Courting the Middle Class
What can schools do to keep parents from going private, or moving to the suburbs? Once as revered as mom and apple pie, the public school brand has crashed and burned spectacularly since the 1970s, when the general public and most parents believed their children’s schools were better than when they attended them. To win back middle-class parents, school leaders must seize the agenda and focus the rhetoric on public education’s successes rather than its challenges.
To Blog or Not to Blog
The Web’s hottest and fastest-growing trend is a great way to communicate and promote transparency, but some pitfalls remain. More newsy than news oriented, blogs represent a potent form of consumer-generated media. Unfiltered blogs are the Wild West of the Internet, where mostly young citizen journalists routinely ignore media niceties like fact checking, multiple sourcing, and balance. Conversational in tone, blogs represent a new and powerful form of personal communication.
Building a Better Brand
Once considered the sole purview of global corporations and consumer product giants like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Toyota, and Disney, branding is coming of age in financial services, healthcare, non-profit organizations, government, professional services, and even (gasp) education. When it comes to the public’s perception of schools, ‘just the facts’ doesn’t work any more. How can your district improve—and enhance—its image?
From Transparency to Trust
If only 2 percent of Americans rank CEOs as very trustworthy, can school leaders expect much more? Restoring trust demands a radical new approach to conducting the public’s business. In a tell-all society, telling it like it is may be the only way to build credibility with key groups. That’s why transparency—making sure processes are visible, accessible, open to participation, and accountable—is gaining momentum in school communications.
Keys to Effective Communications
One of the great ironies of modern life is that as the world gets more complex and connected, people feel more disjointed and alone. That’s why relationships and face-to-face communication will always matter more than an award-winning marketing campaign or a front-page "good news" story. Technology can help you manage relationships in new and better ways. But an e-mail exchange will never replace the discussion you can have over a cup of coffee at the donut shop.
Bracing for Bird Flu
Health officials warn of a possible influenza pandemic—are your schools ready? When the best-case scenario calls for 2 to 7 million deaths, disruption to vital services, and a global economic depression, it’s time for school leaders to get serious about planning for a possible pandemic flu outbreak.
News as Entertainment
It’s no secret that public education is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. When one of the nation’s top syndicated talk radio hosts repeatedly equates public schooling with child abuse and no outcry ensues, denial is no longer a viable option. Managing the media when the facts don’t matter takes plenty of perseverance and a good dash of creativity.
Hiring the Right PR Pro
Top public relations professionals tend to share several common traits, whether managing communications for multinational corporations or for complex education environments. In today’s competitive marketplace, strategic thinking and planning trump traditional skills like writing, public speaking, and media relations
Winning the War for Public Education
In public relations and marketing, the difference between a campaign’s success and failure is often strategic, not tactical. Newsletters, brochures, billboards, websites, parent forums, and key communicator programs are all useful tools if deployed at the right time for the right reason to the right audience. But winning hearts and minds takes more than well-executed tactics. Building strong support for public schools requires a strategic approach to communications. Here’s why.
The Search for the Right School
For relocating parents, test scores often fuel decisions on where to live. School leaders who take pride in running data-driven districts can hardly complain when parents depend on the data. Rather than fight against the accountability tide, marketing experts recommend making it easy for parents to find the data they crave, whether online, in print, in person, or on the phone.