Why Schools Districts Need Public Relations

Education is under attack, from taxpayers, special interest groups, and others.

This is the media age — Communication needs have increased and become more complex. School districts need professionals to develop and execute integrated, multi-media, and face-to-face communication plans.

The outrage industry, those perpetually angry voices in the marketplace of ideas, have a larger, more powerful voice thanks to blogs, forums and anonymous posts on news Web sites. Unfortunately, school districts often fall into the trap of caving in to the local outrage industry … even though it represents a minority position, and only serves to undermine the academic environment.

Communication impacts education The research is clear that communication plays an important role in the type and quality of parent/community involvement. There’s a positive, convincing relationship between family and community involvement and improved student academic achievement. This includes higher grade point averages and scores on standardized tests, more classes passed, higher enrollment in more challenging academic classes, better attendance, and improved behavior at home and at school. And this holds true in families of all economic, racial/ethnic, and educational backgrounds, as well as for students at all ages.

School Districts Have a Duty to Communicate

Why School Districts Need Public Relations

School districts have a duty to educate and inform residents, which, in turn, fosters public awareness, understanding, and support for the district and its strategic initiatives — as well as for its students and employees. Informing residents also improves and safeguards the district’s reputation as being worthy of public investment, builds internal morale, and creates an atmosphere conducive to education and enlightenment.

Communication and transparency – the bedrock of public relations — are integral to a school district’s fiduciary responsibility and its obligation to be a steward of community resources. In fact, boards are oftentimes criticized not for taking or failing to take an action, but for failure to communicate with the public. School districts that invest in public relations are essentially devoting resources towards the public good.

Public relations helps school districts – and other organizations — and those it serves reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony. Public relations firms aid districts in terms of anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues; they provide counsel to administrators and boards of education with regard to policy decisions; and they develop and implement communication programs  — including Web-based and social media – that help educate, inform, and build a bridge connecting the district with those it serves.  Skilled public relations professionals who adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics are committed to protecting and advancing the free flow of accurate, truthful information, and fostering informed decision making through open communication.

Here are some studies that can help administrators and boards of education:

School Public Relations: The Essential Ingredient to Student and School Success

How Strong Communication Contributes to Student and School Success: Parent and Family Involvement

Supporting Students, Supporting Communication: Helping Others See the Communication-Achievement Links

The Battle for Democracy The Evidence is Clear: It pays for public schools to spend more on  communications

Direct E-Communication Is Clear Choice of Parents in NSPRA Member Districts

The Missing Piece Of The Proficiency Puzzle – Recommendations for Involving Families and  Community in Improving Student Achievement

Parental Effort, School Resources, and Student Achievement