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Director Public Information Community Vision

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    Director-Public Information/Community Involvement Vision and Strategies
     
     
      By John A. Williams
     
     ACME Public Schools believes it is the District’s responsibility to actively pursue a transparent communications program that highlights the educational experiences in the city's public schools and promotes effective school/home/community partnerships.
     
    Public Information/Community Involvement Mission Statement
    To create an atmosphere of public trust and understanding by leading, counseling and influencing attitudes and behaviors in support of (ACME) Public Schools.


    Why School Public Relations Is Important
     
    This is the media age - school communication needs have increased dramatically and become more complex. Due to the demands, a professional Director of Public Information/Community Involvement is crucial to developing and executing its communication plans through both print/electronic media, social media and face-to-face communication, and to coordinate relations with the multitude of media that report on the school district.
     
    Public schools are under scrutiny - A school district utilizes a professional school Director-Public Information/Community Involvement person to publicize the positive news about student/staff achievement and programs, and to develop a coordinated proactive, rather than reactive, approach that anticipates problems before they develop. If there is no positive communication from the school district, the critics' voices are the only ones that will be heard.
     
    The scope of successful school public relations has expanded greatly - from written communication, to a greatly increased need for face-to-face communication with the many publics in your community. A school district needs a professional school Director of Public Information/Community Involvement to schedule and oversee community relations programming, Realtor orientations, meetings with Chambers of Commerce and civic clubs, and open houses, to build informed support and solid community relationships.
     
    What Can a School Public Relations Professional Do For a District?
     
    ·      Maintain an effective transparent communication system between the District and its various publics which ensures eliminating rumors and misinformation
     
    ·      Dissemination of accurate, timely information about school policies, programs, procedures, achievements, decisions, critical issues
     
    ·      Provides public relations counsel, taking a proactive stance. Anticipates problems and provides solutions
     
    ·      Conduct formal and informal research to determine public opinion and attitude as a basis for planning and action
     
    ·      Provides public relations training to staff and PTA's in areas such as taking quality photos, maintaining a web school’s web site, shooting video and editing, and how to promote school events in the media
     
    ·      Serve as the district's liaison with community groups such as civic associations and service clubs; helps plan/publicize district's parent, partner and community service programs. Develops ways to bring the community into the schools and to take the schools into the community
     
     
    Crisis Communication Plan: Primary Goals
     
    School districts across America deal with crises on a daily basis. There is any number of events that might qualify as a crisis, ranging from a small crisis, such as a power outage, to a life-threatening crisis, such as a natural disaster or the invasion by an intruder.
    Staff, students, parents, and the community look to school leaders to be well equipped to respond and to restore order in the time of crisis. How school leaders respond in the first 24 hours will often set the pace for the duration of the incident.
    A Crisis Communication plan shows that the school is listening to—and interacting with—the communities that they serve.
     
    Sample Crisis Communications Plan
     
    A Crisis Communications Plan shows schools how to establish proactive, positive media relations to minimize negative press coverage of sensitive issues and build community support for school policies and initiatives.
    The primary goals of communication during a crisis are:
     
    ·      To maintain privacy of students, staff, and families
     
    ·      To keep the public informed
     
    ·      Mitigate critical analysis from the media and public
     
     
     
    Fostering Community Support
     
    A well devised plan of creating ways to keep parents and the community informed about the District and its schools fosters a better understanding of the school system, strengthens and improves school programs and curricula, and creates a sense of personal involvement and interaction between organizations, the community and schools.
     
    Benefits of a Strategic Community Outreach Plan
     
    ·      Fosters a better understanding of the school system among its employees, teachers and board
    ·      Builds public confidence in the District officials and schools
    ·      Prevents and corrects misunderstandings and rumors
    ·      Humanizes, puts a face on, the school district
    ·      Creates a sense of personal involvement and ownership between the community and schools
     
    Educational Access Channel
     
    Section 611 of the Federal Communications Act requires local cable operators to set aside channels for public, educational, or governmental, or PEG, use.
    Educational access channels are designated for educational programming by educational institutions. In (ACME) channel XX on ACME Cable carries announcements of events at (ACME) Public Schools.
    Benefits of an Educational Access Channel includes:
    ·      Engages community and business leaders in the schools
    ·      Builds public understanding and support for strategic plans and program initiatives
    ·      Improves community awareness and support during discussions of schools
    ·      Public Educational Access Channels inform the public about events in the school district
    ·      The channels serve as an information outlet in case of emergencies or school closings
    ·      Public Educational Access Channels build the District’s reputation and promote its positive programs and messages
    ·      Enhances the District’s commitment to transparency towards the community
     
    Vision for Future Programming
     
    ·      Produce programming in partnership with the City of (ACME) and other organizations to promote the District’s issues of importance to the community
    ·      Produce programming in partnership with educational institutions to promote local educational goals
    ·      Pursue new opportunities for programming partnerships with educational program providers
    ·      Offer the opportunity for community members as well as students from (ACME) Public Schools, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian University to produce video programming for use on the PEG channel
     
    (ACME) Public Schools Website
     
    According to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 Internet & American Life Project, 74 percent of people aged 12- 65 use the Internet. The number of users ages 12-17 is higher, 93 percent while the number of users aged 30- 49 is 84 percent.
    Because of its availability 24 hours a day, (ACME)schools.net is often the initial line of communication to the community and an incredible brand-building tool for the District. By taking the time to ensure that the District’s website conforms to best practices, (ACME)schools.net can provide the community with insight and information into the District.
    To stay attractive and to become an interactive tool to parents and the community, best practices of modern websites:
    • Contains surveys and polls
    • Photo galleries and slideshows
    • Podcasts
    ·      Delivery of high-impact messages through video
    • Availability of mobile apps and a mobile version of the website
    • Virtual tours
    • Links to Facebook, Twitter, You Tube from the website
    • Simple navigation (the 3 click rule applies)  
    • Makes use of search engine optimization (SEO) applications