Last fall, Finalsite's Director of Client Success Tim McDonough spoke with Liza Fisher Norman and Rob Norman of InspirED School Marketers for a two part podcast about their second annual Brilliance Awards and why schools are encouraged to submit their creative work. According to InspirED School Marketers, the Brilliance Awards highlight the creative, professional, distinctive, and results-driven work from many MarCom school professionals. A group of judges with a background in school MarCom spend time reviewing all the submissions to narrow down the best of the best.
The winners were recently announced, with a total of 77 winners from 35 schools and 13 businesses. There were even 18 multiple winners. We were thrilled to see so many Finalsite schools win under various categories including Enrollment, Fundraising, Website, Writing, Graphic Identity, Magazine and Inbound Marketing. Here's who made the list in these respective categories:
Germantown Friends School won the Silver award under the Enrollment Package category. One of the judges commented on the package saying, "The material is so authentic to their Quaker values, embracing of simplicity, and commitment to the environment. The high density of photography over text is the perfect balance for a day school, whose primary goal is to get a family to campus, not provide soup to nuts content."
Riverdale Country School won the Silver award under the Enrollment Video category. One of the judges commented on the video saying, "What sets this movie apart from others is Amanda's story is told through her own words by 100% example. The messaging isn't boldly stated, as it comes out through the story she tells. We literally see her grow up, as the beautifully lit interviews were shot several years apart. It leaves the viewer wanting to know more about Riverdale. A fresh and thoughtful approach to storytelling."
You can watch the video here.
Community School won the Silver award under the Annual Fund Appeal Video category. One of the judges commented on the video saying, "The segments in this video gave a real sense of the inspiring and positive experience the students get from attending the school in a magnificent location. I like the use of a student narrator and her taking part in various school activitIes. I also like the step-by-step 'to do' list she gives at the end for the donors and the pace between her narration and video footage. There were nice breaks to allow the viewer to really take in what was being shown."
You can watch the video here.
Berkshire School collaborated with NCSDO on this publication, winning the Gold award under the Printed Capital Campaign Publication category. One of the judges commented on the publication saying, "I love the originality in the campaign theme here and how that carries through in the copy and photography. The piece does a very good job of clearly outlining the need for support in a way that's easy to understand. The stories about alums were short, thoughtful and to the point, making a clear connection to the need for funds, which seems like a rarity."
Two Finalsite schools placed under the Capital Campaign Video category:
Marin Country Day School collaborated with Cognizant Films on their campaign video, winning the Silver award in the category. One of the judges commented on the video saying, "Beautiful images, and a great message that both addresses a problem and your place in solving it. The transition from city chaos to your serene campus was very effective. The balance of emphasizing the physical improvements along with the inspirations transformations that happen on campus was perfect. Well done."
Rowland Hall School's campaign video won the Bronze award in the category. One of the judges commented on the video saying, "This video makes a great case for new Rowland Hall Middle School facility. I really appreciated that the faculty and leadership are appreciative of what they have now, but are inspiring as they describe how teaching and learning can be enhanced and what they imagine more flexible spaces can bring. The videography keeps this moving with a mix of speeds and animation. Overall, it presents a very compelling and exciting case for a new building."
You can watch the video here.
Westover School won the Bronze award under the Fundraising Web Page category for their Alumnae #LoveWestover page. One of the judges commented on the page saying, "Great idea! Loved the uniqueness of this campaign — especially to help with excitement during February and capitalize off of Valentine's Day."
We were very impressed to see all the winners under the Printed Report of Gifts/Annual Report category were Finalsite schools:
The Winsor School won the Gold award under the category for their Promise Final Campaign Report. One of the judges commented on the report saying, "As a campaign donor recognition piece, this one delivers. Crisp colorful photos show students in the new spaces funded through the campaign. Most of the text is quotes from donors and friends of the school - every single one is articulate and inspiring. The requisite list of donor names is punctuated by photos and quotes from donors — very meaningful."
Chadwick School won the Silver award under the category for their Annual Report. One of the judges commented on the report saying, "Creatively mixes compelling stories and photos with lists of donors — breaking up the lists graphically with inspiring content. Both a development report and a state-of-the-school report in a clean, vibrant delivery."
