Public relation in schools has changed from conveying information and it is now focusing on formation and promotion of partnerships in a particular community. The paper seeks to develop a strategic public relation plan for Everett Public Schools located around Settle, Washington. This research project seeks to solve the public relations needs of the school. The strategic public relation plan consists of four phases. They include formative research, strategy, tactics, and evaluation research.
Phase One: Formative Research
Step 1: Analyzing the Situation
The goal of the Everett Public Schools is to ensure that it provides high standard of education to their students. However, to achieve this, it must involve the whole society that surrounds the schools. There are challenges such as managing major disasters in the school. Also, to make other staffs understand the role of public relations and its effect on the school is a challenge.
The activity that involves Public Relations consumes expenses that the school may not find it a genuine expense for the institution. The school may assume the need to keep stakeholders aware of what is happening in a better and more open manner. This has been solved by other schools through grants and state support. Everett Public Schools can consider this option if it aims at reducing expenses.
Lastly, offering lips service is another major challenge. This involves the relegation of public relations functions to people who have limited or no skills. Also, relegating the duties to someone who have limited time and resources may be harmful to the institution. For this process to be effective there should be an effective plan that guides the process of Public Relations.
Step 2: Analyzing the School
Everett Public Schools is located in Settle, Washington(Smith, 2012). The total number of schools is 25 and the population of the students is almost 18,000.There are numerous factors that shape the image of the public about the school. The first impression created by the staffs of the school can be critical and can create a lasting impression on the minds of visitors. They should be well received with greetings and there should be a positive image of kids learning. The school has structures that are large enough to accommodate the growing number of kids. However, in case of renovation or constructing new buildings, the management should involve the community in generating the idea.
Step 3: Analyzing the Publics
The public consists of parents, media, custodians, and community members. The technological advancement necessitates the school to adopt social media as a method of disseminating information. This will ensure that in case there is a crisis, it can be resolved in a faster and more efficient manner. For instance, the parents who have students enrolled in the school would prefer getting information instantly as compared to those who have no kids in the schools.
Phase Two: Strategy
Step 4: Establishing Goals and Objectives
- The goal of the school is to improve communication with the stakeholders. This ensures that the issues can be discussed and resolution arrived at in the shortest time possible. Also, PR is useful in in providing clients with in depth data about the operations of the school.
- To increase the participation of the staffs in Public Relations activities.
- To create interest so that the school attracts more students.
- Building product awareness of the school so that stakeholders may know that it is a center of quality learning.
- The school is keen on enhancing communication with the stakeholders in the coming year.
- The school should also use PR to reinforce its brand for high quality services.
Step 5: Formulating Action and Response Strategies
The school needs to implement proactive action strategies and proactive communication strategies. The proactive action strategies include organizational performance, audience participation, sponsorships, special events, alliances and coalitions. Proactive communication strategies include publicity, transparent communication, and newsworthy information(Grant, 2016).
Proactive Action Strategies
Organization performance – the school must ensure that it preserve its good name by giving quality education to the students as they promise in their mission. It should also ensure that it keeps the environment clean and free of pollution.
Audience information – any information that is perceived as to be useful to the audience should actually be given to them in a timely manner. The school should use tactics such as client complaints hotline, interactive website, and toll-free phone numbers to generate feedback from the community.
Special events – this are events that schools can do to generate participation of the audience. These events include academic days where parents can know the performance of their students and other pseudo-events. The main aim is to pull publicity stunt.
Alliances and coalitions – this involves the school joining together with other organizations that have a common agenda. For example, they can collaborate with opinion leaders and bartenders to ensure that no students have access to alcoholic drinks.
Sponsorships – this involves the school having a more serious association between the public and other organizations. This will create a good image of the company. Such sponsorship involves arranging community games that will help people interact with one another and learn more about the services offered by the school.
Proactive communication Strategies
Publicity – this is the link between public support and publicity. The school must know which publicity is beneficial and which one can ruin the school.Thus, the school shall always aim at presenting noteworthy information for public consumption. The school must consider the interest of the media, the public, and information about the organization.
Transparent communication – it helps the public to understand the school and support its actions. The Public Relations doesn’t leave a chance for the public to take assumption about the services of the school. Rather, it should have an efficient tactic to enable the public understand the activities of the school.
Step 6: Designing Effective Communication
In this stage, Everett Public Schools should be able to design an effective and efficient communication. This involves identifying a message source, message appeal, and checking on verbal and nonverbal communication(Smith, 2012). The school should ensure that the Public Relation Officer who is given the responsibility of conveying the message is charismatic and has a high level of credibility. In message appeal, the basic planning should involve identifying a key message that forms the foundation of public relations. This is the use of rational and emotional appeal in passing information. Lastly, the conveyor of the message should use both verbal and nonverbal communication in conveying information.
Phase Three: Tactics
Step 7: Selecting Communication Tactics
There are four communication tactics that are useful in the conveyance of information. There is face-to-face communication, organizational media, news media, and advertising and promotional media.
First, the interpersonal communication and involvement contains personal involvements such as school tour and information exchange through annual stakeholders meeting. Second, they can do this through organization media tactics such as serial publications, direct mail, audio-visual media, and miscellaneous print media. Third, they should focus on news media tactics such as direct and indirect news material, interactive news opportunity, and opinion material. Fourth, they should use advertising and promotional tactics through print advertising media, electronic advertising media, promotional item, and out-of-home advertising.
Step 8: Implementing the Strategic Plan
This method involves checking on a tactic that is logical and cohesive. This can be analyzed through checking on the greatest likelihood of the tactic. It can either be by public, goal, tactic, objective, and organizational department. According to Grant (2016), it also involves developing budgets and schedules. Scheduling involves frequency, message repetition, schedule pattern, and assigning managers for each tactic. The budget consists of break-even point, per-capita cost, full-cost budgets, material, and cost of personnel.
Phase Four: Evaluative Research
This is the final phase that deals with assessment and evaluation that helps to define the degree to which the stated goals have been met and thus continue the communication actions.
Step 9: Evaluating the Strategic Plan
Methodology – The plan must be able to define ways of measuring awareness, acceptance, and action objectives. There are numerous methodologies that can be used to measure the efficiency of the program. First, it should answer when the information can be obtained. Is it after-only or before-after study? Second, what research methodologies would be effective? Is it personal experience or outside experts? Third, which key people should be interviewed? Fourth, media tracking can also be efficient in evaluating progress.
Evaluation Categories – There are evaluation categories that are useful in evaluating personal tactic. They include evaluation of output, message production, dissemination, and cost analysis, advertising equivalency, message exposure, message content analysis, readability measures, benchmark study, audience participation, evaluation of action objectives, and direct observation of results.
Audience – The plan should define the audience and those who will receive the final evaluation. It should also state how this information will be used by the school to better their performance. Further, it should be able to define the level of honesty that those in decision making are willing to take.
Evaluation schedule – The evaluation schedule involves timeliness for progress and implementation report, and the timeline for final evaluation.
Evaluation program checklist – the checklist should be to determine few things about the evaluation program. This involves questions such as is it useful to the school? Does it have clearly stated goals and objectives? Is it appropriate to cost and time? Is it suitable to other resources? Is the plan actionable? Is it credible? Is it ethically and socially responsible?
Everett Public Schools has a number of public relations challenges that need to be addressed. These challenges have been identified and a strategic business plan formulated to address this issues. The strategic public relations plan will also ensure that it attracts parents and community support. Thus, it can be able to listen to them and respond effectively to their expectations. The schools should understand the importance of Public relations as they cannot operate independently as what used to occur in the past.