the community. I went to Brin Best's website for more articles for our team. This school has been so small for so long, our hardest battle will be convincing the school board to move forward. Even rural areas need to use technology and marketing to survive today.

Barbara Hender

Posted on 12/19/14 4:39:20 AM Permalink

Marketing is important in every aspect of today's world. Whether it is marketing oneself, one's students and achievements or the organisation it forms an important part of communicating what is being accomplished and attempted.

Jack Reise

Posted on 12/18/14 12:00:50 AM Permalink

Our school district is currently preparing a long-term facilities planning document in response to shifting school population demographics and scarcity of government funding. Our adult / alternate high school (1,800 students) where I teach is thrust into the district ‘s possible school closures, re-purposing facilities and land sales or swaps. Marketing this school’s stories and their contributions to the community is critical if we are to continue our duty of care.

tunisha summers

Posted on 6/16/15 8:04:14 PM Permalink

I worked at an Alternative school before for five years. The view of the community and parents was not great. However, after getting a new principal things change. His main focus at first was to change the school's image in the community and with the parents. The staff minus a few jumped on board and starting sharing our stories with the community and parents. A new flag was raised and our presence in the community was felt. Our image changed more and more as our stories were told.

Lura Milner

Posted on 12/16/14 6:55:16 PM Permalink

Marketing for the school community is essentially brand management. Whether you work in a public, private or alternative school, your brand is the instantaneous snapshot of your community. Schools definitely need to manage their brand every day to make that snapshot a positive and memorable one.

Madelaine Hackett

Posted on 3/2/15 10:47:08 PM Permalink

I completely agree with Lura -- brand management is key. It is also a way to view, connect, and celebrate with the community the successes, and help them reframe set backs as challenges that we are learning and growing from.

Jen Kanne

Posted on 12/16/14 6:01:06 PM Permalink

Proper marketing is a part of any business, public, private or funded. Making student outcomes the story of success is only one part of the story. Interesting!

Lacey Hale

Posted on 12/3/14 9:30:38 PM Permalink

I believe that this is soooo true because if leaders don't take control of telling their own school's / institution's story, someone else will tell it--and it may not be the truth. If it is the truth, it may not be presented in the tone that it should be, or as descriptive or explanatory as it would be if you told it.

Carl Cook

Posted on 12/2/14 8:22:50 PM Permalink

I found it to be very insightful. It is interesting that a school district has to go through that level of marketing its self. I always assumed that it was all based on student outcomes more than marketing.

Mark Slusher

Posted on 11/16/14 12:49:55 PM Permalink

I had never considered education as needing a marketing aspect for a community. As I reflected on my own experience as a child and later as a parent, I recalled the times the school was the center of our universe. Proper marketing is now more than ever a high priority for schools with government intervention based on NCLB law.