Communication, Culture, Productivity, Time Management

5 practical time management tips from a great roundtable discussion at last week’s CASPRA meeting

Last week I attended the monthly CASPRA (Central Area region of TSPRA) meeting in the Austin area. If you are in school PR and you are not a member of NSPRA and your state chapter, DO IT! The folks in these organizations are my LIFESAVERS! In fact, I drive an hour and a half there and back each month just to attend the monthly regional meetings. It’s worth every second, especially when the discussions turn out some great tips like the ones below.

Marco Alvaredo, Director of Communications & Community Relations for Lake Travis ISD, led one of the CASPRA round table discussions on time management and below are 5 tips, tricks, and tools I took away from the talks. In school PR, time management is a tough one, especially if you’re an office of one, but these practical ideas might help!

1. Use Google Keep for prioritizing daily tasks.

I recently shared how I use Google Keep for prioritizing my daily tasks. I still contend that my “Fab Five” list is the one trick that keeps me on track to complete the most important tasks before moving on to less pressing issues. If you’re not familiar with Google Keep, check out the getting started post here.

2. Group related emails into folders, then check by topic to keep from having to switch gears multiple times.

I thought this was a really interesting idea. I strive for zero inbox, and I usually start from the top of my inbox and work my way down. I archive anything that I have already attended to and keep everything that needs my attention in my inbox. I do sometimes struggle with having to switch mental gears from one email to the next as the topic changes. By first sorting emails into folders, you can keep your momentum on one topic before moving on to the next. Do you check emails this way? I would be curious to know how it works for you!

3. Tackle your biggest projects first.

Jennifer Bailey, Director of Human Resources & Communication in Jarrell ISD, recommended completing the most daunting tasks first before moving on to tasks that require less time and effort. There have been many times when I have slid a project from one day to the next on my calendar because I just don’t want to deal with it. I like this idea, though, to just dive in and get it done! Eat the elephant one bite at a time!

4. Use Boomerang for Gmail to streamline email checking.

I have been using Boomerang for years and I love it! Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send later, temporarily archive emails and have them pop back up in your inbox at a certain time, and “Boomerang” an email back to your inbox to remind you to follow up if you haven’t gotten a response from the sender.

5. Recognize capacity and strategically abandon, if needed.

Jennifer Bailey of Jarrell ISD also introduced a very thought-provoking term during our CASPRA time management discussions … strategic abandonment. She shared how her team at a previous district was reduced and the skeleton crew finally had to strategically abandon some initiatives to operate within their capacity. School PR departments can can become the dumping ground for every project and idea and initiative in every campus and department. We have to consider, however, if we’d rather go far and wide with shallow projects or deep dive into initiatives for maximum quality.

Two more tidbits…

I recently heard about Redbooth, a project management tool. I haven’t checked it out yet, but it’s on my list. Anyone out there using it? I would love to know how you like it!

The book Sense of Urgency by John Kotter was also shared at the CASPRA meeting. It’s currently on the way from Amazon to my door. Have you read it? What did you take away?

Productivity, Tools

WHY would I bother with fancy editing suites when this tool will do it in ONE CLICK?!

Recently my good friends from the Brenham ISD technology department blogged about this website called remove.bg.

Click here to see the full post – this is an AWESOME tech blog to follow!

I saw the post and browsed the content, but didn’t really need it at the time. And then last week – I needed it! I needed to remove the background from a picture and I needed to do it quickly. So I found the post and tried remove.bg and HOLY COW! It’s literally one click to get the job done!

Now, is it perfect? Nope. Is it super fast and great in a pinch? Yep! I would love to hear your favorite time saving tools, and don’t forget to follow my friends over at Brenham Tech Daily!

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!