Public RelationsIntegrated Marketing WebsiteGraphic Design & Video

Blue Ridge School

Innovative Five-Day Boarding

The Client

Blue Ridge School, a private boarding school for boys in grades 9-12, offers five- and seven-day boarding at its 750-acre Charlottesville, VA-area campus.

Blue Ridge provides a structured, diverse environment with robust outdoor educational activities, intentionally small classes, and nurturing mentors, coaches, and teachers who live on campus. Led by Dr. Alexander Keevil, an award-winning faculty member, students have access to the school’s cutting-edge Fishburne Learning Center, which provides individualized learning strategies and programs for boys who may have mild learning disabilities, such as ADD/ADHD.

The Challenge

One of only two all-boys boarding schools in the U.S., Blue Ridge School developed a five-day boarding program, set to begin accepting new students in September 2024.

Families considering private boarding schools typically begin the selection process a year in advance before the start of a new semester. This meant that when Blue Ridge engaged Pugh & Tiller in January 2024, the firm was already behind schedule. As a result, Pugh & Tiller needed to move immediately to develop and launch a strategic awareness program.

While speed was of paramount important, it was also imperative that it was done right. To add to that challenge, the school wanted to target the affluent Northern Virginia market – where it was totally unknown – given the tendency for families there to enroll their children in private day schools and that area’s relative proximity to Blue Ridge.

The Solution

Clear & Detailed Messaging

With the clock ticking, Pugh & Tiller hit the ground running. Working with senior leaders at Blue Ridge School, the team conducted a discovery session covering topics ranging from the school’s short- and long-term goals and objectives, to audiences, competitors, and challenges. This gave us the background to draft key messaging around not just the new five-day program but also the many aspects of the school that differentiates it from other private and boarding schools.

Optimized & Integrated Lead Funnel

Using the newly created messaging, the Pugh & Tiller team developed a program-specific lead funnel that integrated with BRS’ existing CRM. This funnel included mobile-friendly landing pages on the existing Blue Ridge School website that focused on the five-day program, highlight videos and reels showcasing the school, its educators, and students, and an online brochure.

At the same time, the firm also drafted a news release and created a media outreach plan, and researched, analyzed, and provided recommendations on select advertising and sponsorship opportunities in the Northern Virginia market.

Targeted Social Media


Finally, Pugh & Tiller developed a social media strategy, complete with static image and video assets, taking into account the various platforms already being used and audience targets. With online and digital properties completed, the media relations component approved, and advertising selected and locked in, Pugh & Tiller coordinated efforts with Blue Ridge School to launch the program publicly at the end of February.

The Results

Pugh & Tiller’s fast-moving, well-orchestrated, and multi-pronged approach not only launched the Blue Ridge brand to a new market, but also provided the tools to maintain awareness with the target audience. While the media relations component did not take center stage with this project, the total potential audience for the launch announcement exceeded 17 million.

As the outset of the engagement, Blue Ridge School’s goal was to enroll 25 new Northern Virginia-area students in the five-day boarding program for the 2024-2025 school year.

Only one week after the launch of the program, the school reported multiple, significant spikes to their website and social media traffic. Moreover, the admissions department received 13 qualified leads. Within a month, the school reported all of those leads had turned into actual campus-visits.

Pugh and Tiller was a fantastic partner to work with in getting the word out about our new 5 day boarding program. They focused first on getting the message right, then built out the necessary graphic/video assets to a extremely high level of quality, while simultaneously sourcing some very promising ad placement opportunities that seem like realistic and opportune channels to bring our message to market.

Eric KnutsonVP Marketing, Blue Ridge School