Considerations for the New Year

Considerations for the New Year

The New Year prompts many of us to look at ourselves in different ways. Some of us come up with the normal resolutions of losing weight, getting more exercise, devoting more time to leisure, doing some out-of-my-career reading, taking a better shot at developing a balanced life, and the list continues. But this time of year can also be a good time to reflect on the advice of leaders, peers, and some other notables as we approach the year ahead.

So what follows is selected advice that may be good for many of us in the school PR profession. These are far from new year’s resolutions, but they might make you think about your personal practice of school communication.

Here are just some bits of advice that I think may be worth a quick test-drive for 2013:

Berkshire Hathaway director Thomas Murphy told Warren Buffet:

“Never forget, Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow.” 

(Sure beats the old “counting-to-10” approach before letting anger prompt you to say something that you’ll later regret! Been there; done that.)


Author and national speaker Jamie Vollmer in his book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone, used this John Powell quote:

“Communication works for those who work at it.”

(For me this rings true when some school leaders just give lip service to the communication function. For school communication to work, you really do need to work at it day in and day out. I realize this sounds like a big “Duh” moment, but I have seen one-time initiatives fail when the ongoing commitment was lacking and the communication function painted as a failure.)


Doug Ullman, CEO of Livestrong, (of the recent Lance Armstrong debacle) noted that during tough times, we need to stay strong as he noted,

“You can survive any type of distraction if — and only if — you stay focused on the organization’s mission.” 

(In education, distractions seem to be another item to place under the umbrella of “the new normal.” We must keep our focus on what is best for our kids and our communities. We will always have some blips on the screen when employees or others behave badly, but we must keep a visible focus on our core responsibilities because they are the very reason we exist.)


Meg Carnes and Kitty Porterfield opened each of their chapters in Why School Communication Matters with a quote. The one that fits here, albeit anonymous, is:

You can’t win on defense.”

(I have often said that the lack of proactivity is the Number One problem in school communication. We are forever reacting to some else’s story before we tell our own.)


Here’s a personal mantra for those of us who manage or supervise people or issues. Many years ago when I was in the agency-marketing business, a consultant from a management consulting group taught us to regularly ask this question:

What did I do (or not do) to make this happen (or not happen)?

It makes you realize that we may not always do some of the little things that lead to success.


Let me close with a school PR leadership classic from NSPRA’s very own Larry Ascough. Larry notes:

“I’ve spent an entire career helping leaders lead — that’s what I do.”

(Great school communication professionals really help all school leaders excel and that’s why they are indispensable in systems that give these pros the freedom to perform the PR function at the highest level of our profession.)


Well, there you have it. Just six brief items to reflect on as you begin your journey through 2013.

Let’s make it an outstanding and rewarding year for our school PR profession.

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

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One Comment on “Considerations for the New Year”

  1. Dave Nielsen Says:

    Thanks for the post! There’s some real gold here.

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