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Norwich - A growing push to market Norwich Free Academy to prospective students in an increasingly competitive high school environment along with a desire to better promote the Slater Memorial Museum has led academy officials to expand the school's public relations department.
NFA recently advertised for a third communications employee to join "the strategic communications team" headed by Communications Director Geoff Serra and Associate Director Nick Bolt this fall.
Serra said last week the entry-level position drew more than 90 applicants. Serra said NFA officials started reviewing the applications last week and expect to start interviews this week.
"We have some very strong candidates," Serra said. "We hope to make a decision by the end of next week."
Serra said the increasing workload became too much for him and Bolt to handle, especially with the department now handling regular communications to NFA's 40,000 active alumni, the new demands of social media marketing and Slater Museum promotions. That work is in addition to the multitude of marketing materials NFA puts out - updated frequently - to reach out to parents and prospective students.
"Those three elements have become much more integrated in terms of our communications, and add to that the electronic and social media," Serra said. "It's more than two people can handle."
In maintaining contact with NFA's large alumni base - necessary to solicit donations to the NFA Foundation for a myriad of campus development projects over the years -- the communications department hopes to send out monthly email newsletters to alert them of upcoming campus events for alumni and students.
The first newsletter went out last week and included invitations to on-campus events this fall, information about a student mentoring program the school hopes to start and a career day in which alumni will be asked to return to campus to explain their careers to current students. The newsletter also gave an update on the construction of permanent lights for the football stadium and the "NFA Shines" opening day of football planned for Sept. 19.
There's also an NFA alumni event in New York City this fall.
"We're really reaching out to a part of our alumni base from the last 15 years, which is a very digital-based group," Serra said.
The new communications specialist will help with writing, editing and overseeing the design of print and digital materials, including the www.nfaschools.org website. The person also will take photos, videos, post items to social media and work on graphic designs and lend "support to student recruitment and institutional advancement," the position posting said.