Tag Archives for " public relations "

The decision to close down a school permanently is painful all by itself.

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

And then you must begin to tip-toe through an emotionally charged PR “minefield.”

PE7A0061There’s no doubt about it.

In the life of every school leader and communicator some of the worst days on the job involve the slow build-up to a permanent school closure – and then the immediate let-down that follows.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to fall to your knees in prayers of thanksgiving later if you skirted your way through the minefield without something blowing up.

School closures are rife with conflict because school employees will criticize the decision, community leaders will make late-to-the-table pitches to explore alternatives, and neighborhoods will mourn the loss of a school as a breakdown in social infrastructure.

And there’s usually an outcry from alumni. Even if they haven’t driven by the school in decades, some will feel like their history is being wiped out if the building is closed, repurposed or demolished.

People will rail against the decision-making process – and who can blame them? Seldom is there policy or protocol for making the decision. School boards don’t have to include students, parents, community leaders, neighbors or alumni in deliberations.

Boards may hold stakeholder meetings before closing the school, but it usually feels like one-way communication to those who show up. Rarely is it open engagement over public policy.

Closing a school. Forever.
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Breaking News! Seriously speechless on Saturday. – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

Here’s another reminder why offense is better than defense.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 5.57.00 PMSports talk radio sometimes doesn’t help my marriage at all.

And I’m sure I wasn’t the only spouse ensnared by the intense outcry taking place over the airwaves Saturday morning.

As we often do, Cindy and I were up and about on Saturday – going to breakfast, visiting the farmer’s market, and running a few other weekend related errands.

I’d list them all, but I think by now you have enough proof that I’m boring and predictable.

Anyway, as Cindy and I were zipping around, I made the mistake of having the radio turned on to my favorite sports talk station.

In between giving the Friday night high school football scores (good) and giving updates about the upcoming MSU, Notre Dame, and U. of M. contests (even better), the two radio hosts were blasting a recent decision by Heisman Trophy Committee (causing trouble to brew).

“Hey, did you hear that?” Cindy asked. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Huh?” I deflected, reaching to turn down the radio.

“Wait, I want to hear this.” Cindy said. “Why would anyone take the word ‘integrity’ out of their charter? What a joke. They should lift up standards, not lower them. What’s up with that?”

“Heck if I know,” I said.”When did you start following Heisman Trophy stuff?”
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Three communicators offer “insights that may surprise you.”

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

On the lookout for quick tips that’ll extend your reach?

Suricate - Meercat PhotoI am.

Duly noted: School communications is hard work. It’s also a big part of what makes a school — and a school district — successful. Fortunately, the building blocks of good communications are pretty simple.

Getting them all stacked straight and in order is another thing.

I was reminded of this as I looked through our SCN archives at features I’ve written over the last two years.

I hope you enjoy this presentation of three outstanding communicators. Their firm grasp on the “fundamentals” of public relations might spark an idea that you can use to increase your organizational success.

school professionalsMARY BETH HARRIS – Principal of Blanche E. Fuqua Elementary School, Terre Haute, Indiana

Interesting feat – She built successful school partnerships and enhanced parental involvement in her community by creating one-day events like “Principal for a Day.”

Key Quote: “You build a stronger community when people have been inside your building and know you.”

Here is the link to my original story about Mary Beth.

Insight That Surprised Me: Don’t underestimate the power of a one-day event to yield real and lasting support.

What if you could… Forge supportive relationships in your community among a range of people, from top executives to fast-food restaurants? What would your first step be? A new event?

Proof she knows what she’s talking about: Harris was selected by the Indiana Association of School Principals as Elementary Principal of the Year in 2012. A native of Terre Haute, Harris has served as principal at Fuqua Elementary since 1997. She was a teacher in the building for nine years before that. She believes that she and her school  are tightly woven into the fabric of the community.

school professionals

with the Colts mascot

DIANNA BOYCE – She headed up the communications effort for Super Bowl host committee when the professional football spectacle was played in Indianapolis in 2012.

Interesting feat – To set the tone for Hoosier Hospitality from the get-go, Dianna coordinated the effort charted out by the Colts host committee to have eighth graders – students who would be seniors when the 2012 Super Bowl would take place – to hand deliver Indy’s bid to all 32 NFL team owners. She was the one who devised a fair and fun way to execute this logistical Matterhorn in just 12 days!

