Education — A “P.R.” Nightmare

Little by little, education feels more like business.  

I don’t make that statement based on a belief that the business impact is better or worse , just different.  There is an increased feeling of customer service that was brought to the forefront as school of choice and charter schools became part of our culture.  Parents can “shop” from school to school until they find the right fit.  With the increased focus on high stakes testing and accountability for schools, the media covers schools in a different way now.  They broadcast the grades and rankings schools receive.  While all of that has taken place, schools have been slow to catch up with what has become a need or an increase in public relations. NSPRA-logo-with-name.jpg (453×175)

One thing that I’m 100% certain of is that businesses market themselves and sell the positives of their product better than schools do.  It’s the nature of business.  My close friends in the business world share with me all the time the new marketing and advertising strategies they will be using to promote their brand.  Schools have to follow that trend.  Clearly, not many districts have enough money to pay someone to do that job.  So, the responsibility falls upon us.  Fortunately, in 2016, there are various avenues and possibilities for us to use.

Think of it this way…the negative stories of schools are going to be told.  They aren’t going away.  They will be posted in social media, with some truths and untruths.  They will be on the TV news, online news sites, and local newspapers.  We have the opportunity to provide some balance to how public education is viewed.  Schools are better educating students than ever before and that is the story that needs to be told.

public relations.jpg (600×490) Education is under attack, from taxpayers, special interest groups, and others.   

This is the media age — Communication needs have increased and become more complex. School districts need professionals to develop and execute integrated, multi-media, and face-to-face communication plans.  

The outrage industry Those perpetually angry voices in the marketplace of ideas, have a larger, more powerful voice thanks to blogs, forums and anonymous posts on news Web sites. Unfortunately, school districts often fall into the trap of caving in to the local outrage industry … even though it represents a minority position, and only serves to undermine the academic environment. – SCG Advertising and Public Relations

To my fellow educators, I implore you to take the summer and consider these action steps, which I think we should all take.  All are free and available to every educator:

1. Survey your parent group and find out in what format they would like to receive consistent communication.  In that consistent communication, share one positive story a week from what is happening in your classroom/school.  Make it a highlighted section and be consistent with the inclusion of the information.

2. We need to get positive information into the mobile devices that are in the hands of students and parents.  Consider using various forms of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to share out those positives.  It’s fast, informative, and simple.

3. Make it a point to share positives, in person, to people at community events.  We always get the question, “how is school going?”  Share authentic, positive, and impactful stories that will show your school in a positive light.

It is our opportunity, in fact, our duty, to share the great things that happen everyday in our schools.  The perception of your school can have a large impact on school board elections, administrative decisions, and bond issues passing.  We are talking about millions of dollars that can positively impact our profession.  Take the time to develop your plan this summer and starting next fall, do your part.

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