Articles & Resources About Crisis Communications

Crisis CommunicationsCrises are inevitable in any organization. But, they’re also an opportunity to inspire confidence and trust in your organization.

Below you'll find articles and valuable Crisis Communication information, including tips and ideas on how you can prepare your organization to communicate effectively and timely, as well as retain its role as the go-to information authority during a crisis.

Celebrating 11 Years, With Gratitude

Today is Women Entrepreneurship Day, and it was 11 years ago that–with a prayer and my fingers crossed–I launched Sounding Board Marketing & Communications. I wanted to join my love for education public relations and communications with filling the need for proactive communications in our schools and school districts. I had a vision for where I wanted my business to go, and I can honestly say I’m fulfilling that vision, and more, everyday. As we head into the Thanksgiving season, I would like to share why I’m grateful to be a woman entrepreneur in the education PR and communication space for the past 11 years:
 
  • I’m grateful for my amazing clients–each one of them feels like family, and I am honored to be brought into the fold of their celebrations and challenges.
  • I’m grateful for what my business has taught me–probably the most important thing has been authenticity: authenticity to myself, my clients and my work.
  • I’m grateful to learn that my greatest challenges as a business owner and mother of three are also my greatest assets.
  • I am grateful that I can advance my clients’ goals through communication, marketing, and public relations: whether it’s advancing equity in education, supporting a non-discriminatory environment, cultivating safer and healthier schools for students and staff, facilitating issues and crisis management, improving community engagement, promoting community and business partnerships, and beyond, I will continue to advance what is right, true and just in public education for my clients.
  • I’m also grateful for my role as a cheerleader for the often-lonely-feeling role of our district administrators, especially, superintendents. Lifting up and coaching leaders is core to my work.
 
Thank you to each of you who have either brought me into the fold of your district’s or COE’s family, have referred me to others, or who I’ve partnered with on projects. May each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.
 

4 Steps for Battling Misinformation During a Pandemic

Overcome the challenge of misinformation in your school district by applying these steps to your communication strategies.

 

Picture of laptop computerA Changing World

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be a part of 2021 effective and clear communication is essential to sharing crucial information. Without a doubt, 2020 was full of fluctuating, and at many points, inconsistent communication. In a world of interconnected platforms, finding accurate and informative information can be a challenge. Adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 and the dynamic information that comes with these changes, require careful evaluation. Unfortunately, in a changing sea of information and shifting tides, it can be difficult for audiences to establish what information is true and who to trust.

 

As a result, this overload of sometimes conflicting information can lead to misinformation. As more students return to campus for in-person learning, now, more than ever, COVID-19 information and procedures continue to be essential for families, employees, and schools, underscoring the effectiveness and essential nature of communication strategies and stakeholder relationships.  Misinformation has been a part of navigating through this pandemic. But is this an inescapable challenge for school districts, or are there methods to combat the effects of miscommunication?

 

Taking a Closer Look at Misinformation

First, what is misinformation in terms of mass communication? On its face, yes, it is false and inaccurate information however it does not have to be intentionally malicious. Misinformation is sharing content regardless of fully knowing its accuracy or impact. Sadly, sometimes misinformation happens organically in trying to navigate sharing information during a pandemic. When individuals are desperate for details, information is often complicated, and the stakes are high. The purpose of sharing information is to keep individuals informed on what is true so they can be aware of changes and safety procedures that impact their lives. When there is a breakaway from the truth, this breaks down the relationship and trust school districts have worked so hard to develop. Confusing information, rumors, and even simply inconsistent terms causes breakdown of understanding between school districts and the individuals depending on them.

 

Taking a Step Back

It is clear that misinformation can have detrimental effects. While there will always be a risk that misinformation will occur, there are methods for both minimizing and combating its effect. Ultimately, it is not about battling misinformation head-on with opposing messaging, but looking at the bigger picture to evaluate the best way to respond and engage. Having steps and a process in place for misinformation strategies can help prompt a positive and clear relationship with your school district and your audience. With that being said, let’s explore four steps for battling misinformation during a pandemic.

