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Principals across the state come to Union County to learn best practices

Elise Roberts, an anchor/reporter with News 14 Carolina in Charlotte, offers tips for building good relationships with local media. (Below) Rob Jackson, the 2011-2012 NC State Principal of the Year, shares his story of using social media and neighborhood meetings to bring students together from three high schools and three middle schools into one new school, Cuthbertson High School (CHS), an amazing learning community.

Principals from across North Carolina converged on Union County recently for a one-day seminar aimed at giving them the tools and ideas to help their schools better communicate with parents and their communities.

“Marketing Your School: Best Practices for Principals,” was given by the North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA), a state organization for school public information officers. The Nov. 30, 2012, event also addressed how principals could better engage their community in the school culture.

"Now more than ever, it is important that principals know how to make their schools stand out from the crowd,” said NCSPRA President Michael Yarbrough, a Race to the Top Communications Specialist from the NC Department of Public Instruction. “The Marketing Your Schools event provided principals a wealth of information, ideas and tools they can use to shine the light on the many great things their schools have to offer."

Yarbrough stressed the importance of marketing public education in today’s world. “Parents have an increasing number of alternatives to public schools today, and whereas marketing wasn't necessary 20 years ago, it is now,” he said.

The approximately 100 in attendance traveled from across North Carolina for the event. About 18 Brunswick County educators got up at 5:30 a.m. to make the three- and a-half-hour trek to Union County.

“I was thrilled with the response and willingness of staff to catch a bus at 5:30 a.m.,” said the spokesman for the school system, Jessica B. Swencki. “It shows their dedication.”

Swencki said the motivation for the trip was fueled by the timely topics that were specifically tailored for building administrators. “Our principals and staff members are hungry for information about how to promote their schools. With all of the great initiatives we have in our system, discussions about public relations, customer service and engagement have not been front and center. The sessions sponsored by NCSPRA were perfect and met our needs.”

The Brunswick County crew was recognized during the event with the Marketer Miles Award for the farthest distance traveled, almost 190 miles.

Yarbrough said the topics offered seemed to be well received. “I went around to each table, and the principals told me that the sessions were interesting, entertaining and full of information that they plan to use.”

Five speakers were featured, offering a wide variety of information.

Tom DeLapp, a nationally known school communications expert, opened the program talking to principals about the critical role they played in branding, marketing and building community support.

Rob Jackson, the 2011-2012 NC State Principal of the Year, shared his story of bringing students from three high schools and three middle schools into one new school, Cuthbertson High School (CHS), in Union County. Using social media and neighborhood meetings, Jackson helped bring together the groups that birthed an amazing learning community.

CHS was named an Honor School of Excellence for academic success after only one year, and won 11 state championships in three years. It was home to two consecutive county Teachers of the Year, the Assistant Principal of the Year and the State Principal of the Year. Jackson shared with the assembled principals, “Marketing a school is really about communication, being present, and telling the school’s story.”

Jeff Nash, the Executive Director of Community Relations for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, talked to principals about “Ensuring Great Customer Service on the Front Lines,” offering techniques and tips to turn a school’s front line staff into marketing ambassadors for their school. Nash is the author of “Rock ‘N Roll Customer Service.”

Mychal Frost, Public Information Officer for Clover County (SC) Schools, shared how to use a school’s web site as a marketing tool, making their schools more compelling to prospective parents.

One session focused on developing good a working relationship with the news media. Elise Roberts, an anchor/reporter with News 14 Carolina in Charlotte, offered tips for building good relationships with local media in order to help them share their school’s success stories with their community.

For more information about North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA), go to www.ncspra.org or call 828-202-6695.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Dec 10, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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