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Last week, I took part in the National School Public Relations Association’s National Seminar. I found myself in a room full of unsung heroes who deserve a shout out for their work during the pandemic: school public relations specialists.

We all know it… under the best of circumstances, school/home communication can be challenging. But during the pandemic, these folks had to pivot and dodge and respond quickly under pressure. They had to convey information in real-time to keep children, families, and school staff safe. And, they were often on the front lines facing second guessing, criticism, and sometimes, outright anger.

Communication is complex. It’s both a science and an art. It involves more than knowing how to record an automated phone call. Good communicators, like the people I met at NSPRA, know what information to include and what not to include. They know how to strike the right tone. And, they know how to use the right words not just to inform, but to engage families.

But here’s the thing about good communication. When it’s done well, it looks and seems effortless. That makes it easy to overlook the contributions school public relations professionals bring to our education system. If we didn’t know it then, we know it now… effective communication is vital to the education process.

That’s why it’s important for school districts to invest in building strong, robust communication
teams with people who specialize in video production, technology, social media, and journalism. They can’t just promote from within the world of education, they need to intentionally recruit and hire people with communication backgrounds and skill sets. And, they must provide support through organizations like NSPRA.

Communication teams can’t do it alone, so districts should also consider providing communication training and support for school staff. After all, much of the responsibility for school/home communication requires the attention and commitment of teachers and support staff. They, too, can learn how to use words to engage and inform families and bring them into the learning process.

The time to do this work is now. There’s so much uncertainty around the pandemic and the upcoming school year, but the fact of it is…schools need to invest in communicating with families no matter what the future holds. It’s not only the right thing to do…it will honor the work of the communication professionals who used their passion and skills to help carry us through this past year.

If you’re looking for ideas about how to empower your staff through stronger communication this fall, my Playbook for Clear Effective and Meaningful School Communication is free — and a great place to start.

If you enjoy the playbook and want to help your team embrace some of these concepts as part of their work, my School Communications Masterclass Professional Learning Series was built specifically for school teams. Check it out. And, if you have questions, let’s talk! Best of luck this school year! Talk soon. -Patricia

Patricia Weinzapfel

Patricia Weinzapfel

Author, Educator, Journalist & K12 Communications Expert

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