Reputation in Education

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Published on March 9, 2016, at 8:30 p.m.
by Kenzie Winn.

Years ago, school public relations was about conveying positive messages and gaining community support through a one-way form of communication. However, as the development of the Internet and other tools of the Information Age made it easier to send out messages and receive feedback, public relations experienced somewhat of a reinvention. Today, educational public relations focuses more on establishing partnerships with community members.

According to the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), the “overall goal of school public relations is to forge partnerships and provide value to parents, employees and the public.” Furthermore, a school public relations specialist should handle all aspects of district publications and control social media accounts.

Social media provides a strategic way to connect with stakeholders by delivering immediate information on athletic updates, student achievements, meetings and other important material. In order to establish an effective two-way communication between a school district and its publics, updating a school district’s social media accounts on a daily basis is crucial.

Not only are thousands of parents and concerned citizens relying on daily social media posts for updates, but also posts connect students, parents and professionals.

Lesley Bruinton, public relations coordinator at Tuscaloosa City Schools, knows firsthand exactly how critical social networking has become.

“Your social media posts should highlight existing partnerships and encourage new ones,” said Bruinton. “Your social network may connect you with opportunities you never knew existed.”

Nevertheless, simply creating a Facebook and Twitter page for the school district does not ensure an effective use of resources. Listed below are some helpful tips for managing a school district’s social media accounts.

Photo courtesy of Flicker.com
Photo courtesy of Flicker.com

Create a Hootsuite account.
Hootsuite is a social media management system that supports integrations of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. This tool allows you to write posts in advance, then schedule them to automatically post on a specific day and time of your choosing. Thus, professionals are able to write multiple tweets for their campaign or event and do not have to deal with the burden of posting daily. Additionally, Hootsuite is free for up to three social network accounts.

Use infographics.
Infographics are a very powerful public relations tool. Not only are they visually compelling, but they also help communicate data effectively. The combination between text and graphics grabs your target audience’s attention, while being easily understood and processed. To access a costless infographic creator that is easy to navigate, visit Canva’s website.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Develop a hashtag.
Hashtags make it easy for users to find messages with related content or a specific theme. Once posted, the hashtag turns the phrase into a clickable link to help people explore similar posts. Simply put, a hashtag functions as a way of organizing content.

As Paula Winslow, assistant superintendent for general administration at Tuscaloosa City Schools, noted, hashtags lead to increased interaction on social media posts.

“People should embrace hashtags, but don’t go crazy with them,” said Winslow. “You should only add them if you’d like to start a conversation and it is relevant to the situation.”

All things considered, these tools are designed to help a specialist meet the needs of the community. Managing a school district’s public relations can be complicated with a lot of moving parts, but by planning, contextualizing, making good decisions and embracing social media— it is possible. Whether you are dealing with a crisis, or simply wanting the media to pay attention to positive things happening at your school, a public relations specialist can help schools put their best foot forward.

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