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Community Relations Leadership CBA 106. Jennifer Rogers Director of Communications & PR Michigan Association of School Boards. I. INTRODUCTION. Learning Objectives. Board’s leadership role in generating support for schools. Policy for effective, two-way communication with your community.

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Community relations leadership cba 106

Community RelationsLeadershipCBA 106

Jennifer Rogers

Director of Communications & PR

Michigan Association of School Boards

Learning objectives
Learning Objectives

  • Board’s leadership role in generating support for schools.

  • Policy for effective, two-way communication with your community.

  • Identify opinion leaders in your community.

  • Target school staff as a key internal public.

  • Use the media and other tools appropriately.

Cba 106 community relations leadership
CBA 106 Community Relations Leadership

This class covers the basics of building strong

community support for your schools and your educational

programs. The focus is about:

  • generating confidence

  • positive behavior

  • input and participation

  • two-way communications

  • public understanding

    This session works best as a participative workshop approach with both individual and group activities.

Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

I. Introduction

  • Demographics

  • Getting to know your internal/external audiences before reaching out

    II. The Board’s Role in Activating Community Support

  • Target audiences

  • Allocating resources

    III. Board Policy for Community Relations

  • Guidelines for developing a board policy

  • Sample policies

    IV.Effective, Two-Way Communication Techniques

  • Media relations

  • Opinion leaders/key stakeholder groups

  • School staff/ambassadors

  • Key communicator networks

  • Symptoms of success

Demographics study of human populations
Demographics: study of human populations

Three Aspects

  • Growth or decline

  • Composition

  • Distribution

    How many?

    Schools must prepare for growth or shrinkage.

  • How many students do we have in our school this year?

  • How many did we have for each of the last five years?

  • What is the change in number, direction of change and proportion of change?

Who are your customers think in categories

School-related data

a. special education students

b. athletic participants

c. music participants

d. subsidized lunch

e. after school activities/transportation

Student-related data

a. gender

b. race

c. age

d. cultural background

Who are your customers?Think in categories

  • Household-related data

    a. number of parents in the home

    b. number of siblings

    c. number of students with their own children

    d. after-school arrangements

    e. number of parents working outside the home

Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

Where are they?

Where do students live?

How are students distributed within the school system?


Schools and board members need to do their homework too. It is hard work and time consuming but the reward is excellent strategic planning. Guesswork is eliminated, speculations are replaced by facts and schools look smart in an era of the watchful eye.

Michigan demographics
Michigan Demographics

  • Largest demographic group is the age range of 35-44, with median age of 36.

  • Currently, Michigan has 1.2 million citizens over the age of 65.

  • Michigan population is considered stable with about 10 million citizens.

  • In Michigan alone, about 70,000 grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren, and that includes their education.

  • Michigan population statistics:

    • White………………… 7.9 million

    • Black or African Americans.......1.4 million

    • Hispanic or Latino………………359,000

    • Asians………………….219,855

    • American Indian or Alaska Native….52,651

    • Native American and Other Pacific Islander …1,993

    • Source: U.S. Census, 2004

National trends
National Trends

  • More citizens over 65 years old than entire K-12 population but slowing down. In Michigan, 1.2 million v. 1.7 million, respectively.

  • In the 1950’s–50% traditional families

  • Today-about 6% traditional families with 13+ different variations of families.

  • Slowest growing group is families with children.

Language spoken at home
Language Spoken at Home

  • How diverse is your community?

    What languages does the majority speak?

    In Michigan:

    • English Only–8.4 million

    • Consider to Speak English “less than very well”–307,000

    • Spanish Only—248,000

    • Consider to Speak English “less than very well”—97,000

    • Other Indo-European Languages—316,000

    • Asian and Pacific Island Languages—107,000

    • Other—141,000

General demographic information
General Demographic Information

  • Households

    • Married couples with children represents only one out of four households.

    • Married couples with no kids (DINKS-dual income no kids) outnumber married w/kids.

    • Single parents are the fastest growing family type.

  • Schools/Education

    • Education counts! Having a college degree is becoming more significant and mandatory. Success is likely to be inherited. In Michigan, about 87% have high school diploma and 22% have bachelor’s degree or higher. Monthly income increases dramatically for bachelor’s degree recipients of more than $2,265 monthly compared to high school graduates whose mean earnings are $1,380 monthly.