Key Quote: “Our goal was for the students to hand-deliver bids on the Friday they were due and have the most fun possible doing it.”

Learn more about the strategy in my original feature.

Insight That Surprised Me: The 8th grade student ambassadors weren’t “retired” after the bids were delivered. Dianna said they returned periodically over the next few years to participate in various Super Bowl 2012 community service and charity events related to education.

What if you could… Cast students in the starring role of your high-profile event? Children, after all, are the reason for our schools. Could they help us promote our schools in an innovative ways?  In what areas could you coach them?

Proof she knows what she’s talking about: Since getting rave reviews for promoting the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, Boyce has moved on to serve as senior director of corporate communications for Finish Line, an athletic outfitter.

school professionalsBILL CAPODAGLI – Author (with wife Lynn Jackson) of the book “Innovate the Pixar Way – Business Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Corporate Playground.”

Interesting feat – He’s carefully dissected the various pieces involved in making movies by Pixar Animation Studios so memorable.

Key Quote: “Every business is show business. And it all begins with a story and beloved characters.”

My original story describes what Bill means by “show business.”

The Insight That Surprised Me: To foster creativity in its ranks, Pixar considers every employee, first and foremost, a storyteller. Everyone is encouraged to innovate!

What if you could… scout, encourage, and actually work to include the creative ideas from every employee, no matter where they serve in the organization? What if you and your co-workers felt totally free to let loose your childlike energy on occasion? What positive impacts could this have?

Proof he knows what he’s talking about: Bill Capodagli and his wife Lynn Jackson are the authors of four books about business. He is popular speaker about how to create an innovative workplace. He says it begins with establishing a culture where imagination is rewarded. It’s that simple. Imagination is what caused us to keep trying new things when we were young, and we shouldn’t diminish it as adults.

So, would these tips work for you?  You’re the school communicator who knows your district the best!

I invite your comments.

While you think it over, I’ll chase down some more “Insights That May Surprise You” to post here next week.


This marketing metric will surprise you

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

Finally! A litmus test that measures how connected a school communicator is to his or her community.

Here it is: How many cupcakes could you get donated for a spur-of-the-moment event?

Kathy Gomez

Kathy Gomez

Kathy Gomez, communications director for Coopersville Area Public Schools in Michigan, passes the cupcake test with flying colors. She got all 6,000 cupcakes she needed for a surprise birthday party, even though the celebration was for somebody nobody knew in a football stadium at the stroke of midnight.

The party was for actor Brian Presley (I remember him as the hunk from the soap opera “Port Charles”), who on Aug. 18, 2010 – his 33rd birthday – was filming night football scenes in Coopersville High School’s stadium for the feature film “Touchback,” a fantastical story of an injured football player who gets a second chance at athletic success. 

“When it’s your birthday, you bring cupcakes to school,” Kathy, commandeering the P.A. system, announced to the movie cast and crew and a stadium packed with volunteer spectators.

As Kathy talked about the bouncing baby boy who entered the world in 1977 on the same day The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley left it, Coopersville food service staff pushed carts laden with cupcakes into the stadium and served every last person with a smile.

Brian Presley in “Touchback.” (Courtesy Anchor Bay Films)

Brian Presley was touched and mentioned his sweet midnight surprise several times on social media.

So, how did Kathy, who lives in a community with 4,300 people, get 6,000 cupcakes donated with just a couple days notice?

Phone calls to commercial bakeries yielded donations of about 250 cupcakes. She got the rest by sending out emails to school staff, boards she’s served on, area churches and neighbors.

Either a lot of people owe Kathy favors or she’s intricately tapped in to her community.

“I didn’t get compensation, but I’m listed in the credits and I did get a complement from the director (Don Handfield),” Kathy said with a chuckle. “He said he’d like to take me back to Hollywood because I know how to get things done.”

Forget Hollywood. We need her here.

The many and varied functions she performed for the “Touchback” crew – scouting filming locations and negotiating their use, finding props, organizing crowds, finding volunteers, and translating Spanish to English – pale in comparison to her responsibilities with Coopersville Area Public Schools.

 Seriously, they don’t make racks big enough to accommodate all the hats Kathy wears.

Kathy, a nurse by training, was hired by the school district in 1986 to serve as its director of migrant education because she knew enough Spanish to speak with families who came to Coopersville to pick apples or work for dairies. (Kathy is not Latina, but learned Spanish so she could converse with members of husband Jose’s family. Nevertheless, she says the lives of migrant children resonate with her. Her father oversaw operations in several states for Gulf Oil, so she had attended 13 schools by the time she graduated from a suburban Minneapolis high school in 1973.)

