Happy Catholic Schools “Week” 2024!

And yes, this article is directed specifically to Catholic schools.

Back in 2007, I published “Celebrate Catholic Schools” as the Marketing Matter for Catholic Schools Week.

Sadly, I didn’t follow one of the primary tenets of marketing – repetition.  And continued repetition, even when you think the message has been received.

In a nutshell, my theory was that our society’s propensity for headline news, soundbites, and double entendre has turned what was supposed to be a positive event – Catholic Schools Week – into a mindset that may have led to a decline in school enrollment, since the phrase sounds the same as “Catholic Schools Weak.”

After publishing the article, and hearing some buzz for about a year or so that things were indeed going to change, I stopped talking about it, waiting for the announcement of the theme for 2009.

When I found it was “Celebrate Service,” but still had the words “Catholic Schools Week” associated with it, I realized that I the message hadn’t been fully received and understood.

Fifteen years later, we now “Celebrate Catholic Schools Week,” and, as usual, many of the Catholic schools that have planned some great events for this week will have them cancelled due to the usual sub-zero weather that always returns at this time of the year.

So if your school is closed or delayed at any point this week due to weather, take this time to do some reflection and evaluation.  Instead of “celebrating,” are you:

  • Contacting parents to get their commitment to return next year?
  • Talking to parents – face to face – that aren’t in your school and asking them to “come and see?”
  • Visiting your school’s supporting parishes and talking with potential parents – information nights, pulpit talks, at new member breakfast gatherings, or as they’re exiting Mass?
  • Having open houses EVERY WEEK – rather than once or twice a year?
  • Inviting parents of pre-schoolers to participate in the life of the school as part of the school community by encouraging their participation at PTG meetings and activities?
  • Asking current parents to be ambassadors of your school to the greater community since parents talk to parents?
  • Asking students to invite their friends (that aren’t enrolled in your school) to an “Invite Your Friend to School Day”  since kids talk to kids?

So what’s next?

Let’s take a cue from the NCEA and really start referring to it as CSW, as CELEBRATE #CSW2024 is the headline for the event on the NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) Web site.  After all, our society has KFC, DSW, IHOP, MTV and IBM in the marketplace, and we use KPI, ROI, SEO, CMS and WOM in business, and the letters have replaced the word as the brand.

But wouldn’t it be great to “Celebrate Catholic Schools Month”?  Most every other celebration that started out as a “week” event (like Black History and Hispanic Heritage) are now “Month” celebrations.  After all, it’s held in January to honor St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose feast day we celebrate on January 4th.  Celebrations could be scheduled at different times during the month, rather than cramming all the activities into one week.  It also gives the opportunity to reschedule if winter weather conditions cancel event.

In any event, let this week be a starting point to your commitment to redouble your marketing efforts, and keep on marketing, even after you think the message has been received and understood, constantly celebrating YOUR school!  Making the connections among your parents, parishes that support your school, and the community on an ongoing basis for the entire year strengthens your school’s image as an asset to the community more than any week-long campaign will.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2024 (Original Publication Date: 20090126)