Should my edtech business exhibit at Bett?

We’re often asked by edtech businesses at this time of year if it’s worth investing in a stand at the Bett education technology show.

So, we thought we’d share a few nuggets of advice to help you decide:

  • If Bett is the best place to showcase your education product or service
  • If it’s the right event to reach your target audience and if so…
  • How you can get the most from the show to ultimately generate leads

 

While you’re here, find out how to effectively target teachers on Facebook too. Get in touch if you need help to give your education PR and communications a boost.

Which education awards should you enter?

And when does your award entry need to go in?

Entering and winning an award for your company is a straightforward way to improve recognition for your brand, product, or service.

There are three key reasons for this.

Firstly, awards improve your industry reputation. Your status is increased amongst your peers and competitors. Secondly, your customers can see that your service or product is high quality enough to achieve recognition. Finally, awards naturally attract great media coverage, to spread brand awareness and potentially increase your exposure through search engine ratings and on social media.

That said, it can be quite a minefield to search for the best award to enter. Application deadlines and category guidelines vary and some companies can be put off by the amount of time it takes to find the right award.

So, we’ve done the work for you.

Below are our top suggestions for education awards to apply for in 2021 and 2022 – good luck!

Name of awardLinkAbout the awardsApplication deadlineBest for Opportunities
Digital Education Awardswww.digitaleducationawards.com/2021awardsRecognising the best in the EdTech industry19th Nov for 2021Edtech companiesMarketing credibility

Magazine feature

Product/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Resources Awardswww.educationresourcesawards.co.ukRecognising those who make the best impact on services, educators, and the classroom25th February 2022Edtech companies, learning resources companiesPress coverage, validation of a product valued by educators
TES Awardswww.tesawards.co.uk/tesschoolsawardsCelebrating the achievements of staff and schoolsDetails of 2022 awards to be announced early February 2022Schools and staffProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition

Press coverage
Edtech Breakthrough Awardswww.edtechbreakthrough.comRecognising the best companies, products and services in the field of educational technology2022 entry deadline likely to open January - March based on previous yearsEdtech companies large and smallMedia coverage, coverage on award website, endorsement among colleagues
Learning Technologies Awardswww.learningtechnologies.co.uk/learning-tech-awardsRepresenting talent and ingenuityKeep an eye out in May - July for 2022 entry dateEdtechs including games, learning resources and school administration supportMedia coverage across Europe and potential to get involved with summer forum and roadshows to showcase products
National School Awardswww.nationalschoolsawards.co.ukRecognise, celebrate and reward senior leaders, schools and multi-academy trusts for their dedication and hard workMay deadline for 2022 awards based on previous yearSchools, academies and individual teachersHosted at the House of Lords - high esteem award for academies and individual staff members. Great media coverage for individual schools
Pearson National Teaching Awardswww.teachingawards.comRaising the profile of the teaching profession through highlighting the positive impact teachers and school leaders have in our society2022 awards yet to open, but you can register your interest on the website hereTeachers, schools, or individual staff members in education institutionsExpansive media coverage! 2021 saw a BBC Documentary ('Classroom Heroes'), feature on The One Show, newsletter, website, social media and Pearson Podcast. A great way to cover lots of bases. High esteem for staff and individual schools
PIEoneer Awardswww.pieoneerawards.com/thepieoneerawards'The PIEoneer Awards are the international education industry's equivalent of the Oscars.'2022 entry TBC (previously opened in March)Companies focused on diversity, employment, digital innovation and student wellbeingJudges’ comments will be sent to winners to be used publicly. Media coverage, global recognition on awards site and social media. High esteem in the industry
Bett Awardswww.bettawards.com/about-bett-awards/Celebrating the world’s leading education technology solutions2021 entries have now closed. 2022 deadline likely to be SeptEducation technology companiesInternational exposure

Product/Service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Awardswww.education-awards.co.ukRewarding the most outstanding contributors to the education sectorSeptemberEstablishments, organisations and people who contribute to the education sectorProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Investor Awardswww.educationinvestor.co.uk/educationinvestor-awardsCelebrating excellence and innovation in the business of education in the UKEarly OctoberProfessionals investing in, advising or operating companies in the education sectorProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Tech for Teachers Awardswww.teachwire.net/tech-for-teachersCelebrating Tech for Teachers that has a genuine classroom impactPreviously OctoberCompanies with tech products for teachingMedia coverage print, 37,500 copies

Feature on teacherwire.net 65,000 visitors

Newsletter feature 21k subscribers
Education Business Awardswww.awards.educationbusinessuk.net/Recognising school achievementsPreviously May entry deadlineSchoolsEndorsement, product/service validation, visibility and recognition
Global Edtech Startup (GES) Awardswww.globaledtechawards.org'The world's largest awards for global Ed Tech startups'Closed for 2021entry but one to consider for 2022For startup Edtechs wanting to go global to expand their geographic reach. This is an international awardGlobal recognition so one for expanding your borders. Great media coverage, recongition as an international provider

This concludes our list of top awards to apply for.