Kathy directs a federally funded English Learners program that serves about 100 students annually.

Kathy received her nurse’s training in the Women’s Army Corp. She met her husband, Jose Gomez, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He was one of her instructors! The couple has three adult children.

Because of her nursing background, Kathy was picked to organize a Crisis Response Team that kicks into high gear whenever a tragedy impacts the school community. (Unfortunately, their services have been needed for murders, house fires, and traffic deaths.)

Kathy, who served on the North Ottawa Council on Aging’s Board of Directors for nine years, continues as the school liaison to “Old Kids,” a senior recreation program.

She also organizes a big back-to-school event, a “Pay It Forward” campaign, and helps coordinate 16 “Power Teams,” an ongoing community service program involving all school employees.

Kathy also established “Magic Moments,” a DJ business, to provide entertainment for school-related fundraisers. She now does 12 to 15 paid gigs per year, including school-sponsored Daddy-Daughter dances, Athletic Boosters dances, and Family Literacy Fiestas.

She also teaches country line dancing (and the YMCA, Cupid Shuffle and Electric Slide) after school twice a week as a fundraiser for the migrant program’s Unmet Needs Fund, which provides a lot of winter clothing.

Last but not least: Communications director

Kathy became the district’s communications director in 1990, after superiors noticed she liked taking pictures for “Show and Tell,” the district newsletter. She appoints an employee in each building to collect stories for the newsletter, now titled “Bronco Bits,” and upload them to a share drive. She reserves space in each issue to promote Old Kids and public library programs to keep readership strong among residents who don’t currently have a child or a grandchild attending district schools.

Kathy Gomez in Magic Moments mode.

Knowing it would save the district money on typesetting, Kathy learned desktop publishing to layout the 32-page newsletter herself. Bronco Bits is published seven times a year. And, yes, she affixes mailing labels.

“I’ve suggested that we publish online, since the cost of mailing each issue runs about $750,” Kathy said. “Online I could publish more often and stories would be fresher, but our superintendent and board aren’t ready to take that step. Our community does look forward to the printed newsletter in their mailboxes.”

With traditional news outlets floundering financially, Kathy also serves as a community correspondent for a Grand Rapids television station’s website. She doesn’t get paid, but Kathy loves getting Coopersville’s good news out. She uploads her stories and pictures to the website, then Facebook-posts and tweets links to the story.

“That’s how good news goes viral,” Kathy said. “In the digital world, you have to hit on things right away.”

How it works

Kathy said she’s able to function in divergent roles because of building correspondents for the newsletter and because her migrant education staff and her crisis response staff operate like well-oiled machines. When her attention is pulled elsewhere, colleagues pitch in to get the work done.

She says it’s easier for her than it probably is for other communications directors to stay connected with people throughout the organization because Coopersville schools share a single campus. Her longtime leadership in migrant education (she now has students of former students!) also helps bring into the fold a sector of the community that is sometimes “invisible.”

Kathy Gomez teaches country line dancing after school twice a week for $1 per session as a fundraiser for her migrant program’s Unmet Needs Fund.

The afternoon I interviewed Kathy, a student dropped by her office to pick up a pint of chocolate milk, which she provides as a nutritious alternative to soda pop.

The student’s grades had been slipping so – as is her custom – she told him she would be coming to his house for dinner next week and to relay to his mother that she likes chicken.

“If his grades don’t improve this week, sure, I’ll go,” Kathy said. “It only takes one meal to stop the slide.”

How, I asked, did the student know she wasn’t just blowing smoke?

And then Kathy explained that she drives every morning to the migrant camp where his family lives to pick up his sister and her baby. Kathy said she persuaded a daycare center to accept the baby on scholarship so his mother can attend school, but she can’t ride the school bus because it can’t accommodate the infant’s car seat.

That story made my jaw drop. (I extend myself for people, too, but rarely before 7 a.m.)

Hollywood in hindsight

Kathy says she still wonders how she became the “go-to gal” the month “Touchback” was being filmed in Coopersville, but that “exhilarating and exhausting” experience did coalesce and showcase her divergent gifts in ways that went way beyond cupcakes.

One time that the crew asked her to produce 40 high school “extras” with 20 minutes notice, which was impossible because labor laws require minors to be accompanied by a parent.

