4 events that can damage a school’s brand reputation

From the smallest nursery to the largest multi-academy trust, every type of education institution has the potential to face a serious reputational threat – often when they least expect it. Here are the most common types of PR crisis schools can face – and a few tips on avoiding them!

1. A viral complaint

It only takes one online complaint to go viral; even if you’re not really at fault, the damage from this kind of negative publicity can be significant. Many schools think it won’t happen to them, but we’ve seen several instances where a disgruntled parent – or sometimes even a student – has made accusations about a school, and it’s spread like wildfire. That’s why it’s always important to be proactive in responding to complaints, and to communicate with the whole school community openly and transparently.

2. A school data breach

This should be a pretty big concern for most schools, particularly in the age of GDPR. A rogue virus, a piece of ransomware, a hacking scandal or anything that compromises the data you hold on your pupils, staff and parents could quickly lead to a full-blown PR crisis. Water-tight software systems, a robust data policy and an IT risk management plan are essential; as is making sure your staff don’t open suspicious-looking emails.

3. Pupil injury

Needless to say, if a pupil gets injured in school grounds – particularly if it was due to school equipment, food poisoning or anything of that ilk – that can be very difficult to recover from, both for the pupil and the school as a brand. In situations like these, schools should take every measure to prevent further injuries, apologise to (and fully support) any injured parties and clearly outline how they’ll ensure it doesn’t happen again.

4. Internal or staff incident

Any issue concerning your staff, from unethical behaviour to an offensive comment on their personal social media accounts, could become a problem. Arguments with pupils, inappropriate behaviour, very poor teaching standards or even personal scandals can quickly make their way into the press. Your staff represent your brand – and incidents like these can have a highly detrimental impact on your reputation. It sounds obvious, but regular staff training, a clear protocol and strong social media guidelines which are frequently reinforced are crucial.

Our PR partners Venti Comms, has over a decade of experience in helping schools and education institutions to effectively manage their brand reputation; they can advise and support you through any event that could negatively impact your school, help you build a plan for all eventualities and work with you to develop strategies that will help safeguard your reputation in the long-term.

Did you know that we run a series of brand management webinars for Education?
To find out more, get in touch today.