An online pressoom can be used as a simple and effective gateway to the important pieces of news and announcements for a school district's stakeholders: parents, students, staff, community, and media. Notice that I put the media at the end. This is intentional because the traditional media should not be the primary way a school district gets its message out. If managed correctly, a school district's Web site will be the first place the community will go to get accurate information. They may get stories (good/bad) from the media, but our communities should be engaged directly, not indirectly via our media friends.
School districts and their PR/Communication professionals should be maintaining online pressrooms on their Web sites. It can be called many things (Press Room, News, News Room, District News, News & Media, etc.) but it must be easily found, easily read, and easily updated.
In an article in PR Tactics, Ibrey Woodall cites an annual survey conducted by TEKgroup International, which was distributed via email to more than 5,000 journalists. Among the elements of an online press room most important to the respondents were press releases (92 percent), a search module (85 percent), PR contacts (84 percent) and product information (76 percent) - for school districts, this may include information about the board, administration, general district info, etc.
Some district's are already doing a pretty good job with this:
- Socorro ISD
- El Paso ISD
- Tomball ISD (well organized even though I don't like the PDFs for press releases, put them in HTML, don't assume journalists will open)
- Katy ISD
- Clear Creek ISD
- McKinney ISD
- Mansfield ISD (full disclosure, this is ours, but I think it's a good example)
Just remember to include the following:
- Put the emphasis on information and navigation
- Complete PR contact information
- Make the title of the release a link to the full text
- Don't remove your old releases