Stay connected during our blog break

Our “Social School PR” blog is going on a summer hiatus!

For the rest of the summer and the first part of the fall, we will not post anything new here. We look forward to engaging with you when we return mid-fall!

In the meantime, here are a few great resources:


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School’s out, so get schooled up!

The class of 2016 graduated. Our classrooms are empty. Now that the school year ended, it’s our turn to learn! Summer is the perfect time to add some new social media skills to your toolkit.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few goals from my list:

Start making infographics:
Why? Images double your Facebook likes and boost your online traffic by 12 percent. And a whopping 87 percent will read your infographic text. Here are a few free tools to make it easy: Some handy tips for infographic use on social media can be found here:

• Practice live-streaming video on Facebook:
Celebrities are doing it. Now you can, too! But before you go live this fall, you’ll want to practice. Here’s how to launch:

• Organize your YouTube channel:
If you’ve been in a frenzy of video production all year, summer is the perfect time to organize your channel and work up a promotional blurb for fall. Here’s a quick how-to video:

Need help getting started? Head to Chicago July 17-20 for the NSPRA Seminar! There you’ll find a mind-blowing array of over 70 workshops, action labs and presentations by some of the best school PR professionals in the business. Find out more:

NSPRA sessions include:

Infographics & Other Cool Tools: Using Visual Content to Inform and Engage
Back from the Twitterverse: Community Engagement through Conversations
Harnessing Technology to Engage a Diverse Community
Why Video Content is King and How to Do It Yourself
Grandma’s on Facebook: Engaging Seniors to Support Public Schools
The One Day Campaign: Building Successful Twitter Engagement
Telling Your District Story: Repeating, Repurposing, Retweeting


Empowering parents on social media

When we think about social media in schools, we typically focus on the communication, teaching and learning that we manage in our jobs.

Parents are an indispensable ally in our efforts to teach digital citizenship — and schools can help parents seize this opportunity. Even the most tech-savvy parent knows the uncertainty and worry that comes when children and teens begin to use social media. Parents worry about their children’s safety and well-being in the digital world, but so often they also feel overwhelmed. With an ever-changing social media landscape, it feels impossible to keep up with every new site, scam and threat to our children’s healthy development.

In my district, we work to engage and encourage our students’ parents to take an active role in their children’s growth as digital citizens. A page in the parent section of our district website offers parents support and empowerment with the most basic tools. We’ve aimed to make it a helpful, supportive place to start for parents to navigate across the spectrum of social media. Developing this resource has given us simple content for school newsletters, social media posts and parent engagement activities all year long.

We have countless opportunities to remind our community that being a good parent doesn’t require anyone to be an expert in social media. After all, if they can have conversations about their children’s experiences with friends on a Friday evening, they can — and should — have the same conversations about their children’s experiences on social media. It’s that simple, and it can make a powerful difference in your schools and community!

Your Summer Reading List


What could be more appropriate to get summer underway than a reading list?

Whether you’ve been a PR pro in education for a long time or just a few short months, you can certainly remember taking home the summer reading list on the last day of school. Those lists were meant to keep your literacy edge sharp through the dog days and get you ready for the challenges of a new grade.

The real test was whether you would actually read over the entire summer or just cram all of that reading into the last ten days before school resumed.

This list, though, can start the summer without the threat of a Labor Day deadline. The topics covered will serve you well throughout the year . . . if you finish these books before school starts again, all the better.

Embracing Social Media, by Kristin Magette, APR (a fellow contributor on this blog)

A great beginning for those who are just dipping a toe in the social media water for their district. Kristin is a leading light in this field and her book reflects that. It’s filled with tips on developing policies and managing the workflow needed to preserve your sanity while working with social media.

LinkedIn Success, by Wayne Breitbarth

I’ve had the opportunity to attend Wayne’s presentation, which moves along at such a quick pace and with such enthusiasm that his book is vital to implementing his techniques. If you’re considering using LinkedIn as a channel for business and community connections, this book can show you how to get the most out of the free, basic account.

The Art of Social Media, by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Guy Kawasaki is one of the best known and most prolific users of social media and much of his output is powered by Peg Fitzpatrick. There are hundreds of tips in this book that are more than philosophical; they are practical. Even though it was published in 2014 (an eon ago in social media terms) there are still plenty of great best practices that can be employed today.

