Every school administrator plays the role of a public relations director. Building public relations on the campus and in the community does not happen by accident, and should not occur because controversy or difficult times are on the horizon. The good news about activities and achievements of a campus and its teachers and students must be shared on a regular basis. A conscious effort toward PR must become a priority of the campus administrator. The saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” should be the guiding factor in helping schools be proactive.
An essential part of any plan must include recognition of faculty. Such bragging helps a community know the campus team better, but also shows teachers and staff how much they are genuinely appreciated. Building support from within the campus and branching out to the community gives direction to your plan. There are multitudes of resources from which to acquire a wealth of tips and to draw ideas and strategies that strengthen relations with all stakeholders.
The following suggestions provide variety and several choices from which to recognize and sell your campus.
- Share as much information about the opening days of school in advance to achieve a smoother opening.
- Use the marquee as a way to publicize positive messages to the public.
- Use the web site link to communicate timely information to parents and to publicize happenings. Keep this positive, up-to-date, and reflective of the culture of the school.
- Use the report card as a means to include important information.
- Create newsletters to promote the programs, successes, and needs of the campus and place them in local businesses. Use this media to cultivate mutual trust with the general public since they have a voice in determining the direction of schools.
- Support for an event, issue or change can be garnered when the school and community are fully alerted to details. It is also important that the community see themselves value as partners. When sufficient information is provided ahead of time, stakeholders are better prepared to give their support for a campus and its initiatives.
- Promote the school by sharing the goals, achievements, history, and community involvement through a brochure that is prominently displayed and available to all who enter.
- Work with students and faculty to develop descriptive statements of things a campus is most proud of. Display these statements everywhere: office areas, classrooms, gym, cafeteria, drop-off areas, newsletters, and web sites. When a crisis or troublesome event arises, remember to bring the focus back to these statements of pride.
- Showcase the history of your school with a wall of significant pictures, photographs, or other pertinent items. Involve the community, former students, and current students and staff in this ongoing project.
- Record major events and campus happenings throughout the year on a DVD and show it at the end of the year. Eventually, this could be preserved as part of the school’s history.
- Establish a permanent and visible location on the campus to display news articles, pictures of students, or news of awards or successes of students and faculty and staff. Keep these happenings current, selecting some to add to a history of the school scrapbook at a later date.
- Regular and clear communication must be shared with the faculty about what goes on in the school, including important decisions. Remember much of the support that is built in the community for a school comes from within.
- Support staff should always be fully informed of what is occurring so they can communicate appropriately to the general public. Make time to get to know the support staff and meet with them to talk about the school. Invite their comments and answer their questions.
- Take time to give recognition to the campus and staff often and sincerely. Acknowledge their contributions through emails, individual notes, mailed postcards, faculty meetings, newsletters, and with public comments made during and outside of school. Taking care of the school’s family is essential!
Campus administrators must continually strive to be strong advocates for their schools and connect with the stakeholders. Building public relations is an integral part of achieving success on a campus, so campus administrators must take the time to broadcast campus news. Regular communication that informs the faculty, parents, and community can benefit the students and the campus, bringing about a renewed level of support, relationships, and satisfaction. Always search for ways to share good news, activities, and accomplishments about your school!