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  • 1. JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS Best Foot Forward A Marketing and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Best Foot Forward
  • 2. 1 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Contents Introduction Why We Need to Put Our Best Foot Forward....................................................2 Chapter 1 Marketing Your School ............................................3 Marketing vs. Public Relations Chapter 2 Developing the Marketing Plan ..............................4 Getting Your Marketing Plan Started Set a Goal Identify Your Audience Establish Time Lines and Responsibilities Develop Clear Themes and Messages Communicate the Message Evaluate the Plan Chapter 3 Writing Customer-Friendly Copy ..........................6 Chapter 4 Working with the News Media ................................7 News Media Guidelines The News Release Public Service Announcements Chapter 5 The School Public Relations Audit ....................... 11 Chapter 6 Customer Service....................................................12 Chapter 7 Video Production and Photography Made Easy .........13 Chapter 8 Getting the Word Out! ...........................................16 Tools of the Trade Publications Guidelines
  • 3. 2 Best Foot Forward Why We Need to Put Our Best Foot Forward Effective communication is vital to a school’s success in a competitive marketplace. Let’s face it; with all of the information bombarding the community about public schools every day, it’s up to us to make sure our parents and the public have the facts. That’s why this program is for you! Best Foot Forward, created by the Communications and Publications Depart- ment, teaches school administrators how to develop and implement a marketing plan that will increase community support for their schools. The Best Foot Forward Program focuses school administrators on three primary objectives: • To identify target audiences and their perceptions about your school • To identify the school’s unique selling point and craft key messages, and • To assess and evaluate the effectiveness of current com- munication efforts We’ve also included tips on media relations, photography, and video production, along with a list of some of the best practices in school public relations from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). This booklet is your guide to effective communication. Use it liberally whenever you want to put your school’s best foot forward!
  • 4. 3 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Marketing Your School Marketing is the buzz word among educators; but it’s a whole lot more than advertising and promotion. Marketing is a mindset that will allow you to position your school as a leader in the marketplace. Where do you start? Begin by understanding that there are no magic formulas, no wonder cures, no one-size-fits-all plans that are effective 100 percent of the time for every school. Each plan is customized, tailor-made to fit a school’s unique personality. The late Bob Grossman, author of “Making/Marketing Your School the School of Choice,” defined marketing as “creating or adapting a product to meet the customers’ needs and demands.” For this reason, it is important for school principals and staff members to understand four key facts about their customers. (For schools, the customers are the parents and the students.) • They are demanding. • They are interested in outcomes (specifically their child’s achievement). • They expect a customer-friendly school. • They have options if they don’t find what they are looking for at your school. As you develop programs and set goals for your school, keep these things in mind. Always consider the customer in your planning of new programs and policies. Designing an innovative, cutting-edge academic program may win awards, but unless it is something your parents want or value, it won’t be the selling point, or the competitive advantage you envisioned it to be. An effective marketing plan will bring in and maintain customers for your school programs. A good marketing plan is not about razzle-dazzle with no substance. The plan must be based on parents’ and students’ identified needs and the school’s long-range improvement goals. Otherwise, you’re just trying to sell parents a product they have no interest in buying. You have to be able to recognize educational trends, as well as long-range community and employment needs. After all, we are preparing youngsters to be productive citizens and employees, in addition to being successful students. Chapter 1 Marketing vs. Public Relations: Two Sides of the Same Coin When you market your school, your goals are quite different from the goals of a public relations plan. Market- ing is objective. It deals with countable customer transac- tions. How many new students enrolled? How many parents joined the PTA? On the other hand, a public relations plan is much more broad. It deals with percep- tions, feelings, and images. How do I feel about a school? Do I have confidence in a school? The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) defines school educational public relations as a planned, systematic management function, designed to help improve the programs and services of an educational organization. It relies on a comprehensive, two-way communication process involving both internal and external publics with the goal of stimulating better under- standing of the roles, objectives, accomplishments, and needs of the organization. “ assists in interpreting public attitudes; identifying and helping shape policies and procedures in the public interest; and carrying on involve- ment and information activities, which earn public under- standing and support.” The key ideas here are a planned management function; a two-way communication process; internal and external publics; and earning public understanding and support. Suffice it to say, a successful marketing effort must be rooted in a solid foundation of public trust and support for the school. Telling parents how good you are isn’t enough. Parents must experience your school’s and students’ success for themselves. They must trust and believe in your school’s ability to deliver quality academic outcomes.
