There’s an art to turning an opportunity into a real success. Take, for example, open house season, when kids and parents make the rounds among their various school options, checking out the selection and waiting to be impressed. With a growing number of comparable schools popping up in the area, Kohelet Yeshiva High School (KYHS) came to us looking for a way to reconnect with the community and illuminate the qualities that set KYHS apart as the top choice in Modern Orthodox education.
We sat down first with Daniella Weprin, the director of admissions, in order to get a clearer sense of the upcoming open house event. We do our best work by understanding not just who our client is, but also the wider context of their needs; when, where, and why may sound like simple questions, but they grow more complex the closer you look. Talking with Daniella, we covered the schedule for the day in great detail, and from there we began to see the potential for putting video to best use.
When we noticed that the agenda opened with a number of speakers, we proposed first showing a snappy teaser video to put attendees in the right frame of mind. This would keep the energy up and ease the way for the program to be informative but not overwhelming. We also suggested that, after the planned mock classes and one-on-one discussions with teachers, it would be best to bring everyone back together for a recap video and Q&A session. Parents and students would have the chance to review what they had learned, absorb and react to the experience, and receive immediate feedback to any questions or concerns. They would take away a very clear idea of the school’s philosophy and educational mission.
Now that we had grasped the setting and circumstances, we turned the same kind of thoroughness and broad view on Kohelet’s mission statement itself. With guidance from the head of school, Rabbi Gil Perl, we made it our business to understand not only what they were trying to say, but to whom they were speaking – and the sensitivities and unique issues of their audience. We honed in on the “more not less” Modern Orthodox values that drove the school’s Torah education, secular studies, community engagement, and more. Then we broke this message down into visual language, a series of authentic images that would make the advantages of KYHS plain to see.
Putting the video in context like this opened KYHS up to looking at the bigger picture in general. While the timeline was too short to take full advantage of all our ideas, we had already shown how video could elevate the right moment to the next level. We began talking about ways to adapt videos for a whole range of recruitment opportunities: a flexible tool for use on the website, on the mailing list, or in meetings with interested donors.
Ultimately, Daniella loved the film so much she decided to mail it out a few days before the open house as an invitation. This was a fantastic way to stir up interest and attendance; within days, the video reached close to 3,000 views – not bad at all! Rabbi Perl sent us a personal thank you and let us know that he had further capitalized on the opportunity by including the video in a blog post as well. He added that “a long-time non-profit professional who was not prone to hyperbole” told him that it was “the best recruitment video she had ever seen.”
Attendance at the open house validates our efforts – a turnout of over a hundred that exceeded the school’s projections. We’re anticipating a corresponding increase in applications in due course. After such a reaction to our first KYHS collaboration, we look forward to future work together and to seeing their reputation continue to grow.