Live Your Vision; Practice Your Values
Core values and mission statements lie at the heart of every successful school community. They should be front of mind as stakeholders go about their daily routines. However, they’re not something you keep to yourself. They need to be written down, and they need to be where people will see them.
Missions and values easily fade into the background. You can post them online and in your schools, but the question remains: are you bringing them to life? In addition to posting them in lobbies, offices, hallways and the school website, your mission and values need to shine through your communication efforts. Show stakeholders you’re not just stating them—you’re living them, too.
Where your mission and values live now
If you’re like many other schools, you’re proud to state who you are for everyone to hear. You’ve spent a lot of time mulling over what your school’s mission and values should be. After careful consideration—and valuable input from your fellow school leaders—you’ve clearly defined your school’s identity through a list of core values and a short, concise mission statement.
Of course, you don’t want to keep the school’s mission and values to yourself. You want to share them with the whole community! Your mission and values live in many places—school lobbies, administrative offices, the “about us” page on your website, and other locations that are highly visible to stakeholders. After all, members of the school community should know what their school stands for. Posting your mission and values in various locations allows them to become a ubiquitous presence in stakeholders’ daily lives.
There are merits to clearly stating your mission and values. When you put them in writing, you get stakeholders on the same page and create a more unified school community. Stakeholders will also know what to expect from your school, both in the quality of education and how your school responds to certain situations. Writing out your mission and values can help align stakeholders’ expectations with your promise to the community.
Your mission and values in school communication
Every school should put their mission and values in writing. Clearly stating your mission and values is an easy, effective way to let people know who you are and what you stand for. At the same time, though, you don’t always have to explicitly state what your mission and values are. Stakeholders can pick up on your school’s identity, even if the mission and values aren’t clearly spelled out for them. They’ll know who you are based on your words and actions.
Writing out your mission and values is just the start. Lean into your school’s identity even more by embodying those core values in your communications with the public. Stakeholders shouldn’t have to visit your school’s website or look at a poster in the main lobby to understand what your mission and values are. They should have a clear understanding of what they are based on how you speak to the community.
What you say impacts how stakeholders perceive your school. For that reason, every message should be an accurate reflection of your school’s identity. Before you put words on the page, think about how you can infuse those words with your mission and values. When you keep them front of mind, your mission and values will shine through the message.
Think of it this way: would you rather be part of a school that states its vision, or a school that lives its vision? Stakeholders would rather choose the second option. They want a school that not only states its mission and values, but lives up to them. Your mission, vision and core values have to underscore everything you say and do. Don’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk!
The benefits of branded messaging
There are seemingly countless reasons to promote your mission and values through school communications. In fact, there’s hardly a reason not to do it! By infusing content with your mission and values, you establish a consistent and unique brand identity, set up reasonable expectations for stakeholders and create more authentic messaging.
Let’s explore the many ways branded messaging benefits your school:
- Unique brand identity: There are tons of other schools in the area. Yours needs to stand out, and one way to do that is by establishing a unique brand identity. Your mission, vision and core values are what make you unique. When you channel them into your content, stakeholders (and people outside your district) will easily be able to tell your school apart from all the others. This can draw in prospective families by showing them your school offers something they won’t find anywhere else.
- Consistent narrative: Your school identity should be unique, and it should also be consistent. Stakeholders would get confused if two messages from your school contradicted each other in terms of mission and core values. Creating messages with your mission and values in mind helps you establish a consistent narrative across all of your school’s communication channels.
- Realistic expectations: When you reinforce your mission and values, stakeholders know what to expect from your school. Without a mission and core values, stakeholders have to create their own assumptions about what you stand for and what you’re trying to achieve. People would come up with different guesses, and many of them would be inaccurate. Branded messaging gets all your stakeholders on the same page, so when it comes time for your school to take a strong stance, there are no surprises.
- Authenticity and school pride: As a school leader, you take pride in where you work. Let that pride show through your messaging! Don’t communicate simply to relay information to stakeholders. Use messaging as an opportunity to show everyone how exciting it is to be part of your school community. Leaning into your mission and values will help you do just that. When you show pride, stakeholders will feel it.
How to incorporate your mission and values
Your mission and core values are crucial components of stakeholder communication. They shouldn’t be an afterthought—they need to play an active role in the content-creating process. Whether it’s an email, parent letter, news release or social media post, decide which words not only get your message across effectively, but also reflect your school’s unique identity.
Keep your mission and values front of mind while creating stakeholder messages. When you look back and read the content, you should be able to identify at least one of your school’s core values. Messages need to contribute to your school’s mission, too, even if it’s something as small as promoting a charity concert. Schools shouldn’t communicate simply to communicate. Every message should be written with purpose, and that purpose is to make your mission a reality.
You take pride in your mission and values—so much so that you want everyone in your school community to know what they are. And they should know! Posting them online and in your schools is a good start, but there are so many other ways to show people who you are and what you do. Take your mission and values even further by incorporating them into your communication efforts. When you live your vision, others will be inspired to live it, too.