Branding, Leadership

Looking for summer reads? Here are my 10 favorite girl power, school PR and leadership books!

I – love – to – read! I love to read fiction, non fiction, mystery books, girlie books, biographies, self help and academic books whenever I get the chance. Now that my children are a little older, I am able to find a bit more time to read, which is awesome. I put this list in ABC order because it’s too hard to rank them by my favorite. They have all impacted my life and/or my career in some way and I hope you are able to find a new read for your summer list from these recommendations! 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Hi reader, because I may not know you very well, I may have to ask that you put your political views aside for this recommendation. Or perhaps not. Either way, this book is full of girl power, beautifully written, inspiring and empowering. I loved learning more about Michelle Obama’s childhood, her upbringing and how she lived as the First Lady while trying not to lose herself. I also loved the feeling that I got to peek behind the curtain of the White House. (I am on a little First Lady kick right now and am currently reading Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush!)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This book doesn’t have anything to do with school PR, but it is 100% about girl power, perseverance, family, love and survival. The author, a young journalist, began experiencing psychiatric symptoms that baffled doctors and specialists and landed her in a catatonic state. Thankfully, her family wouldn’t rest until a diagnosis was made and she was on the road to recovery. I found this story absolutely fascinating for the medical mystery factor, and also for the resilience of the author and her family.

BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning by Eric Sheninger and Trish Rubin

This is one I read in hard copy and I wore out my highlighter as I read it! There are many applicable real-world examples and case studies that you can apply to your own situation, plus an appendix with great worksheet-type resources. One of my favorite quotes is: “Do yourself a service: Create your own brand.” We hear about branding in the corporate world ALL the time, but I don’t think we talk about it enough in public education. This is a great book to get that conversation started!

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

I like to listen to books on Audible when I am traveling or driving back and forth to conferences and meetings. This is one I listened to and I am SO GLAD I did! I loved hearing Brene’s own voice tell her stories and share her recipe for true belonging. The message is so good … we can truly belong without giving up who we really are. Who knew?! I bought this book for my entire team after I listened to it and will definitely be reading it again … next time in hard copy so I can highlight and take notes!

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

I – loved – this – book! It was so uplifting and inspiring! This is another one I listened to on Audible during my nightly walk in my neighborhood and it definitely put a pep in my step! Tony Hsieh is the creator of Zappos and in this book he shares everything he learned about company culture and customer service. One of my favorite culture builders was “The Face Game” but you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is!

How to Get Run Over by a Truck by Katie McKenna

The author LITERALLY got run over by a truck! In this memoir she takes the reader through her accident and her LONG journey to recovery. If you’re needing to fill your bucket and find the strength to overcome adversity, give this one a try!

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

I have no doubt that this book is the very reason I have the job I have today. I listened to this book at a pivotal time in my career. I was looking for a new challenge, but I was feeling sheepish about trying to pave my own way. I remember walking through my neighborhood one night listening to Sheryl on Audible and literally fist pumping as she talked about empowerment, asking for a seat at the table, and NOT apologizing for it. So, I did. And here I am.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home and New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

Grab your tissues for this duo! The first title is a beautiful story of unlikely friendship, unconditional love and loss. The second title is a sequel that chronicles Caldwell’s life, the loss of a friend, recovery from a hip replacement, and triumph in the face of adversity. These do not directly fall into any of the three categories of this post, but definitely have themes of girl power and leadership woven into each beautiful story.

Your School Rocks, So Tell People by Ryan McLane

This is an easy read that provides practical ways teachers and administrators can give parents a behind-the-scenes look at what’s really happening in school. There’s a large focus on social media with tips for videos, hashtags, blogging and more. I read this one digitally on Kindle and did quite a bit of click-and-drag highlighting throughout! Great for those just getting started with social media storytelling.

There are at least a dozen other titles that I could add to this list, but this is a good place to start. Maybe I’ll do a part 2 after I finish my summer reads. 🙂 I would love to know what you’re reading! Share your favorite girl power, school PR or leadership book in the comments below so I can add them to my list!

Branding, Communication, Google, Marketing, Productivity, Tools, TSPRA

Are you new to school PR or building a new school PR program? These 5 documents can help you get started!

I was recently contacted by a newly hired school PR professional who is building a brand new PR program in her district. Having done that very thing 3 years ago, I was happy to offer my input and share my resources. With the help of MANY veteran school PR pros (thank you CASPRA, TSPRA, and NSPRA!), I’ve filled my toolbox and developed some documents that anyone can use to get a school PR program off the ground. I’m so happy to share those documents with you!

Please feel free to make copies of any of these documents and use them to develop your school PR program or share them with someone who can benefit! They’re all in Google Doc format, so you just have to go to File > Make a Copy to create your own version. Sharing is caring! We’re better together! 🙂

  1. Communications and Community Relations Plan – having a road map to guide communications efforts is incredibly helpful in beginning a new program, keeping it on track, and evaluating it annually for effectiveness.
  2. Annual School PR Tasks Checklist – I find that having a sort of “dashboard” for my annual and monthly tasks is helpful for big picture planning, prioritizing and making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
  3. Branding and Style Guide – I looked at dozens of style guides, some simple and some very in depth, before developing this one for our district. I settled on a simple and straightforward version, leaving room for the addition of details in the future, if needed.
  4. Communications Scorecard – each month I send this communications scorecard to my superintendent and our board of trustees. This is a great way for me to analyze our content and locate trends, as well as illustrate our growth and top efforts.
  5. Stay Connected with our ISD – this is a great publication for parents and the community to see all of the many ways they can stay connected with your schools!

In addition to the documents above, I also want to offer two presentations that I shared at TSPRA last year that may also be of interest/help. One contains ways in which we have engaged various stakeholder groups and the other is a presentation I also use internally to start a dialogue about branding and public education.

C4 Yourself! Cultivate Community, Communication & Culture – bit.ly/bisdc4tspra
Are you BrandED? – bit.ly/tsprabranded

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!

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

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!