About Cindy Warner, APR

Public Relations and Community Education Supervisor Shelby County School District - Alabama

One-Day Social Media Campaign Success

When I started my job as the first public relations supervisor for my school district, the first thing I did was turn to the experts for advice! One piece of advice came from Barry Gaston award winner Nez Calhoun, who has practiced school PR in Alabama for more than 40 years. “The Duchess,” as we lovingly refer to her, told me to get a membership to the National School Public Relations Association NSPRA and to start attending the national seminars each summer.

That is the best job-related advice I have ever received! Through the years, I have learned so much from my NSPRA colleagues — and last year was no exception. Social media was the focus of several sessions, and I made an attempt to attend as many as possible.

One of those sessions was The One-Day Campaign: Building Successful Twitter Engagement, presented by Jennifer Delgado, media manager of High School District 214.  I came away from that session with a new appreciation of how important social media can be for building engagement in our local communities and so many great ideas that my head was literally spinning!

I implemented this great new strategy just a few short weeks later, with a first-day-of-school campaign called #shelbyfirstday. I enlisted the help of our school administrators and promoted it with graphics posted on all of our social media channels. It was a HUGE success, with engagement from both internal and external publics! There were adorable photos from parents of their children all dressed up for the first day, along with photos throughout the day of the excitement being experienced by students and staff alike.

Earlier this month, I did a second campaign entitled #shelbyoneday, which chronicled what a typical day in our school district looks like. Again, I enlisted the help of our administrators and teachers and provided them with a timeline of suggested posts throughout the day. The idea was to show that a typical school day doesn’t start at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. when the dismissal bell rings. A typical day starts bright and early with our buses rolling out to pick up students and then continues with after-school care, athletic events, and special events.

The entire day was filled with such awesome posts that not only highlighted the work of our teachers but our wonderful support staff as well. Pictures showed students doing everything from participating in very engaging lessons to lowering the flag at the end of the school day. One school even went back the next day and posted an entire slideshow of their day!

So, Jennifer Delgado, if you are reading this post, let me say a big “THANK YOU” for presenting such an awesome session at last year’s seminar! My superintendent and board members were thrilled with the results, so thanks for letting us all borrow your awesome idea!

Social Media Campaigns for Employee Recognition and Engagement

One reason school districts have embraced social media is the opportunity it gives to connect with our various stakeholders, most notably parents and community leaders. However, there is an often-overlooked stakeholder group that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, even though it is considered to be the most important group of all – our employees!

Sure, we post lots of great things about our teachers and administrators. But how often have we stopped to consider the contributions of our support personnel?  These employees serve such important roles in our schools and in the lives of students, from the bus driver who provides the first smiling face a child sees in the morning to the custodian who waves goodbye to them in the afternoon. But many times their behind-the-scenes efforts are going unnoticed, because we aren’t telling their stories like we do for our teachers.

This year, I am honoring the efforts of these hard-working employees through a social media campaign highlighting our Support Person of the Year winners from each local school. Using Canva, I create graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that include photos of the employees along with short descriptions of how they are helping to shape the journey of students and fellow employees. The hashtag #journeyshaper ties back to our district’s tagline, “Prepared for the Journey,” which shows our district’s commitment to ensuring that both our students and staff are prepared for whatever journey awaits them.

The response from the support personnel has been great! Not only has it been an easy way to boost employee morale, but it has also provided new content for my social media pages and boosted engagement. This post about our central office winner received comments from other employees about how grateful they are for Kristy’s support and assistance and generated an organic reach of 3,150!