Thursday, December 17, 2009

Better business of school district public relations

incompleteImage by JaBB via Flickr
I feel very fortunate to work in PR for education. As my PR counterparts in other industries, organizations, and businesses are winding down their calendar year, we are at the half-way point of our 2009-2010 school year. Yes, the holidays and regular breaks are quite nice and on many levels the differences in being in school PR versus other forms of PR are quite noticeable. However, I think more and more school PR people are missing a great opportunity in our respective communities when we don't treat our school districts like businesses.

Business concepts for school PR
When it comes down to it, public school districts are about two of the most precious commodities in our communities: children and tax money (and not necessarily in that order depending on the day and the media-inquiry).

I don't know too many school PR people who live and breath tax money much less local, state, and national funding or who could present on the various facets of school finance without some studying, preparation and help from the internal finance experts in our districts. And that's ok.

The business I'm talking about is in terms of thinking about the various functions of your school districts and how using business-world concepts can make our districts better.

School districts and their customers
School PR people should be advocates for customer service in our districts. 
But wait, school districts don't have customers!

You better believe we have customers. Our customers (or buyers) are our parents, students, community members, and even other staff members. What are we selling? School districts sell trust. We are selling an idea. Thankfully, educating kids is a good idea.

Unfortunately we sometimes go about selling it the wrong way or don't do enough to let our buyers know what's out there.

An incomplete thought
This isn't my regular style of blog post since I am not really offering up any ideas at this point.

However, I am very interested in exploring the business of school public relations. I want to look at what makes a district's communication/PR department's job easier, better, manageable, and useful within a district's community. I want to look at various buyer personas within school districts to help PR people craft targeted messages and use specific communication channels to fill needs.

I'd like to get your feedback as well. What am I missing? What other ways do PR people need to view school districts in business terms? As always, the comments are yours.
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