Our January Lunchinar promises to be a winner! – SCN Encourager

We hope you can join us Thursday, January 26.

We’re serving up the best topic of all time – YOU!

No fake.

You work hard and perform communications magic in the service of your schools, right?

So isn’t it about time to take a 45 minute break so you can snag some tips on how to dial up your own online presence?

You bet it is!

Thursday’s Lunchinar is exclusively and totally about “BRAND YOU.”

The online YOU.

Or in my case… BRAND ME.

You get it.

Let’s do this!

Jean MacLeod is an award-winning communicator, writer, strategist, and presenter.

As a longtime expert in social media campaigns and projects, Jean is the owner of SMART/SIMPLE Media and the former social media specialist for the Oakland Schools ISD, MI.

Many of us have connected with Jean at various MSPRA events over the years.

She’s presented there, too.

Jean has a big heart for school PR folks as well as a keen sense of humor – so I’m guessing those are the reasons behind Jean’s willingness to join host Holly McCaw at our next Lunchinar.

Even those of us who think we’ve got the whole “online reputation” thing down pat (uh, I don’t!) can learn a bunch from Jean.

Now if you’re asking what the heck is an Lunchinar?
Fair enough.

SCN Lunchinars are FREE live streaming chats that always run from 12:15 – 1 pm EST.

Imagine a lively 45 minute virtual get-together over lunchtime with an simply smart guest.

That’s a Lunchinar.

Sign up and you’ll be able to –
Grow in what you know without even leaving your office.

Can’t beat that!

Holly McCawEvery SCN Lunchinar is hosted by our video and TV expert Holly McCaw, the talented communications director of Otsego Public Schools.

Our Zoom audio/visual live chat system makes the whole process straightforward and simple.

You won’t need to download software or use meeting codes.

We just email you the link right before the Lunchinar begins.

Here’s what to do:

1. Mark Thursday, January 26, from 12:15 – 1 pm (EST) on your calendar.

2. Click here to sign up and join us. 

We hope to see you!

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Differentiation. Five questions to help you lift the fog. – SCN Encourager

Like most things in life, determining your “differentiator” is easier said than done.

Fortunately, though…

Words actually do play a critical role in helping to clarify what differentiates your school district (or any business or organization) from the rest of the pack.

The process is fairly simple.

1 – 2- 3.

1st, formulate your words in the form of questions.

2nd, listen closely to the answers you get in response.

3rd, think, analyze, and discuss all of the soft data you’ve collected with your team.

Now, I’m not sure whether I have the “think, analyze, and discuss” parts in the right order.

But I’m pretty sure you can figure that part out.

At least I’ve got the five questions paired down for you, inspired by reading Brian Gladu on the Active Campaign blog.

Brian’s the marketing director for the Chicago-based integrated email marketing firm Active Campaign and my interpretation and rewording of his questions look like this.

And here, the order matters.

#1  What do your parents (and prospective parents) most value?

#2  What do your schools do well?

#3  How could you better connect what you do well with what they most value?

#4  What do your competitors do well?

#5  How do you better connect with what your parents most value than do your competitors?

Come to grips with points #3 and #5 with your team and you’re mighty close to nailing down your differentiator.

High fives and huzzahs to all!

And boy, I like it when this happens.

(And I don’t even know what a huzzah is!)

But, if you find out your competitors are better connecting with what your parents and prospective parents most value, you’ve got some work to do.

Beginning with editing Question #5 to this:

How CAN we connect with what our parents most value BETTER than our competitors?  

Like I said.

Easier said than done.

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8 ways to improve your presentation skills in under 4 minutes – SCN Encourager

This brief video from INC is a winner.

Much like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.








I like it because none of the 8 ways to step up your game when presenting before a group involves dieting, lying about your age, or being creative with kale at your Super Bowl party.

(Those don’t work… or so I’ve been told.)

These 8 are all pretty decent suggestions that fall in the “we both can do it” category.

Fur thermore, if you take a moment to watch the clip right after the unavoidable 30 second ad, you’ll see an overall video format that might spark an idea or two.

It did for me.

This video makes great use of still photos and concise info snippets, all wrapped into one topic and directed to a specific audience.

It doesn’t require any complicated video production.

So this is what makes this video a big winner in my estimation: good content done easily.

(Okay. I know I’m the last one who should be calling out “winners” for you, but what can I say? It just goes to show you what Detroit Lions fans must do for fun this time of year while other teams are playing for championships.)

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I can’t give you anything better than this today – SCN Encourager

Consider this kind of an “I Have a Dream”… plus.

What a life.













Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent time in jail and also in the Oval Office.

He experienced hatred up close and personal and yet leveraged it all to reach out in love in order to advance a clear vision – equality.

He modeled and activated an effective “what works” paradigm.

Change hearts.
Change minds.
Change laws.
Change the future.

He persevered to the end without compromise.

Sometimes I wonder if he’d be happy about the way we tend to spotlight his famous “I Have Dream” speech, like it’s a July 4th firework or the pre-game National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

I wonder if he’d ever want to give you and me a good shake and say, “Hey, I had so much more to say to you than that!”

