The media is a powerful entity. It has the influence to alter public perception and affect the reputation of people and organisations. Many schools see the press as a threat. But, while the media can circulate negative reports about your school, they are not averse to positive narratives. In fact, given the chance, they can do a lot of good on your behalf.
With a wider understanding and a structured school PR plan, you can benefit from positive school media relations. In this blog, we will discuss how your school can use the press as an ally, not an enemy.
The School-Media Relationship
The education of young children is an emotive subject and an area of interest to many people. To sell newspapers and attract online views, media outlets need stories that interest their readers. This dynamic means covering news about schools is essential for the media.
The role of the school is to manage this relationship and use it to their benefit. While you may associate the press with negative stories, they also welcome positive features that spark a large reaction. So, how do you initiate and nurture this relationship?
Practise Positive School Public Relations
Amazing things happen at your school every day. Think about it. Even the smallest of achievements are milestones in the young lives of your pupils. The problem schools face is that no one outside of their organisation knows about them.
To build a relationship with the press, you should share important good news stories with them via school press releases. This benefits you, as spreading good news will boost your school reputation. Importantly, it also benefits the media, who welcome publishable stories being brought directly to them.
There are, however, a few things to consider. First, make sure the story is newsworthy and of interest to a wide audience. For example, one of your pupils winning a national award is the perfect story to send the press. But, while a pupil winning this month’s school attendance award is good news, it is only relevant to your internal audience. Stories that don’t belong in newspapers should still be shared, but through your own channels, such as social media or your school website.
The other consideration is to limit this proactive approach to good news. Contacting the press with positive stories is a good form of school reputation management. Contacting them when bad news is on the horizon, however, is not.
Handling Negative Press and PR Incidents
Developing good school media relations will afford you positive sentiment with the press. But, if a negative story arises, they won’t let it slide because of your relationship. Your actions in the midst of a PR incident go a long way to determining the short- and long-term effects it has.
As previously mentioned, if your school foresees a PR incident but has yet to be contacted by the press, do not contact them. It might seem like a proactive approach helps, but in most cases it does more harm than good. One key reason for this is that schools often have a skewed perception of how big a story is. While it is the biggest issue in your mind, on a wider-scale, it may have no impact. Jumping the gun on these matters can intensify the impact of the story, rather than limit it.
When the press does contact you, be measured in your response. If you are yet to conduct a review, issue a holding statement. Then, refer all future press contacts to the holding statement until you are ready to address the matter in full.
Previously, we’ve written a helpful blog on school crisis management and the lessons to be learned from other organisations. If you want to start preparing changes to your school public relations immediately, contact the Eduprise team now for a free school public relations plan.
Get the Press on Your Side
The school perception of the press as a controller of their reputation has its consequences. Instead of embracing the media, schools are fearful of the damage that can be caused. By understanding how a good relationship with the press can help, you can control the media narrative toward your school and improve public perception.
At Eduprise, we are experts in school public relations. We work with educational organisations throughout the country, helping them promote good news and use the press to boost their reputation.
If you want to know more about improving your school public relations and developing a beneficial relationship with the media, contact the Eduprise team today.