Leadership:Let’s Build Our Brand!

As a new school year begins, take time to reflect on how you can promote your school to parents, staff, and students.  Reserve time to build your school’s brand!

In this blog, I am posing some questions for educators to reflect on as you think about creating and promoting your school’s brand.  Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company or school with what people actually do think about your company or school. And vice-versa. Jay Baer Convince & Convert by Jay Baer with Amber Naslund who wrote The Now Revolution.

 

How we communicate and how our communication is interpreted is important as you work to define your school’s brand.  Certainly, we can all find inspiration from Eric Sheninger’s well-known quote, “ Either you tell your school story or someone else will.”

How you tell your story requires you to be  intentional. Communication will happen no matter what, but without some thought and planning, it might not be the communication you want nor the type of brand you want to define your school. So, how is your school telling its story?  What do the current communication methods say about your school? How are you controlling the narrative to form and communicate your school’s brand?

Reflect on my top 7 questions and thoughts, then decide which ones you and your team do well and where you can improve.  Pick three or four new focus areas to be part of your communication and branding plan for the new school year.

  1. When a person comes to the front door of your school does signage say visitors please report to the main office or does it say visitors must report to the main office?  This may seem small but words send messages and inform people about a school.
  2. Does your front office staff give a great impression to all who enter the office?  How they communicate tells people a lot about the principal. Do office staff have training on customer service? First impressions always count. Ensure that every person who enters your main office experiences a welcome that generates positive feelings.
  3. Is there an updated calendar on your school website?  Who updates the calendar and how often?  Updated and communicated school information sends a message that you care about informing and communicating all the events and activities that are part of your school. If done well, what does this say about your school?  If done poorly, what might people conclude?
  4. If your school is using Google, are staff using Google Sites or Google Classroom?  If yes, have you communicated standards for updating and formatting?  Or are some staff using this great way to communicate while others are not?  If so, what does scattered communication say about your school and you as a leader?
  5. Does your school have a schedule for parent newsletters?  Do grade levels or teams send parent communications home on a set schedule? Consistent and coordinated communication should always be the goal. What message is sent when schedules are not followed or one group in a school communicates much more than another group?
  6. Consider a school-wide positive communication effort to connect with families.  I have no doubt that all schools have some staff who make positive calls to parents. However,  imagine the impact on parents  if all staff commit to making at least two positive calls during the year for each student they teach.
  7. Is your school using social media to effectively connect with families and tell the story of your school?  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all free and can communicate messages the school needs to send.  Do you have a plan for who manages social media in your school along with defined expectations including a minimum number of communications per day?  Social media communicates what you value.  If a school only Tweets out athletic information, what does this communicate about what they value? Balanced communication to celebrate all the great happenings in your school sends a powerful message!

I started my list with an easy change; the others are more challenging.  Communication is like a garden; it needs sunshine, water, and sometimes some weeding.  I suggest choosing no more than four focus areas for the year ahead.  It can be tempting to choose more.  Avoid doing too much as this can derail successful change.  

 

Finally, I encourage a purposeful plan to communicate in a coordinated manner.  A well-coordinated plan will advertise your school’s story and brand with a core message: “communication matters to us!”

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