Anticipation: Key Role of the PR Pro

 The ability to anticipate is one of the key characteristics of great public relations people.

 Seeing things before they happen will make you a valuable asset to your leadership team. Of course, some of your cabinet colleagues may say, “Geez, there she goes again. These things never happen; she’s just a worry wart.” But it only takes one avoidable public opinion incident to crash the reputation of your school district.  

Some call it “PR Vision” while others like ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky called it, “Skating to where the puck will be.” Valued PR people always scan for the issues, or for local practices that can surface and hurt the reputation of their entire district. 

The Cheating Issue Is One Example

Just look at the cheating issue that is surfacing in school districts at a time when we need more support from all our publics. It is a PR issue you need to anticipate now. If your cabinet members are of the oh-it-will-never-happen-here mindset, shake them up with some fake print headlines or teasers for local broadcasts with  Superintendent Smith Has No Idea How Cheating Occurred; Testing Chief Resigns Amid Cheating Scandal; Students Say Cheating on State Tests Rampant at Clark High, Superintendent and Board Say No Cheating Safeguards Were Put in Place.  

What safeguards have you implemented? What do your policies say about action taken if employees or students cheat? Have you recently reminded staff that cheating is a “zero tolerance” issue in your district? Have you communicated the way you are safeguarding against cheating with your parent and key communicator community? 

Be Proactive on Issues with Your Boss

Throughout the year, give a heads-up to your superintendent on issues or procedures that must be fixed before they become problems. Some staff members will say “it is none of your business.” While, frankly, from my standpoint, it is one of the best things you can do to protect the reputation of your school district.  

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

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