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Over the course of my communications and publications career, I have authored or co-authored several pieces that highlight how school districts and school leaders can do a better job of telling their stories. I have presented at the local, state and national level on school communications and public relations.
Here are three samples of my work:
Telling Your Story (Fall 2012): Subtitled “A Communications Guide for School Board Members,” I co-authored and edited this book with award-winning writer and school public relations guru Nora Carr, the communications columnist for American School Board Journal and a longtime leader of the National School Public Relations Association.
The 28-page guide, published in 2012 by the National School Boards Association, features seven easy-to-read chapters, complete with discussion points, that focus on how school boards can better communicate and engage with various constituencies, set the record straight about their work, build a network of supporters, work with the district's communications department, and develop an "elevator speech."
Good P.R. and Dealing with the Media: Is Your System Prepared? This guide was prepared for a full-day training session with members of North Carolina School Boards Association in 2004. I co-presented with Bonnie Reidy of Gaston County Schools, then repeated the session solo in 2009 and 2010 with updated materials. In many respects, this is Communications 101, but you would be surprised how many people still don't know what that means. (Free download)
Schools, the Media, and You: A media training guide that was developed for administrators in Rockingham County Schools, where I served as communications director for almost five years. Again, this is basic stuff, but the sessions proved so popular — and necessary — that the training continues to this day. (Free download)
Low-Cost Guides for the Community
Explaining standards, testing, and how your schools are performing is a challenge for districts in rural communities and with limited budgets. My low-cost solution was to use newsprint for materials that we considered "disposable," including our annual reports. We paid to have the materials inserted into local newspapers, along with print overruns that ensured every student in the district received one to take home.
The low-cost nature of the projects meant the community could not accuse us of wasting taxpayer dollars for a slick marketing product. Also, given the challenges we had with at-home Internet access, it was not logical to put the materials online only. Because we were certain all students as well as the greater community received these reports, post-surveys showed a greater awareness for the issues we chose to distribute in this manner.
Available are downloads for:
• A guide on minimum standards for each grade
• A community brochure/guide (distributed to hospitals and any business with a waiting area) explaining "Why We Test."