1. Find Out Why

Identify the Issue

An essential first step in considering misinformation is determining why it occurred. In order to solve a problem, it is first necessary to know what the problem is. If misinformation has spread within a school district the first step to combat the issue is understanding the source and the cause. This will not only help in solving the immediate issue but can help prevent future similar problems. 

  • Was the information not clear?
  • Were individuals experiencing information overload?
  • Did people get trapped into group thinking without checking factual information?
  • Were stakeholders not involved in key phases of the process, such as providing input before major decisions?

 

Insightful Responses 

Now that the source is identified it is essential to understand why it occurred and why people believe it. Looking at messaging from the audience’s perspective works to create effective details that the audience wants to know in order to combat the problem. Knowing why individuals believe false information will help in creating messaging that most effectively addresses the confusion. 

  • Empathy is key in problem-solving. Evaluate the information from each stakeholder’s perspective: families, teachers, staff, administrators, students. 
  • What is the issue that faces them and what is the most essential truth they need to know in order to fix the issue? Instead of just sharing opposing information it is better to create messaging that meets and audience where they are at and guide them through the information that will help them get back to the truth.

2. This is Not a New Problem

After a year of being in the pandemic, there is a great need for accurate and truthful information to draw from. However, misinformation is not a new problem. The pandemic has brought to light the need for valuable and trustworthy sources of information. In a world of false information and fake news, consistency and accuracy are needed in developing audience trust. Techniques for dealing with misinformation can happen in a variety of settings. Even though misinformation is sometimes unforeseeable and thus unavoidable what are ways to proactively prepare for misinformation situations? 

  • Parents, teachers, and students look to your district as a reliable source of information. Providing reliable, trustworthy, consistent, and quality content is the way school districts can build the trust of their audiences. 
  • When families, staff, teachers, and students already have a sense of trust in your district, they will look to you as a source of reliable information in moments of confusion and uncertainty. Create and maintain relationships through clear communication. This is essential to plant an anchor in navigating situations and communications related to the pandemic. 

3. Establish a Compelling Narrative – Maintain Trust

Creating clear and consistent messaging is essential in repairing a breakdown in communication. Managing something as complicated as communication during a pandemic can be improved through developing key messages and a compelling narrative. An essential part of developing connection through messages is making sure there is a story. A key difference between information and a story is empathy. Consider your reader and the best way to walk them through the message you want to present to them. Trust is more than just sharing information; it is building relationships. Relationships are best built through stories and clear narratives. Make sure your district’s story works to give a clear message arc. Take the hand of the reader and walk them through where the information is now to where it should be. Creating compelling narratives is what heals the separation misinformation causes.

4. Bring Value Through Accountability

Ultimately, battling misinformation comes from clear consistent communication and puts audience connection at the center. 

  • Accountable communication driven by integrity demonstrates value. Using consistent terms to organize information brings clarity. 
  • When working to repair a break in communication from misinformation it is important information is presented in a way that not only is accurate. Defining terms and using them are constantly just one example. Addressing specific concerns and sharing clear information can help build trust again with families and students. 
  • Uniform visuals work to keep information accessible when there is conflicting information or confusion. Organizing visuals with consistent terminology and designs help demonstrate quality communication. 
  • Ensure your district and its schools are communicating in one clear voice: Provide talking points to your board members, administrators, principals, and other key communicators so that they can provide the same, consistent responses to questions from your stakeholders.  The more people receive those consistent messages from your key communicators, the most trust they have in your communications.

Credibility is built on consistency and accurate information. When integrity is at the center of communication, your audiences’ trust will follow. 

For more inspiration on battling misinformation during the pandemic, you can visit The Drum’s website and read “How do you solve problem misinformation during a pandemic”. Misinformation is a problem during not only the pandemic but in other situations. Knowing how to effectively, clearly, and thoughtfully combat false information is essential for not only sharing the truth but repairing and maintaining the relationships of the school district.

Need help battling misinformation?

If you feel like you are already overwhelmed with managing your school district Sounding Board Marketing and Communications can provide strategic services to assist in communication. For more information visit strategic services and sign up for a 30-minute evaluation. Misinformation has become a growing issue to overcome. Clear communication to establish trust is not only possible but attainable for school districts. Ultimately, clear and trustworthy communication works to battle misinformation during the pandemic and beyond.

