PR. That’s just for big companies with huge teams right? How can I find time in my day to worry about PR? It’s not worth the hours!
We’re not so sure.
To show you why, and to help you get started, we’ve come up with an extensive how-to guide. We’ll walk you through every way that you can use PR for your nursery, and start pushing that occupancy rate up.
When they reach out to new parents, most nurseries think about marketing, and with good reason. Marketing can be instrumental in raising your occupancy levels (don’t worry, we’ve got your back on that one too).
But in an industry that is so strongly anchored in local communities, PR can often be a much more effective way of getting your name out there.
Specifically, PR comes hand in hand with establishing yourself as an expert within the industry, a source of knowledge. It’s a great way to establish confidence within that same community that is going to trust you with the most important thing you can do – looking after their child.
So let’s get cracking shall we?
So you’ve found a spare 20 minutes in your day and you’re keen to get started. But where?
Well, you could just ask.
A great way to get started is to build relationships from day one and get on the phone or fire off an email to a local newspaper or reporter. Local news is considerably less rigid and impenetrable than national press, and it can actually be quite simple to get through to someone and start a conversation.
Don’t be afraid to play off your naivety. Find out the kind of stories they like to cover. What have they covered in the past? How do they like their stories packaged? What kind of content would they prefer to receive?
When you’ve got the answers to these questions, you’ve basically got a list of the things you need to do to get coverage in the paper. Not bad for a ten minute chat.
One of the main reasons people shy away from PR comes from the fear of wasting their time by creating something that doesn’t even get used. This way you’re already one step ahead.
Now that you understand the lay of the land, it’s time to start thinking about the kind of stories that you want to put out there about your nursery. A great start would be things like:
- Fundraising days for your nursery
- Local charity events
- New features, equipment, or initiatives
- Buck a trend – are you doing something no one else is?
Of course, that’s not all. Past coverage in the press should give you a good indication of the kind of stories that will work too, so it’s worth doing some research.
When you do send information or a press release, there are some general rules. Keep it clear and succinct. Get to the point straight away. Don’t use unnecessary vocabulary, and try to keep it information heavy. Remember, you’re not writing the story, you’re just giving them the tools to write it.
One of the benefits of opening up communications with local reporters is that the more you build the relationship by offering them good stories, the more they will turn to you as a source.
Touch base with them every now and again so that they know you’re happy to offer quotes on stories to do with the local community, childcare and nurseries.
The good thing with this is that as you do more PR your voice carries more weight, and the more valuable your insight becomes.
Like whatever the opposite of a vicious circle is. Nice.
Now that you’ve got all the resources, why leave it up to the journalists?
Those same stories that you’re trying to get printed would work brilliantly on an internal blog. They’re a great way of showing progress to both prospective and existing parents and improving communication across the board.
If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, think about the areas of your knowledge that you can tap into to create informative pieces. Things like learning activities or good craft ideas to carry on the children’s learning at home can be really effective.
These pieces are much more likely to be shared around by the parents at your nursery, and you can help increase the reach by sending them out as part of an email newsletter or sharing on your social media.
Why is this important? For one, there is a much higher chance of the piece landing in the hands of a prospective parent. It establishes you as a trustworthy authority and may just be the thing that keeps you at the forefront of their mind when they make their decision.
Keeping new and relevant content on your website is integral to maintaining a good position in the search results on various search engines, which is a hugely important avenue for new parents finding your nursery.
One of the most reliable ways to get good coverage is to make yourself the story. Any planned events in the calendar should be on the calendar of your local newspaper too.
Any fundraising or awareness events are perfect and can work as a great photo opportunity for the nursery. If you want to go that extra step, why not offer yourself up as a guest speaker at local events, particularly if the event might involve prospective parents.
Another option – partner your next fundraising event with a local charity that you’re really passionate about. Local fundraising lets you give something back to the community and is sure to attract local journalists too.
More and more nurseries are using social media for their marketing, and it’s certainly a simple way to start. But there’s probably more you could be doing.
Consider joining local groups on facebook, or find community hashtags on Twitter. Things like parent meet-ups, local buy and sell groups or general information spots for your local town are good starts.
While openly promoting the nursery can seem enticing on groups like this, it’s likely to come across as spammy and may even be against the group’s rules. Either way, it’s going to be pretty low impact.
A better option is to simply become a part of the conversation, offering advice and comment on things that fall under your knowledge. From here, get in contact with the group’s owner and ask whether they might consider posting something on your behalf, or see if you have any parent advocates who would post a positive review.
When it comes from someone other than yourself, it’s always more powerful.
Looking for that final piece of the puzzle? Look no further than guest posts.
Whether it’s general nursery blogs, sites like Mumsnet, or even an opinion piece for your local paper, it can be hugely beneficial.
For starters, having links back to your nursery website from other publishers can do wonders for your search engine ranking. It’s also another great way to establish yourself as a person of expertise, and improve the prestige of your nursery, as the piece will show up when people search your nursery’s name. The more different sources they arrive at, the more knowledgeable you look.
If you want some more hot tips from us, we’ve got six more ways you can work on that occupancy rate right over here.
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