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Josh Shoulta

You’ve got their attention; make the most of it
 
Kentucky School Advocate
September 2019
 
By Josh Shoulta
KSBA Director of Communications 
 
A new school year presents districts with the opportunity to hit the restart button on strategic communications efforts. For the first several weeks of school, your community members – everyone from your employees to your parents – are the most receptive to your message they will be all year long. Make the most of this window before your audience’s attention strays. Here are a few tips for keeping your school communications cutting edge. 

Cut back or commit on social media
Have you ever made a list of new year’s resolutions that was too ambitious? You fell short of your goals because you spread yourself too thin. Very often, our districts’ annual communications goals have the same effect, but this time it’s your audience that suffers. Do more with less. Instead of trying to juggle five social media platforms, pick two and master them. Does your district have social media accounts for multiple sports, clubs and groups? Quantity does not always equal quality. How easily could these accounts be consolidated and content streamlined? 

Influencers, assemble!
Maximizing your district’s social media presence does not mean posting 25 times a day. It’s not even about having the most followers. The key to reaching a larger audience on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is harnessing the power of your influencers. Think of influencers as individuals in your community who are highly visible, vocal and valued. These may be your fan-favorite faculty and staff, board members, active parent volunteers and coaches – many of whom are already active on social media. Identify and recruit your district’s influencers in the first weeks of school, encouraging them to engage with your online content. 

Policy police
The first couple months of school are already packed with faculty/staff events and meetings. While you have everyone together, be mindful to review the Acceptable Use Policy for social media, email best practices, crisis communications procedures, media relations protocol, publication consent forms, etc. Be proactive to address these topics, not reactive. Be cautious not to make the discussion all about what someone can’t do. Encourage active participation in the public forum, but within the context of what is appropriate. 

Is your website “back to the future?”
Can you say with 100 percent certainty that all district personnel listed on your website are up to date? Are there any broken links or outdated events? Take time NOW to carefully scan your website for information that is no longer accurate. KSBA recommends scheduling quarterly website spot checks with members of your leadership team. Pay particular attention to calendars, forms, board information and employee directories. Updating your website is not an annual event. It’s a 365-day game of Whack-A-Mole.   

Mark your calendars
National STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Day (Nov. 8). School Counseling Week (Feb. 2-6). School Lunch Hero Day (May 1). Just about every week of every school year commemorates someone or something. While they are all worth celebrating, it can prove challenging to keep up! Sit down at the start of the year and pencil in all of the known holidays. Share with colleagues, asking them to add to the list. Consult online resources (like socialschool4edu.com) to help you pinpoint these special days during the school year. Invite departments to get involved early on. Encourage the math teachers to take a group selfie on Pi Day (March 14). Ask your principals to organize events for Administrative Professionals Day (April 22). See how your language arts teachers and librarians wish to celebrate Read Across America Day (March 2).
 
Starting the school year with this communications checkup will help your district show your community all the amazing things happening in your schools.

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