  • 5. 4 Best Foot Forward Developing the Marketing Plan Creating a marketing plan isn’t difficult, but you must start at the beginning—that means research! Getting Your Marketing Plan Started If you want an effective public relations/marketing effort, you have to find out what your internal and external publics know and believe about your school. Ask parents, staff, and students to make a list of all of your school’s strengths (i.e., exceptional teachers, popular programs, award-winning students or student teams, a new build- ing), and then make a list of weaknesses (i.e., high suspension rate, low Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) scores, old building, school location). It is important to know your school’s assets and liabilities. You can be sure that your competition will know them. Next, list all the opportunities that are available to enhance your school’s success (i.e., a new subdivision in your attendance zone, receipt of a grant or new equip- ment, site of a Magnet Program). Do the same thing with events or circumstances that could negatively impact and pose threats to your school’s growth and success (i.e., opening of a new private school in the area, declining enrollment, closing of a major employer). These lists should give you a pretty accurate picture of your school. Review these lists and compare responses of those inside your school and out in the community. Identify any items that are perceptions (not fact)—good and bad—about your school. Are you surprised by the number of strengths respondents identified? Keep focused on these because they will become the basis for your message. The weaknesses and threats will show you where you need to concentrate your improvement efforts. As you analyze the results, go back and take one last look at that list of strengths. If there is anything on the list that is unique to your school, circle it. You always want to look for the characteristic that separates your school from all the others. Finding your unique selling point is very important. It provides a competitive advantage that is very important as you begin to position your school in the marketplace and to develop your message. Set a Goal Describe the outcome you want. Decide how you want your school to be viewed. Identify what you hope to accomplish. Make your goals specific and measurable. Simply deciding that you want to enhance your school’s image isn’t good enough. It’s too vague. How are you going to accomplish it? How will you know if you have achieved your goal? Consider, instead, a measurable statement that seeks to increase student or staff participation in some area of school life. By setting measurable, attainable goals, you help yourself to be more successful. Establishing a goal of “a 15 percent increase over three years,” for example, allows you to monitor your progress throughout the campaign’s implementation. Identify Your Audience Who is your audience? If you think the answer is, “Every- body,” think again. Though you may want the world to know how great your school is, targeting the whole community is not the way to achieve short- or long-term success. Ask yourself, ‘Who is critical to my school’s success?’ Do you know who the key communicators are in your school or community? Who are the individuals others always listen to or who always seem to know what’s going on in the school? If you don’t know who these folks are, find out. They are crucial to your communication efforts. Make a list of these individuals or groups; then ask yourself this question: If I could communicate with only one individual or group, which one would it be? Prioritize the names on your list and find ways to get those very important persons (VIPs) into your building. Don’t forget the staff. They are an important—and often overlooked—internal audience. Just because employees are in the building every day, don’t assume they know what’s going on or are aware of the role they play in marketing and promoting your school. Principals need to take the time to make sure that employees get the message, just like parents and other community members. Employees are integral links in the communications chain; considered by the public to be authorities—even when they are not— about everything that happens in the school building where they work, as well as in the District. Their words pack a lot of punch and an off-hand, negative remark can do irrepa- rable damage to a school’s image. If you want to communicate with staff, learn their informal communications network. Your employees bring with them their own communications networks. Identifying these networks is necessary when you are trying to promote school programs. You might be surprised to learn that your cafeteria manager has just the right connection you need to reach a specific target audience. Chapter 2
  • 6. 5 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Establish Time Lines and Responsibilities Put teeth into that great action plan. Identify resources needed to make things happen and a time frame for completion. Also, assign someone on the communications team responsibility for the activity and hold that person accountable. Develop Clear Themes and Messages Determining the message is based on knowing what your customers think and what they need. Because most of us live with information overload, we pay little or no attention to messages that do not directly affect us. So it’s imperative that any message we send about our schools is presented in terms and language our audience understands and values. This is not the time for educational jargon and buzz words. While the message focuses on your school’s unique selling point or competitive advantage, it also must tell the audience in no uncertain terms: What’s in it for me? Communicate the Message Getting your well-crafted message to your target audiences requires identifying the channels of communication that will work best with that audience. Do your parents listen to a particular radio station or read the weekly community newspaper instead of, or in addition to, the metropolitan daily? Will a memo or the school newsletter delivered by the backpack express reach the intended parent audience? Your decision on the way you communicate has much to do with how you want people to use the information once they receive it. Is the purpose informational or do you want the audience to do something? If you simply want to create an awareness or to provide information, the mass media is the most efficient strategy: fliers, newspaper stories, advertise- ments, and signs. If you want the audience to do something, if you want to change opinions or behavior, you’ll have to go beyond the mass media and create avenues for interper- sonal communication: telephone calls, personal letters, open houses, and face-to-face meetings. Don’t depend upon only one method to communicate your message. You need a mixture of several types of communi- cation to be effective. One news story or one event won’t do the job. Plan a series of activities that build upon one another and reinforce the message over time. If you want to generate long-lasting support, you may implement the campaign over several months, which means the planning could begin as early as a year before the time you expect to see results. Evaluate the Plan If you set measurable goals, you will have completed results that indicate whether your plan was successful. If you accomplished your goal, develop a plan for mainte- nance and establish a new goal. If your plan fell short, analyze what went wrong, revise the plan, and start again.