Fortunately, Kathy had the connections to get enough first- and second-year teachers and recent Coopersville grads together to make the scene work.

When rain delayed filming of a night football scene, Kathy brought out her music and taught YMCA and other dances to put movie extras in a better mood.

An intern on the set got word that a friend had been killed in an act of violence and grief left him unable to function. Kathy switched into crisis mode, helped the young man understand his body’s response, and arranged for him to have time off.

The set designer suffered a stroke. It was Kathy who visited him while he recovered in a Grand Rapids hospital.

Rain forced everybody inside during one overnight filming of football scenes. Presley and co-star Kurt Russell had trailers where they could wait out the storm, but most members of the cast and crew – and hundreds of people playing spectators – took shelter inside the Coopersville High School gym.

Tempers climbed the longer the rain fell.

So, at 3 a.m., Kathy, pulled out her Magic Moments music. She gathered together as many people as were willing and started getting them to dance. Music soothed a surly crowd. Could it be her own sleep-deprivation that leaves her imagining she may have saved the gym from destruction?

Let the record show that dancing got everybody through the tough rain delay.

Jose and Kathy Gomez at the “Touchback” premiere in Grand Rapids.

When “Touchback” was scheduled for release in April 2012, the distributor chose not to release it to Michigan theaters. Kathy was instrumental in persuading the company to allow a premier at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids, where it filled two theaters.

“I take pride in not setting limits,” Kathy said. “If you don’t limit yourself, doors open. That allows you to connect things.”

Advice from Kathy:

  • Embrace technology, no matter how old you are.
  • Take time to appreciate everybody who helps you.
  • Learn to juggle because flexibility is key.
  • Ask everybody you have an appointment with to call you if you’re not five minutes early. That will help you remember meetings on days your calendar is crowded.
  • Learn to hula hoop. It’s a low-impact stress reliever. (Kathy keeps one at school and one at home!)
So, can you suggest a measure other than cupcakes that show how effective a school communicator is? Go to the message board and tell us all about it.



Super Bowl promo insights revealed

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

When competition is fierce, how do you stand out from the crowd?


That was the novel strategy the Indiana Sports Corporation used in 2008 to bring the National Football League’s Super Bowl XLVI to Indianapolis.

Dianna Boyce

Dianna Boyce and Blue, the Indianapolis Colts mascot.

Dianna Boyce, communications director of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, had me riveted as she told me the story of how “Hoosier Hospitality” won the bid and cast Indianapolis in a whole new light.

You see, the Indiana Sports Corporation had also bid on Super Bowl 2011, but lost out to North Texas. Determined to try again, the corporation crafted another bid package, which was due to the 32 owners of professional football teams by 5 p.m. of the first Friday in May.

“Twelve days before bids were due, somebody had the idea to have eighth-graders from school districts across central Indiana hand-deliver the packages to team owners,” Dianna said. “It was a personal touch. In the extreme.”

An intentional strategy

The bid team wanted eighth-grade “ambassadors” because they’d graduate high school in 2012, the year Indianapolis wanted to host the Super Bowl.

To give their special delivery plan wings, the corporation sought out Dianna, who had served as an intern for the 1987 Pan American Games, several Big 10 tournaments and NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments, and other Indianapolis-hosted high-profile sporting events.

Dianna Boyce and fellow communications staff members and interns.

The window was open just wide enough for Dianna to work an organizational miracle. The fresh-faced eighth-graders helped Indianapolis win the bid. The host committee hired Dianna to run its communications in January 2010, two years before its big event.

She was the sixth employee of the host committee, which topped out at 35 members by the NFL’s 2011 preseason. Buoying paid staff were 150 volunteer subcommittee co-chairs, who led 800 subcommittee members. Game week, there were 8,000 volunteers in roles across the city ranging from parking to hospitality.

Coordinating resources and roles

“I’m only a wannabe athlete, but I am pretty good on the sidelines,” said Dianna, whose duties ended in July after filing an After-Action Report. “Looking back, the highlight was being part of a multi-year community event that brought out so much community pride.”

It’s not uncommon for host committees to hire executives who have run previous Super Bowls, but Indiana preferred homegrown talent who were willing to study NFL Senior Vice President Frank Supovitz’s “Sports Events Management and Marketing Playbook.”