If you’re keen to enter any of these awards but are perhaps new to the game, or could do with a little refresher, we have a great blog covering our best advice on How To Write A Winning Award Entry.

Good luck!

 

Image by ktphotography from Pixabay

How to effectively target teachers on Facebook

Promoting the right content at the right time via Facebook advertising, with its powerful audience targeting tools, could be the driving force for your next lead generation campaign.

Despite recent criticism about its practices, Facebook appears to have weathered the storm and continues to be the most popular social media network among adults in the UK.

Teachers regularly access Facebook for personal and professional use providing a great opportunity for you to reach them.

However, creating a successful and well-targeted Facebook ad campaign takes time and there are many things to consider, from what you’re offering to how you can find the people who are most likely to engage with your content.

Here we share some top tips to make your next Facebook ad campaign a success.

 

Engaging and inspiring content

Teachers do not want to share their name and email address with just anyone, so you need to provide them with a good incentive to encourage them to do so.

Content is at the heart of any successful lead generation campaign and according to HubSpot, 96% of people who visit your website are not ready to buy so the best approach is to “give before asking” to capture leads.

If you offer valuable free resources, teachers are more likely to provide contact details to access it, providing you with an opportunity to engage with them in the future.

Here are some examples of the type of content that you could offer to teachers:

  • Useful resources such as lesson plans or classroom exercises
  • Webinars or training courses
  • Free reports and guides providing tips and advice e.g. behaviour management
  • Free trial of software

One successful content strategy you could try is to produce content that is aligned with a particular awareness week or time of the year. For example, you can produce back-to-school resources that you could promote in August/September or a Stop Bullying guide for Anti-Bullying week.

Landing pages that convert

Once you’ve decided and created the content that will incentivise teachers to share their information with you, you need to set up a landing page.

Landing pages are a critical part of your Facebook ad lead generation campaign and the start of the process from turning a visitor into a lead.

You need to make sure that your landing page has a single call-to-action e.g. fill in the form to download the content. Avoid additional links or other calls to action on the page as you don’t want to distract from the end goal – to capture their details.

You will also need a thank you page set up. Once someone has signed up, they will be directed to this page, be thanked for signing up and signposted to the content. It is also a great way for you to track conversions and create retargeting or lookalike audiences, which you will read about later on in this blog.

Ads that stop the scroll

You may have an amazing offering and a great landing page but if you don’t have an ad that stands out and grabs your target audience’s attention, then even with the best targeted campaign tactics, it’s more than likely that you will experience a low clickthrough rate on your ad. This will not only result in a low number of leads, it will be costly too.

A lead generation ad should use an image, video or infographic that makes someone stop the scroll and take action (click on it).

Here’s an example from Whizz Education who we worked with on their Mathvember campaign.  The ad successfully grabbed the attention of hundreds of primary school teachers.

Facebook ad for Mathvember

Remember…

It’s important to keep the imagery and messaging consistent throughout the lead generation process from the ad to the landing page to the content, so your target audience is being exposed to core messages and visual creative, solidifying familiarity and trust in your brand.

Setting up an audience targeting teachers

Interest-based targeting

Facebook knows a lot about its users, including their location, job title, hobbies and interests. This offers you a valuable opportunity to fine-tune your audience so you can target people who are more likely to engage with your content.

If  you have created a persona of who you are trying to target, interest-based targeting is perfect for setting up an audience based on the persona’s demographics, behaviour and interests.

In the absence of a persona, you can target a broader audience like deputy head teachers (pictured).

You can also exclude interests that might not be relevant to your audience e.g. if you want to target Maths teachers, you can exclude other subject teachers like English teachers.

With an interests-based audience, the more you know about your target audience, the easier it will be to choose the demographics, interests and behaviour that is most closely aligned to who you are trying to engage with.

 

Facebook custom audiences

One of the most valuable tools for ad targeting is the ability to target people who have already engaged with your business before.

The custom audience option on Facebook ads enables you to target people who have visited your website, followed/liked your Facebook page and if you have one, engaged with your app.

What’s more, you can also create a lookalike of these audiences (see below) to find people who are similar to your custom audience, increasing the chances that they will engage with your ads.

There are two important caveats of using custom audiences:

 

A/B Testing

Once you’ve created and set up your content, landing page, ad and audiences, you are ready to launch your campaign.

While it would be great to launch the campaign and see great results from the offset, the likelihood is that you will need to test different elements of the campaign to find what is working and what is not.

A/B testing is a method of finding the most effective ad by changing one variable at a time, such as creative, audience, body copy or call to action. An example might be testing a picture of a report against an image of a student.

Sometimes it will be clear within the first few days of launch which ad is performing better so you can switch off the other one. Other times, you might want to keep the A/B testing running a bit longer to see a significant difference.

It’s very important with A/B testing that you only test one variable at a time. You can always test another variable once you’ve completed the first A/B test.