  • 7. 6 Best Foot Forward Writing Customer- Friendly Copy An effective brochure about your school has three key elements: eye-grabbing photos, an inviting layout/design, and easy-to-read copy. When you begin to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), keep this in mind: Write to express, not to impress. All too often, school brochures are filled with District acronyms, jargon, and “edubabble” that are casually bandied about the teachers’ lounge; but that’s the only place you’ll hear this lingo. When you write for a non-educator audience, use words and terms that are easily understood by all. Edward Moore, APR, of Rowan University, told participants in a recent NSPRA seminar that “we need to understand readers’ comfort levels in order to clearly communicate. If you write to that comfort level—or better yet, a couple of levels below,” he said, “you have a better chance of making your point.” Have you ever had anyone complain that they were sent something that was too easy to understand? Probably not. Moore’s advice to those of us who want what we write to be understood is simple. Balance the long, medium, and short sentences in our writing. To prove his point, he offers the following data about sentence length and communication effectiveness. Chapter 3 Average Sentence Length Readability Readers Reached Up to 8 words Very Easy 90% 11 words Fairly easy 86% 17 words Standard 75% 21 words Fairly Difficult 40% 25 words Difficult 24% Over 25 words Very Difficult 4.5% Here are some other tips for writing effective copy: • Know the audience for whom you’re writing. • Know your purpose for writing. • Use a catchy headline. • Use bullets when possible. • Break up copy with subheads. • Read your work out loud. • Write today, leave it, and revise tomorrow. Finally, remember the words of Thomas Jefferson. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
  • 8. 7 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Working with the News Media The media have an enormous capacity to shape and mold public opinion on a wide range of issues. That is why it is so important that schools use the media to their best advantage. That really means “putting your best foot forward.” When a reporter calls or a crisis occurs, you need to have a plan of action that shows you have the situation under control. Fact Number One The news media thinks of itself as the eyes and ears of the public. When they ask hard, pointed questions, they believe they are asking on behalf of citizens who have a right to know. This does not mean that reporters are totally objec- tive in their approach to a story. More often than not, they have been instructed to get a “red” story. They’re working on a particular angle. They get a lot of information from various sources, but the final story almost always will reflect the “angle” they were originally assigned. Few reporters will buck an assignment editor’s order for a “red” story by bringing back a “blue” one. Fact Number Two The news media is a business. It exists to make money, not just to serve the public good, no matter what reporters tell you. News organizations look for stories that will attract more readers and larger viewing audiences. What types of stories are most appealing? Simple. Reporters are interested in whatever their audiences are interested in or are talking about. Controversy and conflict are prerequisites for news. That doesn’t mean that good news doesn’t have a place in print or broadcast journalism. It does mean that the good news story may take a back seat to a more sensational story that will capture the attention of a larger audience. Fact Number Three The school administrator’s word is not law with the media. Reporters accept the principal’s statement as one point of view, but not the only one. They always are looking for another viewpoint, especially if it directly contradicts the school’s response. Fact Number Four The news media want stories that are fresh—things that are happening now, not yesterday. Television needs visual stories. Kids dressed like insects for the spring play titled Buggin are more likely to capture the attention of a TV Assignments editor than a story about a workshop on block scheduling, no matter how cutting-edge that may be. Newspapers, however, may be more willing to write stories about educational trends and programmatic changes because they have the space to fully explain complex issues. Think in terms of what is happening in other regions. Are those things happening here? Is an activity novel or unique or a first-ever event? Has one of your students accom- plished something no other student has done? Are celebri- ties involved? Is the activity the biggest ever or the small- est? While these criteria don’t guarantee media interest, they are some of the criteria considered when news staffs decide whether an event gets covered. Almost any activity can help you promote your school and increase public support for your efforts. Here are some examples of activities that have received media coverage in the past. • Student-constructed model of the human digestive system • School Bus Safety Assembly with a talking school bus • Heart adventure course set up in an elementary school gymnasium • Field trip to the Crane House • Elementary students adopting the orchestra • Rehearsals for a school play • Visit by the Tuskegee Airmen to an elementary school • Teen dance at a middle school • Preparations of an academic team for competition • Clown class at a middle school The Reporter Calls Decide who will speak for your school. District guidelines designate the principal as the school’s spokesperson, but another staff member should be designated as the alternate in the principal’s absence. Know what you can and cannot say about students and staff. The Family Rights and Privacy Act precludes school staff from disclosing students’ names, grades, and other personally