For public school districts, branding is essential, and communicating that brand is everything. You know how important it is for your school to have a strong reputation: it helps to attract new students, builds positive PR, and ultimately, increases success. But have you ever considered the role of your school leadership in building that brand?
In an increasingly competitive field, school district leadership needs to establish and maintain a strong online presence to remain relevant. A school's brand is the identity that sets it apart from the rest, and it’s crucial for school leaders to take a larger, more active role in shaping and promoting your district’s brand.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through a blog or leadership page, and with the advent of AI-assistant tech like ChatGPT, brainstorming topics for school leadership has never been easier.
But just because it’s easier, it’s more important than ever to be authentic, relevant, and stay true to your district’s brand so you can connect with your audience.
Before hitting publish on your first post, here are some important factors and observations to consider!
Why should superintendents blog?
Blogs aren't just for private schools — blogs provide an opportunity for K-12 school leaders to communicate with parents, teachers, students, and other stakeholders in an accessible and informal manner, but they also offer transparency. Writing a blog on your school district's website can help school leaders increase accountability by sharing information and updates about school district communications, initiatives, and achievements.
It’s hard to find time in their busy schedule, but if your district’s leadership can commit to writing blogs, it's a way for school leaders to reflect on their practices, share their insights and experiences, and learn from others in the educational community.
What should K-12 school district leadership write about?
Start by finding the topics that matter to leaders in education. Blogging can help establish school leaders as thought leaders and help them share their ideas and perspectives with a wider audience. They can be used to showcase the strengths and achievements of the district and attract prospective students, parents, and teachers.
- How will folks engage with the content?
- Will they even see it?
- How do I best represent myself as a leader but also our entire district's community of educators, parents, students, and staff?
All these questions are common questions school administrators should think about when starting off or guest writing a blog post.
Long Beach Unified School District’s superintendent’s page is a one-stop shop for communications, social media, publications, and presentations from its superintendent, Dr. Jill Baker. It's a great mix of personal messaging, supporting district initiatives, and keeping in touch with the greater school community about excellence and equity, student connections, and wellness.
Do I convey compassion and empathy?
In today’s world where teachers, parents, and community members are faced with unprecedented challenges, feelings of being disconnected or even overwhelmed with content overload, driving compassion and empathy in your messaging, tone, and positioning will not go unnoticed.
Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people's emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. Furthermore, everyone has their own perspective, experiences, views, and values. Consider your entire ecosystem when communicating with your district.
Am I being transparent and authentic?
Keep it real and be authentic. Be you and represent you and your brand. The blog is your opportunity to be human – make your readers feel connected and understood. Blogs allow you to remove the corporate jargon and be relatable. The last thing parents want to feel is that their district's leadership team is not being truthful or honest. Often parents can feel leadership is too disconnected from what is really going on in their child’s school, class, or at home.
There is no district that isn’t dealing with these challenges. Be upfront, speak your truth, and establish trust with your followers. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Make sure your messaging can be backed by actions.
Even in the midst of a transition, the Northshore School District’s interim superintendent’s blog is keeping its community informed about key issues, updates, and highlights from around the district.
Am I being inclusive and relatable?
Is the content relatable and are you drawing connections on how your message connects to your readers? Think about who you want to write to and who you want to target. Don’t be afraid to segment your content by persona to maximize your message impact.
Define your audience either by indicating the target audience in the blog post itself or create sections by your district’s needs.
Examples could include:
1. The general public, administrators, teachers, parents, students, community members
2. Preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, high Schools
3. Teaching and learning, diversity, technology, community outreach, communications, staff spotlights
Alexandria City Public Schools does a nice job of spotlighting their superintendent. The Superintendent page isn't a blog, per se, but it does highlight the superintendent's mission, and her social media posts, features her monthly spotlight video, and encourages the community to submit questions. The district also supplements this with a Superintendent's section of their Express Newsletter, which uses tagged Finalsite Posts to feature superintendent-relevant post content.
Will my target audience have access?
Accessibility – it's a common topic in the world of communication. How is your community accessing your content? It’s important to think about and understand how your target audience not only prefers to digest content but perhaps what means (devices and alike) they have available to them.
Also, promote, promote, promote! Use your district's preferred methods of communication to promote, announce and share recently posted content. Include in your email communication, and post to your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to get the content out there. Your community wants to hear from you and not always from an official memo on district letterhead.
Download your free copy of “Text, Twitter, Email, Call: Parents’ Preferences for Communication and Engagement in 2022."
Did I do my research?
Blogging not only informs, connects, and engages your community, but it also significantly helps drive awareness to your district's website by increasing your search engine optimization (SEO). Topics should be timely and relevant to what is going on in your district at the time, but keep in mind that blogging can also be a channel to showcase or elevate your district in the community, state, and region.
Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent’s Blog covers topics that are top of mind for the district and the surrounding community. As his blog notes, “I’ve started a blog here so that I can reach out directly to our wonderful and diverse community about the things that seem most relevant in our mission as educators at ACPS of establishing a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time."
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to drive deeper connections and engagement. Empower your leadership team to put themselves out there and deliver meaningful content to establish credibility and trust.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stacey brings 14+ years of education technology experience across various marketing and account management leadership roles. As Director of District Marketing, Stacey leads a team of marketers responsible for driving client acquisition and retention strategies through delivering meaningful communication and marketing content, engaging learning opportunities, and memorable in-person and virtual experiences. Stacey resides in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two small children.