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Keyword Archives: relationships

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.


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.


Posted in Budget & Finance, Campaigns
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Parental Engagement: Crucial Element of Successful Schools

October 8, 2015

As U.S. students begin another school year, conversations and even heated debates revolve around school quality and definitions of student success.

But the narrative is changing. The 47th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools found that student engagement and hope are more important measures of school effectiveness than test scores.

And here’s another key ingredient to school success: parents themselves. More specifically, parental engagement.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Education
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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.

Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach
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School Districts’ webinars reach out

April 10, 2014

The March 13 webcast looked for all the world — or for the 50 people who logged in — like an unpolished version of Jerry Revish with the news, Chris Bradley bringing you weather and Dom Tiberi on sports.

It didn’t occur at first to Worthington schools Superintendent Thomas Tucker that his online lunch for parents would come across that way. Or that his sport coat was bunching around his neck, something that a television pro would have fixed.

But Tucker is not a television pro. He’s an educator trying to figure out how best to communicate with parents.

So what if his introductions of the district’s treasurer and facilities director weren’t anchorman smooth?

“I don’t care about how I look,” he said. “I’m worried that I’m articulating the best way that I can.”

The Worthington and Hilliard school districts are experimenting with the webinar, a technology that businesses have used for years to get their messages out. The districts use the softer-sounding phrase online lunch.

They are the only public-school systems in central Ohio trying to reach parents this way. According to people familiar with school technology in Ohio, they might be the only districts in the state trying it.

The idea, said Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen, is that some parents and community members want to talk to him about education issues, but they can’t find the time to attend the district’s regular in-person meetings. Maybe they can catch an online video chat during their lunch break.

“People want their information in such a variety of different ways,” Marschhausen said.

The basic format has the superintendents sitting, flanked by another staff member or two who can talk about the topic of the day. Anyone with an Internet connection can click a link from the district’s website to see the video feed. They also can type questions.

The participants give some prepared statements and then start answering questions. The March 13 Worthington session was open to general topics, including building security and the district’s financial stability. It was the third webinar the district had tried; the first was last spring.

Hilliard’s first webinar was in 2011, with then-Superintendent Dale McVey, said Amanda Morris, the director of school-community relations and one of the people who came up with the idea. She said the district has seen more interest in the online lunches when they stick to a specific topic.

The March 11 webinar focused on Hilliard’s plan to issue iPad minis to sixth-grade students, and about 50 people participated online. Another 200-plus have watched a recording of the session, Morris said.

Which raises a question: How many people need to log in to a webinar for it to be successful? That 50 in Hilliard is out of a potential audience of thousands. The same is true in Worthington, where 41 people logged in for the March 13 session.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Vicki Gnezda, Worthington’s communications director. “I think it was 11 a year ago.”

Parents in both districts think it’s a good idea, even if they’re not familiar with the details.

“I think there’s been one,” said Laurie Wirt, the president of Worthington Kilbourne High School’s PTO.

Even if she’s not quite right on the number, she said she appreciates the difficulty in reaching large numbers of parents. She has participated in webinars as a lawyer and thinks they can work well.

“It’s hard to figure out what will get through to the most people,” she said.

Mark Harrington, who has four children in Hilliard schools and once worked in technology with the district, likes the casual approach that the superintendent took in the last webinar — Marschhausen had his sleeves rolled up at a table, in contrast to the news-broadcast style in Worthington. Harrington plans to watch the next one, too, in April.

He has a comment, though, if the district wants to reach more people.

“The audio could have been better,” he said.

Posted in Education
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How to communicate effectively about school budgets

January 9, 2013

In an era of government mistrust and in a time of 24/7 news cycles, there is an expectation from citizens that schools talk about the financial state of the district. In fact, virtually all school district surveys we’ve seen recently show that citizens expect stricter budgeting and strong financial management from their schools.

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Community Outreach
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