 

Do Your Surveys Suck? 5 Tips For Creating Better Surveys

Over the past seven months, school districts are using surveys more than ever to gather stakeholder preferences and feedback for their COVID-19 beginning of the school year planning and implementation of some form of in-person or hybrid reopening plans over the next few months.

While surveys are and can be a useful tool, a survey’s utility is only as beneficial as its design.  In addition, survey results can have some intended consequences (providing the information being sought), and some very unintended ones, as well (stakeholders holding the results and positioning them as “votes” over the district’s head to pressure their leadership to take certain positions).

One of the biggest mistakes I am seeing right now is that school districts are using the term “survey” to define a number of things, from collecting information about learning preferences, feedback about distance learning, and more.  The problem is, these are not all surveys.  For example, I am seeing a number of “surveys” that are collecting information from parents about whether their child will be continuing to learn in a distance learning or will be transitioning to in-person (hybrid or otherwise) learning. These “surveys” collect student name, school, and contact information data, so that the districts know which students are returning to in person learning and which ones are remaining in distance learning. In reality, parents are not completing a survey–they are completing a registration form. Likewise, if you’re looking for the answer to one specific question, a poll might be a better choice, and if you’re looking for general feedback about your stakeholders’ overall experience with a program or approach to learning, asking for a review could be most effective.

Another mistake I am seeing is that surveys are asking for learning model preferences without providing all of the details to stakeholders.  These questions fail to include all of the known information, and stakeholders may be opting for certain responses without understanding the impacts of those choices.

For example, a five day a week schedule in your district may mean that student cohorts will be split into morning and afternoon schedules, and will spend fewer hours in the classroom.  Learning in person may mean that students will be required to remain with their cohort, will encounter restrictions during recess, will eat lunch in their classroom, and socialization will be greatly limited.

This is not to say that in person learning is filled with insurmountable challenges, but in parents’ excitement  to return their children to school, they also may have certain assumptions of what that will look like, and similarly staff and teachers may also have certain assumptions as they complete their surveys.

Without painting a clear picture of what each survey choice means, stakeholders may be selecting certain options based on expectations and assumptions, and if those are not met, then your district risks creating confusion and disappointment, being accused of lacking transparency and losing trust in the process.  This is why providing clear information to stakeholders in advance of sending surveys is so critically important–you don’t want to create more confusion when you send your surveys.

Maybe it’s been a decade since you took your research methods class in grad school–or maybe you never took a course at all. In any case, anytime you want to create a survey, you need to be thoughtful and thorough.  So, here are five ways to improve your surveys so that your stakeholders feel valued, you will collect the data you need, and you’ll prevent confusion and unintended consequences.

 