 

Retargeting and lookalikes

Once your ad campaign has been running for some time, you can set up a retargeting and/or lookalike campaign.

You may be familiar with retargeting if you’ve ever browsed an online shop and then gone on to Facebook to find an advert promoting the item you were looking at earlier.

With a Facebook pixel on the site, you can do exactly the same type of retargeting if someone goes to your landing page but doesn’t complete the download form. People who have already visited your website are much more likely to convert as our client PS Financials found when we introduced retargeting during their lead generation campaign.

A lookalike audience is another option to give your campaign a boost once you’ve reached 50 leads and above. This is a great feature in Facebook ads that allows you to create a lookalike of everyone that has engaged with your campaign.

If you have a Facebook pixel on your website, tracking everyone that visits the landing page and also who completes the sign-up process, you’ll have an opportunity to do a retargeting campaign.

______________________________________________________________________________

Thinking of launching a social media advertising campaign targeting school leaders and teachers? We can help. Please get in touch if you would like to find out how.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is finding out the exact phrases people use to search for services and products, find answers to questions or solutions to problems, using search engines.

Keyword research gives you a better understanding of your target market so you can then offer them helpful and relevant information in return.

This is useful in so many areas of content development for your education business, from website copy to articles, email campaigns, blogs, video content and social media posts.

Creating content that people are searching for also has a positive impact on your search rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.

But how can you find out what terms your target audience is using to search for the content they need?

1. Brainstorm your keyword list 

Start by listing all of the possible keywords and phrases potential customers are likely to put into Google. These will be your ‘seed’ keywords as they will help you find more relevant words and phrases.

Think about long-tail keywords too. These are phrases that are more specific than single words. They get less traffic, but they have a higher clickthrough rate because if someone is very specific about what they are searching for, it is more likely that they will click through to your site when they see your content.

Say you’re an education business that provides fun and engaging science lesson plans to schools. Your list might start with keywords like ‘science lesson plans’, ‘science teaching resources’, ‘science lessons for primary schools’ and you’d keep building on this list.

Then when it comes to long-tail keywords, you’d consider phrases like ‘how to make science lessons more interesting’ or ‘how to make science fun in the classroom’.

Once you’ve done some initial brainstorming, there are some tools that can help you expand and prioritise your list. We find Google Trends is a good place to start.

2. Use Google Trends for keyword research

a) Enter key terms into Google Trends to see levels of interest in specific search terms set out by region and date. This will also show you similar topics these same users have searched for. For example, when you type ‘science lesson plan’ into Google Trends, you can see that those who searched for this term also searched for ‘biological life cycle’ and ‘butterflies’. The tool can help you understand more about what teachers are looking for online and develop the right content for them.

b) Google Trends also lets you compare search wording to see what is the most searched for term. For instance, people have searched for ‘Biology lesson plan’ three times more often than for ‘Physics lesson plan’. Insight like this helps you to better focus your content according to what your target audience is searching for online.

c) You can also use your own Google search bar to check what other searches automatically come up. By typing in ‘science lesson’, you can see that the most popular searches are ‘science lessons online’, ‘science lessons for kids’ and ‘science lesson plan template’. This makes it easier for you to find out what your potential customers are searching for and give them the right content.

3. Expand your research

Take your research a step further by entering key search terms, like ‘science lesson plan’, into a free content insight tool like AnswerThePublic.

This will pull up more granular detail on the types of questions people are asking Google and give you more ideas on how to target them. The tool breaks up the data into questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabetical lists and other related searched-for topics.

For example, when you type ‘science lesson plan’ into the search bar in AnswerThePublic, you can see frequent searches like ‘science lesson plan with experiments’, and ‘science lesson plan with technology’. You can also see that the most searched for format is a pdf. See example results from AnswerThePublic here:

Science lesson plan results diagram from @answerthepublic

From a strategic perspective, you could also use an SEO analysis tool, like Ahrefs or Moz to check out your competitors and see what keywords they’re ranking highly in to help you build and define your own list. You may want to target the same keywords or look at building a list of less popular search terms that are still relevant to your business, where there is less competition.

All of these steps should help lead you to a strong keyword search list you’ll be able to use to plan and develop your content.

4. Decide on the best type of content

Once you have a targeted and comprehensive list of keywords, go through the list and think about the best types of content for each topic.

Taking our example of a science lesson provider and the research we have carried out, we might propose these four content ideas:

  • A video for teachers on how to make science engaging online
  • A series of science lesson plan pdfs with the top experiments to carry out in a science class
  • A blog post on how to prepare the ideal plan for a biology lesson

Once you’ve got a strong list of keywords that are right for your education business, you can be as creative as you like in using them to shape your content, developing blogs, videos, webinars or lesson plans.

5. Monitor progress with Google Search Console

Keep an eye on your keyword list and make a note to review it every quarter.

