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Strategic Communications — School Districts




Media Relations

In today's society, media relations are important for any organization, especially local school districts. Effective communication with media outlets is a necessity that is often misused or overlooked. And unfortunately for many school districts, media coverage only takes place during a period of strife.

 

At Communication Solutions, our media relations strategists are in daily contact with members of the press. Consequently, we are familiar with the deadlines of newspaper and local radio and television stations, while being sensitive to the requirements for the placement of stories. Our specialists are aware of the appropriate person to talk to in any given situation. Such an established network of relationships is also helpful when the firm acts as a school district spokesperson for less than positive occurrences or the arrangement of press conferences when major news must be explained.


It is important that the positive aspects of your school district are communicated to the general public. Communication Solutions uses knowledge of the media and our network of contacts to promote positive activities that take place frequently throughout the school district. These stories highlight outstanding students and other aspects about a school district that commonly go unnoticed. Our specialists at Communication Solutions will work to maintain balanced media exposure for your school district, highlighting special events that make your district unique.


Strike Situation Public Relations

Labor disputes and threats of employee strikes can be trying for school board members as well as school districts. While administrators and school board members are focused on resolving the conflict, the specialists at Communication Solutions are determined to keep the lines of communication open. Communication Solutions can act as the spokesperson for the district or coordinate between the appropriate spokesperson and media so that accurate statements can be disseminated to the public.


Communication Solutions has handled several strike situations and is experienced in understanding the delicate process of negotiations. It is always important to effectively communicate a balanced message and we work closely with the school board or district to convey these messages exactly. We are capable of producing high-quality publications that will express these ideas and reach the desired audience. Our specialists take an active role in these times to represent the school board with pro-active, balanced information.

 

In the unfortunate case of a work stoppage, Communications Solutions can work with a school district to ensure that a strike contingency plan is in place. Once this plan has been decided upon, we then communicate that plan to the community through the appropriate media outlet.

 

Newsletters — Both Print & Electronic

Do you have a targeted approach to your promotional materials? Has the creation of a school district newsletter been on the back burner for months?

 

Our writers and graphic designers are experts in creating newsletters and other publications that are aesthetically pleasing and reflect your message. Whether you are focusing on internal or external forms of communication, we narrow the message to a target audience and translate technical jargon into easily understandable points.


In the past, we have developed quarterly administrative newsletters designed to reach residents and monthly publications following the activities of the school board. These materials reach audiences involved with the school district and present a clear, precise, and positive picture of the activities and initiatives taken.

Another vehicle by which Communication Solutions announces positive school district news is through electronic newsletters. Such newsletters, which can contain all of the photos or graphic elements of a printed publication, can be a fast, convenient way to reach a large audience.

We are capable of handling all photography and graphic design and make it a priority to remain aware of the issues that are important within a district.

 

Creating A School District Cable Channel Show

For school districts, having a monthly show to air can give a big boost to a district cable channel. With polished productions, you can provide the community with an inside look at the exemplary programs taking place throughout your school district.

 

Knowing it can be hard to find someone within the district with the time and energy to devote to monthly programming, the Communication Solutions takes on the responsibility of working with the administration and school board to develop ideas for shows, writing scripts, coordinating interviews, scheduling tapings and editing the final product. Whether you want to highlight curriculum initiatives, school safety programs or extracurricular activities, Communication Solutions is experienced in producing quality shows that will entertain and educate.

 

Annual Reports

We know that it is important to recognize outstanding achievements made during a school year and reward those who made contributions towards a better learning environment. A special Year-In-Review program can be designed to make these recognitions and commemorate another completed school year. The graphic designers at Communication Solutions can work closely with your school district to create an attractive, eye-catching publication. This will ensure that those you wish to recognize will receive sufficient coverage.

 

Public Opinion Research

Ever-changing sentiment makes public opinion research a powerful tool in creating a positive public image. We can help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses through a variety of public opinion research tactics. Communication Solutions has experience executing well-written surveys that are designed to gather the information necessary to provide you with helpful feedback. Our surveys can be adapted to meet the needs of your unique situation and are implemented through mass mailings or systematic phone calls. Our analysts can also facilitate more personal tactics such as focus groups to gain raw data. Once this information is acquired, a comprehensive assessment and evaluation is compiled into a user-friendly report assessing public opinion of your school district.

 

Crisis Communication

Prepare for the unexpected and don't be caught off guard.


"Outsourcing" your crisis communication to public relations pros allows you to focus on the problem while we coordinate all communication. With extensive experience in crisis communications, Communication Solutions can create a unified campaign to allay the concerns of the public.