This is why I was elated to find this article on Buzzfeed.

It gives 17 lesser-referenced quotations (AKA: life pokes) from Dr. King.

Every dream needs an anchor, you know.

And the range of these quotes helped me get a better idea about his.

(And also helped me get a better idea about my own… dang it.) 

The fine art of persuasion: good, better, and best. – SCN Encourager

 Believe or not Sears was onto something.

It seems quaint now.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-8-26-09-pmBut the good – better – best model actually worked well for Sears for more than two decades.

And “worked well” is probably an understatement.

During the 1940s-1970s Sears earned the marketshare and revenue growth similar to what Amazon and Walmart does today.

By frequently presenting three options within the same product line in its historic series of print ads and catalogs, Sears encouraged its customers to “self-compare” and feel comfortable in making their eventual purchase.

I don’t know if they knew it or not, but by providing a logical range of alternatives to people, Sears was grounding its communications in the Rule of 3 as well.

Apparently, most of us like to see things in groups of three, whether it’s candles on table, picture frames on a wall, or two rows of three properly aligned side-by-side in our favorite six-pack.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-49-29-pmWhile seven is often viewed as a lucky number.

Three somehow is the one that gets things remembered.

Experts in the art of persuasion are well aware of this.

They weigh a logical range of alternatives in the words, phrases, and sales copy they use, too.

In fact, it’s central to how they strategize and measure their persuasion tactics.

They know –

• A good way to try to persuade someone is to employ an element of SURPRISE.

• A better way to try to persuade someone is to employ EMPATHY.

• The best way to try to persuade someone is to employ both SURPRISE and EMPATHY in a way that “sets the stage” for them to persuade themselves.

And then they never forget the bottom line.







Makes sense, don’tcha think?

So I’m going to mark you down as “persuaded” and call it good.


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Building trust ain’t as easy as it used to be. (It’s a fact.) – SCN Encourager

And I’m not looking back in time through rose-colored glasses.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-8-11-09-pmIt’s true.

Yesterday I pointed out the Top 3 Impactors on school marketing success.

Do I wish at least one of the three was a super secret downloadable tool?

You bet!

Especially if it was both cheap and so easy to use even a knucklehead like me could figure it out.

Unfortunately, the Top 3 Impactors are tightly connected to the daily behaviors of you, me, and everyone else in our school ecosystem.

It’s our mindsets that are critical, not our tools and tactics.

The Top 3 Impactors on our school marketing are leveled up (or down) by our attitudes, our willingness to work with each other, and our hearts for serving others.

#1  Culture
#2  Trust
#3  Momentum

And oh yeah, some degree of sensitivity to what’s happening right under your nose doesn’t hurt any, either.
(Or so Cindy and our girls tell me.)

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-52-21-pmWe face a formidable challenge.

Even in the best of times, positively shaping and guiding our organization’s culture, trust, and momentum are incredibly hard to do. 

Take, for example, how the whole notion of “trust” has changed.

Although the definition of trust hasn’t changed – still meaning “to have strong confidence or reliance in” – the way trust is attained today is totally flip-flopped from what took place just one generation ago.

Thanks to the research of social psychologists, studies show that trust used to be simply and generally accorded to leaders and authorities by the previous generation until they (the leaders and authorities) did something to lose or betray their trust.

In the past, leaders and authorities were trusted until they were proven not to be.

Today, it’s the exact opposite.

Leaders and authorities are not considered to be trustworthy until they (the leaders and authorities) have proven they deserve to be.

Boy, this irks me.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-55-20-pmWhen I was a kid, my parents demanded that I respect and trust teachers, other parents, all adults, and practically every other person on the planet who was more than 7 years older than me.

I was raised to respect and trust my elders without question (unless the adult was convicted criminal or something). 

And now, I can’t believe my bum luck!

Nowadays,  I’ve got to continue blindly trusting everyone older than me because of the programming of my parents, while also going the extra mile to try and EARN the trust of everyone younger than me who isn’t generationally inclined to just “freely give it.”

Talk about lose-lose.

No wonder I reach for my rose-colored glasses as often as I do.

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Here are the top 3 “impactors” on your school marketing success – SCN Encourager

They’re surprising in a way… but not really (once you think about it).

And that’s exactly where I stumble.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-03-59-pmWith the dang thinking part.

Hate to say it, but that’s what trips me up.

I can’t help it.

I’m always hoping a whiz bang mailer, a clever Facebook post, or a mid-length feature article on our website (perhaps even incorporating a video) will turn out to be the “big difference” – but nope.

The top 3 school PR success drivers are not tactical at all.

They are actually more connected to the big picture pieces of our organization; tightly in line with how willing we are to consistently engage and be honest in “do we walk our talk?” self-assessments.

You’ll see the Top 3 success drivers are definitely leadership “inspired” and entire team “lived.” 

#1  Culture

#2  Trust

#3  Momentum 

And experts say these three greatly impact both our internal and external audiences of every size, whether it’s just one person or a large group.

