Communication

Have you been through the school bond process? Then I need your help!

Hello school PR friends! I am working on research for the completion of a master’s degree in strategic communication and innovation from Texas Tech University and I need your help! My final project will be a content analysis of visuals used for school bond elections. The idea is to analyze 100 samples and look for systematic patterns that may have enhanced information processing. 

Here’s where you come in. 🙂

If you been through the bond process and would be willing to send me your flyers, posters, postcards, etc., please fill out the short form here. In return for your help, I will send you the results of my research in hopes that it might help you with future bond elections.

Thank you in advance! I am always amazed at the willingness of the school PR community to share, and I am really jazzed to investigate your samples and hopefully provide some meaningful feedback for future bond efforts!

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!

Branding, Communication

LOVE this idea for personalized back-to-school signs – here’s a Canva template you can use!

Last week I saw the BEST idea from Derby Public Schools on Twitter and couldn’t wait to create back-to-school signs using this year’s Brenham ISD theme “Great Things Happen Here.” Canva is my absolute favorite quick and easy design tool, so it was perfect for this project. It only took a few minutes to search for some ideas on Google, find the right elements in Canva and download in both PDF and PNG format. I can’t wait to see these signs and big smiles on social media on the first day of school!

Canva template – single digit

Canva template – double digit

Canva template – PK, K, PPCD

Here’s a Canva bonus! I saw a flyer like this from another school (wish I could remember which one for credit!) and recreated it in Canva. It’s a fun, simple back-to-school flyer with wonderful information for parents.

Canva template – back-to-school flyer

Communication, Google, Marketing, Social Media

Use these “Top 10 back to school tips” to get your parents ready for the new school year

A couple of weeks ago my new NSPRA pal Sabrina Kapp shared a GREAT idea for a back to school “Top 10” for parents to prepare for the new year. Admittedly, hers were a lot cuter than mine, but in a pinch (and to make them shareable for you!) Google Drawings worked just fine. Feel free to File > Make a Copy to create your own versions!

Click here for the Google Folder with all of the files you need!

2019-2020 Brenham ISD Top 10 Back-to-School Parent Tips (posted on social media in reverse order!)

  1. Remember that students quickly learn and adapt to their new settings, and we have wonderful staff to help them every step of the way! Don’t worry – they’re in good hands! #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  2. The first day of classes is Wednesday, August 14! Every minute counts, even in the first days of school, so please plan ahead and make sure you’re on time. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  3. Pick-up and drop-off always takes a little longer the first few days of school. Please be patient with staff, students and other parents. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  4. Routines matter! Start adjusting sleep schedules now, a few minutes at a time, for an easy transition back to those early mornings. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  5. Our cafeterias serve healthy breakfast and lunch choices daily. Don’t forget to add money to your child’s lunch account here: brenham.healtheliving.net. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  6. Download our mobile app for all of the latest news and information. Look for Brenham Public Schools in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  7. Mark your calendars for our campus open house events! New student orientation for parents of all kindergarten through fourth-grade students will be held on Thursday, August 1 from 6-7pm at all elementary campuses. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  8. Make sure your child clearly understands your family’s system for transportation to and from school. You can sign up for bus transportation here: http://www.brenhamisd.net/page/trans.busreg. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  9. Need after school care for your K-6th grader? Brenham ISD has a BRAND NEW after school program, Club Zenith. Register today at http://www.zenithlearning.org. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
  10. Find everything you need for back-to-school, including school supplies, on our district website under Parent Resources. Have questions? Give us a call at 979-277-3700! #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Communication, Culture, Leadership

Three communication/leadership/PR presentations (you’re welcome to steal!) from day 1 of our back-to-school PD conference, Brenham U

Today was THE BEST day! Today all of my Brenham ISD “frens” came back! Although I love the summer for strategic planning and catching up, it’s just too quiet. I always feel like a little kid on the first day of school when convocation rolls around. 🙂 It’s like a family reunion!

Our theme this year is Great Things Happen Here!

We had an OUTSTANDING speaker who I highly recommend if you’re looking for someone engaging and funny with a CRYSTAL clear message that this is more than a job, it’s more than a paycheck, it’s a calling. He is a wonderful mix of magic and illusions with stories that will hit you right in the heart. And he’s from Austin, Texas, so he’s right in our backyard! Click here to learn more about Billy Riggs.

After lunch I presented the 3 sessions below (click the links to access the Google presos, File > Make a Copy to create your own version!). I am so grateful to each of you who attended and added to the conversations. You filled up my bucket today and I can’t wait for day 2 tomorrow!

Are you BrandED?

Each of us has a brand, whether we consciously shape it or allow others to do it for us. You may not be intentionally building your brand, but every post you make and hand you shake conveys your identity and communicates the value you offer. Come explore some easy steps to define, build and manage your brand. It’s time to get brandED!

Hard at work on their leadership brand statements!

Find Your Mojo with a Year of Yes

Shonda Rhimes, creator of popular TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, committed to a “year of yes” to get out of her comfort zone and find a balance between career and family. Come hear her Ted Talk story and join in a discussion about how you can say yes more often to stay energized and satisfied at work and at home.

After watching Shonda’s Ted Talk we did a “Chalk Talk” activity and discussed the trends.

Confident Communication – Come find your voice!

Effective communication is one of your most powerful tools. In an educational environment it is important to get it right – both externally with students and parents and internally with colleagues. Come learn how to engage in the two-way communication process, build effective listening skills, and break down barriers to effective communication.

I love the Chalk Talk activity. It gives everyone, event reluctant sharers, a chance to have a voice.
We had SO MANY good conversations surrounding these questions!
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

Communication, Culture, Google

Customizable Bitmoji postcards you can use for almost any situation (my superintendent LOVES these!)

I have an awesome superintendent who totally understands the power of a handwritten note and he LOVES Bitmoji! Seeing as I aspire to only communicate with Bitmojis, I have had a blast putting these postcards together for multiple occasions. Staff members and students LOVE to receive these, and they are so easy to make using Canva.

I love sharing documents on this blog that you can use, so I took this concept to Google Slides so you can make a copy and create your own customized 4×6 Bitmoji postcards. Click here for the slides (go to File > Make a Copy to create your own!).

And just for kicks, I’m also including an easy-to-use format for thank you cards that we love. Print these front-to-back and cut into thirds and they fit right into a standard envelope. These are great for students, parents, volunteers, donors, and everyone in between. You can switch out the stock pictures with pictures of your events, campuses, and programs. Click here to get the cards (go to File > Make a Copy to create your own!).