About Emily Parks

Emily Parks is the Director of Communications for Sherman ISD in Sherman, TX. She is a member of the Texas and National School PR Associations. Emily is past chair of the Celebrate Texas Public Schools committee and has served as the chair of the Annual Audit committee for TSPRA. She was nominated as the TSPRA Rookie of the Year in 2012 and selected as one of NSPRA's first National 35 Under 35 recipients.

Facebook algorithm changes could affect your reach

After years of pushing page content and filling our news feeds with content from area businesses, pages we’ve liked and advertising based on our searches, Facebook has made yet another change. This summer the company announced they have refocused our newsfeeds back to our friends and family – which means your page content might not be so readily available for your audience.

In our district, we’ve seen a considerable drop in analytics concerning our reach and interaction with our audience. Since we follow a set schedule for posts and have gone deep in content curation, I’m pretty sure that drop is not related to us or our information. Don’t take this as a reflection on you or your department, but recognize you need to take steps to address it.

We could boost up our paid posts (we spend a few hundred dollars a year on specific content shares), but given that the changes are focused on friends and family in our news feeds, I’m not certain that will help us. So how do we fix it? Here are a few tips that might assist you in overcoming this change!

  1. Content sharing. You can see who engages with your page. Reach out to them. Build a relationship. Have them share your content so their friends and family can see it.
  2. Marketing. Remind parents to look for information on your page. Include a blurb in your newsletters, on your website or anywhere else you have an audience.
  3. Cross-platform promotion. Link content on your other social media feeds. A link on Twitter or a fun graphic on Instagram to remind your audience where they can get deeper info is always helpful.
  4. Be relevant. Continue to post content that is relevant to you, your organization and your audience. When your audience knows they can find the information they want and need, they will navigate to your pages on their own.

Have you seen a dip in your reach? What ways are you rebuilding engagement with social media?

Using social media, collaboration tools to streamline communication


How many times have we copied and pasted the same reply email to multiple parents or staff? What about the same comment on social media? Even if we post the information everywhere possible, someone still has a question.

We know the typicals with any given situation, weather particularly: “When will you let us know if school is delayed or canceled?” “Does that mean after school activities are canceled?” “When will my child’s bus pick up if we are on a delay?” “I didn’t receive a call. Is school on today?”

Now is an ideal time to audit your communication resources and refresh or even document them. Take some time to outline the responses you repeat over and over in your district and save them. My staff shares a google doc with an extensive list of responses, information and communication for a variety of instances. In addition, Facebook has updated messaging to allow for saved responses — cutting down on the amount of time we spend communicating the answer to the same question sent from multiple people.

Then, when the time comes, our web and social media posts, including our responses, can be quick, consistent and accurate: the ideal communication for all of us!

Lists, quizzes, surveys: Make engagement fun!

We all love a good list. Well, except maybe a to-do list. But a good list can brighten our day. C’mon, who doesn’t want to know the 10 Most Misspelled Words, or the Top 5 Ways to Get Your Toddler Dressed in the Morning? Beyond lists, who hasn’t clicked through to find out What Disney Princess You Are, or What Movie Best Describes Your Marriage?

And while some may argue that the appeal of reading lists or taking silly quizzes might damage our intellectual abilities (my husband thinks I can only read social media content that is numbered), the truth remains: A good listicle will attract readers to engage with your content. Which is what we all want, isn’t it?

So I did it. I published my first listicle for Bastrop ISD using riddle.com, a resource for interactive content tools: 12 Bastrop ISD staff members who are making a difference! And boy, has it been popular! In its first two days, it had more than 600 viewers and more than 135 shares. Talk about engagement!

So let’s look at what makes a good list:

  • Get their attention. Just like any news article, your title is critical to grabbing attention. Be funny. Or intriguing. A good title will get more people to click on your list.
  • Don’t waste their time. Of course, the 25 Best Ways to Get Your Child Out of Bed in the morning might appeal to your 30-something audience of mothers on the go, but do you think they’ll have time to read all the way through it, much less want to share it when they are done? Probably not. Keep it short and to the point.
  • Consider your art. A good image will tell a great deal about the list item it goes with. Use artwork, photos, and images that will attract a reader’s attention and help them understand or engage with your content, and give a good image to your district.
  • Share it! Nothing is worse than making a list, getting your humor just so, finding all the perfect pictures to go with it, and getting it buried in the rest of your department’s content. Make it front and center. Share it on social media and share it with staff. They’ll appreciate the few minutes they get to laugh, learn something about their school, their colleagues, or a topic they can discuss with their friends, and you will be a hero!

Start writing your list today. Who knows, your community might need to know the Top 5 Ways to Stay Sane in the Car Rider Line! What topics do you think would be widely read by your audiences?

Modern day press clippings made easy

You may still have a photo album or four sitting around your office holding press clippings from your early days on the job; but nowadays, with online news, social media, bloggers, and more, it can be difficult to maintain a thorough collection of the news circulating about your district.

Enter Storify. Storify is an online tool used to gather, save and share online content. I relied on it first in grad school to collect online research on story topics and to monitor current stories about what I thought was a novel story idea. Now, I use it as my online press clippings album for what is actually put in print about my district.

Within Storify, you can set up feeds, or “stories,” by collecting and organizing various media from various platforms – from Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to Getty Images, Google Plus and Flickr. You can search news feeds, images, even set up RSS feeds. You can organize by date, topic or media type – it’s all up to you. You can make your “stories” private or share them with the public. You can even share links to collections to show others all the media on a particular issue or accomplishment.

If, like me, you have Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts set up, you can easily enable the Storify Chrome Extensions and your press clipping file is now just a click (or share) away.

Of course, as a former journalist, I’m still fond of starting my day with the Metro section in hand. But now, I can save myself from the missed articles, inky fingerprints and tape, glue and photo books all over my office. Now I may never have to take a pair of scissors to a newspaper again!

What do you think? Do you have a way of keeping track of media reported about your district? Share your tools or tips with us!