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Keys to creating an engaging superintendent blog

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By Jay Cooper
Oct 14, 2015 3:09:11 PM

You’ve read enough of them: blogs on every kind of topic imaginable and then some. From food to fitness, music to movies, comics to computers, gaming to gay rights, there’s thousands out there covering every possible topic under the sun.

But what about your superintendent? Does he or she have a blog?

I know what you’re thinking. "She’ll never go for it: takes too much time. Or, what is he going to write about? Who would read it? What good is it?"

What a superintendent blog can do

Let’s start with the why. Given the way people seek and process information these days, a blog can be your school’s best opportunity to engage parents and the community.

A blog gives your superintendent a forum to reinforce the school brand, strengthen ties with media, and depict your school leadership precisely the way you want. You have total control of the messaging, and can use it to articulate, support and clarify policy, and spark dialogue.

Note too that not all posts have to be serious. Some posts can be lighter than others. Simply sharing thoughts, photos, anecdotes, and other’s content can all help personalize your school’s leader.

If properly promoted, your superintendent’s blog can deliver the messaging priorities that can boost public confidence in your entire district. Promote it on your website homepage, share it on your school’s Facebook page and other social media, promote it through your non-digital school communications as well.

Parents, staff, students, media and community members can also easily subscribe to your superintendent’s blog. It’s a way for your key audiences to periodically touch base with the district’s leader.

Size up your superintendent

Maybe your district has one of those superintendents who is a great communicator and relishes the idea of sharing ideas in any forum. Add a blog, and you’ve got a ready-made vehicle to amplify your leader’s messages.

While some superintendents may welcome the thought of writing a blog, other’s may dread the task, still others may be too busy. Regardless who writes it, however, a blog from your district’s leader is a golden opportunity to share great content about your schools, issues, insights, and more.

Determine first whether your super’s an accomplished communicator who loves to write, or one who’s going to need some direction and hands-on help with the blog.

Getting help writing your superintendent’s blog

If I were a superintendent, I’d be certain to have a blog, even if I didn’t write it myself. Any school communications director or public relations specialist should be equipped to ghost write, so keep that in mind when you pitch the idea to your superintendent.

Kimberly Boryszewski, superintendent at Schiller Park, Illinois D81 schools, won an award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for excellence in social media. Her director of communications Kathy Brant, in fact, crafted some tips for how a superintendent and a school public relations specialist can collaborate when creating a super’s blog. She’s outlined their own process in an article titled Five Steps to Launching a Superintendent’s Blog.

Some districts prefer to have a ‘district’ blog that is written by the superintendent. That’s the route Mariemont City Schools in Ohio took. Technically the “Official Blog of Mariemont City Schools,” each article currently goes out over the superintendent’s actual signature – a nice personal touch.

What’s more, Josephine McKenrick. director of communications for Mariemont, came up with the “ConnectME” name for the blog, and developed a dedicated logo that takes that district’s superintendent’s blog to another level thanks to a brand developed around the blog itself.

How to increase blog readership

It’s one thing to have a superintendent’s blog; it’s another thing to get people to read it. Depending on your district’s digital literacy, your methods of driving people to your super’s blog will vary. There are a few tactics, however, every school should use to spread the word and get everyone reading and sharing your superintendent’s blog content.

First off, pick topics that your readers are interested in. Your school’s communications director and other key staff can help you with topic selection that are germane to your readers. If you’re in a public school, here’s a list of general topics surrounding the challenges facing most public school districts. Many of these topics pertain to private schools as well.

Two easy ways to promote your blog are email and your website. Blast an email to all your audiences, embedding a link to the blog itself in the body of the email. Also, feature your superintendent’s blog prominently on not only your district site homepage, but the individual schools’ homepages – especially if your principal doesn’t have his or her own blog (which he or she should have, by the way).

If your school’s website features good design, it should be relatively easy for your parents and school community to get to the blog quickly, without having to navigate through several menus and clicks. If there are design shortcomings to your school’s website, even the best blog won’t get discovered when surfing your site.

Use your school’s social media channels to promote your superintendent’s blog. Facebook posts, Tweets, and instagram posts – especially for those cool photos you want your super to be posting – are excellent avenues to link readers of those media back to your superintendent’s blog.

Take it a step further: some districts feature a superintendent’s video welcome message on their website, often posting it to the school’s Youtube channel, if they have one. Grab your phone and produce a video version of your superintendent’s blog installments, then post them on Youtube or Vimeo. Video and school Youtube channels are powerful ways to increase increase engagement with your school. Think in terms of re-purposing blog content accordingly.

Beyond digital methods, examine your other school communications tools to inform parents and your community about your superintendent’s blog. Take-home packets, posters, printed programs, school signage, school board meeting notes – take these opportunities to show everyone how to connect with your district’s leader.

Create a superintendent’s blog that works

It’s time to get a superintendent’s blog rolling in your district. It’s the best – and easiest way, really – to connect with your increasingly digital parents, staff, students, media, and community members. You can portray your district leadership with precise control of your messaging, and readily share it across other social media channels.

What’s more, it’s a great way to strengthen relationships and increase engagement by injecting that personal touch into your superintendent’s persona. With a superintendent’s blog, your district’s stakeholders will get to know him or her better.

Now that you’re on board for your district’s superintendent’s blog, check out this article on 7 steps to writing an awesome school blog article.

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Topics: Communication School Districts Private schools

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About the author

Marketing director and content strategist for SchoolNow, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at jay@schoolnow.com.