If you’re immersed in the education marketing space (specifically -K-12) the words “Common Core” spark some heated debate. And if you’re marketing to administrators, teachers or parents, you know that you need to address the topic. However, it is important to think before delving into this space. There are strong opinions around these standards, so keep in mind that you’ll want to educate and relate to your audience, while being mindful of expressing opinions.
Before we dive into how you should tackle the topic, let’s cover the basics. What are the Common Core State Standards? For those who aren’t familiar, the Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Offices. The goal is to provide teachers with a single set of guidelines in English, Language Arts and Mathematics. To find out more details, you can visit the Core Standards FAQ page. Sounds clear enough, right?
So, why is there such overwhelming criticism to the Common Core? Many feel that the curriculum is too rigid, relies too heavily on testing, and takes away from providing students with individualized attention. In a recent Huffington Post article, Larry Strauss sums up his feelings about the Common Core, feelings shared by many others in his shoes.
Proponents of the curriculum, on the other hand, argue that they allow for clearer benchmarking and comparison to other states and even nations. They claim that they will better prepare students for college and the workplace by allowing students to develop better critical thinking skills.
As a marketer, you need to know how to broach the topic and direct your audience:
1.) State the facts. Even if you want to give your opinion, it’s important to remain diplomatic and provide accurate information about the changes. An infographic, blog post, or dedicated page on your site is a great way to do this. If you’re an industry expert, your customers may be looking to you as a leader.
2.) Describe how the Common Core relates to your product or service. If you’re an educational publisher, describe how your products might change to adhere to the Common Core objectives. If you’re a tutoring center, explain how you may or may not adjust your teaching methods. Parents will be focused on changes in school but may not be aware of how they can seek help outside of the classroom. Try establishing an automated email program directing customers to resources on your site or offering them a free guide. Give a little more personal attention to those who engage with your emails. They will appreciate your willingness to help.
3.) If you’re going to state an opinion, be prepared for feedback. Whether you are for or against the changes, this is a hot topic and you should be prepared to respond to criticism. Social media is going to be a major outlet for concern and debate. It’s important to respond, especially to the negative comments. Even if you disagree, highlighting facts can be helpful. Also, your customers will appreciate that you’re listening (as that is often exactly what they’re looking for).
Marketers can use this opportunity to stand out and build trust with existing and potential partners. What has been your experience with the Common Core?
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