Friday, August 6, 2010

Blog writing ideas and tips for school districts

Once you've moved passed your initial fears of blogging for your school district, it's time to think about the type of content you wish to provide for the community. Let the goals be your guide for what to write.

You could have an informal, community-centered blog that has a broad approach and covers a wide range of topics, a superintendent (leadership) blog, a news release and announcement blog, department and/or curriculum-related blog, internal blog featuring staff stories, or any combination of these.
(Image: avrdreamer)

Of course, the above is by no means an exhaustive list, rather just some ideas that might help get you going.

When deciding what to write in a school district's blog remember:

  • Write what you know - Blogs are at there best when they are written from the perspective of someone who has relevant knowledge and information to share.
  • Be interesting - A school district community is a collective of individual parents, students, staff, and public. You have to figure out what are the compelling needs and topics to match their interests.
  • Be Honest - This is a big one. If you have access to information AND are authorized to share, you can use these behind-the-scenes topics as relevant posts. The caveat is just like when dealing with the media, you must be honest or you could set yourself up for failure. Dishonesty and failure in a blog can take on a mini-to-major PR storm if you are not careful.
  • Be Yourself - You school district blog can have an informal tone. Use the language that you would use in conversation and avoid the eduspeak as much as possible. Or think of it like author/blogger David Meerman Scott said in a recent keynote speech, "speak to your buyers in their language, not yours."
  • It's a two-way street - Commenting is a must in my opinion. School districts can get the most out of their blogs if they have a commenting system in place for readers. Being able to get feedback is a great listening tool and should not be overlooked. Arik Hanson, sums it up quite well I think:
"...the best part of many blogs isn’t the posts. It’s the comments. Why? Because the comments represent the real discussion board. People with varying viewpoints adding valuable content. Folks starting productive conversation threads that go in a different direction from the original post. And people leaving tips and tools that are beneficial to us all. That’s the real gold of blog posts."

Your school district blog can provide a place where parents, students, staff and the public can read some of the latest news, thoughts, and information from school district leadership and engage in respectful dialogue. It's up to you to cultivate an atmosphere of sharing with the community and develop the strategies the best fit the needs of your school district. What would you add? If you blog for a school district, what issues have come up for you?