Published - Wednesday, April 20, 2016
We know that putting together content for a prospectus or website can be a daunting task. We've put together some thoughts and tips on what to consider when sitting down to write new copy for your new prospectus.
Consider your audience
It might seem obvious but it's easy to fall into the trap of writing content that is focused on what your leadership team think is important rather than considering what parents focus on when considering a new school. By spending time to put yourself in the shoes of a new parent you may find that you consider a different tone or sequence for your copy that better engages with your reader. Bear in mind that the student will likely read the prospectus also so you may want to include them in certain sections, or add a pull out section that is just for them. It could include things that put them at ease such as site plans and tips from previous students.
Don’t get bogged down writing too much. More succinct articles that get straight to the heart of the topic will get read. Every school has a lot of information that will be better to display on your website, which your prospectus can point to (PDF versions can have links embedded) for parents who want a lot more detail. This approach allows your prospectus itself to remain focused on presenting your school’s achievements, identity and opportunities with maximum impact.
Every school has a wealth of stories, feedback and achievements to draw from. These are often overlooked when writing content for a prospectus, but if you take the time to gather them they will add life to your pages. Think about getting quotes from satisfied parents, feedback from students who have taken part in trips and of course, pull out the best snippets from your Ofsted reports. Whether just a sentence or run to a few hundred words they can add credibility to your main text as well as being great ways to break up a page layout. They are also unique to your school so you should be presenting them as part of your identity.
It can often be helpful to back your text up with known statistics. Spend some time thinking about what you can present and how it could back up your claims. Taking statistics from Parent View, RAISE online or any other report will allow it to be presented in your prospectus, sometimes as an informative infographic that supports your main text. A great win for the visual learners who may be weighing up your school.
Although input from others will be essential, the main copy text should be planned and written by one person to avoid the reader switching from one style to another as they turn the page. Whilst getting content written by different members of staff is perfect for newsletters or similar publications where diversity is part of the brief, it will not give the best reader experience on a whole school marketing piece such as your prospectus. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one person needs to write everything. Getting someone to write your call outs, quotes or student stories and a different person to write the main content can add depth to the overall piece when the two writing styles compliment each other.
When people read a printed page they will often do an initial ‘sweep’ to assess what is relevant or interesting. Think about using concise and leading titles to pique your reader’s interest. For longer articles, it pays to write a short headline sentence or paragraph (often referred to as stand-outs) that acts as a mini blurb. The benefit of layering your content in this way is that it caters for readers of all levels, and with the strategic use of page titles, subtitles and stand out paragraphs your readers will pick up a sense of your school from the most cursory glance.
Your prospectus will have a much greater impact if the images you select are telling the same story as the text that you have written. If you want to stand out then there is nothing better than commissioning a professional photographer and giving them a brief to capture high-quality images that reflect your school’s teaching and learning. If you are doing this don’t forget to ask for images of student/teacher interaction and natural candid shots of students engaged in learning as these are often the most compelling and best match what you are writing about. Top tip: you will also save money on design fees if you have a clear brief and good images and a sense of how you want your content to flow.