The Scots College

The Scots College is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected independent day and boarding schools for Transition to Year 12 boys.

The Problem

The Scots College needed to optimise its marketing communications. The visual identity was inconsistent and the brand confused.

In 2007 imageseven began working closely with the College on a project-only basis, which suited the College’s immediate requirements. But as the scope of the work changed to require more strategic input, imageseven identified some problems with the project-only approach. The most significant being limited opportunity for imageseven to be proactive, pre-emptive and strategic across the College’s entire marketing communications program.

Dr Ian PM Lambert, The Scots College Principal reflects on some of the factors that were the catalyst for reviewing the structure.

“We had acknowledged in our school environment that we didn’t necessarily have the breadth of skill, experience or insight that is required to manage communications and marketing in a total management framework. And therefore drawing upon a company like imageseven that has those broad skills in a partnership structure has been a much more effective and cost efficient way of doing it,” said Dr Lambert.

Listen to The Scots College Principal, Dr Ian PM Lambert

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The Solution

In January 2011 The Scots College and imageseven embarked on a new partnership – the first of its kind in Australian education. The imageseven team transferred skills and techniques refined in the commercial sector and changed the school marketing paradigm. Some would call it outsourcing, but we call it co-sourcing because it reflects the special relationship. The partnership became the Communication Support Program and is now available exclusively to imageseven clients.

Team members from imageseven were embedded at the College in Sydney, over 3,300 kilometres from their head office in Perth. Between the two offices, imageseven services all of Scots’ internal and external communications, from parent emails through to media relations, events and publications.

The imageseven Communication Support Program is a marketing communications (marcom) support partnership that goes beyond a regular agency relationship. Instead, the Communication Support Program offers The Scots College a complete co-sourced marketing department where its marcom activity is coordinated under the one roof, has the capacity and skills to meet any challenge and is consistently of a quality that upholds the integrity and values of the College.

“We have gone right back to basics and looked at taking a very old institution, a school, and tried to rebuild its story and its focus into the future. And I think the detail involved in that has been significant,” said Dr Lambert.

“Understanding the overarching communication needs of the College, understanding the types of parents and community members who need to connect with us has been important as well. imageseven has managed all those steps and processes, been very careful and deliberate in its approach and undertaken all execution on our behalf in a very professional manner.

“The team is very friendly, professional, on time and willing to be flexible to work to deadlines. In many respects that has been critical to know that you have a team behind you that can deliver whatever you need whenever you need it. And that’s been essential for us in this stage where we’ve repositioned and rebuilt our own brand.”

The outcome

The College has grown in reputation locally and internationally. The College is at capacity and now has confirmed enrolment waiting lists more than 600 deep. Most importantly, teachers, parents, students and the community all know that ‘Scots boys grow into fine men’.

Embedding an external organisation within a school as large as The Scots College during a period of change had the potential to create tension and anxiety within the school community. Dr Lambert reflects on how this has been managed …

“imageseven has been very unified in its approach, very accessible and very willing to get involved in our organisation and become part of us. And I think that sense of almost collegial loyalty has been very significant, particularly in an environment where we were looking to make changes.

“In the early days of working with another company you hope they will understand you in the same way you understand yourself. There have been times where we’ve been asked to challenge our way of thinking. If we haven’t felt comfortable, imageseven has been responsive in terms of a willingness to ask questions to clarify their position – why they made those choices – but also very flexible in terms of delivering what we would ultimately like to see delivered. And we’ve found the relationship to be very non-confrontational and professional.

“A school is a complex organisation – you have lots of different departments and sections – so we’ve had a number of professional presentations from imageseven staff to our team. We’ve had one-on-one meetings, we’ve had small group meetings in order to both document and deliver and train people in communication strategy and understand the needs of our college and the importance of brand. So I think imageseven has been excellent for us in that regard.”

“We have gone right back to basics and looked at taking a very old institution and trying to rebuild its story and focus into the future. It has been very carefully approached and executed in a very professional manner.”