Picky. Picky. Pacifying pointed peer pressure from School PR pros – SCN Encourager

Okay. Here are my School PR Reflections in one package.

It’s called “the drip.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.14.15 AMThat’s the technique I employed last week.

You know – where I dripped out my Seth Godin inspired School PR Reflections in onesies and twosies everyday last week.

I received some nice comments back and several people asked asked me to combine all 7 reflections into one Encourager.

Why force me to click all over the place?
How could I share it with my team like that?
Why force them to click all of the the place, too?

Cindy warned me this might happen –
where my “drip” tactic would boomerang and tag me as the real “drip.”

Dang. 
Life is tough enough without you all proving her right so often!

So here are my School PR Reflections #1-#7.

#1 Reflecting on “What’s the best school marketing for our schools?”

The best marketing is always grounded in the development and delivery of the best product, program, or service.

That’s it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.27.02 PMWhile Question #1 in bold above looks crazy simple, and indeed it does evokes a speedy-kwik answer, we all know the monumental challenges that come along striving to deliver “the best.”

But you can’t escape this core truth.

Your district’s PR and communications effectiveness are directly tied to the day-to-day operational excellence and reputation of your programs and services.

#2 Reflecting on “What’s the best approach for school communications?

Everything begins with an awareness of your targeted audiences.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.52.15 PMNow I’m hardly the most romantic guy around, but the word “intimacy” applies here.

You need to know your targeted audiences as real people (with individual interests, hopes, & struggles)to earn the right to interrupt and approach them, so that you’ll gradually gain their trust.

And how easy is it for us to position our own district’s interests, hopes, and struggles first?

#3 Reflecting on “What’s the best way to grow your district’s brand?”

Brand building begins with the clear understanding of who you’re currently serving.

Your focus (ideally laser like – or in my case, dependent upon reading glasses) must be on the continual improvement of your product, program, or service for the people you currently serve.

Delight them so that it’s easier to retain them.

The public perception of your brand is directly tied to your ability to retain the people you serve right now.

#4 Reflecting on “What marketing channel stands above all others?”

You’re already familiar with it.

ShockingIt’s called “word of mouth.”

The perennial winners in marketing intentionally do what it takes to spark positive person to person messages. They don’t leave it to chance.

The various word of mouth messages flowing back-and-forth within a community that cares (like a school district) are what causes reputations and rumors to rise and fall.

And we all know how social media has quickened the pace of this.

Nurturing your district’s Word of Mouth channel will require you to wear “blinders,” however.

Don’t let the allure of cool sounding taglines or eye-popping visuals to knock you off course.

Because as branding strategies go, they’re never as effective as sincere person-to-person messaging.

They’re not even as effective as insincere person-to-person messaging.

#5 Reflecting on “What is our best content? How do we tell our story?”

In my view, the key differentiator between good school communications and great school communications is this:

School districts that have GREAT school PR strategically and consistently set out to CREATE the stories people will tell about them.  At every opportunity (AKA school contact touchpoints), they strive to exceed the expectations of the people they serve.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.18.05 PMSome school districts may still find success in a more traditional model of school PR, in which the emphasis is on spotlighting and telling the school stories happening all around them, and not so much creating them.

With communications clutter running amok and only getting worse, though, this approach is getting harder to pull off with any effectiveness.

Achieving the intended result in this way depends on repeating good school news often enough, so that people will eventually see the magnitude of what all our schools are doing and jump on the bandwagon. And repetition can be annoying… and often expensive.

It’s hard to knock this tactic. It’s well meaning. It shares truth (our schools are doing wonderful things). And absolutely, messages that get out there and repeated will have a hundred times greater impact than our messages that are never shared at all.

This is good – but strategically creating and living out the stories you want told and shared will make your school district’s PR great.

#6 Reflecting on “What’s the best way to win in a competitive environment?”

Marathon runnersInstilling consistent customer service practices, not advertising words and phrases, will give you an edge over your competition.

When you demonstrate high levels of competence, service, and caring, you’ll rise above the “jingles,” the hype, and the ho-hum routines of others.

There’s really not much more to say.

Your organizational HABITS will define what stories get told about you.

Ouch.

But this is where you can win.

Most won’t make the effort.

#7  Reflecting on metrics: “What’s the best measurement for school PR?” 

With all of the whiz-bang push button tools out there, it’s tempting to chase down data the way squirrels scramble for acorns.

But collecting data for data’s sake is pointless.

Focus on this instead.

Determine and monitor the gap between what you are promising (and ideally, it’s sky high) and what you are actually delivering.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.43.08 PMThis gap is the best indicator of how the people you are serving perceive the value they are receiving.

It’s worth surveying to stay on top of this.

When promises are exceeded, people are delighted.

When promises don’t live up to expectations, people are disappointed.

And whoa  – if they’re ever disappointed about something – they’re mere seconds away from telling their friends all about it.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth Godin contends that the best way to keep this from happening (the passing along of negative news) is to stay in real close contact with your parents (your choosers) and never be shy about ASKING them about their experiences and what they’re thinking.

Now, asking people questions without knowing what they’re going to say may be the only way to assess “the promise / the delivery” gap, but it still makes me nervous.

That’s why I sent Godin a suggestion for an alternate tactic, something other than those time-consuming and potentially scary surveys.

I proposed we school communicators just stop making any promises in the first place.

Why not avoid the whole “gap thing” altogether if we can?

That was my reasoning, anyway.

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