Advertising, Marketing, Tools

30 second radio ads in 3 easy steps using 3 great tools

Part of my job is to script, record and schedule radio ads for our district. Last year was my first year to take on this role, as it was previously handled by a campus-based school PR liaison. Historically, the recording of our 30-second spots was outsourced to district or campus administrators; however, this year I took over in an attempt to create better quality, more strategic radio messages.

As a one-man PR office, I am always looking for quick, easy ways to produce quality content and with little (or NO!) financial investment. Now, if you are looking for sophisticated methods for producing fancy, professional quality radio ads, this post probably isn’t for you. But, if you fly solo (like me!) and need to get the job done well, for FREE, and in 5 minutes or less, read on, reader!

Step 1: Write script in Google Docs

Because we are a Google district (and I am a Google Girl), I do all of my scripts (and really everything else!) in Google Docs. I keep a Google Doc with air dates, topics, music used, and scripts for each radio spot. I love Google Docs because I can access it from anywhere, at any time and on any device. Whether I have an idea in my office, at a school function, or at a red light, I can get to my planning doc quickly and easily.

Step 2: Find ad music with FreeAdMusic

IMHO, radio ads with just voice and no music aren’t very pleasing to listen to, so I use FreeAdMusic which offers FREE, ready-to-use music for advertising. They have an awesome collections of clips that have met all of my ad music needs. Be sure to read their license terms before using (which pretty much say you can use it for works under 6 minutes for 1 year as long as it’s not to advertise or do something bad.)

Step 3: Record ad in Soundtrap

I had not used Soundtrap prior to this year, but I am SO GLAD I found it! It’s super easy to use (drag-and-drop) and FREE (for up to 5 projects at a time … I just delete and start over when I need more space). You can record voice & microphone, import audio files, and even make original music (although I do not use it for this purpose). With one click, you can download your final product as an .mp3. They also have an INCREDIBLE collection of tutorials to help you get started!

Do you have a favorite tip, tool or trick for recording radio ads? I’d love to hear it!

Branding, Culture

3 presentations you can use with students, teachers and leaders for building better brands

How many of your students, teachers, and campus/district leaders truly think of your school or district as a brand?

Although school PR officials understand this, our students and staff members rarely think in terms of branding when it comes to K-12 education. When we say “branding” – they see McDonald’s, Starbucks and Nike. The reality is – we are all working together to build our school and district brands, but we’re also building our personal and leadership brands in the process.

Below are three presentations I developed to use with students in our communications classes and with staff members at our annual district professional development conference to help start those branding conversations. (Please feel free to make a copy to use for yourself!) Here are a few points I like to make during these presentations…

  • Many of us were taught not to “toot our own horn” … that it’s rude to brag, but if we don’t tell our story, no one will!
  • Your NAME is your brand. What do parents think when they see your name on their child’s schedule? Do they fist pump or cringe?
  • If you are unsatisfied with your personal or leadership brand … take this opportunity to RE-BRAND! Companies do it all the time – you can, too!
  • Invest time in your teacher website. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, then write a professional bio! This is often the first thing that stakeholders will read about you.
  • Understand that PR is EVERYONE’S job – not just mine. Each of you can impact our district brand, your campus brand, and each other’s brands. Use that power wisely!
Tools

5 Chrome Extensions I use on a daily basis (and one to grow on!)

I love Google Chrome. It is absolutely my browser of choice. I also love Chrome extensions – little nuggets that let me customize my browser experience. These are my favorites and the ones that I pretty much use every day. The greatest thing about these extensions is that I don’t have to go anywhere or open any program or window to use them … they’re always right there in my browser ready to make my life easier!

  1. Awesome Screenshot – capture any part of your window and make annotations (love the blur tool for pictures of students or sensitive info!)
  2. ColorZilla – little eyedropper tool to grab the color from any place in your browser
  3. Page Ruler – quickly draw a ruler on any webpage to measure objects on the page
  4. Tab Scissors – split your browser window at the current tab
  5. Tab Glue – “glue” your split tabs back together

And my most favorite extension of all…

BITMOJI!

This Chrome extension absolutely, positively does not contribute in any way to my effectiveness or efficiency, BUT it brings me so much joy! I often aspire to communicate solely with Bitmojis.

In fact, my superintendent even uses Bitmoji! We’ve made some notecards for him to send to students with his avatar and they LOVE IT!

Ok – your turn! Leave me a comment with your favorite Chrome extensions. I am always looking for new ones to try out!

Culture

An easy (FREE!) way to boost staff morale and improve organizational culture

Everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job – especially teachers. They have one heck of a tough job, and it’s often a thankless one. Several years ago I saw an idea from Hays Consolidated ISD called the Hays High Five Program, which allows anyone from the district or community to recognize an HCISD employee.

Genius.