When you start to create content using your keywords, regularly monitoring engagement levels will help you to make adjustments where needed to keep you climbing the search rankings. This means more people will discover your content, visit your site and potentially convert into customers.

Google Search Console is useful for monitoring content posted on your website. You can use this tool to find out how often your site appears in Google search results and which pages have the highest, and lowest, click through rates from Google search results.

You can see how your search traffic changes over time too, where it’s coming from and what search queries are most likely to show your website. And you’ll get a clear idea of what keyword searches come from mobile devices so you can optimise specific content for people searching on their phones.

Being able to see which keywords and types of content are performing well will give you greater insight into the topics and formats your audience prefers on an ongoing basis.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get the attention of school leaders, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

 

Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

Four reasons why you need PR in 2021

Well, what a year 2020 was.

As we enter a third national lockdown with hopes of improvement by the spring, here are four reasons why 2021 is the year to invest in PR.

1. Because technology is a part of our lives like never before

Stuck at home during the pandemic, many of us are spending more of our lives online. We are using our devices for work, socialising, shopping, exercise and entertainment.

This may have changed how your business connects with customers.

You can no longer meet in person with teachers or carry out live demos of your products. So, many business leaders find themselves asking how to connect with their audience in an authentic way.

One way is to meet your audience where they are: online.

Using digital PR and communications, you can connect with current and prospective customers via your online channels.

You can find the right way to reach parents and teachers, whether it’s through online campaigns, virtual events, blogs or video testimonials.

2. To take advantage of a rise in social media and influencer culture 

If your business isn’t engaging effectively with customers on social media, then your business isn’t properly communicating with customers.

In the last year, all social media apps reported an increase in usage.

The likes of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which allow people to create, upload and share videos, have become increasingly popular. Last year, nine in 10 online adults, and almost all older children aged 8 to 15 years, used at least one of these websites and apps, and many watched videos several times a day.

Running integrated campaigns on social media is key to successful business communications.

Choose a theme that relates to your education product, create a key campaign message and be sure to track engagement. Make sure you use the right platform for your campaign and that it’s timely.

Consider partnering with a social media influencer who fits with your brand values and audience. They can help you reach your target audience, build trust, and increase engagement. This could be a blogger, journalist or podcaster. It could be a well-known teacher, edtech expert or education consultant.

Investing in social media will help you connect with current and prospective clients, boost awareness and increase leads.

3. So you can gain your audience’s trust 

Think about what your customers consider When deciding whether to buy your education product or service. Has this changed since the same time last year?

Recognise changes in your customers and their needs. Whether it’s spending power, ways of working, or challenges in education during the pandemic. And allay any fears or concerns.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 88% of us rate ‘trust’ as important or critical when it comes to deciding which brands to buy or use. Out of 8,000 people surveyed in 8 countries in October 2020, ‘trust’ was the third most important purchase criteria, with ‘price’ and ‘quality’ only slightly ahead, regardless of gender, nationality, age or income.

Personal experience matters the most when it comes to building trust. If your business can communicate with clients through friends, family, experts and reviews from trusted sources, then you’ve taken a step in the right direction in helping them to trust you and your business offering.

PR activities like product reviews, case studies, video testimonials and influencer campaigns can all help to strengthen trust among your target audience.

4. To help you manage a PR crisis

Last year was crisis, followed by crisis, followed by crisis.

The coronavirus outbreak, civil unrest and economic downturn.

An impeachment trial, a contested presidential election and a wave of international protests leading to a moment of reckoning on racism.

Not to mention natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods.

If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s to be as prepared as we can be for a crisis. A well-managed crisis can actually win your brand fans rather than lose them, so the third lockdown may be an opportunity to reflect on how you would manage a crisis.

PR crisis planning means having guidelines in place for an emergency or unexpected situation.

How is your company going to react if the lockdown lasts longer than expected? What will your company do if there was a breach of school data? Or if your education software that teachers rely on for online learning has technological issues?

Don’t get caught off guard.

Identify the risks to your education business, rank them in order of seriousness and put a plan in place for each one.

Your crisis plan should outline your response to stakeholders such as customers, employees and the media. It needs to include key messaging for all of your business platforms, including social media. And make sure your spokesperson is media trained.

Check out our ‘cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management here.

Get started

The best time to start planning your PR is now.

Don’t put it off for another day. Who knows what this year has in store!

If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch today on hello@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

Or have a read of our PR planning guide for some more top tips.

 

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS from Pexels

How to use PR to change teachers’ opinions

A successful PR campaign can totally change the way teachers think about your offering.

Whether that’s an IT system that helps manage school admin, an online game that diagnoses difficulties children have with reading, or STEM training courses for teachers.

Maybe teachers think your educational software is too expensive. Or it’s too difficult to implement in their classroom. Perhaps they simply don’t have the time to take part in a demo and bring in a change at a time when they’re busier than they have ever been.

So what do you need to do to change their opinions?

We’ve broken down one of our recent campaigns to give you some ideas.

