A few years ago, I pulled apart 200 school newsletters looking for evidence of a communications strategy. I really didn’t find what I was looking for, but what I did find was that 85 percent of all the content in a school newsletter is public relations; the other is logistics.
In a school’s context, PR is what you ‘want parents to feel’ with logistics being ‘what you want parents to do’.
More formally, the PR Institute of Australia describes PR as the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. Sounds like something that could benefit schools if executed effectively.
I asked a number of school leaders what their PR strategy was and very few could articulate one of any substance.
So here’s a quick lesson in PR101.
We’ve just been through an election, which is the ultimate PR theatre, where we’ve seen PR strategy play out as simply ‘staying on message’. So, what’s your school’s key messages? Every time you write an article, that is in the realm of PR, you should be informed by your key messages for reinforcement. Too much of the newsletter is, respectfully, a random grab of activities without a clear theme other than “look at how active our school is”. Culture tells us we publish every Wednesday and it’s about four pages long. Culture is winning over content and volume unfortunately is trumping value. It’s time for a communications rethink.
In parting, one of your key messages should be to promote the incredible talents of your teaching staff. Promote their qualifications and the PD’s they attend. It will do wonders in elevating your community’s confidence in people that are central to the way your school is perceived.
If you have an interest in learning more about how to create and implement a PR strategy for your school, please see the sponsor-ed designed program 'PR for Principals: Managing the Vibe'
Director: The sponsor-ed Group