identifiable information. In fact, the District legally cannot confirm a student’s attendance at any specific school location. In terms of staff, the Public Information officer may only release the employee’s name, hire date, status, and location. Remember that in times of crisis or in personnel matters, all such inquiries should be directed to the Public Information officer (485-3357), or you should contact the Public Information officer before responding. Don’t feel pressured into doing an interview cold without first discussing the subject matter the reporter wants to cover and allowing yourself time to prepare. Do return calls promptly. Reporters are always on a deadline! Often they don’t understand why interviews can’t be granted instantly when they need to file a story in the next hour. However, most are reasonable and will work with you to get the story. Sometimes a reporter’s behavior is annoying, but it is seldom personal. Most reporters will call the Press Relations Office for clearance and/or assistance to arrange a school visit or interview. (The Press Relations Office will call to advise you that a reporter will be calling.) If a reporter contacts you directly, you can ask the Public Information officer to return the call, or you can refer the reporter to the Public Information officer according to the guidelines for covering school news. If you feel comfortable handling the call Chapter 4
  • 9. 8 Best Foot Forward yourself, just remember that the Public Information officer is available to consult with you and to assist you in coordi- nating an appropriate response. 1. Anticipate questions that could arise about the subject under discussion, especially questions you don’t want to answer, and develop an appropriate response. 2. Control the interview. Always respond honestly and forthrightly to the questions you are asked. 3. Do not allow yourself to be goaded into answering loaded questions. (Have you suspended many students lately?) If asked, never repeat the question. Rather, say, “I follow the District’s Code of Acceptable Behavior and Discipline when disciplining students who break the rules.” 4. Use a transitional phrase that allows you to get back to the point you wanted to make. “However, at this stage of the process,” or “It is important that the community understand...” 5. If you are interrupted, go back to your original point by using a transition such as, “I’d like to go back to your previous question,” or “Let me finish addressing your first question.” 6. Say, “I don’t know,” when you don’t, and offer to have someone else call with that information. 7. Explain why you may not be able to answer a particular question. 8. Don’t hedge the question, use jargon to intentionally mislead, or guess about data. Think Before You Speak Before the reporter turns on the camera or the tape recorder, you need to think about what you want to say and prepare an answer that gets your point across. 1. Think about the words you use. Choose simple words anyone can understand. 2. Write down your response to get your ideas straight in your mind. Practice saying the response aloud. How does it sound to you? Is your main point clear? 3. Time the response. If you are doing a television or radio interview, keep your response to 20 seconds or less. Reporters and editors are less likely to edit your response if it is short and to the point. The Problem with ‘No Comment’ And finally, remember: Never say, “No comment.” This phrase implies that you have something to hide, whether you do or not. We realize that not all questions can be answered; however, there are some more gracious alterna- tives. 1. “I can’t discuss proposed or pending litigation.” 2. “Board policy limits the type of information that may be released about District employees.” 3. “The Family Rights and Privacy Act does not allow the release of individual student information.” 4. “I cannot respond to speculation or third-hand informa- tion.” News Media Guidelines The Jefferson County Public School District welcomes media attention to its students, staff, and programs. To facilitate the media’s needs and to ensure that instructional programs are disrupted as little as possible, we ask that your news staffs continue to follow these guidelines: • Reporters should call ahead to the Public Information Office at 485-3357 or the school to arrange a visit. • Reporters will be allowed access to students and school activities only at the discretion of the principal, and then only with appropriate parental consent. • Reporters, as all visitors, are required to sign in at the school office. • Reporters are not allowed in classrooms involved in testing. • Reporters may be allowed in classrooms at the discre- tion of the principal and the teacher. • Prior parental consent is needed for interviews with students under 18 years of age. • Large-group photographs of students are permitted; but no personally identifiable photographs are permitted without a Photo/Videotape Release Form signed by the parent/guardian. Please Remember The District and all staff are legally obligated to maintain confidentiality regarding all student information. This includes student identification and school assignment. Regulations also are enforced regarding confidential personnel information. In the event of an emergency or an incident at a school, school staff are required to report such activity immediately to the Public Information Office. We request that in your efforts to gather information regarding fast-breaking events, you call the Public Information Office at 485-3357 for a report. In doing so, school staff may keep students and their safety as the first priority. The chairman of the Board of Education speaks for the school Board; the superintendent or his designee speaks for the school District; and the school principal speaks on issues specifically relating to his/her school.
