Communication, Culture, Google

Help your staff stay informed and communicate better with this customizable planning document

Each summer I share this document with our campus and district administrators in an effort to keep them informed and help them communicate better with me and with the media. Although many of these tips and guidelines may seem like common knowledge to us, staff members outside of the school PR world need these reminders each year.

Click here to access the Google Docs version of this document. Simply go to File > Make a Copy to create your own version to use with your staff!

What publications do you use to foster an open line of communication with campus and district staff?

Communication, Productivity

I scream, you scream, we all scream for press releases! Use this press release request flyer with your staff!

I love to share good news about the awesome work our students and staff are doing, but sometimes I feel like I’m only getting part of the story. It can be difficult and time consuming to go back and forth trying to get adequate information for a complete press release. I recently found this press release request form from Austin ISD and immediately started developing something I could use in my own district. I am sharing a generic version of this flyer in case it’s something that might help you, as well! I shared this with our campus and district administrators, as well as put it out to all staff members in our district via our district intranet. Hopefully this will better inform our staff about the information necessary for a press release, and make our jobs a little easier!

Communication, Culture, Productivity

I tried to remove this word from my vocabulary 4 years ago and it’s been slowly creeping back in

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of saying phrases like…

“I’m up to my eyeballs.”

“I’m in the weeds.”

“I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off.”

“Just trying to keep my head above water.”

On May 17, 2015 I blogged about the “culture of busy” and how I was going to try and remove the word “busy” from my vocabulary, but lately it’s been creeping back in. This time busy has been more covert, sneaking into my conversations in the form of “Oh, I’m good, just busy” or “You know, it’s a busy time of year.”

My friend once shared that she thinks we say these things because we’re afraid if we don’t TALK about how busy we are, people around us will think we’re not working hard. I think she’s right, but I also think it’s just our culture. ESPECIALLY in school PR where there’s always something to keep us occupied.

Dang. I just did it again. It’s easy to make the assumption that your own position or industry or department is the only position or industry or department that is spread too thin, understaffed, over capacity, etc. Can we all just agree that we’re ALL BUSY … the baseline is BUSY … it’s a given that we’re BUSY … so there’s really no need to state it.

How many of you have really paid attention to how often you say you’re busy?

When I started really paying attention to how often I tell someone I am busy, I WAS EMBARRASSED! Not only do I TELL people, I include it in my EMAILS! NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW BUSY I AM! It’s obnoxious! EVERYONE is busy! I’m not the only one!

So, I am trying to hit the busy reset button. I am in busy therapy. I am again working to replace emails like “I am so sorry I have taken so long to respond. It’s a busy time. Let me check my calendar to see when we can get together” with responses like “Good morning! I am happy to help you solve that problem. When is a good time to meet?”

So…who’s with me?!! Let’s help each other remove the “culture of busy” statements from our interactions and instead focus on strengthening our “culture of caring” vocabulary. Let’s refocus on WHO we serve instead of trying to out-serve each other.

Communication, Culture, Productivity, Time Management

5 practical time management tips from a great roundtable discussion at last week’s CASPRA meeting

Last week I attended the monthly CASPRA (Central Area region of TSPRA) meeting in the Austin area. If you are in school PR and you are not a member of NSPRA and your state chapter, DO IT! The folks in these organizations are my LIFESAVERS! In fact, I drive an hour and a half there and back each month just to attend the monthly regional meetings. It’s worth every second, especially when the discussions turn out some great tips like the ones below.

Marco Alvaredo, Director of Communications & Community Relations for Lake Travis ISD, led one of the CASPRA round table discussions on time management and below are 5 tips, tricks, and tools I took away from the talks. In school PR, time management is a tough one, especially if you’re an office of one, but these practical ideas might help!

1. Use Google Keep for prioritizing daily tasks.

I recently shared how I use Google Keep for prioritizing my daily tasks. I still contend that my “Fab Five” list is the one trick that keeps me on track to complete the most important tasks before moving on to less pressing issues. If you’re not familiar with Google Keep, check out the getting started post here.

2. Group related emails into folders, then check by topic to keep from having to switch gears multiple times.

I thought this was a really interesting idea. I strive for zero inbox, and I usually start from the top of my inbox and work my way down. I archive anything that I have already attended to and keep everything that needs my attention in my inbox. I do sometimes struggle with having to switch mental gears from one email to the next as the topic changes. By first sorting emails into folders, you can keep your momentum on one topic before moving on to the next. Do you check emails this way? I would be curious to know how it works for you!

3. Tackle your biggest projects first.

Jennifer Bailey, Director of Human Resources & Communication in Jarrell ISD, recommended completing the most daunting tasks first before moving on to tasks that require less time and effort. There have been many times when I have slid a project from one day to the next on my calendar because I just don’t want to deal with it. I like this idea, though, to just dive in and get it done! Eat the elephant one bite at a time!

