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!