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Event Planning for Schools

Administrators will enjoy these helpful school public relations tips shared by EducationWorld Community blogger Maris Callahan. Be sure to read all of her great advice on PR for schools.

If you ask any public relations person about the best and worst part of the job, he or she will likely tell you that it's planning events. Events can be extremely challenging and time consuming to develop and execute, but they can also be extremely rewarding and generate high ROI for your company or brand.

Maris Callahan

Schools are lucky because instead of planning events, adminstrators and teachers only need to look at their academic calendars and tweak the events that they are having anyway.

Though it might sound overwhelming, it is possible to leverage the events you are already planning--think family nights, seasonal festivals, fundraisers and assemblies--to reach more members of the community and raise awareness of all of the wonderful things your school is doing.

Spread the word.  If you're planning an event outside of school hours, it's no longer enough to send a flyer home with students. Reach out to your local newspaper's family or parenting editor and ask if the paper covers local events. Reach out to local parenting Web sites and see if they have event calendars where you might post family events and activities. Most community members are more than happy to tell their networks and contacts about a fundraiser for new textbooks or curriculum.

Look for in-kind partners.  It can be difficult to ask for sponsorships and donations in a down economy, as many businesses are cutting corners and tightening budgets. However, that doesn't mean they don't want to help. Throwing a fall festival? Invite local bakers to come and show off their best pumpkin and apple treats and support a local farm by inviting them to donate fresh produce in exchange for logo placement on your event flyers and signage. Trade services with other businesses, whether it's tickets to Saturday's football game or advertising in the school paper--in order to enrich your events and leverage each other's networks for local promotion. It not only boosts your reputation, but also helps build an overall sense of community.

Engage students.  Rather than throwing an event for students, let kids get involved. They will feel a greater sense of pride and ownership, which will benefit their education while encouraging parents to help share the news about upcoming plays, performances or assemblies with their own social networks and communities, both on and offline.

Plan carefully.  If you want media/journalists to attend your event, reconsider having it on a weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights are prime time for schools to throw events for students and parents, but difficult times for journalists to cover news. If you want media in attendance at your event, be sure to give them plenty of notice and think about soft-sounding them in advance if you need to plan your event outside of traditional business hours.

About the author

A social media expert, freelance writer and public relations professional for many high-profile companies, Maris Callahan is the author and publisher of the food blog In Good Taste and the new Chicago online lifestyle magazine My Daily Find Chicago.

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