Allerton Hill Blog

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

Monthly Archives: June 2015

AHC Success Story: Librarian’s creative plea for books gets clicks

June 26, 2015

The following is an article about using social media to get your student’s attention and drive action that features Liberty Elementary School, an AHC communications client for the past 5 years.

Communication with your public is a team effort.  Every success must be celebrated.  Every innovation must be mentioned.  No school can afford to keep quiet in the information age.



Liberty Elementary School librarian Mary Evelyn Smith proved she’s “All About Them Books” by creating a parody song and video to Meghan Trainor’s song, All About That Bass, as a plea for students to return overdue books to the school library.

The video has had more than 61,000 views so far on YouTube since it was posted late last month — and more than 1 million views on other websites. …


 Read the Full Article on »

Posted in Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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What School Districts Can Learn from Ice Cream Scare

June 8, 2015

Jeni's Ice Cream Case Study

A single pint of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Lincoln, Nebraska tested positive for listeria.  The company had a choice.  They could deal with the situation quietly — after all it was only one pint — or they could go public and see if a larger issue existed.  So on April 23 they recalled more than $2.5 million worth of products and closed all 21 of their scoop shops.  This move made national headlines.  It also earned them the trust and loyalty of millions of customers.  

For the 29 days that the company was shut down they received “love” notes from their loyal customers pledging their support of the company and promising to be back when the doors re-opened.  While the company may have lost a significant amount of money, it also gained a tremendous level of brand loyalty from its customers.

So what did Jeni’s do that made their customers love them in spite of the fact that listeria was present in their products?  First, they put their customer’s needs above the bottom line.  Jeni’s could have easily dealt with the single pint issue and moved on.  Instead they wanted to ensure the safety of all their customers.

Second, they communicated honestly and repeatedly.  There were regular posts about the progress of the situation on the company’s Facebook page and representatives said yes to dozens of interviews with media outlets. If they found a problem in one of their production lines they came clean and shared it with their customers first.  Then they continued to share updates as they made changes in their production lines, began making new products and even posted owner Jeni Britton Bauer taste testing the new ice cream herself.

Jeni’s took ownership of the issue and changed the story from testing positive for listeria to we care about our customers so much we are willing to eat more than $2.5 million in lost product just to make sure we are serving you the best ice cream we can.

These same principles of transparency and repeated honest communication are important for school districts as well.  During a crisis, parents and community members want to know that they can trust the decisions administrators and staff members making.  If there is a late day snow storm parents want to know why schools decided to send middle and high school kids home early but not elementary students.  Or if a staff member has stolen from the PTO bake sale, what is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Moments of crisis are unfortunate.  But they are going to happen and they need to be treated as an important opportunity for school districts to communicate with the public.  How you choose to communicate during a time of crisis goes a long way in building or destroying the trust and loyalty your parents and community members have in your schools.  The team at Allerton Hill has more than 75 years of experience in dealing with various school and community crisis’s and can help your team not only make it through the storm, but build your own brand in the process.

See Jeni’s Ice Cream’s communications in action on Facebook at

Photo: Taken from Jeni’s Ice Cream home page at

Posted in Community Outreach

Clear & Decisive Communications during a Crisis Earns the Public’s Trust

June 3, 2015

From the Marysville Journal-Tribune, an editorial posted May 29, 2015,
regarding the Marysville school district, an AHC client.

“Refreshing to see school issues handled swiftly, openly”

The sudden removal of an elementary school principal and a high school teacher from their posts in the Marysville school district have been the talk of the town for the last month.

Many local residents have bemoaned both situations as black eyes for the schools. District officials and educators probably wish both situations would resolve themselves and go away. Eventually they will.

But I believe the public’s knowledge of the situations is a positive thing.

At the root of the issues are allegations made against two individuals, not against the district. The only claim you can make against the district is that it heard claims made against two employees and handled them swiftly.

This has not always been the case around this town.

Allegations of student/teacher relationships swirled around Marysville High School when I was there more than 20 years ago. Similar allegations have surfaced while I have worked at the Journal-Tribune.

On at least two of the occasions, educators quietly left the district to seek employment elsewhere. No formal action was raised by the school district and law enforcement was never involved. They simply headed down the road to become someone else’s problem.

Last year, Trinity Lutheran School found out what can happen when teachers seek employment in another state following allegations. The school was forced to deal with a situation in which a teacher passed a background check and was hired despite a scandal involving a student in Illinois. Trinity had nothing to do with the allegations and it occurred years before the teacher arrived at the school, but Trinity was forced to deal with it because the district in Illinois hadn’t.

With the recent events, residents can at least take heart that the allegations were dealt with quickly and publicly. Parents and, for the most part, the public have been kept apprised of updates with the cases.

Details continue to trickle out on both situations allowing citizens to decide who they believe.

For people in this area to think that public employees, including educators, don’t make poor decisions is arrogant. There is no bubble of absolute morality that protects this school district or county.

Bad apples can be found in any barrel. The only thing you can hope is that the person tending the barrel has the sense to pluck it quickly, rather than push it to the bottom and deny it was rotten.

 From the Marysville Journal-Tribune, (Full Article only available for paid subscribers) »

Posted in Allerton Hill News, Community Outreach
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