School District Communication Tip of the Day – How to Create and Distribute a Daily Video

The ability to shoot, edit, and distribute high-quality video is a game changer in communications in general. It is especially powerful for those of us who communicate about education.

Not only is video highly engaging, but it can be shared in any number of ways. In fact, you might even be watching this video via a social media post, a website, YouTube, Vimeo, or another video-sharing site. The goal is to create a video with no shelf life that will be viewed again and again, hopefully for many years.

So, today’s tip is how I create these daily videos.

First, I write a brief script. I want these videos to be short and to the point, so I try to keep my script to 350 words or less.

Then, I record the script. I travel a lot, so my recording tools have to be portable. For a microphone, I recommend the very affordable Blue Snowball microphone.

I use a Mac, but PC users can also use Audacity, very good cross-platform application which is free to download and use. I record audio in many different places, including airports and even once on a train, so I use Audacity’s Noise Reduction feature to get rid of background noise.

After recording the audio, I create the video using a cross-platform tool called ScreenFlow. There are a lot of tools out there, most notably Camtasia, but I find that ScreenFlow is the most flexible and easiest to use.

By the way, I could record the audio using ScreenFlow. I just find it easier to use Audacity for audio.

Finally, I upload the video to various video-sharing sites, including YouTube and Vimeo. I also post it on our company website. The entire process, which I incorporate into my daily routine, takes me about 15 minutes a day.

If you have questions, please contact me using the feedback email address at the end of the video. And thanks for watching.

School District Communication Tip of the Day: Learn from Others

Great schools and districts frequently tell me about how they have learned from their peers in other districts. But we also know that in education, what works well for one school or district may not work as well for another.

The same is true with communication.

Spend time with your peers in other districts and pay attention to what is working. School and district leaders, including and perhaps especially the more veteran leaders, like to share their experiences.

As with educational approaches, learn to put your own spin on communications practices that other districts use. Most of all, in this era of great change, understand that the greatest communications-related skill you can have is the ability to learn from the experiences of others.

School District Communication Tip of the Day: Basics of Television Interviewing

Television reporters are often the most difficult members of the media for school and district leaders to respond to and work with. Unlike newspaper and radio reporters, who can do their work over the phone, television reporters need visuals, and therefore have to come to your school or district in person.

Here are a few tips for working with television media outlets.

Before you agree to a television interview, find out from the reporter exactly what they need and what questions they are going to ask you. Do not go on camera without knowing the exact nature of the interview.

When arranging an interview, it’s fair to tell reporters what you are willing to say on camera. For example, you might say, “I am happy to have you interview me but here is all I can say.” That will force them to decide whether the interview is worth their effort.

If it is an interview that you do not want to do because it is for a negative story, do not sit down. I have noticed that seated interviews tend to go on for much longer. If the story is a negative story or the interview is related to a crisis situation, suggest a quick standing interview, ideally near the entrance of a building.

Before any television reporters arrive at your school, tell them where they can and cannot film. Be specific and be firm. When they do arrive, assume that the camera is always running.

Keep in mind that an inexperienced reporter will ask lots of questions, while a more experienced reporter will ask just a few. Good reporters will also put you at ease.

Look at the interviewer, and not the camera. Never look into the lens.

Smile more than you normally would, and speak slowly.

Hold something in your hands. It puts your shoulders at ease. I like holding on to a quarter.

If you have a jacket, wear it.

Stay out of the wind.

The big light on top of the camera is very bright and off-putting. Be prepared.

Make a special point to be nice to the cameraperson. Unlike reporters, who tend to come and go, camerapersons tend to stay with a station for years and years. Be especially kind to them.

Another development to consider is that, increasingly, camerapersons are being sent out alone with a list of questions and no reporter. This is the best of both worlds, because you can answer the questions that are asked and throw in one of your own, by saying something like:

“You know, there’s another question you might consider, which is (ask question). If you were to ask me that I would say…”    

One final tip that is of special importance: most reporters, before the end of the interview, will ask, “Do you have anything else to add?” Use this opportunity to hit any message that you were not able to hit during the interview, or to reinforce your desired message.

School District Communication Tip of the Day: Ensure Ready Access to Communications Tools

Hi, this is Joe Donovan with today’s School District Communication Tip of the Day.

As we have discussed in previous videos, an important part of communications success is building the communications capacity of your key staff and administrative team. As effective communication gets increasingly important, it becomes clear that the team approach to communication is best.

With that said, school and district leaders must be in charge of communication.

As such, it is important that you have access to the various communication tools used by your school or district in the event that you must communicate quickly with your stakeholders , such as during a crisis situation.

Here is a tip: Make a list of all of your communication tools and relevant login information. Also include on the list who can administer each tool in your absence. Store the list in the cloud so you can access it anytime, anyplace.

Also, keep a list of important people and their contact information in a document stored in the cloud. This document may include the names and numbers of people such as your local police chief, school board members, principals and other key staff members, other educational leaders in the area, and the leaders of your PTOs or PTAs.

Regularly update these documents as needed.

School District Communication Tip of the Day: Media Interview

One of the more stressful things for school and district leaders is working with the media. Media relations can be especially challenging because most of us struggle with speaking in a way that translates well to a newspaper quote: we generally do not speak in sound bites.

When working with reporters, it’s important to understand the rules of the interview.

Remember…

If you say to the reporter that your following comments are “on the record,” it means that you are giving permission for your comments to be quoted.

If you say that your next comments are “on background,” it means you are providing information that can be attributed to you, but you will not be quoted directly.

Any good reporter will know and follow these rules.

Here is a tip: It is often easier for school leaders to speak “on background” when sharing necessary information so the news story will be correct. Speaking “on background” means that you can speak more freely since you are not being quoted verbatim.

Keep in mind, however, that you should never say anything to a reporter that you do not want in the news story.