Pope's crowds in front of 1528 Walnut Street

They saved the best for last… A Pope Mortem

Pope's crowds in front of 1528 Walnut Street

Photo by Richard Williams, Crowds gathered on Sunday outside The Melior Group offices on Walnut Street in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia for the Pope’s visit.

Well, the Papal visit to Philadelphia is in the past and everyone is now counting up how many people were on which streets at which events. What difference does it make? We showed the world that we are a WORLD-CLASS CITY with a kind, generous, patient, and caring “att-y-tood” – a city that should and will attract world leaders.

It was all we in Philadelphia could talk about – should we stay or should we go? Are you closing your office on Friday, Thursday, Monday? What are those concrete barriers? How did the streets get so clean? But, all that conversation allowed us to be friends with those office mates we never talk to, to chat with the newsstand dealer who typically just hands us the paper and takes our money, to converse with the folks in the elevator who we never look at because we’re always texting or looking at our phones in the elevator. We now demonstrated that we had something in common and something to look forward to.

After what seems like years of preparation, we did it! The city leaders, the police and other security professionals made us feel safe. Sure, a few glitches in terms of waiting too long to get through security. But, were we ever worried about our safety? No.

As a market research firm, we couldn’t help but do a survey in anticipation of the event… we asked our respondents (an unscientific poll) how many people they felt would actually attend the final event on Sunday. The average projected attendance from our poll is 578,850… bet that’s going to be close to accurate!!! That’s why polling works!

Personally, I had only two major disappointments: 1) that there were organizations that were determined to price gouge during the celebration – come on, $40 to park in a lot in Chestnut Hill in order to walk to the train? One of my friends said a parking ticket for staying too long at a meter is only $25!

A sign reads

And 2) that more people weren’t able to take advantage of the wonderful restaurants and shops in Center City – the attention was on the event and not on everything that is going on in Philadelphia. We should now put more effort into demonstrating to these restaurants and shops how happy we are that they are there for us.

After Pope Francis visited D.C. and N.Y.C., he saved the best for last. For one of the largest cities in the U.S., Philadelphians’ friendship and warmth came through and we should all be proud of what we showed to the world.

The Melior Group was founded in 1982 to bring the disciplines of marketing research to service industries. Today, Melior is one of the region’s leading research-based consulting firms, serving organizations in the education, non-profit, healthcare, government, leisure, tourism, and financial services/ insurance sectors.

For more information or to request a proposal, please contact Linda McAleer at [email protected] or Contact Us.

The Soccer Field: Ground Zero of School Branding, Pt 2

In addition to the community soccer games that I discussed in my previous blog post, I also attend my children’s interscholastic games. We parents segregate ourselves by school, with “home” families on one set of truly uncomfortable bleachers, and “visitors” on another. I end up sitting with my children’s teammates’ parents, and I have learned that this “mono-scholastic” setting has the potential to be a contributor to, and a barometer of, a school’s brand.

Despite the fact that we are all on the same team, from what I have seen, the chatter about our school runs the gamut from positive to negative, from constructive to gossipy. Sometimes the information is firsthand, and often it is second or thirdhand, with parents sharing what they have heard through the grapevine (“the math teacher said WHAT to that child?” “It took HOW LONG for the principal to call you back?” “WHOSE contract wasn’t renewed for next year?”) It’s a witches’ brew of fact and fiction…and the pot surely gets stirred.

The Ripple Effect
Fast forward to the weekend soccer game of my daughter’s community team, when I am now sitting with parents from independent and public schools all over the area. As I described in my previous post, children’s schools are a hot topic of discussion. Parents compare and contrast the area schools, sometimes praising their own children’s schools, but just as often complaining about them. And this is where things get tricky for individual schools.

What I have learned is this: this new world of interscholastic and community sports – where parents feel they must attend the games but have lots of time to gab — has created a ripple effect. What may start out as an internal school matter quickly gets broadcast to the larger community. This is the point at which what’s going on inside the school begins to affect image and impressions among outside constituencies. In short, a school’s “brand” is affected by what its internal constituencies (parents, students, teachers, etc.) are saying about it.

So What’s A School To Do To Manage Its Brand?
Through research, The Melior Group has helped schools to gain a better understanding of what parents are saying on the soccer field and elsewhere, and how those stories are impacting a school’s reputation and brand. We work with our school clients to help them capture and organize the information that’s already rippling through the school community and beyond.

With insight into current and prospective parents’ attitudes and impressions, we help our clients to devise strategies for articulating a brand that is truly reflective of the school’s mission, vision and values.

In sum, the soccer field – both interscholastic and intercommunity – is truly the ground zero of a school’s brand. It is incumbent upon independent school clients to assess their brand, figure out how it got to where it is, and develop strategies to sustain a strong future.

For more information on Melior’s work with independent and religiously affiliated day schools, please contact Elizabeth Cohen at [email protected] / 215-545-0054 ext 103 or Linda McAleer at [email protected] / 215-545-0054 ext 104.