Harford Day School collaborated with IM Design on their Annual Report, winning the Bronze award under the category. One of the judges commented on the report saying, "Incredibly sleek and sophisticated design shows that this preK-8 school is game on. Clever layout of alumni vignettes juxtaposed with their old class photo is fun and engages the reader. Even something about a list of names in small caps is more elegant than the usual list. Excellent donor recognition AND marketing piece."
The Homepage, Outsourced category was another one with three Finalsite schools placing in the top three categories:
Community School won the Gold award under the category for their gorgeous homepage. One of the judges commented on the homepage saying, "Fantastic job visually showing the culture of the school. Immediately through the opening video, you get a sense of what this school is all about, what matters, and the opportunities available to your children without ever having to make a click. Clean, simple, visually stimulating.
Germantown Friends School and Georgetown Visitation both tied for Bronze under the category. One of the judges commented on Germantown Friends School's homepage saying, "Really liked the graphic design, typography, and overall feel of the site. It had a very unique vibe out of all of our entries. I especially liked the typography and the ease of reading on the screen. I also really liked the little details that were throughout the site...slight icon animations on the values page, the way you presented the campus, and the journalistic 'Faces of GFS.' Well done!"
Another judge commented on Georgetown Visitation homepage saying, "The rotating videos with the pop-up bookmarks are a fun touch to the home page. I especially love the vibrant footer, a page element that is often overlooked. Lots of great content, organized in nice sections. Solid collection of news, vital when it's a feature of the homepage. Overall, an engaging page."
Another category with more than one Finalsite school winner was the Single Web Page or Microsite Homepage category:
Taft School won the Gold award for their engaging Arts microsite. One of the judges commented on the microsite saying, "The opening page felt artistic as I scrolled through the disciplines of the department. Each click revealed the depth of their program on more traditional pages, but the artistic sensibility permeated throughout the site."
Stuart Country Day School won the Bronze award for their #LeadLikeAGirl conference page. One of the judges commented on the page saying, "Stuart's 'Lead Like a Girl' conference page has a beautiful, colorful header that makes the viewer want to continue reading, and the black and white photography for the keynote speakers felt iconic. The layouts were clean and crisp."
Germantown Friends School won the Bronze award under the Magazine Feature Article category for this feature. One of the judges commented on the feature saying, "In a category with strong entries, Germantown Friends' article stands out because it is topical, creative and exceptionally well executed. With lively prose, the piece positions GF as a compassionate, intentional and vibrant community that alums would take pride in and prospective families would find deeply compelling. It puts the audience's needs first, and for that reason, I found it to be the strongest piece in a collection of polished submissions."
The Elevator Speech category saw two more Finalsite winners:
Saint James School collaborated with NCSDO, winning Gold for the category for their speech. One of the judges commented on the speech saying, "With its emphasis at the end on the challenges presented by today's political and social climate, the Saint James School's elevator pitch possesses an important sense of timeliness. It puts the onus on the students to take advantage of the support systems the school has in place and the opportunities it has to offer, and challenges them to make something of themselves —and make a difference in the world."
Notre Dame High School won Bronze in the category for their inclusive brand story. One of the judges commented on the story saying, "Strong sense of flow through the passage and good use of rhetoric."
Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr won the Bronze award under the School Logo category. One of the judges commented on the logo saying, "Simplicity goes a long way here. Clean, readable, and honors the past while refreshing the look and feel of the new mark. Would translate well in multiple applications, sizes, etc."
Berkshire School collaborated with NCSDO for their capital campaign logo winning the Silver award in the category. One of the judges commented on the logo saying, "Love the name of the campaign - so many wonderful ways that communicates what the campaign is about."
We saw two Finalsite school's place in the Mascot Illustration category as well:
Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart won the Silver award under the category. Judges commented on the logo saying it had a "very modern feel" and was a "bold crisp design."
Spartanburg Day School collaborated with Cheney & Company, winning the Bronze award under the category. One of the judges commented on the design saying, "I love the new griffin. It feels very refreshed, simple, and modern while maintaining the integrity of the school's mascot."
Westtown School won the Bronze award under the Printed Magazine category for this edition of The Westonian Magazine. One of the judges commented on the magazine saying, "This magazine deserves an award for its excellent content and graphic design, nice tip of the hat to facilities and grounds crew and a major piece on sustainability. Inclusion of the annual donor report and impact numbers was handled skillfully and saves a bundle on postage. Again, we found photography to be exceptional."
