Reputation Management for Private Schools / RTOS and Tertiary Institutes
A good reputation is vital in the education system as a school’s very existence is governed by its ability to continually attract and retain students. With over 30% of students in the state of Victoria (Australia) attending a private school, a good reputation allows your school to compete successfully with some fierce competition.
We now live in a world where the influence of social media is growing ever more important. Parents are now more active on Facebook than ever. If a parent takes offence when their child is told off, and doesn’t agree with the reason why, their frustration can easily be vented through social media, shared between other parents and reach a potentially wide audience.
It is therefore vitally important as a private school to manage your reputation online. Below we have highlighted a case study to show how quickly a school’s reputation can be changed.
Case Study – January 2017
According to media reports, a Melbourne based Christian private school refused to enrol a Sikh boy because his turban didn’t align with their uniform policy. His parents wanted to enrol him into Melbourne’s Melton Christian College as it was located close to their home and many of the boy’s friend were also enrolled there. The family first lodged a claim with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Right Commission (VEOHRC) that the uniform protocols were not reasonable and their son had been subjected to “indirect discrimination” which “on the basis of a person’s religious belief is illegal.”
They have since gone on to lodge a claim with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in an attempt to force the school to change its rules and allow their son entry. We are yet to learn the outcome in this case as three hearing dates are yet to take place but in a similar previous case in Brisbane in 2008, a private school was forced to back down on a uniform policy which would have forced a Sikh boy to take off his turban and cut his hair. The boy and his parents received a formal apology and reached and out-of court settlement with the school.
A cautionary tale
In both of these cases, media (both the press and social media) played an important role as the parent’s unhappiness was broadcast at a national level and bought the school into the public eye in a negative light. If the school had listened and addressed the parents concerns more promptly, they may have avoided this level of national exposure.
It is always a difficult task to manage your online reputation, but here are a few basic steps that may help you to get started.
1: Monitor your reputation
Firstly, identify where online people are talking about your school. Is it on Facebook, forums or through your own website? Once you have established where these channels are, you will need to keep track of comments and conversations over multiple channels which can be a daunting task.
2: Plan a response strategy
Give someone or a team of people responsibility over responding to questions, praise or negative comments. However, make sure to refer back to higher authority within your governance system before responding on subjects of a more delicate nature.
3: Handle negative comments with care
Once online, negative comments can stick around for a long time. It’s important to respond where appropriate to clear the air with the unhappy party if possible. Respond quickly, politely and professionally for the best outcome. If necessary, get in touch with unhappy person privately to sort out a dispute. Make sure to listen to negative feedback and take it on board so you can improve in the future.
4: Build on the positives
The more you respond to positive posts, the more it will drive positive engagement on your social channels. Share achievements or positive articles about your school to add to the content readers on your page can view. The more positive content you have, the more there is for people to judge you against.
5: Follow up and keep an eye on your results
Don’t let problems be undealt with, keep on top of your channels and look at what strategies have achieved you the most positive results so far. Whether this be sharing positive articles, positive engagement on posts or word of mouth. Keep track and build on what works for you.
If you are looking for assistance in managing your businesses reputation then consider hiring an online brand reputation management and brand monitoring specialist such as 5th Law. Get in touch today for a free consultation about the services we could offer you and your business.
Interested in finding out how 5th Law can help with brand monitoring, reputation repair and crisis management? Talk to us today on 0434188870 or get in touch via our contact page.
Related read – Lesson to learn from PR Disasters in 2017