This can be easy to forget and tricky to implement. So get excited.
Review sites are everywhere and everyone relies on reviews for everything. I may be generalizing, but only a little. So it's no surprise that school reviews are extremely important. When prospective parents are checking out area schools, or pondering which neighborhood to move into, school review sites like GreatSchools, facebook and google are helpful sources of information. This is why you must:
1. Monitor. It's vital that you keep tabs on your school's review site presence. This is the way you avoid negative comments from hijacking your message/reputation. In general, schools don't get reviewed too frequently. I'd check every two weeks, and after a while, you'll figure out what's right for your school.
While you're checking, take a moment to look around. Make sure the school information posted on the review site is accurate. One elementary school I was helping had changed to pre-K-5 over five years ago but GreatSchools still listed it as K-6.
I helped a school recently that had a negative review on GreatSchools as their second review. And it was a year old. That was a bit tragic. Think of all the prospective families who saw that. Every school, no matter how great, is going to get negative reviews from time to time. That's why we monitor.
2. Bury. When you get a negative review, bury it. How? You immediately contact your most reliable, enthusiastic volunteers and personally ask each one to leave a comment on the review site. You want that negative review to be displaced from its place of prominence! I don't recommend addressing the negative review as it just draws more attention to it. But of course the negative comment should be considered-. If it's truthful, hopefully the issue can be addressed by the school.
3. Be Systematic. Set up a system where parents regularly leave positive feedback on review sites. You can do this by reaching out to (satisfied and happy!) parents via SignUp Genius or you can assign a couple people each month to do this during your monthly meeting. Remember spouses of volunteers can leave reviews too!
You need to be systematic because you want your reviews to be positive and because they also need to be at least somewhat current. As you know, the older they are, the less relevant/helpful they are. One of the worst things is to go on GreatSchools to learn about a school and the newest comment is from 2016 (true story). On the other hand, you want to avoid a "dump" scenario where all of a sudden there are 25 new reviews from around the same date. That appears phony.
4. Expect Some Disappointment. Do not be surprised when a number of parents do not follow through on their commitment to review. Some will forget and for some, writing a review is simply too daunting a task. Also expect some reviews to be disappointing whether because they are super-vague ("I love this school!") or too specific ("Mrs. Logan is great!") or too brief ("We are so happy here."). There's only so much you can do, but you can put a few tips in your sign-up genius or in your email asking for help.
Tending to your school's review sites is worthwhile but sometimes tedious work, I know. It's a vital part of your recruitment efforts so please undertake the challenge. Once you have your school's system in place, pat yourself on the back and consider other recruitment tasks like gathering parent testimonials and working on your tour.