Using YouTube to Promote Safety and Security in Schools

Like many districts across the nation, school safety and security has been the topic of conversation in our community for the past couple of months.

We’ve sent letters to families, posted information on our website and provided talking points to all of our administrators, building leaders and key communicators about school safety. But we struggled with how to really show our community everything we have in place to keep their children safe. That is where YouTube and social media entered the picture.

Our department produced the video below in January of 2013, and then we posted it on YouTube in early February. We also shared the video on Facebook, Twitter, on our website and in our e-newsletter. Although we don’t have a staggering number of views so far, we really see this as something we can share with our community again if other school-related safety events happen in the future.

The response from our community has been overwhelmingly positive.

We also showed this video to law enforcement officials from the seven different police departments in our district. The feedback from police officers was positive as well, with them thanking us for helping keep them on the same page in terms of the safety measures our schools have in place.

We have used Facebook and Twitter for many years, but our department is just starting to produce videos and use YouTube as part of our social media toolbox. Right now, our YouTube channel is a work in progress. We’re working to improve it every day and continue to find new ways to connect with our staff, families and community.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope you find this video helpful as well as somewhat entertaining. But if possible, please take it easy on the quality of the voiceover guy…

Marco Rubio Could Be You

Let the Marco Rubio-sipping-a-Poland-Spring moment on national television be a lesson to us all.

No matter what your politics are, it was a surprising moment when the U.S. Senator from Florida first glanced at his water bottle during his Republican response to the State of the Union Address the other night, then bent down on national television to grab the bottle and take a sip, mid-sentence.

Less than a decade ago, we would have seen it and then — poof — it would have been gone.

But today, embarrassing, awkward and even worse moments become sensations. They are repeated, remixed and retweeted, then discussed and dissected by, well, the universe. Just moments after Rubio reached for the water bottle, Twitter exploded with tweets about the awkward moment, the words “watergate” and “Poland Spring” immediately trending. Among my favorite tweets, by the way, was “Zero Dark Thirsty.”

And Twitter was just the beginning. Dozens of Rubio parody videos have been uploaded to YouTube, friends and family members are discussing the incident on Facebook, and the senator’s own political action committee, Reclaim America, is now offering a Marco Rubio water bottle to supporters for $25. It helps to poke fun at yourself.

Along the way, of course, the senator picked up 13,000 new followers on Twitter.

But the Rubio moment and its subsequent virality should be a wakeup call to those of us in the public relations business. Our videotaped school events and Board of Education meetings, superintendents’ speeches, Facebook posts, tweets and transparency are all good things.

But we need to remind ourselves and those who work in our districts that those moments are now etched in time, permanent examples of how we behave and what we say, photograph and write.

The Rubio incident is also a chance for us to remind those we work for how important it is to prepare well for public appearances, press conferences, speeches and presentations. That includes hydrating.

The world is watching. No one wants to end up on David Letterman’s Top Ten List.

A Comedy of Errors, Text-Message Style

With the constant communication that comes with cell phones, social media and texting, this English major has been mourning the loss of a crucial plot device – in comedies and tragedies alike – miscommunication. Without it, there would be no “Romeo and Juliet” and no “Taming of the Shrew.”

Worry no more, literature fans! This week I discovered the modern version, through the use of text messaging.

Arriving early at work on a big deadline day, I got a text. Looking at my phone, all I saw was a phone number, with three blank faces and a tiny square with a photo of my boss, so clearly the message was from him to the team.

INCOMING TEXT: “Stomach flu hit with a vengeance. Can’t come in. All the documents for today’s project are printed on the table in my office, except for four documents that are on my desktop. Can someone please print those for the 9:30 meeting?”

MY TEXT: “Happy to help. Headed to your office right now. Take care of yourself. Do we need to cancel the afternoon meeting?”

I then searched high and low on my boss’s computer for the documents and the files. I was not finding ANY of these items.

INCOMING TEXT: “What afternoon meeting?”

MY TEXT: “I can’t find the files. Still looking. I will try the finder. Or is it in the maroon folder?”

INCOMING TEXT “Ugh. On the desktop. Four files. Try the round table.”

The round table had nothing on it. The computer had nothing on it. I tried his desk.

MY TEXT: “Did you mean the top of your desk, or the computer desktop?”

INCOMING TEXT: “The computer desktop. Sorry—I would be there if I could move.”

ENTER BOSS, STAGE LEFT

ME: “What the heck are you doing here in your condition? You should be home in bed!”

BOSS: “Huh? I’m fine. What are you talking about?”

At this point, I abruptly realized I was searching in the wrong office, because Kathy was the one who was sick. Going to her office, I found all the documents.

Moral of the story: If you are not sure who is texting you, ask immediately. Not only will you save a lot of time, but you will eliminate the risk of divulging confidential or confusing information to the wrong person. And whenever confusion persists, try an old fashioned tactic and pick up the phone.