  • 10. 9 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools The News Release The news release is the backbone of your media plan. It gives you the opportunity to tell your story your way. A good news release must capture the attention of a busy news editor who gets dozens of releases each day. To make yours stand out and apart from the crowd, do the following: • Start with a catchy headline or opening sentance (if possible), but don’t waste time trying to be clever. • Use the inverted pyramid format when writing the body of the release; the first paragraph is the lead and contains the most important information: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If you can’t fit all five W’s in the first paragraph, be sure they are included in the second. For example, when writing about test scores, tell the reader the big news first: All XYZ School students reached the Proficient level on the state’s CATS tests during the last round of testing. Explanatory and background information follows. As a rule, keep the release to one page. NewsRelease Jefferson County Public Schools Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Offering Equal Educational Opportunities Keep the release to one page. Don’t send a release until you are ready to talk about it. When? Background Information Who? What? Where? Why? Background/ Explanatory Information Include details after the main ideas. Include a contact name and telephone number. Use the District’s standard mark for “the end.” Keep headlines simple and short. Use letterhead; it makes information more credible.
  • 11. 10 Best Foot Forward Public Service Announcements A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a short piece (10 to 30 seconds), written in script format, primarily for radio use. The PSA should promote or announce a specific event or action. PSAs are not an effective way to sell a compli- cated or complex idea. Some examples of effective topics are open-house activities, stay-in-school, don’t-do-drugs messages, or school activities. PSAs air at the discretion of the radio station. You have no control over how often or when a PSA will be used. Always send PSA copy to stations at least three (3) weeks before the event to allow the station time to schedule your message in its rotation. Sample PSA THE JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHOWCASE OF SCHOOLS WILL BE HELD FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18 AND 19, 2002, AT THE KENTUCKY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTER. REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE DISTRICT’S MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS WILL BE PRESENT TO EXPLAIN THEIR PROGRAMS. SHOWCASE HOURS ARE FROM 3 UNTIL 7 P.M. ON FRIDAY AND FROM 10 A.M. UNTIL 3 P.M. ON SATURDAY. COME OUT TO SEE WHAT JCPS HAS TO OFFER YOU. CALL 485-3323 FOR DETAILS. Always include a telephone number for more information, if the PSA mentions a specific event or ticket sales. Keep the PSA short. Two sentences are enough for a 10- second PSA; three to five sentences make a 30-second PSA. (You can write more, but the station will rewrite and edit to fit its guidelines and requirements.)
  • 12. 11 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools The School Public Relations Audit Every school principal knows the importance of spreading the word about outstanding school programs and students. No doubt, you have developed lots of printed materials. But how effective are these communication tools? Are they effectively delivering your messages to your targeted audiences? Consider the strategies and tools you currently use to communicate and ask the following questions. Does the school have an overall marketing plan? If yes... • Does the plan have clear, measurable goals and objectives? • Are target audiences identified? • Are the themes and messages clear and tailored to the target audiences? • Are the time lines for activities reasonable with some- one designated as responsible? • Is there evidence that the marketing plan pro- motes two-way communication? • Is evaluation built into the plan to determine its effectiveness? • Is the marketing plan incorporated into the school’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan? • Do all school staff members know and understand their role in the plan? Does the school have a newsletter? If yes... • Does the design tell the reader at a glance who it’s from and its purpose? • Are the District’s logo and Equal Employment Oppor- tunity (EEO) statement used according to District standards? • Does the newsletter follow the 30-3-30 principle, offering something to the reader whether he/she has 30 seconds, 3 minutes, or 30 minutes to read it? • If there are photographs, are they large, clear, and well- cropped to show action? • Do the graphics and art enhance the printed word? • Do headlines use action verbs, and are they in upper- case and lowercase letters? • Are the articles easy to read; free of grammatical errors, jargon, acronyms, and “edubabble?” • Are articles written to capture the reader’s interest with the first paragraph? • Do the articles match the needs and interests of the reader? Does the school have a brochure or other printed materials? If yes... • Does the design tell the reader at a glance who it’s from and its purpose? • Is it easy to read? • If there are photographs, are they large, clear, and well- cropped, to show action? • Do the graphics and art enhance the printed word? • Is the writing free of jargon, acronyms, and “edubabble?” • Is the copy written to capture the reader’s attention? • Does the copy match the needs and interests of the reader? Does the school have a Web site? If yes... • Is the site easy to navigate? • Is the site easy and engaging to read? • Is the site well-written; free of grammatical errors and jargon? • Do the graphics and art have a purpose, and do they enhance the site? • Is school contact information (address and telephone numbers) easily accessible? • Are teachers’/principal’s/staff members’ names and e-mail addresses included? • Does the site market/promote the school’s unique pro- grams and strengths? • Does the site include a calendar of events? • Is information up to date? • Is there a reason to return to the site after the first visit? • Does the site showcase outstanding students, staff, and/ or student work? • Is student work clearly identified? • Does the site include a section for parents (how to get involved or parenting tips)? • Can visitors always get back to the JCPS Home Page in one or two clicks? Does the school actively promote itself throughout the community? If yes... • Does the school use its bulletin boards, marquees, community spaces, etc., to promote good news about students and staff? • Is the school principal a visible player in the commu- nity (member of Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Jaycees, etc.)