5 Ways to Improve Your Surveys
  1. Be prepared. First, establish your survey’s goals and objectives. What information do you want to gather–preferences, taking the temperature of your stakeholders, obtaining registrations?  How do you want to use this information? Would your survey be best suited to be split up into two surveys?  If you have vastly different goals, you may want to consider sending two different surveys so that you aren’t confusing your stakeholders.  Lastly, determine whether a survey is the best approach for gathering the information you are seeking, or if focus groups or an advisory committee would be more effective.  
  2. Be informative. Provide clear information in advance of sending your survey–on your website, through video, and through stakeholder meetings.  Your survey should not be the first (or only) place where information is conveyed.  Make sure you are preparing your stakeholders with the most up to date information before asking them to take a survey, otherwise your survey results will not be accurate, and your stakeholders will accuse your district of lacking transparency.
  3. Be clear.  Are you collecting information, do you want people’s commitments, are you taking a poll or wanting a review?  A survey collects data. Registrations collect commitments.  Polls collect preferences, and reviews collect feedback. So, be clear with your audience about how you will be using the information you are collecting, and clearly and accurately title the survey.  Additionally, avoid jargon, keep questions clear and concise, and don’t ask loaded questions.
  4. Be thoughtful. Based on your survey goals and objectives, develop easy to understand, bias-free survey questions. Make sure that you are not asking leading questions.  Do a test run with friends and family outside of your organization to catch any problems or issues with your questions or survey design.
  5. Be varied. Provide a balance of different types of survey questions being asked, and based on the goals and objectives of your survey, you approach to survey questions should support those goals and objectives.  Hubspot provides a great summary of the different types of survey questions, and how to use them, but here is their easy-to-understand summary of the question types in case you needed a refresher: 
    • Multiple Choice: Multiple choice survey questions are questions that offer respondents a variety of different responses to choose from. 
    • Rating Scale: Rating scale questions (also known as ordinal questions) ask respondents to rate something on a numerical scale assigned to sentiment. 
    • Likert Scale: Likert scale survey questions evaluate if a respondent agrees or disagrees with a question. 
    • Ranking: Ranking survey questions ask respondents to rank a variety of different answer options in terms of relative priority or importance to them.
    • Semantic Differential: Semantic differential survey questions also ask for respondents to rate something on a scale, but each end of the scale is a different, opposing statement. Use semantic differential questions to get clear-cut qualitative feedback from your stakeholders.
    • Dichotomous: Dichotomous survey questions offer only two responses that respondents must choose between. 
    • Close-Ended: Close ended survey questions are questions that have a set number of answers that respondents must choose from. 
    • Open-Ended: Where the survey types above all have closed-ended answers that you input as different options to choose from, open-ended questions are usually accompanied by an empty text box, where the respondent can write a customer answer to the question.

The bottom line: Sending a survey is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. You’re gathering the family around the table and feeding them the opportunity to share their thoughts. Remember to set your table with care before feeding your family. Your stakeholders will thank you for it.

 

Peace. Unity. Understanding.

We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. MLK Jr.About 20 years ago, I worked as the Chief of Staff for San Jose City Councilmember Forrest Williams. I learned so much from him during the time I worked for him, but one thing he taught me wasn’t from his work as an elected official, from his PhD and Masters Degree in Engineering, or his 30-plus years of work as an engineer for IBM.  It was living life as a black man in America, and the lessons he had to teach his son.

As always, his most impactful lessons to me started as a casual conversation (as they always did in his office). It wasn’t a lecture and it didn’t stem from a certain instance, but when I asked him about his newest grandchild, a son, born to his son, whose pictures adorned his office.

After sharing the latest adorable updates, Forrest shared with me the conversations he hoped that his son wouldn’t have to have with his son, but probably would, about being a black male in the United States.  About being careful of his actions and his perceived actions, and being more careful about the company that he kept. Having been raised in the same part of San Jose where Forrest raised his family, I was struck by the fact that my parents never had to have this conversation with my brother, and I would never have to have this conversation with my future sons.

It is then that I understood, as a blonde haired, blued eyed white woman, how deep my privilege truly was. I realized that even though I had friends of every color and who spoke many languages, and even though I am a truly empathetic person by nature, I would never know what it is like to live in the skin of someone who is not white.  And with this acknowledgment came great responsibility.  A responsibility to stand together with my brothers and sisters of all colors.  To understand them. And to work toward peace and justice.

It also meant that I had–and continue to have–a responsibility not to just be not racist in my words and actions, but to work against racism.  Being a blonde haired, blue eyed white woman, I have been on the receiving end of “wink, wink” sotto voce racist remarks made by other white people who think I align with their thinking.  I have been on the receiving end of conversations that talk about white supremacy. And I have used my voice to speak out against this, even in the midst of responses like, “Oh, it’s just a joke” and “You can’t think I’m being serious.”

Racism is serious.  Jokes are serious. Huge fires come from small sparks, and if we don’t extinguish the small sparks of racism in our own homes, friendship groups and communities, then they will become big fires.  Similarly, we can use our privilege to start positive sparks of understanding, peace and unity in our own communities, so that we stoke bigger and more positive flames in the future.

I constantly use Forrest’s lessons and the lessons I’ve learned from every one of my clients serving students of all colors to inform my work: that communication isn’t about just writing up messaging and sending it out, but that it’s a purposeful and vital bridge to build equity and bridge parents (many of whom felt marginalized while in school) to the positive benefits of schools–and the people who work in them–for their children, and to build mutual understanding and support.

