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Are You the Chief Storyteller of Your District?

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Posted in:  
Communications
  on
February 1, 2017

Never has it been more important for you as school leaders to be in charge of telling your stories and sharing with the public all the good that comes out of your buildings. Why? Let's discuss a couple of reasons:

  1. To fight the backlash of negativity: What do I mean by this? Well, we all know how quick people--whether media outlets or public consumers of said media--are to jump on negative stories. But wouldn't you agree that the majority of stories coming out of your school, whether publicized or not, are positive? Of course they are! Unfortunately, human nature causes many to focus on the not-so-good things that do occur from time to time, and those stories often seem to overshadow the good.

    So how do we combat this? By using school websites, social media accounts, local news reporters, community partners and even families to spread the good news! I've said this time and again: if you are not using social media to reach public education supporters, reporters and other interested parties, you are missing out. Big time. Social media is such an easy (and FREE) way to shout your positive news from the rooftops and see its reach extended by those who like, share, retweet and post on their accounts. Of course there are negatives to this particular medium, but the good far outweighs the bad. Hit me up if you are curious and want to learn more. As far as the other avenues I list here, actively engage your community to share good news you post. I promise they will be happy to help you out. And remember: reporters are not actively looking to discredit you or point out only the flaws. They know people like and want "feel good" stories as well. So introduce yourself to your local newspaper reporters, be friendly, and I promise if you help them out when they're looking for facts or a statement, they'll reciprocate.

  2. To convey the truth when it really matters: We also know that for the most part, bad news will make its way into the public eye--it can be quite difficult to keep it out of the press. Because of this, it's even more important for you to have an active online voice sharing the facts. Ever play that old game Telephone? One person whispers something to another person who whispers it to another, on down the line. By the time the information has made its way to the last person, it barely--if at all--resembles the original. Same concept can be true with stories coming out of your schools. Now if your schools have an active online presence, you could work to quash the rumors immediately by setting the record straight, in your own voice. But if you don't have or use an online presence? The story whips out of control with people spreading hearsay and innuendo, and you aren't even part of the conversation.

I'm not writing this to scare you or make you angrier at how unjust the public can be with opinions and half truths. I'm writing this to remind you how powerful your voice can be! You ARE the storyteller for your district, whether you want to be or not. What you choose to do with that power is up to you.

About the Author

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Sarah Julian

Director, Communications

Sarah serves as the Director of Communications for the OPSRC. In this role, she will provide support, consultation, and training on communication plans, social media policies, crisis communications, media relations, and website content.

Sarah has dedicated her entire professional career to Oklahoma public education: over 14 years in communications, technology, and teaching college-level English Composition and Humanities. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Writing & Communications.

Want to learn some fun facts about Sarah? Click here!