Home' Teacher : October 2010 Contents LEADERSHIP 53
The launch of the My School website developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and
Reporting Authority (ACARA) earlier this year has spawned furious debate, and turned the spot-
light on the competitive world that schools operate in.
As in any competition, schools now need to fight for reputation and recognition to continue
operating at their peak.
In May, the Australian published the first analysis of Australia's 'top 100 schools,' using the
numeracy and literacy results on the My School website to produce league tables that opponents
say will cause significant damage to a school's reputation, enrolments, funding, teacher recruitment
and, importantly, student welfare.
Data from ACARA's National Assessment Program -- Literacy and Numeracy tests and league
tables derived from them, rightly or wrongly, fair or not, will now become one of the greatest
influencers when it comes to the perception of a school -- both government and non-government.
That doesn't mean schools should sit back and let their reputation be influenced in this way,
and that's where marketing, communications and public relations come into play.
In the world of marketing, com munications and public relations, perception is reality and every
school has the opportunity to build its positive reputation and its place in the hearts and minds of
the people of its local community.
The best way to build, enhance and then protect your school's positive reputation is in a planned
way, by developing a communications strategy.
Textbook definitions aside and in simple terms, a com munications strategy is a plan to com-
municate the right information to the right people at the right time.
Its purpose is to influence your com munity in the way you intend. This influence must be based
on a change in or maintenance of the way your community or target audiences think about you,
act towards you and talk about you to others.
So, where to start?
Every day, your school community is bombarded by the disciplines and tools of com munication
from advertising, social media and direct marketing to special events and media publicity.
The only way to start planning a communications strategy, which will effectively connect with
your intended audiences, is to do the strategic work up front.
Many organisations simply plan a schedule of events and activities and call this the communica-
tions strategy, but unless you have clearly articulated in a written document who you are trying
to reach and why, what the messages are that they want to hear from you (not what you want to
tell them) and how you can measure their response, you don't actually have a strategy or even a
real plan, certainly not one that has the best chance of being effective.
IN THIS COMPETITIVE WORLD, IT'S VITAL THAT YOU ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A
POSITIVE REPUTATION FOR YOUR SCHOOL WITH CAREFUL COMMUNICATIONS
PLANNING. SAM ELAM AND KATRINA BYERS EXPLAIN HOW.
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