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Keyword Archives: forbes

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.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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Why Public Schools Are Finally Getting Savvy About Marketing

April 29, 2015

Hiring public relations and strategy consultants is nothing new for corporations or political campaigns, as we’ve seen with the recent influx of candidates into the presidential race, flanked by a bevy of advisors. But they’ve been a rarity for public entities, particularly K-12 public schools.

For generations, the thought of a school district hiring outreach help was anathema. Especially during the Baby Boom, educators had one constituency to court: parents. With half the homes in many communities having school age children, the need to fund public schools was obvious. Now, however, it’s not unusual for many districts to have fewer than 30% of households with children in the public schools. Losing their core parental constituency has forced school boards and administrators to embrace social media and move beyond traditional newsletters to explain their value to the broader community.

As a result, a new trend has emerged: public schools are finally embracing modern marketing strategies. The realization of its importance often begins with superintendents, who are the on front lines of fighting for school budgets and liaising with skeptical community members. “It’s a new world out there,” says Piqua, Ohio, Superintendent Rick Hanes, whose district passed a school levy tax in part by forging a “taxpayer bill of rights” with specific promises to the community. Hanes required that each administrator keep a copy of the “bill of rights” on her desk as a constant reminder of who pays the bills.

Teachers, who have historically resisted marketing efforts, are also getting into the act. Schools of education around the nation are including undergraduate and graduate courses in their curriculum that cater to up-and-coming educators who want to engage their communities. Meanwhile, their veteran colleagues and the unions that represent them are shelving their reluctance to participate in creative public relations, realizing that each child who enrolls or is retained is a handsome dividend.

It’s also become increasingly common for school districts to hire consulting firms to help them navigate a changed landscape of weary taxpayers and increased competition from charter and private schools. “Ten years ago, a school district would be skewered if it spent public dollars on community surveys,” says Joel Gagne, President of Washington, D.C.-based Allerton Hill Consulting, which consults exclusively for school districts (and for which I’ve provided strategic counsel in the past). “Today it’s a necessity, and residents actually welcome the opportunity to sound off about the schools.”


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Posted in Community Outreach, Education

For Public Schools, Twitter Is No Longer Optional

May 24, 2013

Public schools are keenly aware of the power of the mainstream media; a critical television segment or a laudatory newspaper article will be talked about in the hallways for days. But the landscape has shifted, and school leaders must embrace a new, growing reality: social media has become the source for breaking news.

School districts, because of budget constraints and the conservatism necessitated by intense public scrutiny, have often been slow to adopt new technologies. By now, it’s standard practice to have a website or – perhaps – a Facebook page or blog. But in general, schools are lagging when it comes to the most important social media channel when it comes to the dissemination of breaking news: Twitter.

 Read more of this compelling post, by Forbes contributor Dorie Clark and Allerton Hill Consulting’s Joel Gagne, on »

Posted in Community Outreach, Social Media
Keywords: ,