But shaping this trifecta of impacts is much more difficult than most of us realize.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-12-17-pmEspecially if you’re like me and you keep hoping against hope that a super photo in the latest tweet or a sold-out holiday choir concert in the school auditorium will be the next PR game-changer in your district.

These activities play a part, of course.

But experts say –
steadily influencing your organizational culture (up),
AND steadily building your organizational trust (up),
AND steadily growing your organizational momentum (up)
are what school PR winners do.

These should be your primary areas of focus.

I know you didn’t need the word (up) repeated three times.

But I did.

You may know which direction culture, trust, and momentum should always flow.

But I need my “notes to self” to remind me.

Because sometimes I make my life much more interesting than it has to be.

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Want to become a school PR Einstein? Watch your math. – SCN Encourager

Experts say you get what you measure.

It’s true.

Even my wife Cindy’s a believer.

school-pr-einsteinShe’ll tell you without hesitation she wished she took time to measure all kinds of things many moons ago.

But she didn’t.

So she got what she failed to measure.


School leaders and communicators should try to avoid a similar mistake by establishing preferred benchmarks from the very beginning and then regularly measuring and monitoring all of the progress (or lack thereof) toward them.

One of the big time measures valued by marketing pros today is the NPS.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-8-20-02-pmNPS = Net Promoter Score

You’re likely to be familiar with this… even if the terminology is new.

Net Promoter Score is the % of people who say they’d “recommend” your product or service to a friend.

In a sense, every NPS is the back half of Seth Godin’s double-whammy definition of marketing.

Be remarkable.
Be recommendable.

Both are fairly easy to do, right?

(Thanks a bunch, Seth!)

But as both you and I know, life can be funny, and things CAN always take a turn for the worse.

And that’s what’s happening to the standard Net Promoter Score.

(Which figures… now that I know what it is.)

Marketers are now pursuing other measurements far beyond just asking someone if they’d willing recommend a particular business or organization to a friend.

They’re starting to measure other “measurables.”

Things like –
•  frowns,
•  smiles,
•  ease,
•  kind words,
•  harsh words,
•  and brevity.

They say knowing your NPS  – while useful for comparing and benchmarking – often is calculated way too late in the game.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-8-23-49-pmTracking frowns and smiles at regular intervals is what you should do if you’re truly interested in responding effectively and quickly to the people you serve.

These are the trends to watch.

I think it’s strange one of the quibbles marketers have with the NPS is that they don’t know how to interpret a respondent’s “silence” when they’re asked if they would make a positive recommendation.

They’ve got to be kidding!

When I asked Cindy if she’d recommend me to one of her friends –

I had no trouble at all interpreting her silence.

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Is this a difficult time of year for you, too? – SCN Encourager

Why are all the go-getters making their 2017 plans now?

What’s the rush?

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-06-33-pmI just don’t get it.

It seems like lots of folks are jumping the gun if you ask me.

Personally, I prefer to see the college bowl games get sorted out, decorate the tree, and eat a few Christmas cookies – and then actually watch the bowl games, take down the tree, and eat a few more Christmas cookies – before even thinking about how to “make the New Year my best year ever.”

You know, it doesn’t bother me to see stores put up their holiday displays before Halloween.

But I feel stabs of self-doubt every time I refuse to follow the clarion call to chart a brand new course for 2017 beginning RIGHT NOW.

What the heck?

What’s wrong with wanting to enjoy the full holiday season before chasing down new goals and blazing new trails?

In my view it’s a long-held American tradition to wait until the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve before kicking any future planning, reflecting, and resoluting into high gear.

But now I’m second-guessing myself.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-11-36-pmFOMO will do that to you.

(And I didn’t even know what FOMO was until I wrote about the Fear of Missing Out a few months ago!)

I’m in a mental pickle, that’s for sure.

And it didn’t help me any when I heard a leadership coach say that loosening FOMO’s grip on our “inner self-talk” is one the best actions we should take on in 2017.

You’ll be able to accomplish this long before I will.

Loosening FOMO’s grip on me will be tough.

I’ve got to loosen SLO-MO’s grip on me first.

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Yikes! We’re competing with cat videos, Kanye and Kim? – SCN Encourager

And you thought it’d be smooth sailing after Thanksgiving, right?


No such luck.









The saying “There’s no rest for the wicked” definitely applies to us… the wicked school communicators that we are.

As we’re in a daily communications battle of epic proportions.

If ever you’re feeling overwhelmed and more than a bit harried – there’s good reason.

It’s not the stress of Cyber-Monday.

The demands placed on us really can’t be helped.

But they can be better understood.

And you might find clicking over to the full infographic beneficial.

It reminded me (once again) that Context is King and we live and work in an incredible age.

This info-pictorial from Social Media Today is logical, complete, and simple.

I even found it elegant.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-7-37-26-amNot that I know what elegant is or what shape it should take.

But I’ve written 1167 Encouragers to date and have never used that word before.

Besides, I’m embarrassed to have used the word “dang” more than 200 times.

It’s time to start strategically scattering in some loftier words now and then, I think,

just to see if I can somehow bump the classification of my writing up and out of the “cretin” category.

(Cindy and the girls have been encouraging me to do this for quite some time.)

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