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Five Tips for Connecting Your Community Through Stories

Follow these five strategies to create a positive narrative for your public school district.

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From hands-on science experiments to rising test scores to the winning touchdown, amazing accomplishments are happening in public schools.

These achievements should be honored and celebrated within your district as well as in your community. Sharing news about your schools builds knowledge. Knowledge builds trust, creates allies and advocates, empowers people to speak up, and leads to greater understanding.

By sharing news about your schools, you’re creating a narrative and setting the tone for how people view your district. But how do you share these achievements with your community? Following are some guidelines from TSPRA and school districts to consider when getting the word out about your district’s successes:

1. Communicate Frequently

Whether it’s a weekly newsletter, monthly magazine, or timely social media posts, communicating frequently loops your audience in, keeps them up to date, and connects them to the district. By communicating frequently, you become a trusted news source and help keep accurate information front and center. 

Plus, the more people know the more involved and supportive they can be. Communicating with your community could help pack the theater for the next high school musical or get more participation during teacher appreciation week. And providing detailed information about all aspects of a bond proposal may help it win approval from voters.

2. Meet Your Audience Where They Live

Whether it’s the waiting room or on social media, think about where your audience is located. For school districts that have a print publication, consider putting those newsletters and magazines in the waiting rooms of local mechanic shops and dentist offices — places where people can pick them up. Share bigger, weekly news with your local paper and use social media for more fun and timely posts. Other options include your district website, signs, and alerts.

3. Give the People What They Enjoy

People love to see photos of their children and friends. Share photos, quotes from students, and stories in addition to data points. When people can see the difference you’re making, they begin to understand the real-world impact of your district’s great work.

4. Recognize Accomplishments and Share Your Appreciation

Recognizing students and staff for their exceptional work during school board meetings connects trustees with school superstars and has reverberations of goodwill throughout the community. Awards can be presented each month or reserved for a special time of the year.

Sharing your gratitude and appreciation for staff is another way to recognize accomplishments. School board members can work together to write a letter of appreciation for teachers at the end of the school year, express their gratitude and thanks in November, or at the end of the first semester. Any occasion is a good time to share your support for the hard work of faculty and staff!

5. Collaborate

Sharing your school news can bring the community together, build support for your schools, and unite people for public education. Think about who in your community you can collaborate with to tell your stories and share important information.

School district communications teams can support their team of eight by giving them updates, inviting them to events, and giving them tips and training for posting online or talking to the press. 

Megan Overman, the new president of the Texas School Public Relations Association and executive director of communications at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD said her communications team provides news and updates to the board and an annual communications update about their team and good news in the district.

“Interacting with our students and staff is always a good way for them [board members] to stay connected with their schools and be aware of what’s happening,” said Overman. “Trustees are local, elected officials, they’re trusted in our communities, and they can be strong, informed ambassadors.”

Meanwhile, Socorro ISD collaborates with their staff by empowering them to share positive school news on social media, many of whom are on Twitter.

In addition, follow organizations such as We Go Public, the Texas Association of School Administrators, Raise Your Hand Texas, and TASB on social media to make it easier to collaborate on advocacy efforts for public schools by sharing posts and increasing their impact.

You can also think outside the box: Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD gives realtors informational packets about their schools to share with new families in the area.