I had the opportunity to attend Sacramento’s MLK Celebration in January, where Ruby Bridges spoke about her experiences as the first black child attending into a newly desegregated school in New Orleans, and then as a mother of a son who was brutally murdered.  Her outlook in life has been full of grace and forgiveness, and here are a couple of my biggest takeaways from her (in her words):

-We have to unite if we are doing good

-We each have to do something good so we can unite and do something good together

So, use today, this week, and your lifetime to unite together to do something good with others. While recent events have heightened our awareness of the problems our country faces with racism, the fact remains that this has been a historical and current problem that will continue if we are not each individually proactive.   I started a Facebook group, Peace. Unity. Understanding. to provide a forum where we can increase awareness and understanding through the sharing of information and resources that will help educate and challenge our own personal beliefs and others’, as well as doing good through unity by sharing ways we can support causes that improve social justice and resources for marginalized populations. Lastly, we can also use this forum to share opportunities to peacefully engage online or on the ground to support unity.  Join the group, contribute to the conversation, and fan the flames of peace, unity and understanding.

Running Your Communication Offense & Defense

Picture showing offense and defenseThe best PR tip I can offer in the midst of COVID-19 (or any crisis, for that matter) is that you should be running an offense and defense at the same time.

This can be a challenge to do, if you’re a one person PR team (or administrator wearing multiple hats, including PR). So, if you haven’t already put together a communication and PR team, start now.

However, it is incredibly important to not only manage the current reality, but also to paint a picture of the future.

I read a great recent article on PR Daily that I’m going to summarize here, and put into context for education organizations, particularly during COVID-19 school closures and re-openings.

Your Defense Team

Your “defense team” includes those managing the current crisis. This team should be comprised of the most resilient—those who are quick to take action, are the voice of calm and reason, and who survey the current landscape and adhere to the facts as they manage the crisis.

In a school district your defense team should include someone from HR (familiar or involved with current negotiations), an instructional administrator (like an Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/Curriculum), and a student welfare/social emotional health administrator.

Your Offensive Team

Your offensive team looks to the future and is not involved in the current crisis. Those best suited for this team are curious and self-starters—they veer away from comfort zones, are competitive and strategic, and can see at least six months down the road.  This could be your CBO, facilities director, health officer/administrator, and a principal rep for each level in your district (elementary, middle, high school).

You, as the communication leader, will work with both teams and manage the strategic direction and progress, and your superintendent will also be involved with working with both teams, as they set the direction for the district as a whole.

Both teams should be providing talking points to your Board of Education and coaching your board members on resisting the urge to post articles or opinions that may cause confusion about the district’s messaging or plans.

Keeping an Eye on Your Future

While your stakeholders are living in the present, they are also shaping their opinions about the future.  While yes, parents are focused on what grading options are available and how Class of 2020 graduates will be honored during  shelter in place, they are also creating some very strong opinions about distance education–not just the delivery, but also the quality.  Parents and staff members are also concerned about schedules and safety when schools re-open.

  • Communicate about your district’s commitment to providing a high quality educational experience and your district’s values: Parents have choices, and there are many online education programs that may be delivering distance education in a higher quality format and approach than what is being offered by their school district. With the prospect of distance education being some part of a hybrid educational approach in the 2020-21 school year, it is imperative that you are reinforcing parents’ confidence in your schools by letting them know how you are planning on ensuring that students are receiving a high quality education and what that will look like in 2020-21.
  • Communicate about what discussions are in progress about the upcoming school year: Silence is not golden in the world of communications.  Silence opens up too many opportunities for other people to fill in the blanks.  Provide your stakeholders some information about the conversations you’re currently having about next year’s re-opening plans, what assumptions will be made, and your district’s priority on the health and safety of students and staff.
  • Show empathy: Acknowledge that you understand that parents and staff desire to have concrete answers so that they can plan ahead, and show gratitude for their patience. Let them know that the upcoming school year will be different for everyone, and that the district is planning for providing more emotional/social supports for students and staff in navigating the changes ahead.

