America’s K12 schools are chock full of opportunity.
But you wouldn’t think that from reading the headlines. A quick spin through Google News and it’d be easy to form the impression that the entire education system is plagued with poisoned water, crumbling school buildings, violence, and mediocrity.
Of course, this isn’t the real story—not even close. Schools have their share of challenges, as do other organizations. But there is victory (and plenty of it) amid the struggle.
School leaders everywhere have a front-row seat to events and decisions that change lives for the better. Did you know that the national high school graduation rate is higher today than at any point in history?
Good things are happening in our schools. Problem is, we don’t always do the best job of sharing them.
That’s a bad thing—made even worse when you consider the number of students and families who choose out of public schools. Or the increasing frequency with which school leaders lose their jobs.
Bad news travels fast. Everyone knows that. But good news travels too. Assuming you have a plan for how to share it.
Tout success, not failure
Former education journalist and veteran PR man Christopher Piehler says it’s essential for schools to share their successes—provided they craft a meaningful narrative.
“Educational leaders need to shout their success stories from the rooftops,” writes Piehler in the Edvocate, “but before you speak up, you need to be clear about what your story is.”
Want to make your next success story stick? Piehler offers this advice.
- Own your story
What’s the one thing that sets your school or district apart from others like it? Be clear about who you are and what makes your district unique.
- Find the hook
What makes the story more interesting than something else someone might read about another school or district? A unique or unexpected hook will help your story rise above the noise.
- Connect to the larger story
Does your story fit into a larger narrative about school improvement, for example? Find ways to dovetail your successes with the hot topics of national conversation.
- Repeat the story
Are you committed to getting your message out there? A press release by itself hardly counts. Once you find your story, stick with it, and repeat it like a broken record. Tell it on social media, in the news, in meetings with parents and staff. Anywhere you can.
Find the stories that matter
So where, exactly, do good stories come from?
Test data and graduation rates are great, but they aren’t going to light anyone’s hair on fire.
The best stories often come straight from your community—the student who turned personal struggle into classroom success, the teacher who inspired uncommon achievement in the face of societal hardship. These stories are out there. Your job is to mine them.
Fortunately, it’s easier than you think. Do you provide a place online where parents or teachers can share their successes? When good news comes in, do you have a system for broadcasting out to your community? Or, better, for inviting feedback? Good news, like bad news, is highly contagious. The more you share, the more you hear.
Positive press does wonders for your reputation; it does more than that: It encourages collaboration, instills pride, and fosters commitment to your cause.
How do you share your successes? Tell us in the comments.
Looking for a few stories to brag about? Have you considered giving your community a place to share good news with you? Start a conversation today.