? • Does the school participate in community events (festivals)? • Is the school certified as a Neighborly, Inviting Center of Education (N.I.C.E.)? • Has the principal provided opportunities for com- munications training among the school staff? • Does the principal encourage regular communication with parents, community, and school District staff about student progress and the school’s strengths and accomplishments? • Does the principal communicate decisions about the school in a timely manner to the school community? • Are school employees among the first to know about decisions that affect the school? Chapter 5
  • 13. 12 Best Foot Forward Customer Service Most of us who work in schools tend to think that if we just give people the facts and tell them what we want them to know, they’ll immediately understand and support us. Right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way with adults. It flies in the face of all research about how people form attitudes. In fact, it can be downright offensive or condescending because what this philosophy basically says is: If you knew what I know, you’d see things my way. The fact is, people make choices based on their personal experiences. This is how we make most of our decisions about what to buy or who our dentist will be or how we feel about our neighborhood school. After we make a decision based on feelings, we generally try to defend it with facts and we look for evidence that proves we’re right. That’s why we must pay attention to how we treat our publics. Once a person has a negative experience with a school; it takes 80 positive strokes just to get the person back to neutral. From the moment something goes wrong, he/she see the negative in almost everything you do. On the flip side, if people have a good personal experience, they tend to keep finding the good in the things you do. So you can see why schools must make a great first impression every time a parent or a student or a community member calls or walks through the schoolhouse door. It’s a tall order, but good customer service usually is. It means going above and beyond every time with everyone- and it means doing it with a smile. This is where we can take a lesson from the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. People come from all over Seattle, Washing- ton State, the west coast, and the world to visit the Pike Place Fish Market. The store is known for some lively antics and some tasty, fresh fish. They’ve created a very loud, positive buzz that draws people by the hundreds. The store is successful because each employee has commit- ted to the company’s vision and each has become the personification of that vision. All of the employees believe in this vision and it shows in their behavior and attitude on the job. Each employee is the Pike Place Fish Market. At Pike Place, it’s all about customer service. There, the employees choose to be happy and have fun while they focus on each and every customer who comes by. 1. Play—regenerate fun into your work every day. 2. Make their day—do something special for customers; make them smile. 3. Be there—focus totally on the person with whom you’re interacting. 4. Choose your attitude—choose your frame of mind each day. JCPS conducts the Neighborly, Inviting Center of Education (N.I.C.E.) Program through the Public Affairs Department. If you haven’t participated, you should. If your school has received the certification previously, do it again. But just going through the checklist of activities doesn’t really make your school nice. N.I.C.E. is the way you and every member of your staff behave with students, one another, and the community—every minute of every day—even when you’re not at school. For more information about the N.I.C.E. Program, call the Public Affairs Department at 485-3228. Chapter 6
  • 14. 13 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Video Production and Photography Made Easy Producing a video may sound like a complicated task, but it isn’t. Making a video is relatively simple, as long as you don’t try to recreate Monsters, Inc. or Men in Black. If you realize that you can’t compete with Hollywood, you’re halfway there! That said, here is a simple checklist that will help you plan your video. Planning, after all, is the most important part of the production process. Don’t worry about the technical aspects. The Publications Department’s video production team will do the actual production.* Video Production Checklist I. Who’s Your Audience?—Students, adults, faculty, staff, parents II. What’s Your Purpose?—Teach, inform, entertain III. Write the Script—Pretend you’re giving a speech or talking on the radio. You have no visuals to illustrate your point. A. Use clear and concise statements. B. Avoid the use of long lists or monologues. C. Keep it short (Five to seven minutes works well. Why? Time the length between commercials on your favorite primetime network television program. There is a reason segments are short: other than money, it’s the viewer’s attention span.) IV. Select Your Visuals—Read the script, line by line, and decide what best illustrates what you are trying to say. A. Avoid using too many different scenes. (Rapid MTV style video is fine on MTV, but it can distract from a serious topic.) B. Determine where charts, graphs, and drawings should be used. V. Get Final Approval of Your Script—if necessary. Now is the time to lock everything in before you begin produc- tion. VI. Select a Contact Person to Work with the Video Production Team—The contact person’s job is identify- ing students, staff, and parents who may be in the video, getting