Donovan Group Insights

Creating Content for Your “Owned” Media Channels

As a superintendent, there are many responsibilities you have to fulfill. One of them is overseeing the district’s marketing efforts. The content you produce speaks volumes about the district and how stakeholders perceive it. Marketing has the power to sway public opinions, which is why it should be one of your top priorities.

To market the district, start by asking yourself this question: “What are my district’s owned media channels?” Owned media channels are crucial for connecting with stakeholders, prospective families and the broader community. After identifying the district’s owned media channels, you can start creating content that will go on each of those channels.

Read on to learn more about owned media channels and how you can leverage them to promote your district.

What are “owned” media channels?

Simply put, owned media channels are the means of communication that your district can control. These channels are affiliated with the district, and you get to choose how the content will look. Your district is the only entity that’s allowed to post on your owned media channels. You have full creative control over what you post and when you post it.

Owned media channels are key to communicating with stakeholders and the broader community. Stakeholders regularly tune in to these channels to hear the latest news about your district. Whichever channels you use, stakeholders know the content is coming directly from you. These channels give you a chance to speak on everything from student accomplishments to crisis situations. In other words, owned media channels give your district both a platform and a voice.

Here are some examples of the most common owned media channels:

  • Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages
  • District websites and portals
  • Newsletters (digital or print)
  • Brochures, postcards and pamphlets
  • Stakeholder surveys and polls
  • Email marketing campaigns

It’s equally important to recognize what doesn’t constitute an owned media channel. These are channels where your district isn’t allowed to post content (or, at the very least, you need permission from whoever owns the channel). It’s possible to release content on channels outside your district, but the owner has to approve your content first.

One of the most common examples is your local news station. When something newsworthy happens in your district, the local newspaper will likely be the first to report on it. Of course, you can’t control what the news says about your district. You can provide quotes, background and context about certain events, but how the public receives that information is up to the news station.

Here are some examples of what’s NOT an owned media channel:

  • Local news stations
  • The Associated Press
  • Personal social media accounts
  • The fire department
  • Law enforcement
  • Elected officials

There’s one more thing to keep in mind about owned media channels. You might control the content, but you can’t control how people respond to it. Once the content is out of your hands, stakeholders are free to interpret it however they want. Every time you release content, you’re inviting students, staff, families and community members to participate in an open discussion. Be prepared for mixed reactions, and understand how to handle them accordingly.

Why they’re essential for district marketing

Owned media channels serve a variety of purposes. First and foremost, they allow you to tell your district’s story. Pictures, videos, news releases, social media posts and other forms of content are designed to portray your district in a certain light. Content can help mold public perceptions of your district by promoting an image of excellence, collaboration and inclusivity. Win the community’s approval, and they’ll stand by your side even in the worst of times.

Your district’s owned media channels can also help you establish a unique brand voice. Branding will help your district stand out among all the others in your region. A community member should be able to glance at a piece of content and immediately know it came from your district. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two channels, either. The most effective brands span a wide range of owned media channels. That’ll allow stakeholders to become familiar with your district.

Maintaining a strong presence across multiple channels will increase visibility among prospective students and their families. Your district can use its owned media channels to highlight why parents should send their kids to school there. A ubiquitous brand reaches more people and improves your chances of gaining new students. Blogs, slideshows, mailers and video testimonials are just some of the many ways you can invite newcomers into your school community.

Aside from attracting potential students, owned media channels can put you in good standing with the stakeholders you already have. Posting to multiple channels on a regular basis makes stakeholders feel like valued members of the school community. Keep them in the loop, and ask for their feedback about district operations. Ongoing communication can earn their trust, respect and support.

Different ways to leverage your channels

Your district has many opportunities to connect with its stakeholders. Take stock of which channels you’re currently using, and see if you can add a few to the list. The most effective marketing efforts create a wide range of content that appeals to various stakeholder groups. This content should go on channels your stakeholders use the most.

Here are some content types and how to apply them to your owned media channels:

  • Videos: Videos are a great way to share announcements, create a montage of your district’s best moments or put a spotlight on teachers who go above and beyond. Videos (especially short ones) generate high levels of engagement, and you can upload them to multiple owned media channels. Post the video on social media, e-newsletters or your district’s website.
  • Infographics: Infographics summarize large amounts of data in visuals that are easy to understand. They’re a great tool for educating stakeholders about budgets, referenda and the district’s overall academic performance. You can post infographics pretty much anywhere, including brochures, postcards, web pages, social media and more.
  • Event photos: Similar to video content, photos often lead to high stakeholder engagement. Select photos taken at fundraisers, football games, awards banquets and any other event that tells your district’s story. The photos you choose should reflect a culture of community and academic excellence so that stakeholders view your district in a positive light. Posters, brochures, social media and your district’s homepage are all great places to promote the district’s brand with photos.
  • Testimonials: You can generate original content to promote your district’s story. But at the end of the day, stakeholders trust no one more than their fellow students, teachers and families. These groups can advocate for your district by providing a verbal or written testimonial explaining what they love about their schools. Testimonials are most effective on channels prospective families are most likely to see. Showcase your favorite testimonials on printed materials, and create a testimonial section on your district’s homepage.

There’s a lot of content out there about your district. Some of it you can’t control, but some of it you can. Tap into every channel you can to market the district and share what makes it special. Not only will this attract prospective students, it will also strengthen the relationships with your current stakeholders. Through owned media channels, the community will get to see all the wonderful things happening in their district.

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