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About the Author

Prior to launching SCN I was the communications director for Holland Public Schools in Holland, Michigan for 20 years. The challenges for in-the-trenches school communicators are many – and if I can help you in any way, give me a call. I'm a former teacher and I've managed more than 100 election campaigns of all types and sizes over the years. (I was even featured in the Wall Street Journal... a very, very slow news day, no doubt!) I created the School Communicators Network because I believe the noble purpose of education deserves the best marketing and PR possible. And there's a lot of talent and expertise we can tap into! I'm also convinced we can support each other while remaining human and having fun, too. You can reach me at

Fibbing, fudging, and spinning. (Telling your story.) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | Knucklehead Moments (The Real Tom) , The Encourager

My mom was a marketing master.

It’s awfully hard for me to admit.

But I see it now.

One of her favorite TV shows way back when was “What’s My Line?”

She understood the challenge involved in saying what you do clearly and concisely.

Every episode of “What’s My Line?” featured a panel of well-known and witty celebrities trying to unearth the vocation of “a guest.”

The panelists were blindfolded if “the guest” was a famous movie star or athlete, but usually they just asked “the guest” yes-or-no questions in rotation made their guesses under the pressure of a speedy-kwik count-down clock.

You can tell just by looking at this photo, “What’s My Line?” matched the sex appeal, suspense, and action of today’s “Game of Thrones” in nearly every way.

Well, maybe not.

But you’d often see the panelists smoking cigarettes – so that was pretty controversial in retrospect, don’tcha think?

For sure, this ancient TV game show spotlighted how figuring out someone’s “line” ain’t all that easy!

In fact, I’ve had my superintendents through the years wonder what the heck I was actually doing day-in and day-out – and they weren’t even blind-folded!

Unfortunately, it’s another fact that you and I often battle to frame our own personal “elevator speeches.”

As we’re usually the culprits who make it difficult for anyone to fully understand what we really do – or even care.

So this our Hot Potato Reality #2.

That most of us can’t complete this basic elevator speech template without prompting.

____[I]_______ help ___[this group]____ tackle or overcome ___[a challenge of some kind]____ so they can _____ [reach a specific level or milestone]_____ , even if _______[there’s a negative factor of some kind]_____.

So how’ bout it?
Am I wrong about today’s Hot Potato Reality?
Would you struggle to complete this template?

I’m gonna bet you would!

Because I struggle with it, too!

“I help purpose-driven and busy school leaders activate clear and consistent communication plans so they can CLOSE THE GAP between THE GOOD WORK they and their teams are doing and WHAT THEIR COMMUNITY KNOWS about it, even if the constraints of time, personnel, and budget at first seem daunting.”

Oh my!

I wish my mom were alive today so she could help me clean this up.

I’m not sure I’d like her advice, though.

Another one of her favorite TV game shows was “To Tell the Truth.”






6 school communication “Face It Facts” – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

Ready for a bit of tough school PR straight talk?

It might hurt.

But we’ve got to face the facts.

Face It Fact #1
The main battle we face today is for ATTENTION.

Face It Fact #2
It used to take 7-8 different points of contact to effectively get our message through to an audience. According to the research, it now takes 14-16 touches.

Face It Fact #3
EMPATHY rules.

Face It Fact #4
Our 14-16 touches and our-ever-so-sincere EMPATHY must be consistently delivered, in multiple ways, online, and offline.

Face It Fact #5
The key ingredient we need to add to everything in Face It Fact #4 is this: Useful Value.

Face It Fact #6
Here’s the kicker. Unless it involves our condolences or a crisis, our communications need to be anything BUT BORING.

Uh, oh…

Dang, I hate Face It Facts!



A cool and fresh approach to marketing (I’m so jealous!) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

One of these days I’ll take a bow.

I’ll welcome the praise that flows my way.

For now, I’m just going to call out good examples in marketing whenever they pop up, even if I had no hand in its creation.

Santa deserves the credit for today’s example,

as it was on Christmas morning I found two of these wrapped up and tucked into my stocking.

