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The educational PR machine

4 min read


It seems like everywhere we turn, education is under the microscope. From members of Congress to the mother next door, everyone has an opinion on education and what we should do and how we should do it. To me, the focus is on the negative: “This is what’s wrong.” “Why aren’t these test scores better?” “What was that teacher thinking?”

But as someone who spends a lot of time walking the hallways and seeing kids in the classroom, there is so much good out there. I see kids doing amazing things every day that we can share with our school community, our parents and the world.

It’s all about public relations.

And while we might not think of a school needing a PR rep., it’s true now more than ever. The world needs to see what’s happening behind those walls. The job of PR in our schools can be all our responsibility. However, there is really one person who is well-suited that we can turn to to be our PR Machine.

The principal.

Look at any celebrity and you might think of PR as a full-time job. For the principal, it doesn’t have to be. You walk the halls every day and see great things. More often than not you have that powerful device, the mobile phone, you carry everywhere. Why not put it to use for more than just email and capture the moments during the day that can help tell your story. And doing that is easier than you think.

Twitter: I have been advocating the use of Twitter in the classroom and for professional growth for awhile now but even easier than that, it can be used by the administrator to tweet about Ms. Smith’s kindergarteners and their weather project or to tell the community about the service project the seniors did. In 140 characters you can change the way people see inside the building and give valuable insight into the good things.

Facebook: We usually see Facebook as a place to “like” our favorite game show or store, but it can be a great place to share stories from the classroom. The principal could post photos, videos, firsthand accounts of sports stories, academic bowl victories (or defeats) and special moments. This could also be a place to invite kids and the community to share their thoughts as well.

Instagram: With the power of our phones in our pocket, we can capture and share those moments during the day that are fun, special or just plain awesome. The Principal PR Machine can capture those moments with the flick of an app and share them with the world.

Blogs: While a great place for reflection, a blog can be a way to capture, day-by-day, week-by-week, the stories we see when we walk around our buildings. But one of the best projects I’ve seen is a school that every day invites a teacher, student or staff member to share a moment of learning that had an impact on them. Sharing with the community and being open about learning can help change the conversation.

YouTube: Take a look at the home page of YouTube and you will find videos that you just have to wonder who watches this stuff. Record some video, instantly upload and you share those moments that matter and help shape the story that your school tells.

It doesn’t take a lot of skill or time to share your story. All it takes is getting out, walking around and looking for the good moments to share with the world.

Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) is the director of instructional technology for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. He also is an independent educational consultant. Check out his blog, Web 2.0 Connected Classroom.