1. Find out more about your target audience

The first step we always start with is to understand which teachers you are specifically trying to reach. Think carefully about who you want to influence, be that primary or secondary school teachers, SEN leads, teaching assistants, head teachers or subject leads.

And then ask yourself: how can you help them?

Let’s take the example of a campaign we worked on for Maths-Whizz, an award-winning online programme that raises the maths attainment of children aged 5-13. Not many teachers were aware of the difference it could make to children studying maths in their classrooms.

Our task was to let primary school teachers know about everything Maths-Whizz had to offer, and to get them talking about it. We wanted to encourage them to get in contact to find out how the product could help in their schools.

To get the attention of primary school teachers, whatever we did had to save them time – they simply would not engage otherwise. So, we came up with the plan to rebrand the month of November as ‘Mathvember’ and launch a month-long series of daily lesson ideas, social media challenges and competitions. These would provide primary school teachers with the tools and inspiration to ‘Make Maths Magical’ in their classrooms and encourage them to find out how Maths-Whizz can help them.

2. Put your Education PR plan in place

Once you have worked out exactly how to meet the needs of your target teachers, you can develop your plan. What can you do to let teachers know about your offering, or change the opinion they have of it?

You need an integrated campaign that combines the best of marketing and the best of PR. This involves creating great content, carrying out media and influencer relations and running social media advertising campaigns.

With Maths-Whizz, we engaged teachers in the daily lesson ideas, social media challenges and competitions we had developed via daily posts, social advertising and by getting key influencers on board. We also partnered with the influential teacher community, UKEdChat, which allowed us to tap into their 72,000 strong audience.

The month culminated in a webinar, which allowed the education experts at Whizz to demonstrate their obvious passion for generating ideas that help children enjoy maths. It gave the team an opportunity to talk about the Maths-Whizz product to an engaged audience too.

This integrated campaign gave us lots of opportunities to start a dialogue with teachers about how to ‘Make Maths Magical’ in the classroom and encouraged them to get in contact to find out more about Maths-Whizz.

3. Take stock

The outcome of an effective integrated campaign is raised awareness of your brand, as well as a change in opinion and behaviour of potential customers, making them more likely to buy your product.

The results of the Maths-Whizz campaign were impressive:

  • Web traffic rose by 53% year-on-year
  • 293 people viewed the webinar, which provided advice on how to ‘Make Maths Magical’ in the classroom as well as promoting the product
  • We earned support from key social media influencers such as @VicGoddard of Education Essex fame and @MartynReah. We also received coverage in TeachWire and Teach Primary. This resulted in a 2.8 million reach for the campaign
  • 1525 teachers signed up for the campaign and agreed to further marketing contact from Maths-Whizz

A change in teachers’ opinions can be seen in changes to their behaviour. For the Maths-Whizz campaign, teachers most certainly became more aware of the product and understood how much it could help in their schools. Then they went a step further and purchased the online programme.

We can see this from the huge uplift in sales:

  • Sales leads increased by 168% in the first month of the campaign and 244% in the following month

With this type of integrated campaign, you can engage with, and also help, the busiest of teachers. You never know, this may well shift their opinion, and interest, towards your brand.

To find out more about getting teachers to notice you, read our white paper, Influence Schools or have a look at our video and blog on how to get the attention of school leaders

 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

 

How to write a winning education award entry

Award entries are a great way to get recognition for your brand and your products.

Winning a gong for one of your products or services means potential customers have external confirmation that your offering is best of class.

Awards can lead to additional media coverage too, letting more people know about you and your products – not to mention the social media buzz that brings a welcome boost to SEO.

The downside is the entries themselves can sometimes take a long time to put together, so you only want to invest the time if you are certain you will get the recognition you deserve.

So what do you need to do to increase the likelihood of you winning the award you’re after?

Here are our tips:

  1. Choose something that deserves to win

Talk about stating the obvious, but it is likely that if you designed the product, you will think it is the best thing since sliced bread. However, if there are 10 other products on the market that do exactly the same thing, it is unlikely that yours will make the award judges sit up and take notice.

A well written award entry alone may get you into the shortlist for an award but it is genuinely the best products, or the most innovative services that actually win the accolades, so choose what you put forward wisely.

  1. Start off strong 

Think about it from a judge’s point of view. They may have 100 award entries to sift through in a day. If yours is number 89 in the pile, it will need to be pretty special to make them pay attention.

Your first couple of paragraphs will be key. Start with a strong quote, or illustrate what impact it has with an example. If it is a lesson planning tool for teachers, instead of stating that ‘it is the best lesson planning tool available’, why not start with something around how much time a lesson plan takes an average teacher to complete and why it is such an important job, to set the scene.

  1. Assume the judges know very little

It is easy to forget how much internal company jargon you use – a phrase you think is in everyday use in your company may be unfamiliar to a judge.

Spell out any benefits too. The judge may not automatically see that making a core process quicker for a teacher will mean that they can spend more time teaching or planning lessons, so make this link for them.