Our first step in handling these potentially explosive situations is to keep a cool head. After analyzing the conditions with school officials, our team of specialists goes to work to produce a plan of action with timely, accurate, and appropriate information that is released to the public. Our team works together with you to create a balanced media approach through a variety of outlets including communication through school cable channels, Web sites, press conferences, and fax and email "blasts." The structured and consistent messages from school officials to the media allows your district to keep the public informed without the problems of misquotes or inaccurate data.


Communication Solutions takes the communication burden off your shoulders and puts it into the competent hands of our experienced publicists, former journalists, and political consultants.


Image Advertising

Image is everything.

 

That's why more and more schools these days are asking about image advertising. Is your school district recognized for its strong academics or talented extra-curricular activities? Is your community an active and friendly place to live?

 

These are some of the questions that Communication Solutions takes into account when creating an image advertising campaign. Our campaigns are designed to make potential newcomers aware of the advantages of your school district. A strong campaign will attract those looking for a better schooling environment for their children. By advertising to Realtors and working with real estate publications, we can focus your efforts on the desired audience, new residents. Image advertising can also be targeted towards long-time residents of the area to revamp your public perception and restore faith in the community.


Website Design

Our website design specialists will work with you to create a user-friendly, attractive website in order to capture the attention of your audience. Communication Solutions specializes in writing website content to effectively communicate with the public. We can take the time to sit down and plan the best possible way to maximize the benefits of being found on the World Wide Web.


Our Experience

Communication Solutions has worked with over 45 school districts, intermediate units and technical schools throughout Pennsylvania. Here are some examples of the projects we have implemented for them:

  • Springfield Township School District (Montgomery County) — When Act 1 and a combination of other factors took a significant toll on the budget planning process, the Springfield Township School District turned to Communication Solutions to draft a two-sided newsletter called “Budget Clarity.” The newsletter featured an easy-to-follow Q&A format that helped residents to understand the budget process, what financial challenges were behind the district’s budgetary shortfall, and what steps would be taken to close the gap between revenues and expenditures.
  • Spring-Ford Area School District — Redistricting of students is always a sensitive topic, but when a school district’s plans for doing so are communicated clearly and effectively, it can go smoothly as it did in Spring-Ford. When the district built a new elementary school, Communication Solutions drafted a comprehensive redistricting communications campaign to address the various stakeholders affected by the project. The campaign included drafting statements for the School Board President to read at meetings on the status of the building project and redistricting effort, producing cable show programs to introduce community members to each of the elementary schools so they would know what to expect if their child was sent to a new school, and writing press releases, newsletter articles and other material to explain the redistricting process. As a result of these efforts, the redistricting plan was approved with very little public comment or controversy.
  • Pennsbury School District — As the School Board and administration set out to negotiate a new contract with its teachers union, Communication Solutions provided guidance and communication strategies to ensure that the public understood the School Board’s proposals and positions. With various economic factors affecting how much the School Board could offer to the union, each and every communication drafted referred to the Board’s desire to establish a “Contract for Reality.” Communication Solutions developed a PowerPoint presentation for School Board members to deliver to various community groups, produced cable programming on various negotiation issues, and drafted press releases, School Board statements, and newsletter articles to explain the Board’s position, new developments in the negotiation process, and address community concerns.
  • Hatboro-Horsham School District - To enhance local media coverage of the district, Communication Solutions Group has written press releases and media alerts about the outstanding programs and events being held in Hatboro-Horsham schools. As a result, Hatboro-Horsham has received publicity in local newspapers through photographs and stories and has been featured on Philadelphia-area television stations frequently. This publicity has helped the district to gain positive exposure and further develop its reputation for academic excellence. With former journalists on staff, Communication Solutions has the media contacts and the news sense needed to write attention-grabbing press releases and media alerts that will get reporters and photographers to show up at events.
  • Hampton Township School District — Eager to shed its reputation as “the best kept secret,” the district made a strategic decision to outsource its public relations department to Communication Solutions, shedding payroll and benefit expenses associated with keeping a full-time information officer on staff. Hampton Township quickly began to reap the benefits of having an entire off-site communication department at a fee less than a single salary. Positive media coverage for Hampton spread beyond the township’s borders into Pittsburgh newspapers and newscasts and even into the national spotlight. The district was named “one of the best in country” by Newsweek and recognized for its “stellar schools” in Family Circle’s “10 Best Towns for Families” edition.

For a complete listing of our school district clients, click here.

 

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