Allerton Hill Blog

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

Category: Social Media

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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Original Content Is King

May 20, 2016

We’ve talked about where to find free images to use in social media and on your website, but sometimes the only image that will do is YOUR image. Having a readily available folder of professionally taken photos whose subjects span the variety of academic opportunities and extracurricular activities your districts offer is key. Use the photos to accompany posts promoting upcoming events and campaigns and to drive the emotional story of your school’s outreach.

Creating content daily doesn’t mean taking photos daily. Setting aside a week once or twice a year to focus on taking a stockpile of photos around the school is a great start. I suggest using a photo storage system that allows you to add multiple tags to to each photo to be able to find an appropriate photo quickly. Adding text to an image to add context and highlight one key message can be a good way to recycle images and to create instant connections. This will allow you to focus your creative design efforts on creating graphics for complex concepts and bigger picture campaigns.

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Posted in Social Media, Technology
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Finding Images to Use in Social Media & on Your Website

May 18, 2016

An image is worth a 1000 words… and in social media terms, an image is worth an increase of 80% readership of your blog content and a 53% increase in engagement on social media.

Images help draw attention, simplify complicated concepts and re-enforce retention.

But if you are posting social media posts 2-4 times a day, how can you find enough quality images to use?

You cannot use any image that you find on the internet. Whoever took the photo owns the image — even if they haven’t noted this fact with a watermark or copyright notice. Copyright is an automatic right to content creators and does not require the author to file special paperwork. Using copyrighted work inappropriately can result in embarrassment, having your website/social media post removed for violations or even legal issues.

There are 4 kinds of rights applied to images. Understanding what these terms mean will help you avoid issues later.

Public Domain
These are images which are now able to be used by the public domain free of charge for any purpose due to their age (the copyright has expired) or the owner has released their rights.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons was created to allow photographers put their images online and dictate how they can be used. They are able to dictate whether the images can be used in other forums, whether they can be manipulated and what credit should be provided along with the image. It is important to read the attached CC license to the photo to understand the limitations placed on your use of the image. Most times, this requires requiring attribution including a link back to the photographer’s site.

Royalty Free
These images are available on stock image websites and the “free” aspect of the title doesn’t reflect the cost but rather that once you pay for the image (using either a subscription or pay-per-image model) you are free to use it as often as you’d like.

Rights-Managed
These images are also purchased but also include a limitation on the number of times they can be used without paying for more licenses.

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Posted in Social Media, Technology
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YouTube in the Classroom

May 11, 2016

With so many options for accessing media in the classroom, it can be difficult to navigate where to find the best content and how best to present it. There are more than 80,000,000 videos on YouTube. Some are great for a laugh, some are great to inform and some are incredibly inappropriate. Performing blind searches in front of your classroom is an easy way to run into a dead end — or worse. So where should you start?

  • Sticking to reputable channels such as Ted-Ed, National Geographic and Khan Academy guarantees quality.
  • If you like to watch silly, political or other videos that might be deemed inappropriate for the classroom, use a separate YouTube login for the classroom to avoid malapropos recommendations from popping up on the screen.
  • Get to know advanced search options so you can filter videos by creator, narrow topics and dates.
  • Be creative. Find videos of writers reading their own work and use them as a writing prompt. Share different perspectives by finding multiple videos on the same topic. Bring history alive with archive clips.
  • YouTube playlists saved and shared with your students can help reenforce your lessons and allow them to watch the videos over again at home.
  • Have students make their own videos and tutorials to share in class.

How have you used YouTube in the classroom? Do your students bring you videos to share? What are some pitfalls you have discovered?

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Posted in Social Media, Technology
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Public Relations on a Budget

Public Relations on a Budget from Allerton Hill Consulting

April 17, 2016

When funds are tight, public relations programs are often the first to be cut and sometimes even eliminated. What districts should remember is that communication is how you will garner support for future projects, votes & community partnerships. Without strong positive messaging, your school is at risk of even further budget cuts and a lack of alternative resources.

