Annual PR program has three key partsAndrea Hartzell
By G. Kent Stewart, School Admin Prof. Emeritus, KSU, email@example.com
This series on district level public relations activities concludes with this issue of School Board Review. It has surely been my pleasure to share with you during the past year.
In the most recent issue, we looked briefly at one proven model for evaluating the PR program. It’s now time to write your district PR activities for the coming year. That is, put the plan on paper. Since district level PR activities may occur all year, the annual plan can be based on a July through June fiscal year or the calendar year. That makes little difference; the important thing is to commit the plan to paper.
Lee Iacocca, president of Chrysler Corporation, required his top executives to present in writing any proposals for company improvements or innovations. Iacocca believed the process of writing required the writer to think through and carefully evaluate the logic of what was being proposed.
He taught that practicing that model helped assure the proposal would merit serious attention by the company’s top executives. Try it in your district. You will find the model to be very effective with staff and board.
Written PR plan
An annual PR plan has three principal parts:
- Part One contains the district mission statement, district goals, PR policy statement, PR program goals, and the internal and external audiences targeted as recipients of the PR initiative.
- Part Two includes a listing of each PR event, activity, and practice planned for the coming 12 months — lunches with community leaders, radio interviews, addresses to service clubs, assistance selecting Wall of Fame recipients, central office staff profile brochures, visits to schools by leading citizens, and so on.
- Part Three addresses the personnel and material resources necessary to assure success of every PR activity or event. Some may involve only the superintendent and board president while some others may involve school building level personnel. Material resources include, for example, supplies to conduct a program showcasing the schools, or the superintendent’s luncheons with business leaders require foods and preparations by the district food service staff.
A critical board member may question the time spent committing to paper something that is mostly already known, and describing a half-dozen or so already familiar PR activities.
At first glance, committing the annual PR plan to paper does seem a little redundant, but four reasons alleviate doubt.
- First, review Iacocca’s justification.
- Second, a written plan is of immeasurable help to the school district PR director whether that individual is full-time or works only a few hours per week. In fact, the district PR director should be responsible for writing the plan.
- Third, the written plan is valuable as a standard against which the effectiveness of the district PR program is evaluated annually.
- Fourth, the written plan is a reminder to the superintendent and board that PR is important to developing strong community advocates for education.
After all, the objective of PR is to help the public understand and support its schools. Public understanding is essential to effective advocacy.