New Year. New CRANE?

At CRANE, we’re used to making major announcements on behalf of our clients. But rarely do we have the occasion to share our own big news with our extended community.

With the advent of a new year, we’re also moving into a new era. We’re calling it CRANE 2.0.

As you may already know, our founder Patti Crane has long admired the land, the climate, and the ethos of southern California. It also doesn’t hurt that her two sons and two granddaughters call it home. So after 30 years here in Atlanta, Patti has made the leap to Los Angeles, Steinway grand piano and all. Let’s be clear: Patti is decidedly not retiring. (Have you met her?) However, from her West Coast vantage point, she will play a different role at her namesake company going forward.

Patti has been laying the groundwork for this transition over many years, ensuring that her vision, her values, and her ideals continue to drive our work every day. Shelly Peters, long-time CRANE managing director, big-picture strategist, and tireless client advocate, has taken on the role of CRANE principal.

With Shelly at the helm, we’re blazing new trails and taking our own advice to clients by updating our self-presentation to more accurately reflect the CRANE of not just today, but tomorrow.

Most noticeably, we’ve launched a brand new website, and we hope you’ll find a few minutes to take a look and explore. Also, be sure to follow us on our various social media platforms for daily wisdom, wit, and work updates.

Happily, the planets have aligned in such a way that the 2018 NAIS conference is set for early March right here in Atlanta. We will be co-hosting a gathering with SAIS for friends old and new and industry colleagues, and would love for you to join us to reconnect with CRANE team members you already know and meet the extended team. Details to follow, so stay tuned! But we can offer one early tidbit: It will be a room with a view.

Thanks for being part of our evolving journey, and for doing the important work that you do every day.

In anticipation,
The CRANE team

Six literary elements that can take your school from spreadsheet to story

Remember back to English class when you learned the basic elements to construct a story: setting, voice, character, plot, tension, and how the work appeals to its audience? Well it turns out you learned those things for a reason (unlike, say, long division).

Think about your school’s story. What makes it compelling, memorable, even fascinating? What sets it apart from your competitors? What makes it jump off the page instead of being neatly sorted into the uninspiring columns of a spreadsheet?

By intentionally applying the elements of story in your messaging, you begin opening up the world of your school to audiences.


1. Setting—What do you first see when you drive onto campus or step through your school’s front door? Painting a detailed picture of your physical spaces—through great photography and design as well as words— transports prospects into your school well before they make their first visit.

View the Punahou School Intro Piece


2. Voice—How you talk, write about, and describe the daily rhythms of your school reveals its character and essence. Syntax and diction can swing the tonal pendulum from formal to informal, from colorful to dry, from energetic to predictable, from exciting to staid.

View the Grinnell College Student Selfie Letters


3. Character(s)—Teacher-student relationships form the bedrock of your school’s value proposition. Are you showing who your teachers are beyond their credentials?

View the Norfolk Academy Intro Piece


4. Plot—The story of your school lives in more than pronouncements of academic rigor, course lists, athletic offerings, STEAM spaces, and college acceptances. How do you chart the journey of a student from K-12? How do you trace the trajectory from precocious preschooler to polished senior?


5. Tension—No, your messaging doesn’t need a masked antagonist or a struggle between good and evil. But you should employ contrast in your messaging, highlighting what stands out against your competitors rather than comparing shared similarities.

View The Hewitt School Congratulations Video


6. Audience—Every book needs a readership, and your school is no different. Understanding your audiences’ values and expecations, and tailoring your messaging to respond to them, isn’t pandering. It’s good, intelligent communication.

View the Duchesne Academy Dad’s Piece


Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” In writing the story of your school—employing the same tried and true elements that have existed for millennia—you might be surprised at what you discover along the way.