  1. Prove it 

Every time you make a claim, try to prove it. You saved schools or colleges money – great – but how much money? Use comparisons if possible – 90% of schools are satisfied with your product – fantastic – but even better if you can compare that to an industry average that is much lower.

  1. Get your customers to back you up 

It is one thing you saying that you are fabulous, but it is quite another if you can get a customer to do it. Ideally, quotes or case studies you use should be peppered with facts to back up any claims being made.

  1. Think about the language and examples you use

Use emotive language to demonstrate the importance of your offering – rather than stating ‘our system is reliable’, you could demonstrate it by saying that ‘1,000 teachers rely on our system to deliver engaging maths lessons on a weekly basis so it cannot fail.’

  1. The word count is there for a reason

The judges will not have time to read 10 brochures or watch a 20 minute video you have attached to the award entry. A personalised two minute video walk through recorded specifically for the judges will be far more effective than a professional advert you usually use in sales presentations. Select what you send carefully, and make sure it supports the claims you make in the award entry.

Good luck and if you need any help with your entry, just give us a call.

If you liked this, you may also like our guide to good PR Planning

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

How can a PR strategy help my edtech start-up?

It’s no surprise that start-ups offering remote working solutions, online learning tools and food delivery services are among the companies that have achieved considerable growth in 2020.

The current climate is bringing significant challenges to some education-focussed businesses, while others have thrived from adapting their offerings or bringing new products and services to market to meet the changing needs of schools, colleges and universities.

But short-term growth doesn’t guarantee long-term business success.

In 2019, there were 5.9 million small and medium sized businesses operating in the UK – but 11% of all businesses ceased trading that year according to government figures.

So, what can fledgling edtech businesses do to help them deliver sustainable growth?

How to help your edtech start-up business succeed

The challenge is that launching a successful new business is all-consuming. Your blood sweat and tears have gone into developing a product or service that you know will help solve the problems your prospective customers are struggling with. Naturally, you want to get your new offering out to market as soon as possible.

The temptation for many edtech start-ups at this point is to focus all efforts on selling to schools. An announcement might make its way on to the news page of your website or an ad could be placed in the print and online media your prospects read. There might even be a handful of social media posts created about the launch. This won’t get your business noticed by your target audience.

All too often, a more strategic plan to raise awareness of the new business or offering is put on the back burner to be picked up once the brand is more established.

However, putting a well-designed integrated PR and marketing plan in place from the start can make the difference between a new business that flies and one that is at risk of falling at the first hurdle.

Here are three tips from us to help your start-up or SME get great results from education PR.

  1. Get the messaging right

Let’s say your company has developed a new tracking tool to help schools monitor the impact of catch-up lessons on pupils’ achievement and your sales success relies on teachers knowing that it’s superior to other solutions on the market.

Launching a campaign designed to knock or discredit your competitors might bring short-term gains, but this approach will put you at risk of damaging your brand.

You will get much more positive and sustainable results from shaping a strategic plan of PR and marketing activity that incorporates language that resonates with your target audience, highlights your credentials as thought leaders in pupil assessment and showcases testimonials from customers that back up what you’re saying.

  1. Make the most of positive customer stories

You are much more likely to spark the attention of heads and teachers in schools by having other educators talk about how great you are in a radio interview or podcast boosted on Facebook than you will talking about what you do well yourself.

Customer advocacy has been shown to increase the effectiveness of marketing efforts by as much as 54% and word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind up to half of all purchasing decisions

Make sure you have a way to identify and capture the great stories and experiences of your existing customers as the business develops and grows. When 80% of word-of-mouth comes directly as a result of personal experience, you can see why positive customer stories are so critical to the successful promotion of any new product or service.

  1. Create great content

Don’t be tempted to blast your prospects with technical details of your product – few teachers will be interested in the fact that the new app you’ve launched to support children’s literacy development is built on API technology.

You are much more likely to turn your prospective customers into sales if you focus on creating quality content that adds value and helps them solve the problems they face.

It’s getting harder to reach senior leaders in schools and academy trusts. So, if your company provides CPD to primary schools, a series of blogs on how to support the wellbeing of under-fives is more likely to be read by your target audience of school leaders than a company newsletter. If they have found the content useful, they will be much more likely to contact your organisation when they need to arrange behaviour management training for teachers across the school.

Avoid peppering your digital content with too many keywords and phrases designed to influence your SEO too. Google is getting much smarter at spotting corporate generated promotional materials and this will have a negative impact on your SEO ranking, making it less likely that your content will be seen by the people you are trying to reach.

It’s better to choose a few strong keywords, rather than overdoing it.

Find more information on how we can help your start-up get the most from PR here.

If you want to know how to get your brand noticed by senior leaders in education, you can download our Influence Schools White Paper.

You may also be interested in our blog What marketing messages will teachers want to hear in September 2020/21

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What marketing messages will universities want to hear in 2020/21?

