Communication, innovation, Social Media

5 tips for a successful student takeover – give your students a voice and your social media channels a new flavor!

Late last year I learned of the concept of a social media “student takeover” and immediately wanted to try it with Brenham ISD! I passed the idea by my BHS student communications intern who was all in to give it a go. We decided to use Instagram Stories, an area I was not fully utilizing, in hopes of branching out and growing our Instagram following. I shared a Google Doc with my intern and we planned some ideas for posts throughout the day. He did a WONDERFUL job and I loved showcasing a student voice on our Instagram channel to add a new flavor to our posts!

Entering into the new school year, I was eager to jump in and try another student takeover. A local welding contest presented a perfect opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at our students at work. I reached out to our FFA president to see if she’d like to give a sneak peek of our CTE students at the competition and she was excited to participate. This time I used some specific guidelines to help guide the posts throughout the day and it was a HUGE success! 

A week later, I contacted our district’s head athletic trainer to see if she had a student athletic trainer that might be interested in participating in a student takeover day. I was thrilled when the offer was accepted and we were able to highlight the work of our SATs from the sidelines of a Friday night game. One of my favorite parts of that takeover was a time-lapse of a pre-game taping session with our student-athletes. It was so unique and an idea I never would have thought of!

If you’re considering a student takeover, I SAY JUST DO IT! It has been such a rewarding experience for me and for our students. It’s also a great opportunity to give historically underrepresented student groups a voice, or showcase learning that goes on outside of the regular school day!

Here are a few tips to help ensure a successful student takeover:

  • CHOOSE WISELY! With this wonderful opportunity comes great responsibility for your students. Do your homework and choose students who will represent your brand well and who understand the power of their posts.
  • Set clear expectations. Check out the Brenham ISD Guidelines for Instagram Stories Student Takeover for ideas. Don’t make your students guess what it is you want from them.
  • Let your students post in their own voice. As school PR pros, we do a great job of posting information that adults are interested in. Let your students add their own unique flavor to engage your younger student audience!
  • Use all the bells and whistles. Encourage your students to use all of the Instagram Stories features like Boomerang, Superzoom, gifs, stickers, etc. Even if you’re not comfortable with those features, your students likely are!
  • As Elsa says, LET IT GOOOO! You’ll enjoy your student takeover more if you let go of technical expectations and hopes for perfection. It’s ok if you notice a slight error (or a less formal tone) in a student post!
Communication, innovation, Leadership

11 books about strategic communication and innovation that challenged my approach to school PR

I am a nerd. I love to learn and I love to go to school. I have a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership from Sam Houston State University and I just started my last semester to complete a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Texas Tech University. My husband {lovingly} calls me a nerd and I wear that label proudly (although I have promised him that I will NOT get another degree!).

I also love books. I love to read and make connections between what the authors are proposing and how I live my life or do my job. Being relatively new to school PR, I challenged myself 14 months ago to earn this degree to become a better, more informed resource for my district. The books below are all of the texts I have read as part of the TTU MCOM master’s program. Some made me scratch my head and others made my head spin, but they all challenged my way of thinking about school PR. 

  1. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
  2. Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications by Kenneth E. Clow and Donald E. Baack
  3. Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience by Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
  4. Mass Media Research: An Introduction by Roger D. Wimmer 
  5. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research by Jennings Bryant
  6. Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Michelle Ferrier and Elizabeth Mays 
  7. Neuromarketing For Dummies by Stephen Genco, Andrew Pohlmann, and Peter Steidl
  8. Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes by Katherine Miller
  9. Personal Relationships: The Effect on Employee Attitudes, Behavior, and Well-being by Lillian Turner de Tormes Eby and Tammy D. Allen
  10. Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street by Kara Alaimo
  11. Social Media Marketing by Tracy L. Tuten and Michael R. Solomon

What are your favorite communications and public relations books?

Also, be sure to check out my new favorite podcast, School PR Happy Hour! Big high five to my school PR pals Justin Dearing and Erin McCann for this new project, and thank you for letting me be a part of it!