Topic: Media Relations The goal of Media Relations is to establish proactive, positive media relations to minimize negative press coverage of sensitive issues and build community support for school policies and initiatives. When thinking of Media Relations, open honest communication is important. Likewise, it is important to be perceptive and proactive. The superintendent must be first to tell the story. When addressing the story it is critical to address the challenges, as well as the successes. It is critical that the superintendent is prepared. Be Prepared If a camera is present, assume it is on. ? Expect the media to request interviews and be allowed to visit campuses. ? Expect the media to want to know details, and what the district or school is doing (or planning to do) about them (challenges and successes). ? Don’t go into a communications bunker and refuse to acknowledge the media or talk to them about the legislation, low-ranking schools and conditions or problems. ? When you do not want to be interviewed use the following statement: “Thank you so much for the opportunity, but we decline at this time. ” ?
Be proactive and forthright — and earn appreciation from the media and by extension the public — by inviting reporters for interviews or visits before they ask. ? Realize that decisions have to be made as to when to go public with some stories. ? “Off the record” does not need to be used. The National Association of Secondary School Principals offers the following tips: ? Create a list with the names and numbers of key media contacts in your community. Remember to include “behind the scenes” people such as assignment editors (TV and radio), producers (TV and radio), people at the city desk (newspapers), as well as reporters.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
Get to know the people on this list and become familiar with their specific duties and what information would be useful to them. Keep their phone numbers, fax numbers, and mailing and e-mail addresses. Also get your name and information on their Rolodexes. ? When you hear a national news story, contact the people on your press list and let them know how it is affecting your school. Reporters are always looking for ways to put a local twist on a national story. ? News people love numbers. Keep statistics handy. Use them to illustrate your point.
When you learn of surveys concerning areas relevant to your school, forward them (including who conducted the survey) to reporters on your press list and include a quote or two on how these compare to life in your school. The message that you communicate is as important as being prepared. It is important that the superintendent be prominent, personable, positive, and patient. Steven Covey says that a relationship is like a bank account; you make a series of deposits and withdraws. Public relations are about personal relationships. Superintendents should tell stories about themselves, their kids, their careers, etc.
Most importantly they should take their jobs seriously, but not themselves. Making the Message ? Develop clear, concise and consistent message points. ? Watch what you say, but always be honest and factual. ? Don’t forget your audience – speak their language. ? Be smart – avoid off the cuff remarks ? Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know. ” ? Brief key staff on the message points and expectations. ? Have district or school information ready, such as fact sheets or other handouts. ? Have similar information available — and update as needed — on the school district’s Web site. ? Select an appropriate spokesperson.