The coronavirus pandemic forced universities to make some rapid changes to the way they work, including closing their campuses, shifting to online teaching and finding alternative ways to assess their students’ learning.

These institutions now face a whole new set of pressures as they tackle the year ahead.

The logistics of keeping students safe, engaged and learning are only part of the story, and universities will welcome suppliers which can help them with these immediate challenges.

However, to survive and thrive, universities need to take the long view of their roles in a post-pandemic world, and they’ll be particularly receptive to messaging which reflects an understanding of the wider issues in higher education.

That’s why it’s important for businesses in higher education to know what the key trends are in the sector so they can hit the right note with their communications.

So what do you need to consider in your higher education PR planning?

  1. The blended learning model

Many universities were already providing some form of online learning offering prior to the pandemic, with lecture recordings, established virtual learning environments and high-quality multimedia content. But during lockdown, institutions had to shift everything online, with students joining tutorials on Zoom and taking open book exams at the kitchen table.

Now the emphasis is on blended learning with a mix of online and face-to-face delivery.

This appears to be the model most students are expecting as the academic year progresses. A National Union of Students survey found that almost half of students (47%) expected to be taught online in the first term of the coming academic year, but in term two 59% of students expected to be taught via blended learning.

The hybrid model may see students watching live-streamed or recorded lectures from home or within bubbles in their halls of residence, but attending smaller seminars, tutorials and laboratory sessions in person with physical distancing in place.

Universities will need support as they embed this blended learning approach more deeply into the curriculum, and if your solutions can help, it’s important to make this a core element of your messaging.

  1. A tough financial climate

Covid-19 is hitting higher education finances hard. With the pandemic touching every corner of the globe, and travel restrictions changing day by day, it’s harder for students to commit to overseas study. The impact of this is that institutions will be welcoming fewer international students this year.

Many universities are also facing lockdown-related losses of income from the reduced uptake of student accommodation and conference and catering operations.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies states that the total size of the losses faced by the sector is highly uncertain, but could be anywhere between £3 billion and £19 billion – that’s between 7.5% and nearly half of the sector’s overall income in one year.

This could leave some universities struggling to survive.

To be able to continue to deliver high quality education and research, institutions will have difficult financial decisions to make, and brands which understand these challenges and help to address them will be welcomed.

  1. A different student experience

Starting university in 2020/21 will be like never before, with virtual freshers’ weeks, restricted campus facilities and physically distanced social bubbles.

Confronted with this prospect, it’s hardly surprising many students considered deferring their university place for a year. Back in May, a poll by the Sutton Trust found that 19% of students had changed their mind about university attendance this autumn or had yet to decide.

However, the alternative may not be an option either, as the pandemic has put paid to some of the traditional gap year pursuits. Travel is largely off the cards, and jobs in hospitality or retail are hard to come by with so many experienced employees currently out of work and looking for roles.

In this uncertain climate, universities will need to find ways to make the student experience a positive one.

This is the message behind the Universities UK campaign #2020MADEUS which aims to give this year’s school leavers a message of confidence and hope as they continue with their plans to start university courses this autumn.

Institutions may be looking for additional resources to help students make the most of the social aspect of university, by helping students build new friendships despite the restrictions, and focusing on mental health and wellbeing.

Brands targeting the sector will hit the mark if they factor these messages into their PR planning.

  1. Covid-19 and student retention

One of key risks for universities in the wake of Covid-19 is a negative impact on student retention and progression.

Many of the 2020 cohort which universities will be welcoming this autumn have not been at school or college since March and may have missed out on some of the essential learning that would have given them a head start in their higher education studies.

And for the first time ever, students starting their university course will not have taken A levels or any other sixth form qualifications. Instead their grades are based on predicted grades.

This could mean more first year students losing confidence and struggling to get a foothold on their new course in those crucial early weeks and months.

Similarly, current students may find the lack of face-to-face interaction with lecturers and fellow students affects their academic performance.

A blog from the Higher Education Policy Institute suggests that, “With a prolonged absence from more traditional support, many students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are likely to experience a dent in confidence and disconnection from learning, despite the best intentions of universities. Some will leave their studies.”

Universities may be looking for tools and technology that can help them identify students in difficulty, so they can provide targeted support and prevent them from dropping out of their course.

It’s a pivotal moment for universities, and the steps they take now to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 will shape their future. Any PR plan needs to take account of opportunities for universities to focus on the positives as the world emerges from the crisis.

Campaigns and communications which demonstrate a deeper understanding of the new higher education landscape stand the highest chance of success in these extraordinary times.

 

To find out more, why not read our guide to good PR planning.

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What marketing messages will teachers want to hear in September 2020?

Over the summer holidays, many in the education sector use the relative quiet to plan their marketing and PR campaigns for the year ahead so they can hit the ground running come September.

But this year, things are a little more complicated than before.

Whereas previously, planning often involved updating your messaging to make it more relevant to current policies or trends, this year, a wholescale rethink may be required.

