Campaign addresses public school enrollment amidst nationwide decline

The Raleigh News & Observer headline said it all: “Public school enrollment is down in N.C. as alternatives grow during COVID-19 pandemic.

Public school enrollment declines became a nationwide issue in 2020 as districts and education reporters scrambled to understand the trends and determine what to do next. This was one of many articles focusing on the topic as we emerged from the days of fully virtual learning — and one of many that mentioned Guilford County Schools by name. As the third largest public school system in the state, eyes were on GCS to see if they could recover from their decrease. At the time, Tigermoth was already engaged with GCS to address this exact issue. 

We saw the headlines and the data. We knew what we were up against. And in the months leading up to the first day of the 2021-22 school year, we planned and executed a multi-channel enrollment campaign focusing on reaching parents and caregivers where they already were and targeting key audiences, like families with rising kindergarteners and those opting for home school or charter schools. 

Here’s a snapshot of how we approached the challenge: 

  • Developed a messaging guide and tactics informed by market research, national reporting, district data and culture, and campaign goals — these served as our guide for what to do and how to talk about it.
  • Created a designated enrollment landing page within the district’s website as a launching point for the rest of the campaign.
  • Produced enrollment-specific content for multiple GCS channels, including an enrollment video, graphics, photography, social media and web copy, fliers and emails. 
  • Planned and executed a paid social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram that drove traffic to the GCS website with message-driven video, images, custom age-targeted downloadable guides and a call to action.

When the ADM (average daily membership) data was released for the first month of the 2021-22 school year, GCS saw a 12.47% increase in students attending district schools from the previous year — the greatest increase among all North Carolina public schools between 2020 and 2021. 

We also saw impressive numbers from our social media campaign. Almost 1,000 downloads of the guides (pictured below) and 122,314 impressions from the ads, with click-through rates exceeding our benchmarks. We collaborated with our media buyer to guide Guilford County Schools through the campaign, working within a limited timeframe to design a strategy that best utilized their investment.

Two-page brochure that says "Welcome to Kindergarten"

A lot of people don’t know what to expect for their first social media campaign. You can never predict exact results, but no matter what, you’re making progress toward your goal. For Guilford County Schools, the downloadable content, web updates, and campaign data will serve them long after the flight dates — with increased traffic to their enrollment pages and a foundation for future media buys and updates. 

Our support of public schools doesn’t stop there. We’re currently engaged with Stokes County Schools on more enrollment-related work — we’ve completed messaging and photography, and are in development with enrollment marketing and communications. We’re proud to partner with our North Carolina school systems and support our hard-working teachers and students.

Sarah Leck is a Copywriter at Tigermoth Creative. Born and raised in North Carolina, Sarah is a hiker, photographer and expert thrifter. One day, she would like to run a summer camp and travel the country by rail.