Advertising, Communication, Marketing

I find inspiration in the strangest places, and they usually involve food!

No matter where I go, I am always looking for ideas and inspiration. A couple of years ago I used the cover of the Chuy’s menu for typography inspiration for a recruiting postcard.

Last week, I spotted a sign at Whataburger that got me thinking about a social media graphic that could advertise some of our district programs.

I would also like to point out that I do most of these design jobs in Canva! It’s so easy to use, most of the elements I need are free, and the ones that I pay for are only $1. Easy and cheap … can’t beat it!

Where is the last strange place you found design inspiration?

Communication, Google

Monthly communications scorecard in a Google Doc format so you can use it, too!

I recently saw the below “communications scorecard” on the NSPRA Connect forum from the Pattonville School-Community Relations Team. (BTW, if you aren’t already taking advantage of the NSPRA Connect forum, I highly recommend it!)

Producing something like this for my superintendent and school board had already been on my mind, so I set out to recreate the beautiful template from Pattonville in a Google Doc format. I am pleased with the result and am happy to share the file so you can use it, too!

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

Branding, Culture, Marketing

Thank you, TCWSE, for a wonderful “Are you brandED?” session!

Many thanks to the Texas Council of Women School Executives for a wonderful session at this year’s annual conference! Below are the materials used in today’s “Are you brandED?” session. Please feel free to make a copy to use with your own staff. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations and hope these materials might help you continue the discussions in your own organizations!

Are you brandED? Google Slides presentation

Leadership brand statement foldable inside / outside

Google, Productivity, Tools

Getting started with Google Keep + a nifty Google Chrome trick for organization and productivity

Last week I shared how the use of Google Keep transformed how I organize and prioritize daily tasks for maximum productivity. Some of you had questions about what that looks like, so this week I want to share how easy it is to get started using Google Keep, plus a little Chrome trick that can help you pull it all together.

Go to keep.google.com.

Make sure you’re logged into your Google account. Below is what your screen will look like if you don’t have any notes yet.

Create your first list or note.

You have 3 choices: list, note with a drawing, or note with an uploaded image.
Tip: You can rearrange the list items or indent items by clicking and dragging.

It’s so much more than a list!

Google Keep is SO much more than just notes and lists. Check out the options by mousing over each little icon at the bottom of your list/note.

  • Remind me – get an email reminder with this information
  • Add a collaborator – helloooooo shared shopping lists 🙂
  • Change the color – my Fab Five list is red, so I can’t miss it
  • Add an image – great for screenshots to accompany the note
  • Archive – you can still recall archived notes/lists in left sidebar
  • Delete note – notes in your trash are permanently deleted after 7 days
  • Add label – great for organizing and searching
  • Add drawing – I gotta be honest … have never used this feature!
  • Make a copy – easily duplicate a note/list
  • Hide checkboxes – but WHHYYYY? Checking the box is all the fun!
  • Copy to Google Docs – cool feature, copies everything over to a Google Doc … this is helpful if your notes become too much for Google Keep and really need a Doc all their own.

Organize and prioritize notes and lists.

If you click the little push pin in the top right corner of your note/list, it will pin that note to the top of your collection. I use this trick + color coding to keep my lists organized and prioritized. You can click and drag your notes to put them in a specific order. My Fab Five list is always pinned to the far left corner since those tasks are my first priority.

Yes … my Fab Five list has grown to more like Terrific Ten … it’s all about flexibility, people!

Get the app for notes on the go!

Check out the Google Keep quick start overview from Google here and make sure you download the app on your phone so you can access your notes/lists from anywhere! Look for the little yellow sticky note / lightbulb icon in Google Play or the App Store.

Bonus trick: Set Google Keep as one of your startup pages in Google Chrome!

It’s easy to make lists and take notes, but you’re only as good as your follow through. I have found that setting startup pages in Google Chrome helps me start the day with everything I need for success.

To do this, go to your Chrome browser settings and scroll down until you see “On startup.” You can set your browser to open a specific set of pages every time you open your browser. I have mine set to open Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Keep. This simple trick removes one step for me when I begin my day and ensures that I attend to my Google Keep lists.

Tip: An easy way to do this is to open the pages you want to launch on startup and just click the option to “Use current pages.”
Productivity, Tools

How one simple suggestion + Google Keep completely changed my organization and productivity

I used to think I was a “do one thing at a time until it’s finished” kind of person, but since moving into a school PR role, I have discovered I am more of a “squirrel” type of worker. In school PR, we have to be able to switch gears quickly because we never know what’s going to come up. Many times I am in the middle of one project and another one gets thrown on the pile, or I am researching one topic when a new one comes up. This work environment can contribute to a lack in productivity and sometimes an increase in frustration.

Two years ago at our annual district leadership retreat, I shared this challenge with a colleague during one of our team building/reflection activities. I told him that despite my endless attempts at prioritizing and list making, I never felt like I accomplished what I needed to at the end of the day and that it was hard to really feel productive and strategic. He gave me such a simple suggestion that I had a real “DUH” moment.

Why don’t you make a list of your top 3-5 priorities for the day and tackle those tasks before you move on to anything else on your list?

THANK YOU, BMS Assistant Principal Larry Hughes!

Simple. Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?!

The very next day I set up my “Fab Five” list in Google Keep. I had been using Google Keep for years, but more for more for taking notes on the fly, not specifically for list making and task creation. It suddenly made so much sense to replace the notepad on my desk with a digital list that could be accessed from any device at any time and rearranged with a simple click and drag. (Is anyone else like me … if I have to reorder tasks on a paper list, I will just start over rather than scratch out!)

I “pin” the lists I use the most and make sure my Fab Five is the first one in the row.

I typically update my Fab Five list before I leave work in the afternoon so when I arrive the next morning, I know exactly where to start my day. I set Google Keep as one of my startup tabs in Google Chrome so it pops right up when I login each morning. I also created several secondary Google Keep lists to keep track of ideas, tools, articles, etc. that I come across.

Admittedly, this is not a perfect system and there are times when I have to deviate from my Fab Five, but this method really has changed my daily routine. It’s like having a daily dashboard that helps me stay organized and makes me feel more productive and strategic.

What methods do you use to stay organized? Do you have any tricks for productivity? Leave a comment below – I’d love to read your ideas!

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!