Every great team has a strong offense and defense running parallel, and in school districts, you can develop two strong communication teams that can effectively manage the current needs while also keeping an eye on the ball, so that you can have a winning approach to keeping your district’s reputation and relationships strong and intact.

Need help developing your winning team?

As an integrated partner and strategic advisor, Sounding Board Marketing & Communications can come alongside you in developing your communication team and providing strategic advising to implement successful communication approaches. Give us a call at 916.673.8868 or hvmcgowan@sounding-board.net

 

Before you Send That Email, Tweet, Record That Message…

Person plugging their earsCrises are incredible opportunities to use communication to strengthen relationships with stakeholders.  In the midst of COVID-19 and the drastic changes to the educational landscape, I’ve been watching my fellow California School Public Relations Association and National School Public Relations colleagues rise to the challenge to inform parents, staff and the public about school closures, free meals, distance learning, mental health tips and resources, community resources, and ways that their staff are going above and beyond the call of duty.  And, in some cases, superintendents and support staff are being thrown into implementing crisis and ongoing communications tactics in ways they never have before.

They’re also competing with an onslaught of communications from businesses and other organizations that are also communicating what they are doing to keep customers safe, business and product delivery options, and well-meaning free approaches to keep children, teens and adults entertained, in good health and more.

It’s enough to saturate any audience member.  This also creates the real and huge risk of audience members tuning and checking out, scanning information quickly, and missing the important details.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative for communicators to lead their organizations in strategic communication planning and implementation.  This process is a cycle of the four step PR process: Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation.

More communication is not better.  More tactics won’t help you reach your audience members. Targeted, strategic, well-messaged communications and tactics are what will allow you to be effective in reaching your audiences, and continue to increase and retain audience trust, and ensure your audience members are doing what you want them to do.

Because I will assume that you have already implemented your communications tactics, we’re going to begin with Evaluation, which is the fourth step in the 4-Step PR process.  Typically, you’ll start with Research.

Step 1: Evaluation

I know it seems odd to start with the final step of the 4-Step PR process, but as I previously mentioned, this is a cycle. Most likely, you’ve already implemented the first three steps, but you probably haven’t had an opportunity to come up for air and evaluate. Evaluation is answering the questions “How have we been successful?” “How can we do better?” and “What do we need to adjust moving forward?”

Here are a couple of examples of what to evaluate: 

  • Environmental Scan: Evaluate where your organization is in this crisis.  Most likely, your schools have been closed for at least one week, and distance learning plans are in place, and possibly implemented. Ask yourself whether daily (or twice daily) communications are still necessary, or if you can reduce communications to 2-3 days per week.
  • Engagement, Click Throughs/Opens, Phone Message Logs: Review your social media engagement, email click throughs and open rates, and phone message logs.  What patterns do you see? Are you seeing a dip in email open rates and click throughs later in the week?  What questions are being asked on social media?  Are your videos being viewed? What kinds of comments are being made?  Take note of what seems to be engaging people the most, what questions need to be answered in FAQs, and other data that will help inform your future communications.  Also, anecdotal feedback from audience members can be incredibly valuable.

Step 2: Research

Research essentially defines the problem. From the evaluation process, what problems have you uncovered?

  • Who do you want to REACH? Are you reaching your audiences effectively, or are there holes?
  • What do you want them to DO? Are your audiences acting/reacting in the intended ways from your previous communications, or do you need to provide clarification and/or other communication avenues (i.e. Setting up separate Facebook or Twitter profiles for answering IT questions from parents, staff)
  • What messages do you want to communicate to each public that will encourage desired behavior, increase knowledge and change attitudes? Review your previous messages—are they working, do they need to be tweaked?

Step 3: Planning

The Universal Accreditation Board outlines a 10-step PR plan (which I also use with my clients) that will work for any situation.

