Tag Archives for " School PR "

20 years ago school PR was a snap (Want proof?) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | School PR/Associations , The Encourager

Oh, how I long for 1999.

Where all I had to worry about was prepping for Y2K.

Yep, those were the good old days.

In those merry days of yore, we school communicators didn’t have to think (aka “work”) all that much.

And when we did have to get off our butts, we didn’t have to move all that quickly.

The pace wasn’t so rapid fire.

We didn’t have to fret about how our work would look on watches, smartphones, and jumbo-trons, either.

We could just keep layering our messages and piling them on.

No lie.

Back then, all school communicators had to do was generate enough words to touch upon every departmental and “temperamental” base in their organizations and then push ’em out to an eager community.

Sure, there was still the hassle of meeting deadlines, but making tough calls and strategically deleting and editing to achieve greater clarity and brevity was never on our radar.

Ah, life was good.

In 1999 it was QUANTITY that rocked.

But oh my – has that all changed!

Now QUALITY rules.

And we’ve got to speedy-kwik about delivering it, too!

Today we’ve got to be ultra-uber-sooper-dooper-accelerator communicators.
(Or in my case, just a master the dooper part…)

Now here’s the hardcore evidence I promised.

And I’m grateful for “young” Eric and Julia over at Kapwing for illustrating why little “old” me isn’t wrong for feeling the way I do.

Their Museum of Websites makes my point beautifully.

For example, take a look at the Netflix website from 1999.

What a work of art.
I love it!

If you had something to say – or your boss told you to get the word out about something – you could just whip something up and cram it in somewhere.

No fuss.

You could treat your website just like the junk drawer in your kitchen!

But not anymore.

Here’s the Netflix website today.


Dang, it’s all pretty discouraging if you ask me.

But oh well,

if concocted and convoluted communications ever come back in vogue,

I’m ready!

(Just like I was for Y2K.) 


An insanely simple customer service tip (above 3rd grade math skills not required) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

If you can count up to 2 you might find this tip valuable


the math isn’t important.

But what the numbers represent certainly is!

It’s 1 for “yes.”

And it’s 2 for “no.”

That’s pretty much it.

Shep Hyken, a first-class customer service trainer, says this tactic has worked wonders at every company where it’s been tried.

And it was by researching Ace Hardware – a company which has won many top independent customer service awards for years – that first got this on Shep’s radar.

This tactic is anchored in two real-world customer service “delivery” facts.

•   Many customers don’t like to be told “no.
•   Many employees will hesitate to say “yes” due to lack of support or the effort involved.

This effective tactic acknowledges both of the above realities and is also able positively turn them around.

This is why Shep says it’s a winner.

Let’s say a customer goes into an Ace Hardware and asks for an item not on the shelf or even in stock.

At many other places, the customer will be told, “Sorry, No how. No way.”

Ace wants to prevent this from happening.

At Ace, every employee must try to work with the customer to arrive at a “Yes. Can do.” condition.

To ensure the likelihood of this occurring, every employee at Ace is trained to only say “no” to a customer AFTER consulting with the store manager or another Ace employee.

The company wants everyone to work toward “yes” if at all possible – and have this mindset – even if a call has to be placed to the manufacturer or another Ace resource.

So you see why this tactic works, right?

It’s incredibly simple to communicate and monitor.

1 person for YES

2 persons for NO (or for the tango!)

What’s not to like about it?

Except once again, it’s yet one more fantastic tactic I can’t use at home.

Whether I’m thinking “yes” or “no” about something at home doesn’t really matter.

I’ve discovered things seem to go a lot more smoothly if I just go ask right away.

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Say now, just how important is the whole “mindset” thing? – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

Is it more important than the acquisition of skills?


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.26.50 PMI wrestle with this.

Not because my mindset is all that complex (good attitude / bad attitude) or my skill set is all that deep (know it / don’t know it)…

It’s just that this is a good “chicken or the egg” kind of question for us.

Which one is more essential for success?

A positive mindset or a solid set of skills?

Here’s a true story that’ll clear things up.

At least it should be true since leadership and sports coach John Whitmore recounts it in his book Coaching for Performance.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.46.09 PMFor many years Whitmore studied athletes, peak performers, and their coaches.