Rowland Hall won the Silver award under the Digital Magazine category for their school magazine Fine Print. One of the judges commented on the magazine saying, "So much terrific content here and it's well organized. The reader can find it easily. Wonderful photography, well written. Great job!"
The Magazine Cover Design category was led by two more Finalsite schools:
Ravenscroft School collaborated with M Creative to win both the Gold and Bronze awards for their magazine cover designs. One of the judges commented on one of the cover designs saying, "Creative in typography, design, content and beautifully executed. The use of the illustrated message succeeds in effectively communicating the report's message, conveying its goals and achievements."
Westtown School won the Silver award for their magazine cover for The Westonian Magazine. One of the judges commented on one of the cover design saying, "Stunning visual that clearly represents the story. Beautiful photography and artistic rendering that brings to life 'Global Education at Westtown.' Perfect choice of the clean, sans font used that doesn't interfere with the complexity of the surrounding image."
We were excited to see two more Finalsite schools win under the Hashtag Campaign category:
Stuart Country Day School won the Gold award under the category for their #LeadLikeAGirl campaign. One of the judges commented on the hashtag campaign saying, "This hashtag is memorable, focused, brand-related and used consistently across platforms to illustrate the mission of this all-girls school and their commitment to innovation and empowerment of girls."
Choate Rosemary Hall won the Silver award for their well-known branded hashtags found on their Live@Choate page. One of the judges commented on this strategic marketing effort saying, "Brilliantly implemented across multiple School social media handles (@ChoateAthletics, @ChoateAlumni, @ChoateAdmissions, etc.) as well as social media platforms (Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook). The hashtag #GoChoate is artfully constructed to serve the following goals: 1) Admissions: Prompting prospective students to choose Choate over other schools they're applying to. 2) Athletics: Using various content types to showcase the athletic program and school spirit online. 3) Alumni: This is something I have only seen done well at universities. Encouraging alumni to participate in something as simple as one social media post will help graduates feel more connected & become the School's best marketers."
Detroit Country Day School won the Silver award under the Single Blog Post category for their No More "Hot Tips" post. One of the judges commented on the blog post saying, "Around the time this blog was published, teachers were repurposing their use of positive language in the classroom. Ex: 'Good Job' to 'I like how you used a descriptive word in your sentence.' Your blog post was relevant to the trends in education. This was the first time I read anything about instructional language on the sports fields.
Rowland Hall won the Silver award under the Holiday Video category. One of the judges commented on the video saying, "This was truly a beautiful performance. It conjured warm holiday feelings, showcased talented students and was technically well done with great sound and photography. Great job!"
You can watch the video here.
Stuart Country Day School won the Gold award under the Out-of-the-box Concept category with their well-known #LEADLIKEAGIRL campaign. One of the judges commented on the campaign saying, "Stuart Country Day School has done an amazing job, from top to bottom, integrating their theme, messages and visuals into a comprehensive marketing campaign to support their primary brand awareness conference. Supported by branding, signage, conference microsite, conference app as well as extensive press and social media campaigns, Stuart Country Day School receives [an award] for their creativity and continuity of message, as well as the depth and thoroughness of their marketing campaign."
Woodlands Christian Academy won the Bronze award under the Out-of-the-box Concept category with this awesome project. One of the judges commented on the concept saying, "This entry was literally out-of-the-box and and a very complete package! Very, very impressive is the nature in which this innovative Google Cardboard [box] was used to make an emotional and informative connection for donors to a major campaign through an "experience." This marketing concept gets and A+ on all fronts; creativity, effectiveness and impact, graphic, copy and messaging, photography and overall appeal! Brilliant, indeed."
Wow, so how many awards was that?
The results? Twenty-three Finalsite schools who are undeniably brilliant! We received thirty-two total awards with many schools receiving more than one award under various categories. According to Liza Fisher Norman, Master Electrician at InspirEd School Marketers, "Private school marketing may be a small niche, but these winners had big ideas executed with creativity and aplomb. We congratulate the many Finalsite schools, Finalsite itself, and all of the 2017 winners. You are brilliant!"
It's never too late to take your school's marketing and communication strategies to the next level. Whether it's taking another look at your school's content marketing, finding a little more inspiration from other schools using it for success, and seeing how you can bring everything together on the Finalsite platform, Finalsite assures our schools have the tools necessary to be brilliant.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.