So much has altered in education, that what previously might have headed up the to do list for a teacher or school leader may no longer make it into the top 10 things they need to think about right now.

Covid-19 has changed everything. So what does that mean for your PR planning?

The more things change the more they stay the same

To develop a good PR or marketing campaign in any sector, you need to tap into your audience’s hopes and dreams. Or calm their worst nightmares. This has not changed. It’s just that you need to take a fresh look at what a teacher or school leader’s priorities are as they return to school in September 2020.

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to pull together some of the latest research to unpick what teachers will need help with this Autumn. If your organisation can genuinely demonstrate that you are responding to teachers’ current problems, your communications and campaigns will stand out above the rest.

What’s on teachers’ minds

So what are teachers thinking about at the moment?

  • Closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

The Education Endowment Foundation recently examined the existing research available on the impact of lockdown on the attainment gap. The conclusion was that the impact of lockdown would reverse any progress made in this area in the last decade, with estimates indicating the gap would widen by 38%.

No one will be more acutely aware of this than the head that knows how many children are in receipt of pupil premium in their school or the teacher who has struggled unsuccessfully to get a response from the parents of the child who has only submitted a couple of items of work for marking since lockdown began.

These children will be front and foremost in the minds of educators as September nears. Brands that are sympathetic to this challenge or that prove they can help reengage learners will fare better than those that can’t.

  • Developing and delivering a catch-up curriculum

Teachers will be facing the prospect of working out how much learning pupils have missed during lockdown, and the need for a catch-up curriculum could be causing some sleepless nights.

According to Teacher Tapp, the teacher survey app, some year groups and subjects have fared worse than others during the pandemic. 63% of Key Stage 2 teachers say they have only delivered half or less than half of the intended curriculum, and for Key Stage 1 and Early Years, the figure is 57%.

Helping children catch up on essential primary learning will be a priority.

For secondary schools, art, design and technology and PE teachers were most likely to say that pupils missed out on at least half of the curriculum they should have received. And only 11% of English teachers say they had delivered the entire curriculum during lockdown.

Schools will be looking for support during this catch-up phase, and if your business can help teachers focus on key learning priorities to make up for lost time, make sure that’s reflected in your messaging.

  • Pupil mental health

The emotional impact of living through Covid-19 cannot be underestimated, and schools will be concerned about their pupils’ state of mind at the start of term. Children may have felt the impact of strained household finances, family illness or bereavement.

Bright Minds carried out a survey of young people with a history of mental health difficulties which found that 80% of children agreed the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse, and 41% said it was much worse.

Younger children are also affected. Parents and carers of children aged between four and 10 years of age reported that over a one-month period in lockdown, they saw increases in their child’s emotional difficulties, according to a University of Oxford study.

With pupil wellbeing at the top of the agenda, schools may be adapting their timetable, staffing and classroom space to provide additional emotional support for individuals and small groups. Headteachers and SENCos may be keen to access resources which strengthen a school’s approach to pastoral care in the coming months, and they are likely to welcome brands which understand the importance of good mental health.

  • Teacher mental health

Teacher Tapp regularly measures the anxiety levels of educators. Following the announcement that schools should start planning to re-open for select primary school year groups from the start of June, 16% of state school teachers and 40% of headteachers reported feeling highly anxious.

September 2020 could see a similar pattern of anxiety levels among the teaching profession.

Teaching staff may be concerned about the extent of the work ahead of them in tackling learning losses, they could also be anxious about the safety of their work environment and the changes imposed on them by social distancing measures. Of course, many staff members are carrying the burden of family worries too.

Schools are likely to be focusing on teacher wellbeing by renewing policies and procedures and providing additional training for staff. Organisations which understand the challenges and can offer flexible CPD options could be well placed to help schools support their teams.

  • Maintaining safe distances while learning

Each new school year brings something of the unknown – there are new cohorts, colleagues and timetables to get used to. This year, there’s the added task of keeping everyone as safe as possible from Covid-19 infection – which is no small challenge.

Depending on the age of the children, teachers may find themselves reinforcing the social distancing message endlessly throughout the day, ensuring equipment is sanitised and teaching children in their bubbles.

Schools are expecting to welcome all children back in September, although this could change, of course, and the government advice is that “while coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the community, this means making judgments at a school level about how to balance minimising any risks from coronavirus by maximising control measures with providing a full educational experience for children and young people.”

This may involve rearranging classrooms, removing assembly from the school day and staggering start and finishing times. School suppliers should consider how their solutions can help schools as they go through this period of change.

It’s likely that school leaders and teachers will spend this summer planning for the unpredictable as nobody knows exactly what September has in store. But by tuning in to teachers’ thinking, education companies can ensure their messaging hits the mark.

The best PR and marketing campaigns will do what they’ve always done – understand teachers’ challenges and find ways to help.

 

To find out more about planning your education PR campaign, you might like to read our PR Planning blog. 

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