One of his “coaching friends” ran a highly respected tennis camp.

One summer his friend experienced what must’ve been the perfect storm for any tennis coach running a camp.

As he about to begin a new camp session, the coach discovered he had “overbooked” the number of  campers he had coming in – and had “undercounted” the number of tennis coaches he had lined up!

Big problem.

(And no, I wasn’t the tennis coach’s PR guy…)

Luckily, the tennis coach was part of peer-to-peer network (somewhat like an MSPRA for coaches) and he was able to talk several of his golf coach buddies into coming over to the camp and helping him out.

He told the golf coaches not to worry about teaching any tennis techniques.

In fact, he specifically requested that they don’t even try.

All he asked them to do was to carry a tennis racket around and “look the part” while they coached up what they were comfortable with: mental preparation, visioning, overcoming setbacks, developing consistency, and working on the wide range of habits that all winners share.

So now you can probably guess how this story wraps up at the end of camp.

(I couldn’t. My school PR training caused me to foresee a big lawsuit getting filed and the Tennis Camp Board of Trustees going into a “closed session” later to discuss it.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.32.15 PMAnyway, at the end of the tennis camp, the players coached by the golf coaches actually achieved the same or better gains in their overall performance than those coached by the real-life tennis coaches.


There’s a lesson here.

Did this happen because the golf coaches worked overtime to instill their messages about “mindset” knowing darn well they couldn’t teach anything at all about tennis?

This seems likely to me.

But whatever the reason…

I’m going to see if I can find a golf coach who can help me with my writing.

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Who are three of your favorite TV characters? (a revealing speedy-kwik quiz) – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

Warning – this quiz has a punchline that stings!


This exercise hurts.

Maybe you won’t be affected in the same way.

Let’s find out.

Imagine you are attending a “relationship building” workshop.

Not a marriage or emotional touchie-feelie one.

But rather one geared toward “customer retention” for organizations.

(Yeah, I know I need both… and many others as well… but YOU’RE at this workshop, not me.)

The workshop leader has passed out a blank sheet of paper.

She asks everyone to write down the names of their three favorite people on TV at the top.

You can choose TV characters from a sitcom, drama, or from actual “real people” news-based or reality-type programs.

What three names would you write down?  

Feel free to hum the infamous Jeopardy bumper music for 15 seconds while you mentally make your choices.

After you have selected your three TV characters, the workshop leader asks you to apply the following eight questions to each character and write down your responses, beyond just basic “yes” or “no” answers.

•  Could you describe your character’s family dynamics?
•  Could you describe who your character hangs out with – and why?
•  Could you your character’s general view of the world  – and why?
•  Do you have a sense about what your character values? 
•  Do you have an idea about what would frustrate them or set them off?
•  Do you know what kind of music or food your character likes?
•  Do you know how you could make them happy or help them out if you were in their circle?
•  Do you think you could successfully predict how they’d react in certain situations?

If you were physically attending this workshop, the workshop leader would then ask you to fill up your sheet of paper by writing down your answers to these questions and (for fun!) pull together in small groups for 5-7 minutes and share.

I heard the originator of this exercise say participants love this part of the activity; as it’s incredibly easy, everyone has something different to share, and the small group format helps everyone get to know each other a little better.

So after you’ve yakked it up for a bit about your favorite TV characters in your small group, imagine the workshop leader calling you all back together for another assignment, the Part 2 of the exercise.

She wants you to turn your sheet of paper over to the blank side.

At the top she asks you to write down the names of three of your current school parents.

You have been instructed not to choose parents who are also your best friends, or who are fellow school employees, or are parents you and your team (from great experience) consider “high maintenance.”

The task is to write down the names of three of your typical school parents.

Now given these parameters, it’s likely the workshop leader will see you and everyone else in the room squirm.

So she’ll ask if coming up with the names of three TV characters was easier than coming up with the names of three current parents who aren’t typically on your radar.

She’ll note that for most of us it is.

You’re not alone.

Next, after everyone has struggled with writing down the names of three parents, the workshop leader will ask you to apply the same eight questions to your parents that you did with your three TV characters.

Uh, oh.

And now is when many of us will feel the pointed jab of a double-whammy sting!

