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Social media can offer a different kind of conversation

Reprinted from the January/February 2012 issue of the Illinois School Board Journal

Faith Behr owns Behr Communications, specializing in school public relations and public affairs. She is a former vice-president with the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Associations, and blogs and tweets on public relations at and @faithbehr.

How many residents attend district school board meetings? Forums? Informal meet-and-greets? You may have seen attendance dwindling at these face-to-face events, but there’s another perhaps more powerful way to have a conversation with your constituents: social media.

Social media is an effective way to interact with time-strapped parents, residents and voters. You can share news, get a sense of what your constituents want and engage in a conversation. You can also share the complexities and nuances of board duties, champion a new program, help your audience make sense of complex material and get input for planning.

In the last year, many more school districts have boarded the social media bus, using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and more.


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Four weeks of agony and counting

Two issues in recent weeks – the Penn State debacle and the Herman Cain scandal – remind me that it’s never good to keep secrets. And that cover-ups can be equally as heinous.

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The nexus of public relations and technology

We’ve been at this strange new intersection where communications and technology meet for a while now, and it looks like it’s a path that will undoubtedly always be intertwined.

In that spirit, Matt Fuller, director of technology at The Winnetka Public Schools, recently offered some easy tech tips to public relations directors on how to increase your digital footprint and branding, both internally and externally.

  • Change all staff’s computer screen savers so that the organization’s RSS news feed flows onto the page. Each time the staff goes to their computers, they see updates of the organization’s news.
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What's in an online newsroom?

When I was a reporter, our newsroom was fascinated with some of the wacky press kits we received. The two I remember were the mailing tube with a puzzle to assemble and an event invitation folded into a diorama.

If you’re over 35, you probably remember the traditional press kits: paper folders with press releases, bios of administrators and board members, event listings, a fact sheet and photos. They were costly, cumbersome and of course, added to the pile on a journalist’s desk.

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Video will breathe life into your key messages

article by Peg Mannion

We know that YouTube is wildly popular – who hasn’t clicked on a YouTube link forwarded by a friend – but did you know it is the No. 2 search engine?  Organizations, from school districts and libraries to not-for-profits and small businesses, would be wise to harness the power of this popular communication tool to deliver their message.

Consider this:

  • In the U.S. we spend 4 hours 20 minutes viewing web video monthly.
  • Adults age 35 to 49 are the largest segment of the Internet video audience.
  • Adults age 25 to 34 are the largest segment of the mobile video audience.

- Nielsen Study, June 2011

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