any necessary video releases, and coordinating the shooting schedule at the school. What Makes A Good Video? Good video, many times, is simply not making bad video. The bottom line is that a good video serves the purpose for which it was intended while engaging the viewer. You can have a beautifully produced video, but, if no one watches it, it isn’t a good video. Don’t Be a Wall Flower. Don’t expect to set a camera up in the corner, show the whole stage, and record the latest edition of the school play, awards ceremony, or guest speaker. Why? The sound will probably be terrible. If you don’t have microphones you can put on or near the actors or speakers, try to set up your camera next to the public address speaker. Another reason not to just set your camera in the corner is that you can’t really see what’s going on. You can’t see facial expressions or hand gestures or anything except a little speck on the TV. Do Look for Action. TV means people and the camera can move. Video of a class listening to reports is good for about 10 seconds, not 10 minutes. Class performance demonstrations or other activities work for video. Don’t overdo camera moves. If you’re going to move the camera or change a shot, have a reason that’s not just because you could. Photography Just like video, a good photograph needs to show the subject doing something. Capturing students engaged in an activity is worth a 1,000 words of copy to describe it. Think visually and know how you plan to use the photos in the final project. Your purpose determines how the photographer approaches the assignment and the type of equipment he brings. The District has one photojournalist who is primarily respon- sible for photography requests related to publication needs. The photojournalist also accepts requests from schools and departments—as the schedule permits—on a first-come, first- served basis. In order to accommodate as many requests as possible, please make your request at least two weeks before the event. The photojournalist will schedule a meeting with you to visit your school and talk with you about your objectives for the photos. * Please note: The department uses broadcast-quality Beta format equipment. From time to time, brief excerpts (30 or 60 seconds) of SVHS videotape can be edited into a project. However, the department cannot edit tape shot exclusively on SVHS. Chapter 7
  • 15. 14 Best Foot Forward Now that you’ve developed a great marketing plan and crafted a well-written, concise message that appeals to your target audiences, it’s time to communicate! JCPS has several communications tools that will help you get the word out about your outstanding students, staff members, and pro- grams. District publications like Monday Memo, a weekly newsletter for staff, and Parent Connection, a monthly publication for parents, are effective ways to communicate your school’s story with a large audience. Monday Memo includes a column titled “Schools that Work” and highlights innovative instructional programs and class- room projects that are achieving success. Parent Connection includes a section—“Our Success is Public Knowledge”— that recognizes outstanding student and staff performance on the state and national level. It’s a great way to tell more than 65,000 parents and community members about your school’s success. Of course the local media are always an option. In fact, the mass media are among the most popular forms of disseminat- ing information. (Tips on writing a news release are included in Chapter 4.) The Courier-Journal has a new page devoted to education. A form to submit story ideas is located later in this chapter.) When you want to get your message out remember to use a variety of media tools. One news release may not be effective. However, when mixed with a flier or poster, an announcement on your Web site, along with a mention in the school newsletter, you stand a better chance of your target audience receiving your message. Tools of the Trade Consider using some or all of these tools of the trade in your marketing plan. • Newsletters • Brochures • Banners • Advertising (usually too expensive) • School Web site • News Releases and Public Service Announcements • Special Events (ribbon cuttings, ground breakings, dedications) • Videos • Open Houses • Large- and Small-Group Meetings • Telephone Calls • Face-to-Face Meetings • Personal Notes • Computer-generated, non-personal letters Getting the Word Out Chapter 8 Video Overview Elementary Schools
  • 16. 15 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Monday Memo • Submit Monday Memo announcements in writing through the Pony, fax, or e-mail. • Information should be of interest to all employees or to a specific group of employees. Items should be nonpolitical and should not duplicate notices carried in other District publications. • Professional-development announcements should be carried in the Professional Development Bulletin. Announcements of college/university courses and travel opportunities should be referred to the Jefferson County Public Schools Gheens Academy for possible inclusion in the Professional Development Bulletin. Announcements of curriculum committees and textbook committees should be carried in Job List. • The names of students will not be included in Monday Memo. • Announcements of fund-raising drives will be limited to those provided for in the Board policy. • Individual school activity notices should be featured only if the activities are of interest to adult employees and occur at times when employees can attend. Examples of events not to be included in Monday Memo are PTA/PTSA meetings, field days, and athletic events. • “Kudos” will be used for employees and/ or schools receiving honors, recognitions, and/or awards. • Space is at a premium in Monday Memo. Therefore, not all notices can be published each week. Priority is given to announce- ments coming from within the District and those that will impact on the greatest number of employees. If two items are from within the District and will affect the same number of persons, then the itemthat was received first is placed in the publication. • Notices for publication must be received by 12 noon on Tuesday to be considered for publica- tion in the following week’s Monday Memo. got monday memo? Publications Guidelines