When we were thinking about our favorite TV characters, this exercise was delightfully easy and fun.

When we were then asked to name three of our parents (sting #1) and apply the eight questions to them (sting #2), it took effort!

The workshop leader concludes by challenging you to wonder if this exercise might be beneficial for your leadership team or a group of principals and teachers.

It’s something worth considering, don’tcha think?

I just pray this exercise never pops up at home.

If I had to truly think about those eight questions relative to my three daughters and their lives instead of my three favorite TV characters, I could be in deep trouble.

So it looks like I’ve got some work to do – especially with Father’s Day on the horizon.

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Oops! Here’s a 21st century skill you’re probably “underteaching.” – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

As if preparing your students in the core 21st century skills in your schools wasn’t enough!


it isn’t.


For sure, the core 21st century skills already contained in our curriculum and in our instruction are essential.

They’re rock-solid.

And our students need to experience success in: 

•  critical thinking
•  problem-solving
•  collaboration
•  creativity
•  communication
•  accountability

But Georgetown professor Cal Newport, author of the bestseller Deep Work, says we’re overlooking one critical skill.


According to Newport, if  we want to help our students thrive – now and in the future – we should add the ability to focus to the mix of capacities we are purposefully nurturing in them.

To get a better grasp on this concept, you might like this article called “Do I have your attention? Why focus is the new I.Q.”

It includes a list of short tips from 9 young entrepreneurs on how they personally improve focus.

I offered a 10th suggestion, but I missed the age cut-off by approximately 34 years.


But I’ll share my rejected tip with you just the same.

(Since I’m likely to forget it soon!)

It’s the good ol’ school communicator’s mantra.

When you spot a great idea, technique, or format,

consider first how it might fit for your needs,

focus on it,

then quickly swipe it!

Following these steps will ensure you’re not focusing on something which doesn’t stand a chance of working.

I’ve found it’s always a good rule of thumb to evaluate the “success potential” of what you’re about to swipe.

And my tip proves something else, too.

That yes!

It’s possible to improve your ability to FOCUS without having to reinvent the wheel.

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Dang. What’s wrong with resorting to “Plan B” anyway? – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | The Encourager

I’m a big fan of “Plan B” to tell you the truth.

It’s helpful in several ways.

First of all – as a boost to my ego – because whenever I have to resort to  Plan B I can always live in the delusion I’m at least executing a plan.

That’s huge!

Secondly, whenever I have to resort to a Plan B it helps prove I know the alphabet, which some of you have written in to wonder about.

(And for the last time… I AM NOT going to publicly release my kindergarten report card. Not that I have anything to hide, mind you. It’s just that straightening out the basement to get at it would tie up a whole weekend!)

Jenny Blake has written an interesting book titled “Pivot.”

Just its tagline alone will get you thinking.

“The only move that matters is your next one.”

Dang, that’s good, don’tcha think?

(Now if I could only get past fretting about a few of the knucklehead moves I made last week…)

Jenny also makes another great point.

And you’ll discover she’s not a big fan of merely hauling out Plan B.

She says resorting to a “Plan B” indicates your “Plan A” was flawed or misguided in some way.

Jenny says this is rarely the case.

However, she’s never seen any of my Plan A concoctions.

She points out Our Plan A was Plan A for a reason.

So when things aren’t working out as well as hoped, she suggests we don’t downshift into Plan B until we’ve first tried to PIVOT with our original plan.

Just like a basketball player who has stopped dribbling the ball and must keep one foot planted (a pivot foot), but is able to freely move the other foot before passing the ball off in a new direction, we should do the same.

Whenever we PIVOT with our Plan A, we should imagine our pivot foot as a firm anchor, a strong reminder of our original goals, values, and what really excited us about our Plan A in the first place.

By not blindly abandon these in a futile rush toward Plan B, we’ll often find ourselves in a better place to actually explore what could help us get Plan A moving in the right direction.

Remembering, of course, it’s our “next move” which is always is the important one.

We just have to be intentional about it.

I don’t disagree.

But I doubt all of this thinking about “next moves” probably isn’t something we need to overthink when we’re on the dance floor.

I sure shouldn’t.

I only have four moves and I still mess them up: Left – Right – Forward – Back.

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