Create Your Own “May Madness?”

Nope, we’re not talking about the upcoming budget battles this spring.  We’re talking about getting proactive and creating your own version of “May Madness” to ignite a buzz about the accomplishments of your students, staff, and schools.

Right now, most schools with elite athletes are participating in a National Signing Day, where stellar athletes sign their letters of intent about their college choice and the scholarships that go with them.  Some colleges send coaches to the signing event and the athletes often wear caps and jerseys of the college they select.  It’s a fun and proud moment for a handful of super athletes and their schools.  National media coverage by ESPN and others add to the celebratory hype of this day.

You should go to the next step and have your district or high schools participate in a different kind of National Signing Day.  Have all of your students announce their next steps.  Credit for this “big idea” to prove our schools are working goes to Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett, who urged Ohio districts to do the same in one of her past columns.

Picture it.  Your high school auditorium is packed with underclassman and one by one graduating seniors announce and sign their letters of intent.  You need to decide how far you would want to go, whether you announce just scholarship winners or celebrate all students’ next career paths.  You can highlight those who will attend college, enlist in armed forces, or take special training to advance technical and occupational careers.  It’s up to you to decide what would work for your school and community.

Invite the media.  Invite dignitaries to the event and capture their responses for this day of achievement.  Record video and stream it on your website.  Use the footage to make a promotional video for your schools that can be shown at community group meetings, the Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and Realtor meetings and open houses for recruiting new students and parents.  The only limit is your creativity and, of course, time and money.

People often ask me what the weakest characteristic of most school communication programs is. It’s that we are reactive and not proactive.  We need to be more proactive and offer positive triggering events that are aligned with the goals of our schools. Preparing students to win at their next level is one major component of what we are all about.

Be proactive.  Celebrate accomplishments.  Trigger positive comments about your students and staff.  Start marching toward your own May Madness program today.

Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA executive director

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