For schools facing a tight budget, there are several ways to share your key message at little or no expense. Using these cost-effective strategies will help stretch your communications budget while reaching your core audience.

Build Your Media Relations

Your local newspaper, radio stations and television stations are all looking for local content. Find a go-to contact at each media outlet and build that relationship. Call/email them with new stories at least weekly. These stories should cover innovative programs, student achievements, upcoming school activities and, of course, consistent focus on your key messages. Offer to write a regular guest column or to be interviewed. Local media focuses on local news — this is your opportunity to shape the conversation!

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

The Federal Communications Commission requires that broadcast media operate “in the public interest”. PSAs are a way that TV stations fulfill that requirement. There is strong competition to get your PSA to air so make sure your PSA is short (about 30 seconds long), interesting & informative and that it meets the standard requirements for a news story: who, what, when, where and why. Submit your recorded PSA to the station’s public service or program director.

Social Media

PEW Research Center estimates that 74 percent of all internet users visit social media sites. There is no cost to join social media but you do need to be creative and strategic in your approach to your social media plan so that you are efficient, reaching your target audience and encouraging engagement. We always encourage our clients to start with Twitter — it is easy, mobile-friendly and works in “real time”. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and many other platforms will help compliment and distribute your content and encourage feedback and further distribution among your followers.

Blogs

Adding a blog to your school’s website allows you to communicate directly with your community on your own terms and in your own words. Make sure to use social media to drive traffic to your new blog posts in a coordinated effort.

Digital Newsletters

By transitioning your monthly newsletter to be email-based, you can eliminate postal and printing costs. You can either use a desktop publishing program and convert the file to a PDF to attach to the email or use a newsletter web-based service such as MyEmma or Mailchimp to create a newsletter with photos and simple email-friendly designs to send directly to your community’s inboxes.

Community Resources

Take advantage of the communications departments of your local government and libraries. Make sure to share important information prior to publication of newsletters and other regular communications so that they can include updates on your district and your current needs. You can also coordinate with their social media and website teams to share activities, news and upcoming meetings.

Town Hall Meetings

No matter how many tweets you send, you can’t beat the impact of a face-to-face meeting with your community. Town hall meetings empower districts to put a face to the policy, to reinforce their brand and to build real support for school initiatives. Answering questions in real time can help dispel myths, grow enthusiasm and make important issues personal for the community-at-large.

There are many tools and resources available to school districts that will help you share your message effectively and at little cost. Don’t let budget issues keep you from growing support for your school and important initiatives. Be creative and be open to new opportunities and new relationships. You’ll be surprised how much your strategy will pay off — and how impressed your community will be with your financial stewardship and ingenuity!

 Social media usage statistics from PEW Research Center

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Social Media
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From the Podcast: Preparing Our Future Educational Leaders to Communicate

Preparing Our Future Educational Leaders to Communicate / We Love Schools Podcast Episode / Dr. Todd Hoadley from Dublin City Schools

March 14, 2016

“Trust is built through communication.” — Dr. Todd Hoadley

Communication is key and, in our changing world, so is learning to adapt. This week, Carole Dorn-Bell speaks with Dr. Todd Hoadley, Superintendent of Dublin City Schools (OH), and Jennifer Economus, Allerton-Hill Consulting. Topics include how to develop communication skills, the limits of social media, the value of face-to-face communication, using Instagram, developing a social media identity, and the importance of local newspaper.

“Our community has high expectations. People expect communications to be accurate. They expect it to be timely. And by timely I mean NOW.” — Dr. Todd Hoadley

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

CONTINUE READING »

 Visit the We Love Schools Podcast website »

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Posted in Community Outreach, Podcast, Social Media
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Personal Branding on Social Media

Personal Branding on Social Media: leadership and building community in this technology age from Allerton Hill Consulting

March 8, 2016

We’ve talked about WHY leaders need to develop a personal brand and overall STRATEGIES. This 3rd and final article of our personal branding series will focus on the specifics on how to easily build your personal brand on social media.

