Hidden branding opportunity: Alumni

We’re written in this space before about the key role that alumni can play as ongoing volunteers and unofficial cheerleaders for the district, if you approach them while their graduation tassel is still – at least emotionally speaking, if not literally – hanging around their rearview mirror.

But, as their interest fades and their lives become busy with their own families, the branding opportunities remain – albeit at more of a physical distance. After all, while their enthusiasm may be taking hold elsewhere, chances are good that they would still speak with pride about their school and your district if part of your branding effort was directed at them. And, the right word from a proud alum can pay big dividends.

What this means for you is thinking beyond Homecoming weekend each year.

For example:

  • Learn from the popularity of such websites as classmates.com (where the memories are always fond, if not completely accurate…), and dedicate space on your own website for alumni updates, segregated by graduating class year. Have part of that space be a blog, where you post district and individual school updates.
  • Create a quarterly e-newsletter for parents of alumni, and ask them to feed stories of their sons’ and daughters’ accomplishments to the district for publication. (If you do this right, you’ll probably need to do it more than quarterly after a while!)
  • Ask alumni to take a leadership role on committees, to be honorary captains of the football team, to write a story for the school newspaper, and any other way you can think of to link their past to your present. And, always lead their biography (or verbal introduction) with their status as an alum and the year they graduated.

 

If you make the opportunities for interaction meaningful, fun, and varied, you send the brand message that heritage and tradition are values that matter to your school district.