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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Start the Press!

Do you want to make a student or the whole class feel like a rock star?

Just get them some press.

Kids love to see themselves in the newspaper. I guess it strikes a basic need to be recognized, but it seems just about every child gets really excited when a reporter and photographer show up to the class.

Not to mention, learning to attract good press can also help teachers with fundraising efforts and other causes.

As a former news reporter, who covered the education beat, Ive had some success with securing positive press for my students and school. The trick comes down to understanding how the media operates, particularly when it comes to covering education news.

The following tips can help you achieve your public relations goals:

(Note: be sure to follow your schools policies for obtaining permission from parents for students to be photographed or featured in the media).

FIND THE RIGHT PERSON

Depending on their size and circulation, newspapers generally assign a reporter to cover the hard news of the education beat. Typically, this is not the person you want to contact. This reporter is looking for straight news articles about test scores, budget cuts, reforms, angry parents, etc. So unless you have an angle that fits this agenda, you will have a tough time getting coverage for your classroom.

The person you really want to become friends with is the reporter who writes the feature articles about education. This reporter, typically a freelancer or part-time writer for the newspaper, writes about the school bake sale, the graduation speech, or the pumpkin-carving lesson. They are trained to look for the positive, feel-good stories in schools that help balance the negative news. In my experience, they are more than happy to interview you about an exciting project or lesson or a new technology in the classroom. Call the editor of the newspaper and ask for the education feature reporters contact information. Once you establish a rapport with this person, keep in touch with them by providing regular updates about what is happening in your classroom.

COMMUNITY PAGE

Newspapers will often feature a community page, where pictures of people in various clubs, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and other groups, are featured. Try sending a picture of your class working on a project or attending a field trip or taking part in some other noteworthy cause. You might be able to simply e-mail or download the photos to the editor. If you make it easy for the editors and reporters to receive the news, they will be more willing to publish it.

PROFILES

Check to see if your local newspaper features a weekly Community Profile. In this section, the newspaper will spotlight some noteworthy person in the community by conducting a question and answer interview with that person. Perhaps you could submit the name of a student who has recently accomplished something exceptional. You could also honor an unsung hero at your school, such as the media specialist or school resource officer, by providing their name to the newspaper.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A great way to get your students in the newspaper is by having them write letters to the editor as part of a writing assignment. When they see their names in print, it brings the importance of writing to a whole new level! One time, I had my middle school classes write letters expressing their opinions about a proposal to require uniforms at the middle school level (as you can imagine, it was not very popular). The editor, to my surprise, decided to publish an entire page of my students letters. You can imagine how excited they were when theysaw their names in print!

As you can see, its not that difficult to get good press when you take the proper approach. Its a matter of connecting with the right people, keeping in touch with them, and using creative avenues to get your news in the paper. This school year, turn your students into stars by starting the press!

(To share your ideas and comments on this blog, please visit http://community.educationworld.comcontent/start-press-0?gid=NTEyMQ==)