Why Social Media Matters, by Kitty Porterfield and Meg Carnes

If you haven’t been fortunate enough to attend an NSPRA Seminar workshop presented by Kitty or Meg, reading their book is the next best thing to sitting at the feet of the sages. The book is less about the nuts and bolts of how to use social media than it is about the why your district should be on social media and what you should be saying.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR, by David Meerman Scott

Are you familiar with the term “newsjacking”? Neither was I until I read this book. Google “Oreo Superbowl tweet” and you’ll find out what this new-millennium concept looks like. Plus, you’ll learn plenty more from this 400+ page handbook that will give you insights into how the biggest companies and brightest practitioners are making the most of social media.

Making Data Digestible

As a school leader, you well know that data informs our decision making on behalf of students. In a digital age, this data can be used to garner support and explain the decision-making rationale for school or system initiatives. But how do you make the data digestible on a social platform—especially when it comes to a multi-sheet Excel spreadsheet, volumes of academic data and other reports?

It’s not like you would want to tweet an invitation to read a 140-page report in 140 characters. And who would want to read it on a mobile device? Probably only a handful who were directly involved in its creation. Making your data digestible goes a long way toward promoting transparency for your district.

Draw stakeholders into your data by:

  • Highlighting key points from your report;
  • Using qualitative responses to share stakeholder opinions;
  • Illustrating data points with charts and graphs; or
  • Closing the loop on stakeholder engagement efforts by touting how you used feedback to inform your decision making.

It’s no secret you can get higher engagement when you use infographics to share those data points. But take your work to the next level by carefully crafting posts to drive people back to the report itself or to re-engage stakeholders for more feedback.

Since many school PR practitioners are one-person shops, we must be creative in the way we tell our stories using data, especially if time and budget are a concern.

Even if you are not proficient in graphic arts, free online tools make the task a snap; get professional-looking results in a matter of minutes using your system’s color palate and branding!

In this day and age, making data digestible is easy!

What Do the New Twitter Rules Mean for Schools?

The news is sweeping social media, so you’ve probably already heard: Twitter plans to stop counting images and videos toward your 140-character limit.

On Tuesday, Twitter came out with more details:

  • What Counts and What Doesn’t?
    To avoid counting against your character total, you’ve got to use an attachment rather than a link. So links to your article on the school-district website count against you, but using Twitter’s built-in photo or video uploader would not. Quote tweets won’t ding you for the link to the original tweet. And for those who like adding polls or silly GIFs from Twitter’s library, you’re in luck – those don’t count, either!
  • When Will This Happen?
    Twitter is giving developers time to work with the new rules, so it will roll out over the next few months. I expect we’ll just be surprised one day when the changes take effect, and we might not all get them at once.
  • How are Replies Different?
    If you reply to someone, the @handle won’t count toward your character limit. And for those of you who know how to use “.@” at the beginning of a new tweet that starts with an @handle, the period will no longer be necessary. New tweets that start with an @handle will go to all your followers, and if you want everyone to see a reply, you will just retweet yourself.



Five Ways to Keep School District Social Media Followers Engaged During the Summer

It is hard to believe the summer of 2016 is almost here. What happened to the 2015-2016 school year? You have worked hard to build your social media presence and audience throughout the school year. How do you keep that momentum going over the summer months?

Below are a five tips and strategies to keep your social media followers engaged and connected when your schools are out for the summer.

  1. One of our favorites is our graduation “roll call.” We ask our Facebook users to post the year they graduated during our annual high school graduation ceremony. It is a really simple post – we ask our fans to post the year they graduated in the comments section as well as a congratulatory message for the graduating class. Each time it garners hundreds – sometimes thousands – of comments, likes and shares and helps increase the number of alumni following our page.
  2. Another favorite is the “Throwback Thursday,” where we find a photo or historical nugget from our archives to share on social media. This is not a new or unique concept by any means. But we can set up our posts for the summer months in advance, which is very helpful when we are out of the office on vacation or at the NSPRA conference.
  3. Be sure to post when you have good content to share. Our district regularly features unique summer school activities. Whether it is a fun field trip, STEM activity, summer camp or other initiative, this is another positive way to feature your district in the summer months.
  4. Photos of summer construction, professional development and the implementation of new curriculum are not exciting – but they do keep your users in the know about things happening in your district when children are not in school.
  5. Finally, we like to feature fun stories and photos from students, staff and families. Be sure to ask your staff and families to send you photos if they took a once-in-a-lifetime trip or had an amazing experience in the summer months. It’s the personal touch and connection that keeps your social media followers engaged during slower times.

These are just a few of many ideas to increase social media involvement over the summer.  I am curious to hear what other districts are doing as well. Please share any and all ideas in the comments section below. Have a great summer!