Guest Blogger: Marc Rubner, VP of Marketing, Schoolwires
Part 4: Interactive Engagement
New online channels and capabilities, coupled with in-person events, offer K-12 district leaders the opportunity to engage directly with community members in a way that can help define a district’s brand. The more leaders take advantage of and combine these online and in-person opportunities to personalize their communication with community members, the more likely their district’s brand will be identified with coveted brand images like responsive, personal, progressive, and transparent.
Five ways to enable interactive engagement include:
School and District Town Halls: Transparency begins when leaders take the stage and provide district information directly to community members. Transparency and responsiveness are optimized when leaders enable interactive discussions, respond to new ideas, and confront detractors head on, in open forums. This can happen at both the district and school level.
Regular Meetings with Community Influencers: Savvy K-12 district leaders know that brand building can be accelerated through the communicative power of a few highly connected and influential community members. Identifying and meeting with these influencers should be done on a regular basis. These are opportunities to share information and acknowledge new ideas and approaches. Ultimately, this leads to better message control by letting influencers work to build the district brand.
Community Events: Community events don’t have to be restricted to the school level. District leaders should have the opportunity to interact with community members in a casual interpersonal setting that promotes the district’s brand. It also gives district leaders an opportunity to distribute information on district success and progress that might otherwise get lost in increasingly crowded online channels.
Social Media: Interactive engagement doesn’t have to be confined to in-person events. Creating a brand that in recognized as personal, progressive, and responsive can also be done through online channels. Social media is a particularly effective way to increase interpersonal communication. A strong social media presence is one that not only consistently provides content through popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but also responds immediately when community members comment through these channels. These habits build a K-12 district brand by equating it with transparency and responsiveness.
Blogging: Corporate business leaders have begun to embrace blogging as a way to personalize their brand and connect directly with their market. K-12 district leaders have been a bit slower to embrace this medium, but those who have report very positive effects. Blogging is a way to distribute information directly to the community while also allowing the community to engage through comments and discussion threads. It takes the old monthly newsletter to a new level of engagement.
Along with successfully executing these events, a critical key to success is how district leaders promote these initiatives. Utilize all assets including your website, notification system, mobile application, social media channels, local offline advertising channels (newspapers, radio, etc.), and direct marketing lists to drive attendance and build awareness.
By combining online and offline events and initiatives, K-12 leaders can impact their district’s overall brand through interactive engagement. The results will be a broad recognition of your district as responsive, progressive, transparent, and personal.