  1. Goals: This is a state of being that you want to accomplish through your communications. Example: “For every audience ABC School District audience member to clearly understand what they should be doing during COVID-19 school closures and how the District will support and serve as a resource for families and employees.”
  2. Target Audiences or Publics:
    • Who needs to know or understand?
    • Whose advice or support do we need?
    • Who will be affected?
  3. Objectives for Those Audiences:
    • Objectives are shorter term.
    • Define what behavior, attitude or opinion you want to achieve from specific audiences, how much to achieve and when.
    • Think in terms of the awareness, attitude or action you desire – the end result.
  4. Strategies
    • The road map or approach to reach objectives.
    • Do not indicate specific actions.
    • Use verbs such as demonstrate, collaborate, etc.
  5. Tactics: These are the specific activities conducted to implement strategies of a program.
    • How you will use your resources to carry out your strategy and work toward your objectives.
    • Examples: Meetings, publications, news releases, websites, billboards.
  6. Activities: Specific activities required under your tactics to carry out strategies.
    • Informal plans often jump from objectives to activities.
    • Vehicles or channels you will use to communicate are listed here.
  7. Evaluation
    • How will you know if you are reaching your objectives?
    • Measurement? Observation? Opinion? Feedback?
  8. Materials: What do you need to implement/execute your tactics?
  9. Budget:ƒ Out-of-pocket costs, staff time, volunteer energy, transportation, images, materials, fabrication, etc.
  10. Timetable and Task List
    • What does what and when?
    • Work backward from deadline or forward from start date

STEP 4: Implementation

Implementation involves actual messages sent through the communication channels and tools you will be using, and includes monitoring tools for execution. And then, once you have implemented your plan, then you will come back to evaluation.

Remember, this is a process and a cycle. But it is effective, and it works.

If you haven’t implemented this approach previously, it will likely feel cumbersome to go through these steps, particularly if you are already feeling overwhelmed.  However, this will become like second nature once you’ve gone through the process.  You will likely uncover ways to be more efficient and effective in your work, as well.

Have questions? Need clarification?

I’m always happy to hop onto a call to help answer questions and guide you through the steps.  Feel free to contact me at 916.673.8868 or hvmcgowan@sounding-board.net. We’re in this together and we’ll get through this together.

 

 

 

A Special Note About Being Open for Business

Open for business signWhen I opened Sounding Board Marketing & Communications 10 years ago, I always intended for my business to provide mostly virtual services to my clients.  During this time of school closures, I’m still providing the same, strategic and creative services for my clients so that they can stay connected with their district’s families–employees and parents–through all of their communication platforms. As a parent of three and wife of a his teacher, I am on the receiving end of the messaging being sent by my children’s school district and I’m on the observing end watching my husband find ways to connect with his students.

Whether you need content development for messaging, a roadmap for communications for the next few weeks, or ideas for keeping schools and teachers connected with families, I’m here to help.  As always, my mission has always been to help educators strengthen their relationships with their stakeholders, and never before has this been more important.

Feel free to send me an email at hvmcgowan@sounding-board.net or give me a call at 916.673.8868 if you want to talk through your communications, or if you need a sounding board for ideas you’re already considering.  I’m here when you need me.

All the best,

Heather

5 articles to help you boost, fix, or improve online engagement

I love learning new things (or getting an affirmation that old things continue to work) to help fix and improve the ways I do my work.  These are some recent PR Daily articles that I found particularly useful for boosting, fixing or improving online engagement:

Keys to Inspiring Confidence During “The Critical Hour” Category: Crisis Communication

Little did I know, the second entry in this blog series, “Inspiring Confidence Through Communication” would come just three days after one of the nation’s worst school crises — the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

As we slowly learn more about this tragedy, much is focused on the gunman, school safety and the like. However, early in the crisis, the news coverage featured — in addition to the press conferences with the police department — interviews with parents. One thing I noticed about the interviews with the parents was their initial confusion about where they could find more information during the first hour following the crisis, including where to locate their children. As more information and misinformation came out during the early hours following this crisis — including the fact that a key communicator, the school principal, died in the incident — there are several explanations for this confusion.

In the aftermath of this crisis, decision-makers, community members and parents are asking whether more can be done to prevent this from ever happening again. In addition, parents are also inquiring how they will be contacted should a crisis of any magnitude occur at their school. Because they are entrusting the school with their child’s (or children’s) safety, they want to receive the information from the school, first — NOT the media, and not the police.

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