Naturally, I have my suspicions about who under my roof put Santa up to this tease, but no matter.

The two tiny “cans” of Altoids gave a mighty lesson in marketing.

Beyond the uniqueness of the Altoids can itself, I was impressed by how it featured the Altoid name.

A “social proof” tagline above it: The Original Celebrated 

A differentiating statement below it: Curiously Strong Mints 


Tell me this wouldn’t work for a school district!

This is too easy a concept to swipe to not try it.

When you eventually get around to opening a tin of Altoids, another surprise awaits you.

(Well, maybe “surprise” is a bit of a stretch…)

Anyway, the mints are wrapped up inside a thin piece of classy paper which proclaims yet another message.

These mints must be strong if they make you cry “Uncle!”

Now… would any words or phrases like these fit your district’s academic program?


Cutting Edge!

Or maybe something like this works better.

Simply pull the same differentiating tagline off the cover of the tin.

That’s probably what I’d do.

Come up with a slick slogan right at the beginning.

And keep repeating the same thing over and over and over again.

I know I should be more curious about why I’m this lazy.

But you know, I’m just not.








Fitting in is out. (A lesson from a Super Bowl ad.) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

Wanting to help others “fit in” isn’t a bad thing, is it?

I can’t say I’ve ever asked myself this question before.

Usually “fitting in” is only an issue when it involves trying to “fit into”  a pair of just-washed jeans!

(Which isn’t a pretty sight…)

Now master marketer and growth advisor Chris Brogan has a totally new take on “fitting in.”

He says it’s high time to scrap the notion we should ever try to help people “fit in.”

Instead, we should focus on helping people truly BELONG.

He used Microsoft’s powerful Super Bowl ad to drive the point home.

It’s an astonishing piece.

I also found this 2-minute clip personally convicting.

It’s embarrassing to confess (at my age!) I still need to be reminded about the importance of trying to help people belong.

But I do.

You’d think this was something I would’ve made foundational in my life at about age seven.

But nope, I’m still flubbing the dub.

And it especially rankles me when Brogan emphasizes helping people belong means helping everyone belong.

(Like… everyone.)

Ouch! That’s not fair!

I’m no where close to having an “everyone” mindset.

But maybe you’re closer than I am.

That would be nice.

Then I could count on you to pick up the slack in this area!

And I could just go back to being me –

enjoying Super Bowl Sunday,
eating and drinking fun things,
trying to “fit into” my jeans.

That’s where I belong.









January 2019 LUNCHINAR with Supt. KellyMiddleton

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | Lunchinars (Lunch & Learn)

Topic: Improving customer service in our schools

“You’ll find many gems in Kelly’s insights. An a-ha for me was Kelly’s perspective that customer service is modeled from the very top… and the rest fot the organization over time will mirror that. If there’s no oomph at the top, your customer service will lag.” Tom Page, SCN

Video from Newport, KY Schools (New cafeteria!)

Check out Kelly’s New Book!

Available from Amazon

Connect With Kelly


Twitter: @Kellsinfotweets

Here’s an mp3 audio download of the Lunchinar

Listen to the Lunchinar while you walk, exercise or drive.

Download the mp3 (Click on the 3 dots on the next screen)

Stay in the Lunchinar loop. Email Tom to get on the notifications list.

The marketoonist’s take on “customer experience” – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

What are the odds?

That marketoonist Tom Fishburne would poke some fun at “customer experience” during the exact same time I am highlighting our January 22 “customer service” Lunchinar.

I guess this proves for a fact that great minds really do think alike!

I only wish I had one of them. Dang it!

As of course, I’m talking about the insightful Fisburne and our whizbang Lunchinar leaders Holly McCaw and Kelly Middleton!

So make the time join in the fun for 45 minutes next Tuesday.

You don’t want to roll into the new year without adding a few new approaches, do you?

[Just sign up here.]

It’ll be interesting to see if Superintendent Middleton echoes Fishburne’s belief that it’s often our own organizational silos that cause us the most grief.

That’s the big question this master-grief-causer wants to know!

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