  • Identify specific demographics for your community
    Identify specific demographics for your community:

    • Age

    • Education

    • Occupation

    • Lifestyle

    • Behavior

    • Interests

    • Preferences

    • Ethnic Background

    • Income Levels

      Suburban: residential community outside a city or town

      Rural: country

      Urban: city

    Know your community
    Know Your Community

    • Brief Exercise

    • Work alone or in your group

    Demographics sources

    • Interactive Activity

      • U.S. Census

      • National Center for Educational Statistics

      • School Matters from Standard & Poors

      • Chambers of Commerce

      • Hospitals

      • Real Estate Agents

      • School District

    Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

    Community relations leadership:The school board’s rolePublic relations have been defined as a two-way communication with a broad range of publics. Its goal is to influence attitudes in order to change behavior. How do we do this? How can we promote a positive image of public schools? What is the ultimate goal of school community relations?Who are we trying to influence with our community relations efforts? List 5 or 6 publics.What behaviors do we hope to change in our favor? Be specific.

    Indicators of public confidence indicator percent
    Indicators of Public ConfidenceIndicator Percent

    • A high level of parent involvement and interest

      beyond spectators at school events. 97

    • Parents who have other choices choose to enroll their children in this school. 89

    • Positive publicity/reporting by the media. 87

    • Many awards have been given to the students or to

      the school. 81

    Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

    VISION – “The Big Picture”

    Formulating Goals

    Defining Outcomes

    STRUCTURE – “The Steps”

    Employing a Superintendent

    Adopting a Mission and Goals

    Developing and Approving Policies

    Formulating Budgets

    Setting High Instructional Standards

    Keeping the Public Informed

    ACCOUNTABILITY – “The Results”

    Monitoring Student Achievement

    Placing Program Corrections into Effect

    Keeping the Public Informed of Programs and Progress

    ADVOCACY – “The Support”

    Pursuing Established Goals

    Encouraged Progress

    Energizing Systematic Change

    Dealing With the Whole Child

    Advocate for all Children

    National School Boards Association“Philosophy of Local Board Responsibility”A four-fold thrust for leadership by local school boards will ensure excellence and equity in public schools. This thrust encompasses:

    Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

    What is the role of the board of education in generating enthusiasm and support for public education?

    List below as many things as you can think of associated with a board’s responsibility to help generate understanding, enthusiasm and active support for education. Be proactive and think creatively.

    Each table come up with five ideas.

    Who supports education your district s key publics

    Internal– the best PR plans target school employees first. The most well known school employees in your community usually are, in order:

    School Secretary


    Bus Driver

    School Nurse




    School Board Members



    Senior Citizens Business Leaders

    Real Estate Industry




    Faith – based groups

    Who Supports Education?Your District’s KEY Publics

    Five steps to gather support for your school
    Five Steps to Gather Support for Your School

    • GO DIRECT – go around the gatekeepers (media) and vocal critics directly to the most important people in your community whose support you need to improve and sustain your schools and your efforts to improve them.

    • TO KEY STAKEHOLDERS – those who are interested, who can give their supportive behaviors now, or who could stop action by their opposition.

    • VIA OPINION LEADERS – publics don’t act spontaneously. They are stimulated by and follow the “movers and shakers” we call opinion leaders who live in every community. Opinion leaders have a following; solve problems, get around and have credibility.

    • USING SCHOOL FAMILY MEMBERS – involve teachers, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, parents, even students in customer relations activities, ambassador programs, and school PR teams.

    • SCHOOL-BY-SCHOOL – people relate to their school, not to districts and central offices.

    Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

    Mass Communications

    For giving information

    News releases


    Brochures and bulletins

    Web sites

    E-mail blasts

    Interpersonal Communication

    For changing attitudes or motivating behaviors

    Small group activities


    Face to face

    Listening & sharing

    Community forums



    Community relations leadership cba 106 1340450

    BUILD SUPPORT for PUBLIC SCHOOLSReach out to your community’s power brokers and opinion leaders. Who are they? List as many specific names for each of these groups. This will help you develop key communicators. Below are some audiences to identify as important stakeholders.

    • Other elected & appointed officials

    • Leaders of senior citizens groups

    • Informal leaders/ethnic-minority

    • Business/industry executives

    • Civic/community organization leaders

    • Parent, booster, advisory leaders

    • Clergy

    • Staff

    Public engagement is
    Public Engagement is:

    A process of strategic listening and involvement that informs, educates and motivates a community to play a meaningful role in deciding the future direction of their schools. For a school district, it’s a whole new way of dealing with its publics. It transforms both the schools and the community.

    Community relations policy
    Community Relations Policy

    • Key Idea: Policy making is a board’s primary function.

      • Expresses/articulates the expectations and wishes of the community.

