How to address the need for community

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We are living through an historic time. A global pandemic has ravaged our populations and, by way of perspective in the United States, killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War.

While the physical effects have been significant, the economic impacts have also been felt across the globe. If that wasn’t enough, the social, emotional and psychological effects of COVID-19 are immense. Depending on where you are in the world, the anxiety, isolation and fear of the unknown have and will continue to be felt for years, and maybe even decades, to come.

We truly are living through an historic time, but not all effects of the global pandemic are bad.

Speaking anecdotally in light of conversations with friends and family, there has been a renewed focus on family and self. Because we have been mandated to observe various quarantine levels, we stayed at home and spent time with those closest to us. Our incredibly hectic lives were stopped in a moment, and we were allowed space to smell the proverbial roses or, in my case, the sourdough bread that I began baking as a result of being home all the time.

We had more meaningful time together as a family; we ate better home-cooked meals and spent time thinking about and focusing on our individual and collective fitness.

Through dealing with COVID-19, I’m reminded of an elementary and essential need for human beings. There is a need to be part of a community … and not just be part of that community, but to also be engaged in that community.

As school Head, you are responsible for many different communities at your school. Today, I’d like to focus on your community of people responsible for communication and marketing (marcom), because I believe that their community at your school is lacking.

The marcom professional in a school environment is, to be honest, a pretty recent creation. A few decades ago, ‘marketing’ was a bad word to use in schools. The activity of marketing at a school somehow seemed nefarious or discordant, because “the communications at our school are good enough.” Why and how this shift happened is the topic of another article, but the importance of this work has never been greater.

The issue is that the marcom professional(s) at your school does not have a community of their own, and that need for community is the reason I started The MarCom Society. I did not start The MarCom Society as a result of COVID-19 — it launched in February of 2020 — but the global pandemic has served to intensify and reinforce the need for marcom professionals to have a community they can call their own.

The MarCom Society was created expressly so that marcom professionals in schools can have that community. The community I refer to is aligned with the second definition of community from Lexico.com: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” The MarCom Society is designed to train, support, educate and be a place where marcom professionals in schools can feel like part of a greater whole.

Please know that this lack of community is not your fault! However, there is something you can do about it. My suggestion is to encourage the marcom professional(s) at your school to join an external community to find the support, training and fellowship they will need to succeed in their work on both a personal and professional level. It does not have to be The MarCom Society, but it should be a place where marcom professionals are welcome and made to feel like the stars that they are. Their work, particularly as a result of COVID-19, will only become more necessary and more important. Having a place where they feel supported is no longer an optional extra … it is now a requirement.

Click here for The MarCom Society membership offer for SMJ readers.

 

Brendan Schneider is the Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania USA, and a leader in the field of inbound marketing for schools. He is also the Founder of SchneiderB Media, a digital marketing agency specialising in helping schools use inbound marketing. 
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SMJ Brendan Schneider

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