We Can All Use a Little Help



As you labor away, trying to come up with the perfect social media post that will be shared, liked, re-tweeted or just appropriated, do you ever feel like no one understands you? Does anybody really know what time it is . . . does anybody really care . . . about the Oxford comma or the singular “they?”

As it turns out, the answer is yes. There are kindred spirits out there who are as dedicated to good writing and the proper use of grammar as you are. Surprisingly, many of them have posted some of their best tips and techniques on Pinterest. Yes, the same Pinterest that is home to cupcakes, fashion trends, home makeovers and parenting suggestions.

One of the most notable pins is “30 Copy Editors Tell Us Their Pet Peeves.”

Items included on the list were:

  • Versus, not verse
  • Oxford comma or not, we’re all correct. Can’t we just get along?
  • “Due to” does not equal “because of”

Along with that piece, there are other useful (and humorous) topics, such as:

  • 250 Ways to Say “Went”
  • Know Your Dashes
  • 22 Rules of Storytelling
  • “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations,” — George Orwell

There are some strange, irrelevant pins included on this board, but make your way through the site and you’ll find some helpful tools and advice.

See You at the Social #SchoolPR Sessions In San Antonio!

It’s almost here! The NSPRA seminar in San Antonio is just a few days away, and you’ll be able to learn from our nation’s best experts on using social media in school PR.

Check out some of these sessions!

Saturday, July 8 (pre-seminar workshops):

  • Carla Pereira, APR: “Up Your #SchoolPR Social Media Game: Build Transparency and Trust Through Online Engagement”

Monday, July 10:

  • Sarah Greer Osborne and Greg Okuhara: “Get Trending on Twitter: How to Socialize Your Schools to Social Media”
  • Athena Vadnais, APR: “Go Where Your Voters Are: Using Social Media to Inform, Persuade, and Pass Your School Bond”
  • Kimberly Willis-Green: “Maximizing Your Story Using Multi-Platform Channels On Your Own”
  • Adam Harris: “Say What You Mean: Podcasting to Reach Your Community”
  • Justin Cortese: “Networking: Website/Digital Media/Video Management”
  • Daniel Thigpen: “The Social Network: Navigating Trust and Expectations among Gen-X and Millennial Families”
  • Patricia McGlone, APR: “We Are Trending on Facebook — And Not in a Good Way”
  • Greg Turchetta: “From Educator to Journalist: Creating an Army of ‘Tweetchers'”

Tuesday, July 11:

  • Paul Tandy, APR, Annie Dickerson and Derek Duncan: “#The Big Idea Brainstorm”
  • Brian Woodland, APR: “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Reality TV: Putting Relationships Back Into Public Relations”
  • Kristin Magette, APR, and Cathy Kedjidjian: “Make Twitter Great Again: Overcome Fears and Frustrations with Friends”
  • Evelyn McCormack: “Tell Your District’s Story with These Cool Tools”
  • Jake Sturgis, APR: “#SocialVideo: Tips for Creating Catchy Videos On a Tight Budget”

Wednesday, July 12:

  • Danielle Clark, APR, Valerie Van Ryn, Staci Bradbury and Matt Gohl: “Can’t Stop the Feeling! Creative Storytelling in a Crowded Media Landscape”
  • Jill Aurora and Nicole Graf: “Meet BERT! Learn How a Social Intranet Can Help Increase Staff Engagement”
  • Heidi Vega, Carla Pereira, APR, and Ken Hobbs: “Digital Diversity: Using Communication Technology to Address Equity in Your Schools”
  • Esperanza Soriano-McCrary and Zach Whitaker: “Want to Reach Your Parents? Move Your Workshops Out of the School Cafeteria to an Online Format”
  • Justin Cortese and Aaron Cagwin: “How Video Content Has Changed and Why You Should Too”
  • Justin Grayson: “The Science Behind Facebook Engagement: Quick Tips to Increase Your Likes, Shares and Comments”

See you there!

On Facebook, Less May Be More

A recent blog post from the pros at Buffer confirmed for me what I had been suspecting for a year or two: post too much on Facebook, and your content will reach fewer people.

In a nutshell, Buffer decided to cut their Facebook posting frequency in half, and after six months their post reach more than tripled and their average daily engagements doubled. “When trying to fill the queue with content for the simple sake of posting and having a presence on Facebook, content tends to become diluted and lost in the news feed.”

Our success as communicators trying to get through on Facebook lives and dies by the news feed algorithm, and it is a difficult beast to please. Turns out, it only wants the crème de la crème.

Instead of throwing every piece of content on Facebook, Buffer staff realized they had to figure out what categories of content work best, and only post that, up to no more than two posts a day. The results, as I highlighted above, are impressive.

Although the folks at Buffer suggest that the most popular Facebook content can be categorized as either entertaining or educational (“Edu-tainment”), I intend to look at our school district and school page analytics and figure out which buckets of content have worked best for us.

Further, posting one or two times per day may not be what works for you. The bigger lesson to take away is to only post the best content from the categories that are proven to give you the highest engagement.

Time for some research and experimenting!

Next-level video analytics

During the summer months filled with strategic planning, professional development and hopefully a little vacation time, it’s a great opportunity to step back and review your year.