Dianna oversaw media relations (the NFL issued credentials to 5,100 reporters and photographers!), interactive media, a speakers bureau and site promotions.

Dianna Boyce, left, and several Student Ambassadors. (Fellow staff member in white jacket.)

She also appointed 30 volunteer communication liaisons to attend subcommittee meetings and pitch stories out of them to different audiences. (That’s how a story on Super Scarves – scarves hand-knit by people across the world for the 8,000 volunteers – ended up in the New York Times.)

“There’s no time to ramp up, even two years ahead of time,” Dianna said. “I knew I couldn’t tell the host committee’s story all by myself, and there wasn’t time to train people. It helped that I already knew great communicators working for the children’s museum, the symphony, and other organizations that I could go to for help.”

She assembled the Speakers Bureau in much the same way. She tapped 30 locals who were already good public speakers, shared an overview of the host committee’s preparations, and offered them to speak at civic club and neighborhood association meetings from South Bend to Evansville. In all, they made 500 presentations!

To communicate a big event, Dianna recommends:

  • Observe. Attend the event before you host it. Ask people to tell you what you’ll need to know. Read the After-Action report.
  • Put your team together. Make sure they already have the skills to do the tasks you need. Put your plan in place.
  • Execute your plan, adapting it as needed.
  • Evaluate your plan from start to finish.

Dianna said attending the Super Bowl in 2010 in South Florida the same week she was hired was invaluable because it helped her differentiate the responsibilities of the host committee from the responsibilities of the NFL.

“The host committee has little to do with what happens on the field game day,” Dianna said. “The most frequently asked question I got over the last two years – hundreds and sometimes thousands of times a day – was about halftime entertainment, which is a 100 percent NFL-driven decision.”

Dianna and her communications liaisons told stories about how Indianapolis was getting ready to host the Super Bowl.

Traditional media is still the most effective means for getting your story out, Dianna said. Indianapolis’s NBC affiliate broadcast a Super Bowl prep story every Thursday for a year. You can’t beat that for mileage!

Dianna Boyce on Zipline over Super Bowl Village.

A planned $12 million commercial redevelopment of a three-block area near Lucas Oil Stadium became Super Bowl Village with a zip line over it. (Dianna did it twice! “Wonderfully exhilarating even on a 40-degree day,” she reports.)

A trail connecting cultural amenities downtown was improved. A suburban airport lengthened its runway in anticipation of game day traffic.

An eye on enhancements and improvements

“Nothing new got built specifically for the Super Bowl, but it was the impetus to go ahead and get some things done,” Dianna said. “It was fun to be able to tell the story of how Indiana turned out, literally and figuratively.”

Dianna said she revamped her “interactives” strategy to do more on Twitter, whose popularity mushroomed from 2010 to 2012. The host committee consulted Klout.com social media engagement ratings to identify Indiana’s “Social 46.” Volunteers on the interactives committee reached out to those people in hope they would Tweet about Super Bowl activities to their followers.

Mission accomplished. The buzz reverberated beyond traditional sports fans.

The host committee’s website also went through several renovations with the scope and frequency of postings and as interest broadened from Indiana, to national, to international.

“The website needs to be a staff responsibility,” Dianna said. “You can’t expect volunteers to do it, especially as you get close to the event and you need to update information minute-by-minute.”

Dianna’s earned her degree from DePauw University in interpersonal communication, but she says key points of good communication remain the same regardless of whether you’re working small or big.

    • Know your audience.
    • What are the best communication tools to reach them?
    • Expect to use lots of communication platforms if you want to reach a lot of people.
    • Face-to-face is always important. Decide how often you need to meet and keep that schedule. Report what happens to others in a timely fashion.

Dianna Boyce sports a Super Scarf. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)

For me — part of the 166.8 million TV audience nationwide — the Super Bowl was a Sunday evening with the Giants, the Patriots, Madonna, LMFAO, M.I.A., Niki Minaj and Cee Lo Green at halftime.

For Dianna, the Super Bowl was two years of very hard work that left her working 21 hours a day by Game Week, and even sleeping on an inflatable mattress in her office a few nights.

Shortly after finishing up her work with the host committee, Dianna accepted a position as senior director of corporate communications for the Indianapolis-based sports outfitter Finish Line.

Check out Dianna’s interview about the economic impact of the Super Bowl.

Any thoughts? Please share them on the SCN Forum?