      • Creates a framework for action plans.

      • Helps the board hold administrators and teachers accountable.

      • Guides and regulates behavior of students, staff, administrators and board.

    Board policy
    Board Policy

    • Policy is exclusive domain of the board.

    • Policy is the only way the board can implement or formalize what they want to happen.

    • Policy (what) makes it easier for the superintendent and administration (how) to see that your goals are brought to life.

    Community relations policy1
    Community Relations Policy

    • Policy Language Recommendations:

      • Parent involvement

      • Community involvement

      • Two-way communications

      • Board spokesperson and district spokesperson

      • Crisis communication activities

    Building the district s community relations plan key idea input plus involvement equals ownership
    Building the district’s community relations planKey Idea: Input plus involvement equals’ ownership.

    • Ask for input

    • Involve key publics and opinion leaders

    • Set priorities

    • Get feedback

    • For each goal, identify target audience, objective, activities and evaluation methods or measures

    • Assign responsibility for each activity

    • Set realistic timelines

    • Monitor progress

    • Evaluate

    • Communicate results/Celebrate success

    Media relations
    Media Relations Relations

    • Be well prepared when dealing with the media! If school board members refuse to talk about the bad news, the media will stop paying attention to them and won’t report the good news.

    • When a reporter calls, you have the right to ask questions of your own before giving answers. You can find out what the story is about and what other people are saying about the issue. Then you decide whether you are the right person to speak about the issue.

    • Listen first before you talk. Then take time to plan your messages and be sure to deliver the message you planned. Anticipate the toughest questions you may face and prepare your answers. If you are confident with your answers, the rest of the interview will go more smoothly.

    • Always know what sort of deadline the reporter has.

    • To prepare for an interview, write down three main points you want to cover in your message.

    Media relations continued
    Media Relations (continued) Relations

    • Never pass up an interview request just because you don’t feel comfortable. Find someone else who is willing to do the interview and help them prepare.

    • Never try to answer a question if you really don’t know the answer. Say “I don’t know. I’ll check and get back to you.”

    • When a reporter gets something wrong, always call and talk about it. Write a letter to the editor to cover something left out of the original article, clarify a point, or seek public input.

    • When there’s bad news, establish a single contact for reporters.

    • Finally, make the message about the kids focus of every interview and every way you communicate about your schools.

    Media relations do s and don ts
    Media Relations Do’s and Don’ts Relations


    • Build relationships with reporters.

    • Keep the media informed. Make an occasional “courtesy call” even when you don’t have to.

    • Become a resource for the media.

    • Complain when there are inaccuracies in a story, but contact the reporter first. Make sure you have documentation to backup your claim.

    • Praise reporters for good stories. Send thank you notes.

    Media relations do s and don ts continued
    Media Relations Do’s and Don’ts (continued) Relations


    • Be afraid to say “I don’t know…I’ll get you that information and call you back later. Ask for a deadline and make sure you follow through.

    • Say “no comment.”

    • Show favoritism when dealing with reporters.

    • Avoid reporters/media phone calls.

    • Get angry, defensive or argue with reporters and media.

    • Lie or misrepresent the facts. Tell the media the truth or nothing at all.

    Phone guide for media contacts
    Phone Guide for Media Contacts Relations

    • Acknowledge them. Indicate you will be pleased to work with them and you need more information. Ask and/or write down the following:

      • Reporter’s name

      • Name of medium

      • Phone number

      • Deadline for the story

      • Nature of the story and possible questions they will be asking

    • Set a contact time and place

      • Indicate you’ll call them back or see them.

      • Get the information and plan your key messages

    • Return the call. Keep your written notes and messages in front of you.

    How to avoid media phobia
    How to Avoid Media Phobia Relations

    • Before the interview:

      • Learn as much as you can about the reporter and the publication.

      • Have in mind 3 or 4 key points you want to make at an interview.

    • During the interview:

      • Forget jargon. Speak in plain English.

      • Illustrate key points with personal experience or anecdotes.

    Review supplemental information
    Review Supplemental Information Relations

    • Project/program list

    • Community relations checklist

    • PR ideas for board members

    • Communication techniques

    • Key communicators network

    • Growing your grassroots efforts

    • Communications corner

    • Symptoms of success

    Celebrate success

    • Internal and external audiences

    • Open houses/community forums

    • Awards ceremonies

    • Media

    • Back to school and end of year

    • Publicize in newsletters, Web, etc.

    Thank you
    Thank You Relations

    • Questions?

    • Contact me anytime:

      • 517.327.5908