Facebook offers tremendous depth on video analytics. Traditionally, we have always looked at reach (total number of unique people who have seen your post) and engagement (number of times someone reacted, commented or shared your post). On video posts, there is so much more available to you that might be worth looking at.

For example, look at one of our recent videos. This video was a little long at 3:32. One stat available to you is audience retention. This shows how long. your audience watched the video.

derek 1

It gets better. If you click the circle at the bottom, the graph changed to show you average watch time of people who clicked to play vs. letting it auto-play.

derek 2

Another metric worth looking at is the 10-second views. Facebook counts a video view when the viewer has seen a video for at least three seconds. Historically that’s all we’ve cared about. But 10-second viewer numbers are probably more accurate into figuring out how many people truly viewed your video.

derek 3

You also see the sound-on vs. sound-off numbers. You might have heard recently that around 80 percent of all Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off, which is another reason why it’s necessary to include captions in your videos. However, in our example video, 47 percent of viewers turned the sound on.

These are just a few of the next-level video metrics Facebook provides for you. I’d recommend looking at these numbers as a way to measure how you’re doing. Shameless plug: we’ll talk more about video analytics at my DIY Video 2.0 session at the NSPRA seminar in San Antonio next month.

Hope to see you there.

Look to Our Students for Inspiration


In school PR, it’s our job to view our organization through different lenses. At times, we literally spend our day looking at the world through lenses. Whether we are sharing stories, advising our superintendents and principals from different perspectives, or advocating on behalf of our students and staff, we are adept in finding the proper angle and shedding light on the subject at hand.

I believe it’s also important for us to step out from the background and bask in the great work being done by and for our students. My charge to you today is to make the purpose of your next classroom visit to appreciate and become energized by the students we serve. No photos, no interviews, just take it in. If you’re inspired to tweet out a thank-you to those teachers and students, by all means share the love. Better yet: write a thank-you note.

Today is the last day of the school year in our district. It’s a day of transition and mixed emotions. I readily admit that during my eight-year career teaching sixth grade, on the last day of school, I went from hugs and high-fives with my students and colleagues to slobbery tears alone in my empty classroom. (Side note: I’ve learned you get less of all those things in the district office.)

The pace of play and the nature of our work in school PR provides similar guideposts and transitions. With summer, we shift toward strategic planning, professional learning at the NSPRA seminar, and thoughtful reflection on our plans, successes and challenges of the past year.

As Covey so succinctly stated, it’s our time to sharpen the saw. In my mind this translates as a time to charge up the batteries for the summer work ahead. Today is the last day I’ll have access to schools and rooms brimming with energy, teaching and learning for the next two months. There are a lot of things I have to do today. I think I’ll start by visiting some students for inspiration. And maybe a hug, a high-five and a tear or two.




Searching for Cassandra

As the school year comes to a close for many of us, it’s often a time to reflect on the things that have happened. I can’t help but think back to my school days.

Image result for copyright free cassandra greek myth

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan,  1898. where my curiosity was sparked by Greek mythology.

According to myth, Cassandra was given the gift of foretelling the future, but in a twist of fate, she was cursed with no one believing her.

While you may not have Cassandra’s gift, you likely have tools at your disposal that can help you foretell possible social media crisis.

Many of us are already using social media monitoring services, but sometimes there are items the monitoring just doesn’t catch. When’s the last time you just typed your organization’s name (or another key term) in the Facebook or Twitter search tool to see what pops up?

I do this from time to time, and on Facebook, I narrow my search to the city in which I live to see what our community is really saying.

A disengaged parent, student or employee may be negatively posting about your organization without you realizing it. The more sensational, the faster it seems to travel when you consider the reach of said post.

Never heard of this? It’s because you weren’t supposed to. If this is being done on Twitter, it’s called a subtweet.


Either way, it can be damaging to your organization’s brand.

This simple search can help you see a crisis on the horizon, giving you time to alert leadership that trouble may be around the corner.

Cassandra’s curse doesn’t have to be yours. Knowing what’s around the corner can give you the proof you need to protect your credibility as a practitioner and the time to prepare social media crisis response.

When teachers know best

Not long after we empowered our district’s teachers to use social media in their classrooms, I saw a post from Mr. Stadalman’s Fifth Grade Facebook page. It was an afternoon post I’d seen for a few days prior, and it looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 4.03.11 PM

A mom of elementary age kids, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to know what happens at school each day. A quick summary from a student on a teacher Facebook page seemed a perfect way to keep parents engaged in classroom life. After seeing these updates, I reached out to Kyle to give him a virtual high five.

But it was his quick response that showed me the real power that social media offers a school system.

“Summarizing is typically very hard for fourth graders,” Kyle wrote. “So, to get the class to come up with the proper sentences has been challenging, but fun. We are getting a little desperate for new topic sentences, and it’s only September!”

I quickly learned that throughout the year, Kyle projects his laptop display on the classroom Promethean Board and invites one student up to the front to compose the summary on the class Facebook page. Students brainstorm as a class, while the post author records the ideas, adds any finishing touches and finally clicks “post” — an exciting privilege not lost on most tweens.

Leave it to an outstanding teacher to take such a simple, familiar tool as Facebook and use it not only to engage parents — but also as an instructional tool to help students practice essential skills in the curriculum.

When is the last time the teachers in your district were encouraged to experiment with social media in their classroom? It’s well worth the planning and training it takes to see teachers create great opportunities for students!