We’ve said it time and time again, both on the blog and to our clients on a daily basis — as a leader in today’s technology-connected society, social media is a must. While daunting at first — which networks should I join? how much time will it take? how much personal information should I share? — social media is the most efficient, economical and egalitarian way to share information and to consistently reinforce your brand as a leader.

At Allerton Hill, we always advise clients to use Twitter. It is mobile-friendly, easy and displays results in real time which means you are reaching your community now.  Beyond Twitter, join the networks that your community is using. Are all of your students & parents on Instagram? You should be, too! Ask around and sign up but be realistic about how much time you can commit to updating multiple networks. It’s better to do one and do it well rather than spread yourself to thin and never post updates.

On any network you join, create a strong public profile so that users can find you easily. Use a clear photo of yourself — but not necessarily your official photo. Write a brief profile that includes your title as well as a few tidbits about yourself that help to make you accessible and makes it clear that this is your personal account.

Once you have a profile, what should you be sharing as the superintendent or other public leader of a school?

Share school news including upcoming events, post photos of yourself at past events and make note of achievements by your students and staff. Repost notices from your school’s official accounts.

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Ask for feedback. Do you have a new policy in place? Are you considering one? Ask for input from your followers AND respond to any replies or direct messages you receive.201603-personalbrandonsm-tweet02

 

Be yourself. The best way to encourage honesty and engagement is to share your personality. Mix in tweets about your favorite hobbies, local pastimes and your opinions on “pressing matters” of the day such as sports teams, the Oscars and the weather.201603-personalbrandonsm-tweet03

 

Use photos whenever possible/appropriate. Photos stand out and encourage more engagement.

Use your school’s official hashtag to ensure your posts show up in searches.

It should go without saying, that your opinion on controversial subjects including politics and religion should not be included in your Twitter feed. But just in case, we’ll say it again: your opinion on controversial subjects including politics and religion should not be included in your Twitter (or Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook…) feed.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Social Media
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From the Podcast: What Does “Sociability” Mean & Why Is It Important For My School?

Technology in schools / advice from Blackboard.com from the We Love Schools Podcast

March 7, 2016

Dane Dellenbach, from Blackboard, talks with Joel about “sociability” – a way for schools to use all of their social media platforms all under one roof. Dane talks about technology, the value of keeping all of your district on the same page, and the difference between “good” and “bad” technology within the educational field.

“Celebrate everything. Small, big, it doesn’t matter. Your community wants to know.” 

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

 

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 Visit the We Love Schools Podcast website »

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Posted in Podcast, Social Media, Technology
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From the Podcast: TWITTER for Schools & Teachers

Twitter for Schools & Teachers from We Love Schools Podcast

January 21, 2016

Carole & Joel talk about how schools can use Twitter effectively and efficiently in this week’s podcast episode.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

Download Show Notes

 Visit the WE LOVE SCHOOLS Podcast Website »

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Posted in Podcast, Social Media
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We Love Schools — and now we have a podcast to prove it!

We Love Schools Podcast

January 13, 2016

We’ve been working with schools to share their story, to celebrate their successes and to find critical support for well over 2 decades and we still LOVE what we do. Joel & Carole, Partners at Allerton Hill Consulting, are taking that passion to the next level with the launch of our new podcast, “We Love Schools”. We are so excited to be launching this new way to engage with educators and share our experiences and insights. We will be talking with superintendents, communications experts and media specialists.

“We Love Schools” will be a weekly podcast that highlights success stories in school communications campaigns. We will address the issues, obstacles and benefits of communicating with your community in today’s all-access social media-driven world.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

Listen here to our 3rd episode where we talk with Allerton Hill’s very own Amanda Morris about personal and school branding:

 Visit the WE LOVE SCHOOLS Podcast Website »

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Posted in Allerton Hill News, Community Outreach, Podcast, Social Media
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