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Strategies for Personal Branding Success

Branding Strategies for Superintendents // Communications Expertise from Allerton Hill Consulting

February 12, 2016

We’ve talked about WHY you should build your personal brand as a superintendent and how to define your intentions. Now let’s look at how to put your branding into action…

As Superintendent, you are responsible for not only carrying out your school district’s mission statement but for also representing it. You are the person who is first rewarded with successes and who will be blamed for shortcomings. It is critical to create a personal brand that reflects both your school’s goals but also your personality and your leadership skills.

Communicating your brand is a practice in consistency, creativity and authenticity.

There is no doubt that you should have a Twitter account. In this digital age, a Twitter account is the easiest way for you to consistently share your message and your accessibility. This isn’t your school’s account but yours as the face of your school district. You should write your tweets yourself so that they are in your own voice.

(Coming soon, we’ll look at how to hone your voice for social media.)

But Twitter is just one way to communicate your brand. Do not rely on it exclusively. You are your brand every time you appear in public, every time you engage with a student or staff member. Infuse the same personality, openness and leadership in meetings as you do in one-on-one encounters.

When an opportunity to represent the school presents itself — as a speaker at a conference, in a radio (or podcast!) interview or in a newspaper editorial, consider both your district’s mission as well as your personal brand. What do you want your audience to take away? Finding a balanced blend between the key themes of your school district and your personal brand will help emphasize your message in a meaningful and memorable way.

Posted in Community Outreach
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You Are Your Brand

Why is it important to build a personal brand as well as your school's brand? Communications for superintendents and schools from Allerton Hill Consulting.

February 10, 2016

Why Do I Need a Personal Brand when I Have Worked So Hard to Create a Brand for My School?

At Allerton Hill Consulting, we work hard with schools to create mission statements and actionable plans for growth and successful communication of those plans at every step of the way. The same careful attention that is paid to building a school’s brand should be paid to defining and managing your public identity, otherwise known as your “personal brand”.

As a superintendent, you are the primary voice of your school district. You set the tone and define the path that your district is going to take. In this age of instant access through social media, your students, staff and community-at-large aren’t only focused on your school’s brand & intentions. They also want to know who you are and what your intentions are. They want to talk with you and share their ideas. Creating & fostering avenues for access will not only emphasize your leadership skills but will open you up for critical feedback and valuable support.

Your personal brand is your statement about who you are and how you want your staff, parents, students and community to see you. Defining this is the first step you must take before you can begin to build a strong personal brand.

Ask these questions to start the definition process:

 • How do you want your staff, parents, students and community to describe you?

 • How does your staff, parents, students and community describe you now?
(Ask around — you’ll be surprised at how quickly and readily people are willing to share their thoughts!)

 • What are your key strengths and how can you use them to promote your school’s agenda?

 • What does leadership mean to you?

 • How essential is it to you to be perceived as approachable?


Read Next: Translate your personal brand identity into a concrete strategy for accessibility and engagement »


Posted in Community Outreach
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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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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.


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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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.


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.


Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Policy
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Are You Following the Social Media Rule of Thirds?

November 7, 2015

It’s tempting for businesses to exclusively share their content to drive sales or marketing, neglecting authentic engagement. It takes discipline to share content from like-minded businesses or industry thought leaders. By following social media’s so-called “Rule of Thirds,” you will be sure you’re sharing content that attracts and maintains an engaged following.

What is Social Media’s Rule of Thirds?

⅓ of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.

⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.

⅓ of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.

Sharing your own branded content should come naturally. It’s the other two thirds that may be a challenge. Let’s talk about why sharing professional and personal content is equally important.

 Click here to continue reading this article on »

Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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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 »

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.


Posted in Allerton Hill News, Campaigns, Community Outreach, Education, Social Media
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