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What Do School PR Professionals Do?

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.

When I tell people that I work in public relations, I am occasionally met with a blank stare: what does someone who works in public relations actually do? Often, public relations is mistaken for advertising when in reality, public relations encompasses a number of communications-related strategies and tactics.

Maris Callahan

When you work in public relations, every day is different and you will often find yourself working on a number of different projects at any given time. 

Often, the people who work in public relations for schools have titles like "community relations manager" or "communications director." These titles are apt, since the purpose of a school public relations professional is to help improve educational programs and services with a two-way communications process. Educational public relations programs help interpret public attitudes and shape policies and procedures to best suit the students and families in a community. 

So, what exactly does a school public relations person do all day? He or she helps keep internal and external communications processes running smoothly by handling any of the following functions: 

Communicates with publics.  A school public relations person handles all of a school district's publications, like newsletters and internal bulletins that are distributed among staff to keep everyone involved with the education system fully informed. 

Liaises with the media.  When a school district has news to share with the public, the public relations or communications professional writes a press release, media alert or media pitch to local newspapers, television and radio contacts. When the media is interested in writing or running a story about your school district, a public relations person acts as the "coach" by making sure journalists maintain interest and have all the information they need. 

Acts quickly in a crisis.  Hopefully, your school district hasn't had a major crisis in a while. However, when something unfortunate happens, whether it's the resignation of an admininstrator or a natural disaster that affects the school, the public relations person will create a plan for the district to ensure that all appropriate parties (including the media) have the facts. 

Provides media training for staff and adminstration.  Occasionally, your PTA board members, staff or administrators may be called upon to comment on current events to the media. A public relations person will help prepare these individuals for on-camera speaking opportunities and print interviews while encouraging non-teaching staff to actively participate in external communications. 

Does community service outreach.  Any interaction that your schools have with the greater community is a part of its public relations platform. Communications professionals work with community groups such as civic organizations, service clubs and volunteer programs to help bring the community into your schools.

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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