I have a degree in Advertising from Michigan State, and I enjoyed working in that field for many years.
"Nothing happens until somebody sells something," was a quote often repeated by my old boss at the Detroit News, where I worked in automotive advertising fresh out of college. Products must be bought to market and sold. Profits must be made. More products must be developed, and sold. Advertising and PR generated interest and good will in the marketplace. Advertising dollars represented money well-spent to stimulate sales.
Where does paid advertising fit into public education?
Michigan has 550 local school districts. Should our state have 550 public school marketing departments?
Over the past decade, it seems that some school districts are employing PR directors and marketing/advertising staffs. We see billboards for school districts (and universities). We see paid ads in local publications and on the Patch. "Come to our schools!" "Be what you want to be." Why do we need to do this? Why do we need to PAY to say these things?
Some districts are "borderless." They take non-resident students. They pay to advertise to non-residents, to bring in more kids.
Bloomfield Hills is not borderless. So why do we advertise?
Seems to me that if a local public school district does a good job educating, the resident families will enroll their children. Why wouldn't they?
Public schools tend to be located in and near residential subdivisions, and often provide bus transportation at no cost to users. Convenient.
Public education has a huge advantage over private: It's FREE.
(Well, pretty much. Some districts charge a fee for participation in sports, clubs and activities. Some might ask students to take part in fundraising, or to purchase a uniform, equipment or instrument. )
But, the education part is FREE. The math, science, etc. Free. Generous property owners cover the cost.
Seems like that would be a pretty easy thing to "sell."
In a perfect world, public school districts would not need to employ adults to create "spin" or "sizzle," to tempt the public to bring their children to local public schools. In a perfect world, public education would be not only reputable, but outstanding, so that that families would be perfectly happy to have their children educated in public schools. Especially in well-funded districts like ours.
An excellent education, promised and delivered; high national rankings, well-prepared successful graduates, would suffice to draw enrollment. I think that would work far better than "spin." Spin can work against an organization....people are not so easily "spun." Often they resent it.
Here in Bloomfield Hills, where residents and property owners pay premium local school taxes, we do not want to see advertising directed to attract non-resident students. We want to operate a district with geographic boundaries, so that our superior funding is spent to educate our own resident students.
Many families may want to include a religious or cultural element to their child's daily or weekly schedule, and I'm sure that can be arranged on a private basis, outside of school.