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:

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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!

Having Fun with GIFs

GIFs have become common practice on personal and business social media pages. Is your district using them? They are a great way to engage your audience and have a little fun.

Social Media Examiner recently posted about how to make animated gifs. It is a fantastic resource for anyone new to GIF making.

With summer just around the corner for many school districts, here are some GIFs for my school PR friends.

When I think about how many days are left in the school year:clap

When I realize there are only 58 days till #NSPRASeminar2017:
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When I think about all the summer projects I need to complete:giphy (2)

When I think about back-to-school planning:
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When I think about that vacation I have been planning all year long:

Same As It Ever Was

Even as technology marches on (along with its cousin, time), much of a school PR pro’s day is still spent doing hands-on work projects . . . planning, writing, organizing, meeting, editing and creating.

Not quite a year ago, the fine folks over at capterra put together a great list of tools for content marketers to have in their box. And yes, if you are writing for a newsletter or blog or website for your district, you are a content marketer. Any tools or techniques that can simplify necessary work are always welcome, and here are a few. Take time to look at the full article and you’re sure to find some gems.

If your workflow needs some help, Google Calendar is ideal for managing an editorial calendar for your social media posting routines, especially if you want to share a calendar with a team. Trello is like a digital bulletin board, letting you arrange and rearrange virtual index cards for component pieces of a project. By moving them along in the production process, you can practice what’s known as visual manufacturing and have a quick glance of where you stand.

A shared document is key to collaborative work, and Google Drive (formerly Google Docs and Google Apps) does sharing better than anyone. If you’re constantly shipping drafts back and forth between writer and editor, Google Drive is the way to go. The capability to show edits by author, revert back to historical versions, and restrict writing rights only scratch the surface of what this program can do. And it’s a much safer place to create documents. As my fellow authors of this blog might attest, WordPress is a wee bit flaky sometimes and you can easily lose your work.

The blog article also touches on SEO, promotion, and image creation as it suggests other free tools that are available to the content marketer. Check them out, because after all, you are a content marketer too.