  • 17. 16 Best Foot Forward Parent Connection Parent Connection is a monthly newsletter for parents. Its primary purpose is to help parents help their children be more successful in school. The publication is written from a parent’s per- spective and is full of tips that parents can use. The publication offers information about District programs and initiatives that parents care about, as well as information on ways to make home life more productive. Each issue has a theme that is usually tied to that month. For example, the September issue is full of back-to-school informa- tion. The November issue focuses on school choice. April concentrates parent attention on the CATS assessment and test-taking skills. The unique thing about Parent Connection is that its cost is underwritten by corporate sponsorship. How can you submit ideas? Do you have a parent project that has proven successful? How about some outstanding parent support that deserves recognition? The publication is always looking to showcase students and schools that are winning awards for excellence. Information should be sent to: Becky Greenlee Communications and Publications Department C. B. Young, Jr., Service Center, Building 4 Notices sent through the U.S. Mail carry the additional address of: P.O. Box 34020 Louisville, KY 40209-1104 • Information also may be faxed to 485-3898 or e-mailed to: • Still have a question? Call 485-3343.
  • 18. 17 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools The Courier-Journal publishes an education page each Monday on page B2. The education page features stories about student achievers, a sampling of student writing form school newspapers and classes, and a column that answers questions about education issues from many perspectives, including that of teachers, principals, and other school staff. You can help make this page successful by submitting information on the form below.
  • 19. 18 Best Foot Forward PLEASE PRINT School: __________________________________________________________________ Submitted by: ________________________________ Telephone No.: ________________ What are the TOP FIVE things you want parents to know about your school? 1. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 3. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 4. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 5. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ This information will be used to update District publications printed during the school year. Please CIRCLE all the items below that apply to your school: • Accelerated School • Advance Program • Before-/After-School Child Care • Child Development Project School • Community School Site • Comprehensive School Health Education • Dress Code • Early Childhood Jump Start Programs: – Early Head Start – Head Start – Jump Start – Prekindergarten – Tuition-Based • English as a Second Language Program • Extended School Services • Family Resource Center • Health Promotion Schools of Excellence Program • Honors Program • Montessori Program • Optional/Magnet Programs • Senior Citizen’s Center • School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) • Uniforms • Year-Round School • Youth Services Center Please fax this form to: Communications and Publications Department Fax: 3898 Jefferson County Public Schools Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Offering Equal Educational Opportunities
  • 20. 19 A Marking and Public Relations Plan for Local Schools Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Offering Equal Educational Opportunities 50684 Publications Future File Form 7/02 lg JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS Tell us what’s going on in your school! The activity could make a great photo or news story. For best results, Pony mail or fax (485-3898) this information to the Publications Department at least two weeks in advance. Fill in the appropriate items. Attach additional information if necessary. School: __________________________ Contact Person: __________________ Telephone: ____________ Date (month and day) of Event: _________ Time of Event: __________ Date Submitted: _______________ Who is involved (parent, students, staff, grades, etc.)? ____________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ What is happening? Describe award, event, program, project, etc. ___________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ Where will it take place? ___________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ What is the purpose of the event, project, etc.? __________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ What else should we know? _________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ Please use Pony mail (C. B. Young, Bldg. 4) or fax (3898) this form to the Publications Department at l east two weeks before the planned event. Future File Activities Fact Sheet
  • 21. 20 Best Foot Forward Jefferson County Public Schools Photo/Videotape Release Form Please print. Student’s Name: ________________________________________________________________________ School: ___________________________________________________ Grade: ____________________ Parent/Guardian: ________________________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________ Zip: ______________________ Telephone Number: _________________________________________ I, ___________________________________________________________________, parent or guardian of __________________________________________________, do hereby give and grant unto the Jefferson CountyPublicSchoolspermissiontousemychild’sname,photograph,and/orvideotapedimageinpublications, video productions, and/or JCPS Internet Web site. I do further certify that I am of full legal capacity to execute the foregoing authorization and release. Signature of Parent/Guardian: _____________________________________________________________ Witness: __________________________________________________ Date: ____________________ Photographer’s Note: Story Slug: ____________________________________________________________________________ Description of student, clothing, etc. ________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer Offering Equal Educational Opportunities