Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Promoting your courses

You know how it is when you are building up to writing something? Ideas, information, facts, conjectures, gaps in information, deadline looming like a black cloud on the horizon -- and finally, finally you actually start to write? That's where I am right now on my psychoanalytic psychology 3000 word paper; the relief at last of writing. Even though I have a long way to go and don't know exactly where I'm going, it's a relief.

But I took a break this afternoon to dash over to the college and collect flyers to promote my April-start Hero's Journey/Writer's Journey 5 week course. In fact, I interrupted my psych research reading last week for a precautionary check on enrolment level for the course. Eeeek! Only one person. Hence the emergency action.

So here we are: the brinkmanship of adult education, as always. Nowadays, with all the Further Education cut-backs, and more to come, one is lucky at all to be offering a course. As for expecting the college to promote it -- marketing and admin have their hands full just keeping major courses like EFL, GCSEs and A levels going, rebalancing their decreasing budgets and, often, interviewing for their own jobs as cuts continue.

However, the wish to creatively write is undying and most colleges, like mine, will try to offer some courses to meet this market, along with other perennial 'leisure' favourites like languages and art.

As a tutor, you now can rely less (if ever you could) on your institution promoting your course except for listing it in their major prospectus and on their website. So it is up to YOU to get flyers printed and distribute them. Maybe your place allows you to design your own (easy-peasy with computers for a creative person like you) with a pithy appealing blurb and the essential details.

Mine insists on their own logo and certain format parameters, so I used sweet persuasion to get marketing to update the black-type details (dates, code number) on the flyer they'd designed for the course in palmier days over a year ago. This was after I got the OK from my line manager.

I offered to repro it myself on the college's copier, or to bring it to repro myself. But they very kindly sent it to repro -- and I collected the 200 A5 flyers this afternoon. Very kindly (again) desk staff had put some flyers around the building, which I was going to do. I then walked to the nearby library and asked the desk to pin up a flyer on thier community board, and put a few in their brochures displayer.

You need to learn how things work in your area, make contacts, do your own PR. In my case I walked further on to Town Information with 100 or so -- some for their brochures table, the rest I asked (verbally and via a note) for their central service to send to the libraries around the borough.

As well as flyers at the college and local libraries, here is how else I am promoting the course:
  • asked the departmental administrator to email students on the two writing courses I substitute taught in February. [Have to take care re data protection, so I could not do it myself]
  • asked marketing to flash the course on the lobby promotional screens
  • will email my old writing students who have given me their e-addresses and permission to contact them from time to time. Though they may not want me or this course again, they can forward the info
  • will email my psych classmates -- unlikely, but as this course draws on archetype, springing from Jung, some may be interested, or might forward
  • will take flyers to my art workshop group; they are and they know creativity-interested people

This short course enrolled very well for its last three runs, ever since we changed it from afternoon to evening. The fee is very reasonable, the time slot works, the subject and angle appeal -- so it should enrol. Absolute minimum due to the financial situation is 12. Well, good news today is enrolment is up 100% since last week... so now there are 2 on the course. Hmmmm. Fingers crossed and flyers flying, tune in a month from now -- will Heroes run or not?

As usual, I take a break from blogging about teaching creative writing while we are on term breaks. I'll be back 19 April. If you are new or recent to this blog you can go through earlier entries (over 70) to find exercises, tips and ideas to help you in the meanwhile. And there's always my book, Creative Writing: the Matrix. I'm standing by to send it to you for just £10. See my website for more info.

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