Allerton Hill Blog

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Keyword Archives: schoolpr

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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Letters to the editor: get your message heard

December 2, 2015

Looking for a simple way to get your message heard?  Write a letter to the editor!

Letters to the editor are probably the best read section of a publication.  Whether you chose to contact a newsletter, newspaper, or magazine, letters to the editor are great ways to:

Complain, about unbalanced coverage, poorly conceived content or illogical editorials.

Set the record straight, about ill-conceived articles, inaccurate information, or unproven misperceptions.

Express a strong reaction, to community events, news coverage, and taxpayer issues.

Explore ideas, about life, community needs, and politics.

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Posted in Allerton Hill News, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Policy, Social Media
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Soft grants can fund school projects

November 16, 2015

While many districts actively compete in formal grant programs, they often ignore a more lucrative source of funds:  celebrities.

Many high-earning celebrities, including actors, directors, writers, entertainers, sports stars, talk show hosts, broadcasters and others sponsor charities, donate items for fundraising auctions, or make pledges to crowdfunding campaigns.  Still others engage in “soft grants,” donating funds to projects that capture their interest.  Soft grants tend to have no application process.  All that is involved is a public or private appeal, and hopefully a check.

In fact, the award of a soft grant may depend more on the publicity value of the donation or whether it strokes the celebrity ego.  Sometimes, a specific project may pull at a celebrity’s heart strings and compel him or her to open their wallets. At other times, a grant may be awarded to boost a tarnished image, or heighten a public profile. But in the end, it is the recipient who benefits most.

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Campaigns
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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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Public Schools Should Consider Podcasting

November 5, 2015

I am listening to a man explain home mortgages to another man on a video game podcast. I have known both men long enough, in the way that podcasts make strangers knowable, using mass disclosure of intimacies as a workaround for the insufficiencies of written language and a loss-leader for its continuing expansion.

Like its written forerunner, the spoken Internet trains its audience to project onto commercial material a dim emotional dependence activated by tone of voice, emergence of patterns of thought over time, and the jigsaw details about family and non-working life that slip between the topical seriousness. For years, I’ve followed alongside the lives of a handful of people I’ve never met and who nevertheless feel like steady companions, a desacralized variation on the still, small voice turned into a market commodity, something to make all of the chillingly desocialized spaces of the Internet feel slightly more familiar.

 Click here to continue reading this article on Forbes »

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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Using research to get your message heard

November 3, 2015

Building a communications plan without research is much like trying to shoot fish in a barrel:  You know your target is there, you’re just not sure where to aim.

Research should be the foundation for every communications plan.  Surveys, focus groups, online discussions, and interviews with key influencers provide the information required to set goals and objectives, develop key messages, identify target audiences, and create effective communications strategies and tactics.

Information must be gathered from every group that could impact perceptions about your schools, including students, staff, parents, businesses, the media, and the community. Each targeted group should be surveyed about perceptions and attitudes concerning the schools, effective communications vehicles, desired frequency of communication, and message effectiveness.

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Posted in Allerton Hill News, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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West Clermont advocates for public schools

October 29, 2015

There was a full house at the West Clermont Public School Advocacy kickoff meeting, held Oct. 14 in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Center at Glen Este High School.

The meeting was led by West Clermont Local School District Superintendent Keith Kline, who encouraged school staff, parents, students and community members to learn more about the effect that charter schools have on public education.

“As you know, public education has been under fire for a long time now. Funding continues to dwindle, we send more and more of our resources to poorly performing, for-profit charter schools and the entire teaching profession continues to be demeaned,” Kline said in an email.

He added, “While there has been some movement in Columbus around charter school accountability, there are still major issues around funding, evaluation of teachers, the burden of assessments and the destruction of public education as we know it. Enough is enough!”

 

 Click here to continue reading this article on The Clermont Sun »

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Policy
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School administrators seek to engage Dublin’s older residents

October 28, 2015

Typical among school districts, about 65 percent of Dublin’s residents don’t have children in the district, say Dublin schools administrators.

So how does a school district keep empty-nesters involved and invested? Feed them, and promise live entertainment.

On Monday, 34 senior citizens gathered at the district’s Central Office at 7030 Coffman Rd. to visit the buffet line, chat with friends and hear what’s going on with their grandchildren’s schools directly from the Dublin administrators.

The Senior Council Advisory Committee, which convenes four times a year, started about seven years ago. At first, the district had to recruit seniors, but soon the group grew by word of mouth.

Superintendent Todd Hoadley said it isn’t directly about passing levies, but “this is like deposits into the bank of good will.”

 Click here to continue reading this article on The Columbus Dispatch »

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Posted in Community Outreach, Education, Land Use, Social Media
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How School Business Officals should be communicating to the public

May 5, 2014

When I became a Treasurer I knew that I would have to report financial information to the Board of Education at least monthly, discuss finances with the Superintendent when needed and communicate/explain our fiscal situation to bargaining units at negotiation time. No big deal, right?

What I never considered was the impact that my communications skills would have on the community that I serve in this role. For better or worse, gone are the days when most community members had no idea, or cared very much how district funds were spent. No longer are we blindly trusted to do the right thing. Whether this lack of trust is deserved or not is really beside the point. Voters who decide on new or continued local taxes expect details on how we use their money, and more than ever we Treasurers and other business officials are serving folks who expect accountability and require direct answers to their questions. In order to maintain our credibility with the electorate, it is critical that we are able to satisfy this need.

Here are some basic rules that I believe are worth thinking about when it comes to communicating as a school business official.

#1. Honesty, even if the news isn’t good, is absolutely essential when disclosing information. The media and members of the public can spot a phony or someone who is fudging the facts a mile away, and as in any relationship, once trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to get back. There is no fact so bad that it is better to sugar coat it (or worse) and end up losing trust.

#2. Don’t be defensive. I know this is easy to say but often difficult to do when a public records request or a call for information appears to be questioning our judgement or ethics. Still, by doing our jobs well and willingly disclosing information to anyone who requests it, we establish and justify the confidence we need from our community.

#3. Remember that information doesn’t belong to us. With very few exceptions, what we know is what the community is entitled to know.

#4. Tap into the kids. This is huge for me. At my district we have a different building make a presentation at each Board of Education meeting. I don’t care if is the cutest little kindergartener or a geeky high school student, being around the kids, even if it is only once a month for a few minutes, helps me to remember why I have this job. I recently read a bio from one of my peers that stated that he is the ‘chief financial officer for 3500 kids’. I had never thought of it that way before. I always think of being responsible to the Board or the voters, but looking at the faces of and listening to the voices of kids singing or reading at the Board meetings or just excitedly talking about the puppy who visited their classroom recently brings me a sense of purpose far beyond just answering to the Board of Education. KIDS – the reason we do what we do!

#5. Enjoy being a public servant. I know that public servants are not always held in the highest of esteem these days. Let’s face it – a few have brought that disrespect on themselves. But I believe that having a job that is supported by the taxpayers – many who struggle to pay their taxes and still have money left for their families – is an honor. It makes me proud and reminds me to do the best job possible for those folks who pay their taxes and count on me work hard to educate kids with their money.
We school business folks may not all be blessed with the skills to be eloquent speakers or effective writers, but we all have the ability to be honest and humble and cordial when we communicate with anyone in the course of our jobs. That’s really all most folks expect from us. No big deal, right?

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Posted in Education
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