In an era of intensifying competition, especially in states that have programs like open enrollment that allow families to enroll children in a district of their choice, schools and districts must market themselves and communicate with their stakeholders effectively.
These stakeholders may include a wide range of people, including families, teachers, staff, students and community members. Your school or district's alumni should also be added to this list.
A good public relations strategy allows you to really focus some energy and resources on developing and maintaining your reputation and relationships among your key stakeholders.
The importance of a strategy
An effective school public relations plan includes a clear set of overarching goals, a strategy to meet each of those goals and the tools and tactics your district will use to meet its goals. In addition to various other strategies, the plan should include outreach to alumni, who can be some of your district's most ardent supporters.
Below are some of the most important benefits to establishing a strong PR and communications plan for your school or district:
- Clearer brand identity: You can define your organization with a unified, coherent brand identity. Take some time to meet with your team and establish where you are and where you’re going as a district. All of the communication that you have with the public—whether through one-on-one emails or widely distributed newsletters and mailings—should reinforce this brand identity. Establishing your identity early on helps you maintain consistency and quality in your messaging.
- More effective reach: Without a strategy, your online communications might be falling on deaf ears. If people are not engaged with you as a brand, you may not be making the most of the limited resources at your disposal. A PR strategy allows you to develop your reach as a brand and ensures that you can be more intentional and effective with your communication.
- Better funding: In many states, schools must turn to local property taxpayers to support them due to dwindling funding at the state level. Cultivating relationships with your community and improving public opinion of your district can give you the backing you need to secure critical funding.
- Transparency: When an emergency or unexpected situation arises, the way your district reacts and communicates with the public is critical. Having a PR strategy in place allows you to respond to these situations quickly and give the public clear, transparent communication.
As your district works to achieve its goals, the right PR strategy will help you maintain positive relationships with your community members and alumni. Maintaining these relationships and your district’s reputation will be crucial to your success in an ever-changing educational world.