Hug Facebook. You’ll see results. (Kevin Honeycutt, Part 2)

By Kym Reinstadler, SCN Feature Writer | Expert Insights

Some parents won’t read anything that isn’t printed on paper, but that number is plummeting.

If your school isn’t using social media, you’re missing great opportunities to connect with your community and solidify the value of children and schools, technology consultant Kevin Honeycutt says.

Facebook in Education

Photo by David Hartstein.

Just do it. Set up a Facebook page. Put someone in charge of updating once a day, if possible, or at least once a week.

“Use Facebook to tell your ‘Some Pig!’ stories,” Honeycutt said, a reference to E.B. White’s classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web.” “The results could be phenomenal.”

Charlotte's Web For any poor soul who doesn’t know this heart-warming story of friendship, the dexterous Charlotte weaves “Some Pig,” and other affirming messages, into her barnyard web. When Wilbur the pig parks himself proudly beneath the web, he becomes something special. The web spares Wilbur from slaughter.

Honeycutt says short, easy-to-produce Facebook status updates about great students, parents and staff are helping to ensure survival of his tiny town, Inman, Kansas.

Journalism purists hate this trend, but Facebook updates don’t have to include students’ last names, ages.  Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) rules leave school communicators wary of disseminating information in which students are identifiable, but Honeycutt would say “don’t back away.” Keep walking and you’ll find steady ground.

A popular national speaker, Honeycutt serves on Inman’s Board of Education, but doesn’t produce the Facebook posts.

Make Inman your friend

Even during the dog days of August, Inman Schools’ Facebook page feels active with a discussion about new covers to better protect iPads and updates on parking lot resurfacing.

The page features colorful images of smiling students at a pool party, a back-to-school ice cream social, and PTO-sponsored chair massages for teachers.

I’ve never been to Inman, but I like the hopeful new-semester feeling I get looking at their page. Thumbs up to like

Honeycutt says these “Some Pig!” stories fortify Inman’s sense of community and pride in their next generation – just 450 students in grades K-12.

At this writing, the Inman Schools’ Facebook page has 381 likes – many of them alumni. A couple alumni have returned to Inman to raise families and cited the Facebook page as a factor in their decision, Honeycutt said.

Becoming Facebook-friendly

Kevin Honeycutt

Kevin Honeycutt

“School administrators were reluctant to try Facebook because of a fear that’s where anyone with an axe to grind would migrate,” Honeycutt said.

Consequently, many of the first school Facebook pages were set up as “broadcast” accounts to disseminate information from school to parents and other “friends.” But info flowed only one way.

Before long, educators recognized that Facebook doesn’t call out the cranks. That’s because transparency is built in, Honeycutt said. No one can post anonymously.

Furthermore, statements and misstatements can be responded to instantly. Misunderstandings and inaccuracies can be corrected before they’re perpetuated.

“Snipers are more likely to be sitting in a coffee shop or diner,” Honeycutt said, “than scoping out your Facebook page.”

That’s not every district’s experience, however. A Mansfield, Texas district removed its Facebook page in 2011, two years after it debuted, because so much staff time was required to moderate inappropriate or undesirable comments.

Controversy abounded in Forest Grove, Oregon, last year when the school system removed negative comments from its Facebook page about a budget issue.

Practical and educational uses

Facebook Most schools block or filter the use of social media on school devices, but that’s changing, too.

Some teachers are using Facebook– or the Facebook-esque EdModo – as Union Station for exchanging files, hyperlinks, videos and polls with students.

Teachers are also setting up subject- or class-based Twitter accounts to provide student followers with instantaneous updates regarding meetings and assignments.

Don’t trash print

Honeycutt’s not saying districts should stop producing traditional newsletters. He is suggesting that no new content need be produced for print. Newsletters can be an aggregation of stories that have already been posted to the web.

“Recreating news is a lot of work,” said Honeycutt, who works through the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas. “Post on Facebook right from an event. Don’t let news cool down.”

He encourages educators to upload as much live video as they can. Out-of-town relatives will swoon over clips of their favorite student receiving a diploma, singing solo, or scoring in an athletic contest.

And it’s easier than you think

The notion that maintaining a multi-faceted social media plan requires communications expertise and a lot of time is a myth, Honeycutt said.

“Once you’ve produced the content, you can move that work around and find different audiences,” Honeycutt said.

He publishes on seven websites. He also has three youtube.com channels.

Now that you’ve read this, what’s on your mind? Tell us what you think on our Message Board.

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