Hooray! A Social Media Guide for K-12 Schools

Wisconsin Welcome Sign
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The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association has just published a “Social Media Guide” for K-12 schools. The organization, made up of school public relations professionals from one of the prettiest states I’ve ever visited, is offering the publication for $25 (non-members), plus the $5 cost of shipping.

Because there are so few such publications around, I plan to order myself a copy, just to be as up-to-date as possible. I’m also curious to see if the guide offers any wisdom about social media policies. You can order the guide here.

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We Can Do This, People…

The White House - Washington, DC
Image by VinothChandar via Flickr

I just presented at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, an organization just like my employer, but located in the northern suburbs. It was a presentation for the PNWBOCES administrative team, an extremely receptive audience of administrators and educators. I loved the dynamics, and what a lively bunch of people.

I know this is hard, people. But it seriously is the future. And as I say often, if the White House can do it, we can certainly begin to use social media. Even just a little bit?

Here’s where you can find the presentation.

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ESchool News: Avoiding Social Media Gaffes

After having just participated in a webinar about social media policies for school districts, I was fortunate to run across this article by Nora Carr of the Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. It’s another example of how school public relations professionals are providing oars to those of us still navigating the unclear waters of social media. Among other points, Ms. Carr (who received the Presidents Award this year from the National School Public Relations Association) notes: “Legitimate concerns regarding federal e-Rate dollars and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) regulations aside, avoiding social media isn’t the answer.”

The article also lists 11 tips to “avoid committing major social media gaffes,” including the development of guidelines, keeping your personal business private, and resisting any temptation to accept “friend requests” students and even parents on social networking sites. At the same time, while policies and procedures can help, school districts also need to teach and train employees to use social media wisely, writes Ms. Carr.

Great advice.

Webinar on Social Media Policies for School Districts

Last week, I attended a webinar sponsored by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, “21st Century Policies,” featuring Janell Hallgren, manager of policy services at Erie 1 BOCES. Janell, who runs a service manned by five professionals including three with law degrees, covered the gamut of services Erie 1 offers in the burgeoning field of social media policies for school districts. “We don’t reinvent the wheel in policy services,” said Janell, but “obviously technology is changing the way we communicate and the way we do business.” In a nutshell, she said, most districts simply need to update existing policies — most notably Codes of Conduct and Acceptable Use Policies. This webinar has been archived and is free to view now. So check it out. I found it invaluable in understanding the concerns and issues around 21st century school district governance and policy.


Saratoga Springs

Heading to upstate New York tomorrow morning, to present to public school superintendents on two topics: budgets and social media. Yikes — I hope I don’t put them to sleep. I have a feeling they’ll be more interested in the budget presentation than in the social media presentation, and certainly the former took me a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m not exactly known for presentations about passing budgets, for a reason. Public schools passing public budgets is one of the biggest struggles we have here in the good old state of New York, and don’t let them tell you it’s a recent struggle. It’s been going on since I was a cub education reporter more than 20 years ago, covering my first school district. And what happened? The budget tanked and school opened without busing for kindergartners. At public budget hearings in that district, parents literally stood, turned to face me (representing the local newspaper), and pointed their fingers in my face. The newspaper had not endorsed the budget. On the contrary, the editorial went after the dysfunctional Board of Education with a vengeance; criticized the community for being torn down the middle, separating the African-American community from the middle-class white community.

So much for a recent challenge.

In my “how we passed our budgets” presentation, I’m going to do the best I can (comfort zone or not) to show NY’s superintendents that public education is under fire these days from every vantage point. People are downright seething about their taxes, charter schools and virtual schools are popping up everywhere, and yes — there are alternatives. We need to stop sitting on our haunches and wake up, at least from a communications standpoint. We never had to “sell” or “market” our school districts before, God forbid. Not any more.

Here’s a look at my presentation on budgets:

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How Private Independent Schools Use Social Media

Shane Haggerty, a school PR colleague and blogger from the fine state of Ohio, recently interviewed Jesse Bardo, executive director of EdSocialMedia, the group organized to represent private independent schools and their efforts to use social media to promote their schools to alumni, prospective students and the public. Shane, who does public relations for the Ohio Hi-Point Schools, asked Bardo how private schools manage their presence online and discussed the dramatic growth of EdSocialMedia into a clearinghouse for information about using Facebook, Twitter and other tools on the web. You can check out the video at the link below. I’m also providing you with a screenshot of Northfield Mount Hermon private school’s NMHBook, an aggregator of that school’s social media feeds and a fine example of what public schools ought to be doing. NMH was Bardo’s former place of employment before he was named to the EdSocialMedia position.

Social Media | An interview with Jesse Bardo, Part I.

NMH Book:

The Power of 500 Million Members

I’ve written about Facebook Stories recently, and I’ve been checking the site to keep an eye on stories posted there. I really was intrigued by this story, about a FB user who talks about a recent good deed she performed that blossomed into a FB movement that raised $93,000. A colleague at work told me today that he would NEVER open a Facebook account. No time, too much of an intrusion, etc. He might want to watch this.