When it comes to communication and public relations, principals are an integral and essential part of the picture for success. NSPRA can help you improve your existing communication program or get you started in creating a building level communication plan that delivers results.
Sample Resources for Principals
The April 2009 PRincipal Communicator issue features two documents created by the Pattonville School District in St. Ann, Mo. Thanks go to Mickey Schoonover, APR, for sharing these sample resources:
Communication Tips for Principals
In more than 25 years of working with schools in a teaching and administrative capacity, one truth just about always rings true - the principal's style of leadership and communication is the key in making or breaking the image of the school and the school's commitment to communication. Experienced principals set the tone, model the commitment, set standards, hold staff accountable to those standards, and become the director of first impressions for their buildings. They teach and coach about the communication commitment and provide resources in any way they can
to help improve communication among parents, staff, and students.
Effective principals practice a transparent leadership style, admit that their school isn't perfect, and include staff and parents in a mission to make the school as great as it can be.
You cannot be a great leader without communication. Clear, positive communication with a focus on kids, teaching, and learning builds confidence in you and your school. And please remember that you cannot delegate confidence-building. NSPRA completes a process called a communication audit for a number of school districts each year. The following findings are common threads we use when we talk to parents and other community leaders about district and school building communication:
- School newsletters are the most read vehicles for parents.
- Teachers are the key credible influentials when talking about your school.
- Parents are less concerned about overall national or state test scores than most of us think.
- Parents are more concerned about the progress,accomplishments, and challenges of their children.
- The schools are primarily judged on how their staff and principals interact with students and
Communication maxims often help relate some of the rules of the game. Here are some you should know:
- People techniques (relationships) beat paper just about every time.
- Healthy, respected relationships are critical to communication.
- Perception is reality. (The objective is to make them the same.)
- First graders like surprises; your superintendent doesn't.
- An invitation to everyone is an invitation to no one.
- The best way to eat crow is fast.
- People support what they help create.
- It is more important to reach the people who count than to count the people you reach.
- If you believe your comments are being taken out of context, maybe you are failing to provide one.
- If behavior gets us into trouble, words are not going to get us out of it.
- You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can never fool the kids.
- When you create a communication void, your critics will surely fill it and flaunt it.
- Rumors spread like a prairie fire and they have an annoying capacity to be seen as credible when bona-fide leadership communication is missing. Don't create those voids.
Principals are the main creators of a culture of communication in their schools. Good, two-way communication becomes the standard when principals serve as role models, provide resources and training, and hold staff members accountable for their communication efforts and results.
- Excerpt from NSPRA's Making Parent Communication Effective and Easy
Support for Teachers
Teachers are on the frontline of communication efforts in schools across North America. The choices teachers make, both inside and outside the classroom, can make or break your students' futures and your school's reputation.
Teachers can find communication and public relations support in our publications and web sites. Archived NSPRA articles and resources are available for download at www.nspra.net and also from the member's only area of www.nspra.org.
A number of NSPRA's tip sheets are geared toward improving communication with parents and also improving communication at your schools. Teachers who are team leaders or members of a school PR committee will want to take advantage of the resources and support that only NSPRA can provide.
Making Parent Communication Effective and Easy
One of NSPRA's most popular products was created specifically for teachers. We know the heavy demands on teachers' time leaves little room for long-winded discussions about communication theory. That's why NSPRA created a no-nonsense resource titled Making Parent Communication Effective and Easy that teachers can put to work right away.
This practical guide and the accompanying CD, in an easy-to-adapt format, will save you time with its helpful advice, sample letters and messages, and how-to insights. The CD includes:
- Classroom newsletter template
- Easy ways to communicate with parents
- A PowerPoint presentation for open houses
- End-of-year letters evaluating your efforts
- Welcome letters for the start of school
- Many more adaptable communication tools
And just take a look at the key topics covered in the text:
- Communication tips for teachers
- Making the most of open houses
- Making the most of parent-teacher conferences
- Dealing with difficult parents
- Winning external communication tactics
- Parents' pet peeves
- Using online grade and planning books
- Setting up a key communicator network
To purchase this resource and to browse other products for schools, see the NSPRA catalog.
NSPRA has developed a newsletter specifically designed for school principals, the PRincipal Communicator, which is published monthly from August through May. It includes best practices for schools in communication and public relations and also highlights the outstanding work of principals from across North America. Principals can also benefit from the weekly "NSPRA This Week" e-newsletter and the "NSPRA Alert."
Online Resources & Networking Opportunities
Principals who join NSPRA can find communication and public relations support in our discussion forums, publications, and web sites, including NSPRA's e-Knowledge Portal. Archived NSPRA articles and resources are available for download from the www.nspra.net site and also from the member's only area of www.nspra.org.
Products & Workshops
NSPRA offers a number of products specifically designed for principals and school-level use. One of the most useful items is the newly revised and updated School Communication Workshop Kit. The original box kit with overheads is now on CD as a PowerPoint presentation, complete with notes for each slide.
Principals, PR committees, or the district PR professional can use the kit to conduct successful communication workshops for your professional and support staff. The kit includes new tips and ideas to energize communication at the school level. With this resource, NSPRA makes it easy to help building-level staff (principals, teachers, counselors, clerical and maintenance support staff)
improve their communication techniques and become more effective ambassadors for your schools.
A new bonus section gives you materials to conduct a second workshop on developing branding strategies for your school. And, you can tailor the PowerPoint slides to your school district and
customize the Word/PDF versions of the handouts.
Workshop participants will:
• Develop a communication program geared to their specific needs
• Identify priority internal and external publics
• Learn to use interpersonal and mass communication techniques
• Develop a feedback process to ensure two-way communication
• Evaluate their communication efforts
The School Communication Workshop Kit gives you everything you need to
conduct workshops for your staff. They will better understand their role in
communication and begin implementing tactics soon after their workshop.
Go to the NSPRA store for information about how to purchase this resource and to view other resources designed specifically with school-level communication in mind.