4. Use Boomerang for Gmail to streamline email checking.

I have been using Boomerang for years and I love it! Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send later, temporarily archive emails and have them pop back up in your inbox at a certain time, and “Boomerang” an email back to your inbox to remind you to follow up if you haven’t gotten a response from the sender.

5. Recognize capacity and strategically abandon, if needed.

Jennifer Bailey of Jarrell ISD also introduced a very thought-provoking term during our CASPRA time management discussions … strategic abandonment. She shared how her team at a previous district was reduced and the skeleton crew finally had to strategically abandon some initiatives to operate within their capacity. School PR departments can can become the dumping ground for every project and idea and initiative in every campus and department. We have to consider, however, if we’d rather go far and wide with shallow projects or deep dive into initiatives for maximum quality.

Two more tidbits…

I recently heard about Redbooth, a project management tool. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s on my list. Anyone out there using it? I would love to know how you like it!

The book Sense of Urgency by John Kotter was also shared at the CASPRA meeting. It’s currently on the way from Amazon to my door. Have you read it? What did you take away?

Branding, Communication, Culture, TSPRA

Guiding staff to build a better brand and engaging a diverse community – discussions and presentations from TSPRA19

Last week I attended the 2019 Texas School Public Relations Association conference, an amazing experience full of learning and leading together with my Texas school PR family! I had the pleasure of facilitating 4 roundtable sessions about branding, and presented a full session on culture and community. I took lots of notes during the discussions at the roundtable sessions and created a quick Google Docs flyer to share with you. I am also sharing the culture and community presentation in case you are looking for some new ideas. The presentation has links to all of our planning documents and materials for each initiative.

Are your teachers and staff brandED?

A strong brand can increase effectiveness, improve engagement, and positively impact climate. How can you guide staff to build a better brand and deliver results?

Click here for the Google Docs file. Go to File > Make a Copy to create your own version.

C4 Yourself! Cultivate Community, Communication & Culture

Come hear how one rural district is igniting systematic change and engaging a diverse community. Get simple strategies that break down barriers, change public perception, and build a community of public school supporters. No budget? No worries! Most of these strategies can be achieved with even the smallest departments and budgets. Leave this session with ideas you can implement immediately to maximize your resources and get a big return on your investment!

TSPRA

Day 1 of TSPRA19 did NOT disappoint! Here are my 10 favorite moments, plus all of my day 1 notes!

It was an AWESOME day at TSPRA19 and I am so thankful for the TSPRA organization, all of the event planners, and the sponsors. Amazing content, incredible attention to detail, and all of the little touches really made today’s experience one to remember. Here are my 10 favorite moments from today!

  1. Getting a sweet new pair of Maui Jim sunglasses at the TSPRA President’s Reception for helping with conference planning. (Ok, that was technically from yesterday, but it was AWESOME!)
  2. Lynne Wester (@DonorGuru) sharing her expertise during opening session this morning and telling the story of how Team Rubicon knocked it out of the park with donor follow-up efforts.
    1. P.S. Lynn says you need to thank a donor 7 different times before you ask them for money again!
  3. Hearing the “BOY” method for donor communications … “Because of you…” What a simple way to frame the message to communicate the importance of giving and show the impact it makes!
  4. Being introduced to the “Anatomy of a Podcast” by Christie Goodman with IDRA. They’ve been podcasting since 2006! Check out their Classnotes Podcast.
    1. bumper –> standard podcast intro –> episode intro –> transition music –> body –> transition music –> outro –> standard podcast exit
  5. Learning about using Anchor for easily creating podcasts – definitely see some podcasting in my future!
  6. Learning about Digital Juice subscription service for royalty-free content FOREVER.
    1. P.S. They’re having a 50% off sale right now!!
  7. Eating “tot-chos” and smores for lunch to fuel up for an afternoon of learning!
  8. Getting a great idea from the Riverside Unified School District website – showcasing statistics in a scrolling banner at the bottom of the homepage.
  9. Getting another great idea from Cy-Fair ISD to use consistent hash-tagging (ex: #CFISDsafety or #CFISDfunrun) to help with branding and recognizability.
  10. BY FAR, the best part of today was having Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) give a nice shoutout to Brenham ISD for our communication plan! Couldn’t believe my good fortune to be sitting in that session to see that! Click here to get our plan in Google Docs (just go to File > Make a Copy to create your own version.)

Click here to access all of my notes from today!

Productivity, Tools

WHY would I bother with fancy editing suites when this tool will do it in ONE CLICK?!

Recently my good friends from the Brenham ISD technology department blogged about this website called remove.bg.

Click here to see the full post – this is an AWESOME tech blog to follow!

I saw the post and browsed the content, but didn’t really need it at the time. And then last week – I needed it! I needed to remove the background from a picture and I needed to do it quickly. So I found the post and tried remove.bg and HOLY COW! It’s literally one click to get the job done!

Now, is it perfect? Nope. Is it super fast and great in a pinch? Yep! I would love to hear your favorite time saving tools, and don’t forget to follow my friends over at Brenham Tech Daily!