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    How School PR Professionals Can Maximize Message Effectiveness

    February 07, 2022
    by Zachery Fountain |

    We have never been more connected, yet further apart. The inundation of information into our lives has been an evolution in how each and everyone consumes data, images, videos, podcasts, and gifs (pronounced jiff for those looking to start a battle royal). It is a lot for the school communications professional to digest.  

    Way back in the good old days of 2007, it was shocking to think that market research firm Yankelovich estimated that an average person living in a city would see over 5,000 ad messages in a given day. New data now suggests we see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day and that the saturation of such advertising will lead to a new model of advertising where the consumers opt in to messaging—something schools have been doing for years. 

    We are competing with every messenger, public and private, vying for our stakeholder's attention. Luckily, we can take advantage of these tectonic changes to maximize the effectiveness of our messages in reaching our targeted audiences.

    Step One: Willingness to adjust to meet audience needs

    The backpack flyer is where messaging goes to die. Families and team members are now expecting messaging services that reflect the experienced-based messaging practices they see from consumer-based companies like Amazon and Uber—information pushed to a phone via notification can cut through the clutter.  

    In my previous districts, we used broad messaging techniques to understand that multiple impressions of the same message would be beneficial to end users. How many times have you saved an email only to forget to go back and get the event information in time? I do and so do our families. Using tools like email notifications, texts, social media, websites, and Peachjar, enhance impressions over time with appropriate planning.

    Step Two: Behold a messaging calendar

    School public relations was a crazy profession before COVID. We tackle all of the outreach, media relations, schools support, and more often before the first cup of coffee on a shoestring budget. Knowing this, getting organizational support for an annual messaging calendar will help with workflow and create buy-in to your overall strategies for the year. I really liked using the Hootsuite template, but there are others that allow you to maximize scheduling. What is particularly helpful is that when thinking about campaigns with multiple impressions, workflow is on a timeline and allows for you to prioritize needs.

    Step Three: Set the stage

    How many of us had heard that somebody never got the information for this or that? It happens, unfortunately. So, what can we do about it? Start off the year or when returning from breaks by explaining how schools and districts will be communicating. It seems basic, but it is so helpful to reiterate how messages will be made available to parents about grades (not the comment section of a Facebook thread, surprisingly) or how event information will be shared with families. This technique has multiple benefits, but the one that is most helpful is that it is a reminder to our team members about how they are expected to communicate in a manner that is fully supported.

    Step Four: Document and persuade

    You had an amazing year and documented all of your data about what worked and didn’t work. Put it in the file and forget about it—not!

    Evaluating what you have learned and the opportunities that are before your organization, now is the time to talk with your leadership teams and get the resources to do even better. Would buying a professional subscription to Canva help you save time and energy through the use of templates? Possibly, it did for me. Using your data from event attendance, social media analytics, data from Peachjar’s analytics, and whatever else you collect will make the difference in getting the support you need to enhance outreach in your community.


    PR Pro Zachary Fountain

    Zachery Fountain (he/him/his) is the Owner of Fountain Creative Industries and has had the privilege of serving as the Director of Communications and Public Relations with the Flagstaff and Dysart school districts in Arizona and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Grand Canyon Youth. Mr. Fountain is experienced in the areas of strategic communication, social media management, crisis communication, and media relations. He previously served as the Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA) president—prioritizing the importance of school communications officials to access professional development. Mr. Fountain received his Master’s Degree in Political Management from George Washington University and Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a Minor in Campaign Management from the University of Utah. Most importantly, Zach is also the father of baby Henry and the proud husband of Stephanie. 

    Zachery can be reached at:

    Categories: School Districts