Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ads for the public schools?

While I know we have been talking about hospital advertising, I happened to notice an ad for the Boston Public Schools on the "T" while I was riding to work this morning. My first reaction was, why should the public schools spend time and money and effort advertising? Don't they have better things to spend their money on?

But then, I thought about it differently. The schools in Boston went through a very troubled period, and they have made a lot of progress over the last few years. Why not place some ads to remind people of this progress and give both students and the community a sense of confidence and pride? Perhaps it will enhance the atmosphere for hiring graduates of those schools, or give businesses a reason to get more engaged with them, or some other good thing.

So, image advertising for the public schools? Sure, why not!


Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in an area where people routinely vote down higher taxes that could benefit our public schools, I couldn't agree more. (and our taxes are much lower than the rest of the U.S.)

Maybe my county should invest in a few well-placed ads touting the benefits of a strong public school system--of course, that would take money, which the system doesn't have b/c no one will vote for higher taxes!

And the cycle continues.......

Anonymous said...

Your examples in several industries interest me, in that it seems that advertising is expected to be a primary driver of our economy in the future - witness all the talk about internet advertising, etc. As one who considers herself pretty immune to advertising, I keep wondering if it really works well enough to justify all the $$ spent on it!
I also wonder if sometimes companies or institutions (the schools, for instance) are "advertised to advertise" - in other words, sold a bill of goods that if they spend $$ to advertise, good things will happen for them. I am skeptical that taxpayer money should be spent on advertising for the school system - good relations with the local media should be enough to provide the publicity they desire.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the competition with all the parochial and private schools around here.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:23,

I am sympathetic, except that good relations with media do not result in many "good news" stories. The media write and broadcast stories that attract readers or viewers. While there will be occasional features stories in the good news category, most are not considered highly newsworthy.

Anonymous said...

The main challenge with subway/street car advertising is the adjacent ads often present messages that conflict with the primary message of your ad. Riding a subway car in New York City three weeks ago, I recall seeing adjacent fast food and weight loss ads.

I've never seen any good come of ads in terms of media relations unless your organization subscribes to the "all press is good press" theory of media relationships and run a bad/controversial ad that triggers a media response.

Maybe someone will develop the social media equivalent of the good 'ole New England town meeting (online) to deal with important mindshare issues like tax funding for public schools.


Anonymous said...

Right, Tom, but please recall that a substantial portion of the voting public and businesspeople still are not keyed into social media.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Washington metropolitan area, and here we do have frequent positive stories on our schools (which are felt to be outstanding, except for D.C., more on that below) - touting increases in SAT scores, etc. They consume such a huge portion of our county budgets, that alone makes them newsworthy. As for D.C., a new mayor and a new school system chief are making waves with, at last, some real breakthroughs in disrupting the criminally incompetent bureaucracy which has controlled those schools for decades. This has been in the paper practically every day; no advertising needed.

As for advertising and social media, see today's WSJ section D regarding Facebook's Beacon program angering its users. That is advertising gone WAY too invasive - into truly scary territory for me, with a 17 year old daughter. (Full disclosure; she is in private school.)

Anonymous said...

As per Dept. of Education regulations in our state, the public schools are not permitted to advertise. There has, however, been a 300% increase in teacher sexual abuse of children that has been reported via the media regularly. Hence, increasing parent and student awareness and giving permission to report. Would the media coverage be the same if schools were allowed to advertise with full page adds or commercials of their excellence? Isn't the regulation in place to protect the children?

Hospitals are permitted to run full page adds, broadcast patient centered care commercials hourly with no regulations in place. Hence, there has been minimal media coverage about any hospital/ physician negligence or local med/mal cases. Couldn't this money be used to staff more nurses and protect patients? Wouldn't word of mouth take care of business if the patients were pleased with the staff? One might think that certain hospitals (who are not transparent) are paying for "safe" reporting instead of community trust and togetherness.

Chris Horan said...

Thank you for this posting and comments. To clarify: No public dollars were spent on this awareness campaign. It is entirely funded by external grants from the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation to support the transformation of Boston's public high schools.

The purpose of the campaign is at least two-fold: (1) to generate public interest and support for the city's restructured high schools; and (2) to send positive messages to students about staying in school, pursuing academic and career interests, and going on to college.

Chris Horan
Chief Communications Officer
Boston Public Schools

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chris, for the extra info. And, by the way, I thought the actual ad I saw was very well designed and effective.

Anonymous said...

Do you think adds might help attract good teachers?