Most school communication pros operate with a summer checklist that begins with a deep cleansing breath when all students have left their buildings and media inquiries subside. Summer workloads are still hefty, but you often experience pockets of uninterrupted stretches of time that just don’t happen during the regular school year. (Our condolences to our year-round school members!)
So, with a nod to those who may experience some of these precious interludes, here are a few unorthodox approaches to explore this summer:
Plan a Register-to-Vote Campaign
It has become increasingly clear that school reform initiatives are driven by elected officials who often have no real clue about how their decisions will hurt the children and well-being of their very own communities. And that description, unfortunately, is taking the high road as other initiatives are driven by special interest or corporate groups who use their local primary campaigns to build a foundation to torch school budgets or to advocate for their particular brand of education.
One of the better moments of a democracy is that “He Who Has the Most Votes Wins.” Urging staff, parents, and others to register to vote before primary elections is a good first step to overcome movements that undercut public education.
Research what you can do to remind all eligible voters to register and then plan to give them easy steps or directions on how to register to vote.
As we have said before: In these local and state legislative elections, we must ask, Who’s for Kids and Who’s Just Kidding?
Listen to Parents of Your Recent Graduates
Now that most graduation ceremonies are just about over, it’s a good time to capture the collective wisdom of some parents of your graduates. They may seem a bit shocked when you approach them, but they remain a very important target for your communication efforts for years to come.
In focus groups, begin to get a feel for how to improve your efforts by asking questions such as:
- What were the best characteristics of your graduates’ experience during the past 13 years?
- What do you wish we could have done better for your graduate in the past 13 years?
- In thinking about how we communicate with parents, what could we have done better for you? From the individual school? From the district as a whole?
- Now that you may no longer be directly connected to our schools, what type of information and communication you would like to receive from our schools? Would you like to be engaged in some way about the future of our schools?
Feedback from even some of these questions can help you shape messages and improve how you communicate in the year ahead.
Add to Your List of Summer Reading: The Politics of Authentic Engagement
Former NSPRA President Kathy Leslie, APR and co-author Judy Taccogna have just released a practical and readable book on the politics of authentic engagement.
Engagement is one of those terms that seems to be “in the eye of the beholder.” Over the years, we have worked with superintendents who have proudly handed us slick brochures as examples of their brand of engagement — they just had brochures; they didn’t interact with anyone. Others have stepped up but then realized how much work it could be to engage people. They may have ultimately even alienated audiences because they withdrew their efforts and never closed the loop with their now non-supportive participants.
Here’s the thing: Make the time to read this new book. It will give you the insight you need to get involved and to commit to authentic engagement. Engagement really works when it’s done right.
Since NSPRA is a co-publisher along with Rowman & Littlefield, our NSPRA store will carry the book at www.nspra.org/store. You can also buy it from Amazon along with your latest tech device, kitchen faucet, and pet supplies.
Join Us at the NSPRA Annual Seminar in Nashville
Now you have some professional options for this summer. But, of course, I know we will see more than 700 of you at NSPRA’s Nashville Seminar from July 12-15.
It’s not too late! You can still register at www.nspra.org/seminar.
See you there!
Rich Bagin, APR
NSPRA Executive Director