Punch Up Your PR Efforts for the Year

You’ve all heard it again and again, “If you want to be successful–communicate.” That’s easy to say, but it’s tough to answer “how.”

Recently, some of WSPRA’s members attended the National School Public Relations Association Conference. It is always exhilarating to gain new ideas, share war stories with colleagues, and get fired up by public relations gurus and novices, alike. Each year, there are golden nuggets to pick up from the conference. Here are a few ideas to help you punch up your PR efforts this year.

Catch ’em in the headlines

Did you know that we have between 4 and 11 seconds to grab the attention of our readers – and we should grab them in the headline. In this age of electronics, it makes perfect sense that today’s consumer is visual. Our students parents have grown-up with computers, e-mail, instant messenger and television. (The average age of video gamers is 33!) If we want to catch their attention in print (our most traditional form of PR) we must catch them quickly – in the headline.

Even blast e-mails should be personal

If your method of communication is e-mail, it is the subject line that must grab the reader as he or she races through his or her inbox. If we don’t want our email deleted, be sure your subject line interrupts your reader’s thinking and makes him or her want to read more by opening it.

Speaking of electronic communication, if you are using e-mail newsletters to key communicators, make the content personal. Anyone can send an e-mail – literally anyone. When you write yours, consider this as a letter to people that you hold in high regard, not an advisory of upcoming events. Like in all communication, make your audience the most important part of your message. Make your reader feel as if your letter was written just to them – not to the data base of names you keep in your address book.

Make your message important to the audience

In public speaking situations, begin your speech with a call to action. Ask yourself, ?Why is what I have to say important to my audience? What you have to say may be important to you, but until you know why it is important to your audience, and what you want them to do, you don’t have an effective message. Don’t talk for the sake of talking. Talk because what you have to say is something your audience can relate to and wants to know more about.

Generate positive publicity

Positive publicity is another aspect of positive public relations. How can you generate positive publicity? One district shared this wisdom: the communication director gathered his staff and as a team; they reviewed all the school and district planned events. They made a publicity worksheet for each month that listed what events they would write into press releases. The ?to do list? included the event, who would write the release, where the releases would be sent, and how they would follow-up to insure that the releases were being published. In this way, they preplanned publicity, pleased their media with advanced information, and successfully found themselves in the newspaper with positive news more often. Who couldn’t benefit from that piece of advice! Gather your team and plan your communication efforts! It will reap you many benefits.

Remember, if 8 people have a good experience, they will tell 8 people. If 8 people have a negative experience, they will tell 16 other people (at least!)

Positive PR is in the numbers – the more times you effectively tell your school district’s story, the more times you will positively impact your district and your students. It is a very worthy goal.

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG