The Power Shift in School Communication: Make the Right Choice for IMAGE, PROMISE, RESULT


It's a time of rapid change for leaders of the communication in our 21st century schools.  Eric Sheninger, my partner in BrandED, and I use the term of Storyteller-in-Chief, in our book to give structure to the actions school leaders can use to control the narrative of their schools. I'm calling out all school leader storytellers! This is an internal and external leadership job that reaches to the future. We can no longer rely on one way channels of static reporting to our communities.

Our communication with the external world begins with self-discovery within our own internal school organizations. Communicating with our public is a now shared job, but school leaders are the models of how that school communication is lived each day.  We are the Storytellers-in-Chief, but our employees in the school must know the school's consistent story, one that captures our identity to create consistent communication with stakeholders. We need to advise our internal community about the stakeholders who engage with us. How do they perceive us in our communication? Are we trusted in our communication ability as we collectively tell our school story?  The most connected leaders exhibit that understanding as they lead their internal organizations, helping them tell the story of the school. They recognize that the balance of power in communication in their communities has shifted, just as it has in the business world. Our audience wants more communication value from us. This audience, call them stakeholders, consumers, customers are shifting the balance of power each day, communicating through the mobile, tablets, laptops they access during their day. They want that exchange with their schools and that  means a change from status quo communication to "business as unusual" for communicating the school's image, promise, and result which are the foundation of the school brand.

School Communication Thrives on Clear IMAGE, PROMISE ,RESULT

We can learn from every brand in business who knows that what they once confidently offered to their audiences in one way selling campaigns is "shouting" at us in traditional ways of billboards, newspaper ads and TV spots is a waste of time and money. Business communicators recognize their audiences are accessing content about their favorite brands and about their stories-- whenever they choose. Those consumers are sending kids to our schools and they want the same "feel" of communication from the school experience that they get in other important digital channels in their lives.

School leaders now have to control their school'sbrand Image. No longer can the one way message carry the communication for success with a consumer. Schools need a clear brand Promise. They are awakening to the role of digital and social in keeping a community informed and unified and engaged in the good work they do. Making a s promise as a business brand does, making a solid claim to the benefit the school brings is necessary. Schools need to show brand Result. They need new ways of creating and measuring their promise so those who engage see the positive result of the relationships that communication brings. Businesses have learned to become hyper-aware of what they are communicating against the demand of  their audience's 24/7 expectation to be satisfied. Schools are seeing that shift as well. Stakeholders want to be seen as important and  want have the power to communicate in an exchange with their school community. on a day to day basis. Fear not. It can build unity and community that shifts a school's culture, performance and resourcing. School leaders are experiencing the same shift of power in their communities that has created the evolution of brand in business. Why? Because today a school is a brand. Recognize the communication power of that unifying presence!

The common thread for opening a conversation among business leaders and schools for creating excellence in education is BRAND. A clear and connecting brand is carried through every channel of communication, analog and digital. Business and school leaders can agree that their communication value is PRIMARY to their success in today's world. Messaging highs and lows are a click away in communication today. In business and in education in this accelerated world, I point to the common bond of IMAGE, PROMISE, and RESULT.  This can unite an effort in communication on a large scale about educating the next generation. 

Image, Promise and Result can be the foundation of communicating Brand. Moreover, it opens the door to connecting business and schools in conversations about the future of those we are educating for another new world of communication that lies ahead.