So, we started something similar in my district called the Cub Compliment and it has been a GREAT success! Here’s how it works…

  • ANYONE can fill out the form – parents, grandparents, colleagues, supervisors, community members, etc.
  • ANYONE can receive a Cub Compliment – teachers, paraprofessionals, maintenance staff, custodial staff, administrators, etc.
  • I used Autocrat (Google Sheets Add-on) to automatically create a printable certificate and email it to me when someone fills out the nomination form – SO easy! (Learn more about Autocrat here)
  • I edit the certificates for typos, print them and give them to our superintendent who signs them and writes a little note of encouragement.
  • The certificates are sent to the recipient via campus mail with a coupon for a treat from a local business partner.

I have seen DOZENS of Cub Compliment certificates hanging on bulletin boards by desks, framed on bookshelves, and tacked to classroom doors. It means something when someone thanks you for a job well done. It means A LOT when the person who signs your paycheck also signs the compliment certificate. We all want our bosses to know how hard we work, right?!

Since we started the program in September 2016, we have delivered 753 Cub Compliments! That’s 753 smiles. 753 pats on the back. 753 days made.

How are you recognizing the staff members in your organization who go above and beyond the call of duty?

Tools

These 3 tools are better than a personal assistant! (Ok, not quite, but I can’t live without ’em!)

When you work in a small school district, you have to find creative ways to work smarter, not harder. There aren’t secretaries at every turn or levels of assistants for delegating tasks. We’re not “top heavy” and we all wear many hats to get the job done. (Fun fact: Even our superintendent shares his secretary!) The tools below are my staples for staying organized and completing tasks efficiently.

1. Google Calendar

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Warning: dramatic statement … I LIVE by Google Calendar. Like, really. There are times when I am walking in the hallway of a campus, hear the ding, and do an immediate about face to head in the opposite direction for a meeting that slipped my mind. Google Calendar is my TOP survival tool! Here are 3 of my favorite things about Google Calendar:

  1. It’s searchable. Can’t remember when you met with that guy last year? Do a search! I put TONS of details in my calendar events so I can search them easily later. This has saved me on several occasions!
  2. It’s a time management tool. I schedule EVERYTHING on my Google Calendar, including blocks of time to work uninterrupted on big projects. If it’s on my calendar, I know I will take the time to get the job done instead of putting it off, AND it keeps me from overbooking myself (usually!).
  3. It integrates with YouCanBook.Me. This is an AWESOME scheduling tool that I use regularly to allow teachers, principals and everyone in between book time on my Google Calendar. It’s user friendly, and the free version gives me everything I need.

2. Google Keep

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am pretty much a “Google Girl.” I love all things Google – especially when the tools help me do my job better and keep my sanity (win-win!). Google Keep is such a powerful tool, but it’s not one of the main apps, so I think it’s underutilized. Google Keep allows you to create digital sticky notes and task lists. Here are 3 of my favorite things about Google Keep:

  1. It’s with me wherever I go. Because these digital sticky notes sync to my Google account, I can access them from anywhere and on any device. Long road trip and your mind is racing with ideas/tasks? Open up Google Keep and make a list. Check the tasks off when you get back to the office!
  2. Notes and lists are sharable. Need to brainstorm with a colleague or share tasks? No problem – just share the digital sticky note. (This works really well for tandem grocery shopping, too!)
  3. It’s a productivity tool. I use Google Keep stickies for daily priority lists and “top tasks.” I have a “Fab Five” sticky note that is pinned to the top of my Google Keep screen with the five things I must complete today. This little nugget keeps me on track (and can keep the stress at bay!).

Boomerang for Gmail

Photo by Karl Gerber on Pexels.com

If your inbox is a disaster or you are one of those “wake up at 2am and work” kind of people, you need Boomerang in your life. Boomerang does these things for you:

  1. Schedule emails to send later (like, NOT at 2am … don’t be that guy!).
  2. Temporarily archive emails and have them pop back up in your inbox at a certain time. (It’s like snooze for your email!)
  3. “Boomerang” an email back to your inbox to remind you to follow up if you haven’t gotten a response from the sender.

What tools keep you from pulling your hair out?!

Tools

The Journey Begins (Again!)

I started my first blog, EdTechChic, in 2011 as a way to connect and collaborate with other professionals, as well as share little tips and tricks I learned as an instructional technology specialist. I am a big believer in sharing content and ideas with others rather than hoarding all the good stuff for yourself. I remember seeing a post on Pinterest years ago that said something to the effect of, “Why won’t you share your idea? Are you afraid it’s the last one you’ll have?” I always told people to use anything I created and shared. I already had the glory. Pass it along. Together we’re better.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Although I truly loved blogging, when I accepted a new role as communications director in my district in 2016, I found that I had very little to contribute. I’d been “EdTechChic” for years, but this new role was taking me in a very different direction – uncharted territory. It has taken me nearly 3 years to find my footing as a school communications practitioner and feel as though I have anything valuable to offer my professional network again. I have learned a lot along this journey, and I am excited to move from consumer to producer once again.

Every day I learn something new about public relations and communications, especially as it relates to the education industry. I look forward to sharing ideas, tips, and tricks, as well as learning and collaborating with you.

Check out the toolbox page before you leave! I will be elaborating on and adding new tools as the blog develops, so check back often. What are your favorite “work smarter, not harder” PR tools?

click here for my favorite tools