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Keyword Archives: communications plan

Effective media relationships ensure your message is heard

December 5, 2015

There is more to working with the media than simply responding to questions.  You need to develop a cooperative relationship, and become a valued resource.

When you are on good terms with the local media, they can become an important tool in your district’s communications toolbox.  The media can enhance your image, or they can destroy it.  A relationship built on mutual respect benefits everyone.

To build a solid relationship, it is helpful to understand what the media looks for in a source.  Some tips:

  • Tell the truth, no matter how much it hurts. One needs to look no further than the current presidential race to understand that lies warrant headlines. The truth is rarely as interesting. This does not mean, however, that you must reveal every ugly truth or fact that will have a negative impact on your district. Sometimes, it is better to say nothing. But when you do speak, tell the truth.

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Posted in Allerton Hill News, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Policy, Social Media
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Podcasts offer exciting opportunities for school districts

November 19, 2015

The surge in the use of mobile devices among all age groups could make podcasts a valuable implement in a school district’s communications toolbox. Podcasts create a unique communications opportunity because of their portability, ease of use and growing popularity. With careful planning and a little creativity, podcasts could become a primary source of information for  your schools to communicate with staff, students, parents and the community.

What is a podcast? Podcasts are audio or video files stored online that may be downloaded by subscribers to their computer, MP3 player (such as an iPod) or smartphone.

According to Pew Research Center, more than one-third of all Americans, ages 12 years or older, have listened to at least one podcast, and researchers say that number is growing.  According to a study by Edison Research, among daily podcast listeners, podcasts occupied 30 percent of their listening time, more than any other audio source.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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Newsletters provide big opportunities

November 14, 2015

That “old-fashioned” newsletter is still an important tool in your communications arsenal.

The value of a newsletter is four-fold:

  • It permits a school district to communicate about multiple subjects at one time.
  • It provides flexibility in distribution (digital and print), enabling a broader reach.  Those without access to a computer and the Internet, such as some senior citizens, still have access to information in print form.
  • The advent of multiple platforms on the Internet, and the increasing deluge of junk mail, has created “information clutter.” With regular publication, a newsletter provides an opportunity to consistently reinforce key messages.
  • Newsletters provide an opportunity to reinforce your brand through consistent messaging. Featuring your brand, for example, “Striving for excellence,” at the bottom of each page drives the message home.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education
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Pick your target and aim: Effective communications

November 12, 2015

Some school communications programs throw tax dollars out the window. Not intentionally, perhaps, but that money is wasted nonetheless.

Those programs are failing to effectively target key audiences.

Identifying who needs to hear your message is only part of the communications process. You must also ensure that they receive and understand your message. That means embracing learning styles, and developing strategies that target each.

According to the Bepko Learning Center at Indiana University, there are three basic learning styles:

  • Visual: Learning is best accomplished by using objects that can be viewed, such as graphs, charts, pictures, or words.  Learning occurs in a closed environment without distractions.  Information that provides a big picture, and then focuses on details, works best.  Bright colors and large numbers also enhance the learning experience. Experts say about 65 percent of all people are visual learners.
  • Auditory:  Information is retained through hearing and speaking.  Often auditory learners prefer to be told information, rather than reading it.  Repeating information may also be important. This type of learner benefits from group settings, where information can be read out loud, discussed, and repeated in several different ways.  Music enhances the learning experience.  Experts say about 30 percent of all people are auditory learners.
  • Kinesthetic:  For this group, information is best learned through demonstrations, experiments, and field work.  Learners benefit from an explanation of how something is done, accompanied by an actual demonstration.  They also learn more effectively if engaged in physical activity while information is conveyed, for example, standing rather than sitting. Most kinesthetic learners are also visual or auditory learners. But those skills are enhanced by the physical activity.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Policy
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Communication is key in times of crisis

October 27, 2015

It’s 10 p.m. when you get the call.

The police have one of your teachers in custody. They just raided his home and found a basement full of marijuana plants, as well as bags of dried leaves. The teacher was turned in by a high school student, who reported that the teacher not only sold the drug to students, but also hosted “smoke parties” at his home. She provided photos taken on her phone, some of which are already posted on social media sites.

       The media has been calling for the past hour, but you decide to ignore them. After disconnecting your phone, you go to bed.

       Tomorrow is another day. 

 

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to visualize circumstances that could throw a school district into crisis. From bad weather and school violence to legal problems, health epidemics, and facility breakdowns, the opportunities for a crisis present themselves daily.

How your district handles that crisis, however, could have a significant impact on community and taxpayer support.  Denial, failure to communicate, or a slow response, are simply unacceptable.

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Posted in Allerton Hill News, Community Outreach, Social Media
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Building Alliances Critical to Success of Schools

February 8, 2015

Every election cycle is different and as times change, so should your strategies in ensuring success at the ballot box. One strategy that is growing in importance is building alliances with well-respected, third-party groups in your community. These groups range from local businesses, civic groups and even other local governments.

When it comes to other local governments, there was a time when many just flatly stayed out of it and remained neutral on another local entity’s ballot issue. These days, more and more local government “peers” are questioning and even opposing another’s levy request. Why is this happening more often? A big reason is the economy and the continued reduction of support of local governments from the state, not to mention a smaller tax base due to the loss of local business taxes and the elimination of the estate tax. In other words, everyone is fighting for the same pot of money and that pot has been dramatically shrinking over the years.

How do you deal with this? Make it a priority to meet and discuss challenges with these groups. The more informed they are, the more likely they will either remain neutral or become supportive of your efforts. If they question things, make sure you respond. Ongoing dialogue is critical to building and maintaining this important relationship.

Also, make sure the public is informed before any other group can frame the message and create doubt in the community. Be proactive about communicating the facts about yourself so you do not find yourself reacting and responding to criticism and ultimately, losing control of the message. Politics often play a major role in these relationships and you can’t control everything. However, the more “out there” you are with your communications and outreach, the more effective you will be in “weatherproofing” yourself from criticism. A long-term comprehensive communications plan that includes a strategy to work with other local groups will help you in building positive relationships and ultimately help lead to a victory at the ballot box on election day.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach
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What’s your school’s communications game plan?

June 10, 2013

Education and teaching requires schools to plan, prepare and diagram all aspects of the educational process. For example, many educators have been planning for years for the new standards, curriculum, testing involved in the Common Core.

But when it comes to sharing news and informing the public about what goes on in our schools everyday, school districts often “go with the flow” and don’t have a comprehensive plan about how to stay connected with their community. In this era of “instant information,” it is more important than ever to map out a communications strategy to help build trust and credibility with the public.

A good place to start is with a communication plan. A communication plan provides a mix of tactics and tools needed to reach targeted audiences on a regular basis. Each plan should include key themes and messages that the public should know about your schools and that message should be cross-marketed via a variety of different tools. They range from traditional mediums, such as direct mail and local media, to 21st Century tools such as social media and videos and mobile apps, to good old- fashioned coffee klatches in people’s homes.

A good plan ensures you’re doing the right work, pursuing the right goals, and doing it the best way while maximizing the use of your limited resources. A good plan should also include a month-to-month checklist to make sure you are staying on target. Finally, your communications plan should be reviewed annually for updates and enhancements as new and more effective communications tools become available.

Why should you find yourself in a “reactive” mode when it comes to sharing information about your schools? Good communications and public outreach need to be a priority. Being proactive by creating a communication plan will help keep you on track, build trust in the community and ensure residents are informed about the value of their local schools bring to the community.

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Posted in Community Outreach
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