Allerton Hill Blog

for industry news, case studies, new media & communications strategies

Category: Community Outreach

Trending Topics that Talk Real Issues

Can schools talk about controversial topics on social media? Allerton Hill Consulting talks about social media in a real world

July 26, 2016

Last year when Starbucks announced its #RaceTogether initiative, the backlash was quick and relentless. The idea of having authentic conversations about race relations between Starbucks baristas and customers appeared to be contrived, a publicity stunt and an elitist, narrow-minded, savior-complex way of approaching a serious and complicated issue that requires the voices of people who aren’t spending $4 on a latte each day. The initiative was considered by most to be a failure and as public relations experts rehashed what went wrong, it was a clear that no matter how well intentioned the Starbucks initiative, there remained a disconnect in delivery, execution and tone.

So how do we talk about serious issues in this coffee-to-go, Twitter-feed world? Or should we even try? Is it possible to talk about race, class, gender and sexual orientation in a real way on a Facebook timeline or in a podcast? How do you balance speed with substance?

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Social Media
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From the Podcast: Engagement in Educational Leadership

July 20, 2016

This week’s show deals with women and community in educational leadership. Our guest is Dr. Gail Kist-Kline, superintendent of Mason City Schools and one of the premiere leaders in public education in Ohio.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast
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From the Podcast: Summer Communication

July 13, 2016

This week’s show deals with communicating during the summer and how to stay in touch with all the stakeholders in your community. Summer isn’t a sleepy time to cut off communication, but an opportunity to engage, inform and tell your story.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Podcast, Social Media

From the Podcast: Creating Opportunity and Engaging the Community

July 7, 2016

This week’s show concerns creating opportunity for every student and finding ways to engage communities that may not necessarily be directly engaged with our schools. Our guest is Dr. Jeffrey Butts, superintendent of the Wayne Township School in Indiana. He has been a teacher, an athletic director, a principal, and assistant superintendent.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast

Are Letters to the Editor Still Important?

June 24, 2016

When advising schools on how to garner support for a campaign, we often include a bullet point that advises to encourage letters to the editor. Yes, even in this age of memes and Tweets and email newsletters, a letter to the editor is still an important tool to establish and grow support.

Why are Letters to the Editor relevant?

• Politicians and community leaders use letters to the editor as a gauge of community opinion.

• A letter to the editor will put a name to an issue and make it more personal.

• The length of a letter to the editor — typically around 150 words — allows you to expound on the finer points of a campaign or opinion, especially when compared to the 140-character limit of a tweet.

• A letter to the editor encourages your local paper to write more about a particular topic because you’ve demonstrated community interest.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach
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Storytelling

Storytelling for Schools / Allerton Hill Consulting for Better School Communications

June 22, 2016

Articulating ideas effectively is crucial to the success of a school district in any capacity. However, many districts’ communication strategies struggle to reach the public. Rhetorical experts suggest that traditional strategies of facts followed by statistics have become outdated and end up falling silent to today’s audiences. So how can a school district be more engaging? Well, audiences have always learned lessons the best when they come in the form of a story. Storytelling is now being utilized by politicians, city leaders, and the like to better articulate new ideas, grab the attention of their public, and appeal to their emotions.

Turning basic data into a story allows school districts an avenue to relay information in a more interesting and detailed way. With an influx of information coming from new technology and more districts vying for attention, its necessary to present ideas using a more gripping and impressive method. By telling these ideas through stories, a district is more likely to gain support from staff, students, parents, and the public. This is especially effective when the stories themselves relate to the audience. For example, parents and students are likely to be moved by the story of a student who went through the school district them self; the public may be more moved to vote in support of a levy if they see the story of how improving the school district has benefitted the community before.

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Educating the Community on Tax Increases

Educating the Community on Tax Increases / Strategies for School Communications / Allerton Hill Consulting

June 21, 2016

Like any business, school districts witness periods when operating costs increase or revenues decline, and in these moments it may become necessary to request a larger share of property taxes. However, as a business that receives funding from property taxes, schools face certain responsibilities to the public when these events occur.

When the need for a tax increase arises, it’s important that the school district communicate the details – or the “who, what, where, when, and why” – of the property tax assessment and school financing, as well as the allocation of the increased funding, with the public who will be effected. This explanation could even be included in the property tax bills where the increase is seen. Regardless, giving property owners advance notice of an increase, along with the rhyme or reason behind it, will minimize the risk of negative reactions and ensure better cooperation from the community.

Most taxpayers appreciate at least a brief discussion of a school budget: where school revenue is coming from, how the funds are allocated, a key list of expenses, and what strategies have been employed to manage these costs. Furthermore, comparing the school budget to that of another school helps clarify any discrepancies that may exist.

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Community Outreach

Communicating Confidence

June 17, 2016

When a crisis occurs in a school district, it is essential that calm be restored as quickly as possible.  That happens more easily if stakeholders have confidence in school leadership. However, that confidence must be present not only after a crisis has been resolved, but also before and during a crisis. It can be built and reinforced through a targeted communications strategy.

The first step is to determine whether your district has a “confidence gap.”  A simple survey of students, staff, parents and the community will determine whether your stakeholders believe your district can handle a crisis. Note that a crisis can range from a disabled furnace during a cold snap or an expensive lawsuit, to school violence or an unexpected death.  Each requires a unique set of leadership skills.  Any survey must account for that.

While your public may believe the district can repair a furnace, for example, they may not agree that the district is capable of handling school violence.  Use the information collected from the survey to develop a communications plan for building, reinforcing, or restoring confidence.  Special attention should be given to those areas in which stakeholders have the least confidence.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Education, Policy, Social Media
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How to Increase Collaboration and Build Consensus In Your School

June 15, 2016

Today’s show talks about how to run a meeting and build buy in/collaboration among stakeholders. Our guest is Dr. Jenny Hooie, from Dynamix, a company that works to help organizations improve their workflow and navigate change. With Jenny, Carole explores how school districts and school leaders can create the best opportunities to collaborate.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast
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10 Ways to Make Mentoring Work

June 3, 2016

“We know that new teachers who feel supported and successful are much more likely to remain in teaching and to positively affect students’ lives. When we hire new teachers, we have a choice: We can train and support them so that they stay and thrive, or we can let them fend for themselves so that they leave or struggle to survive. The choice is obvious. Our students deserve to be in the hands of competent, capable, caring, well-trained professionals. And it is our job, as educators, to provide every student with just that type of teacher.”

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Posted in Community Outreach