An Open Letter to School PR

I recently met with members of the Texas School Public Relation Association to discuss their tactics on improving their education PR, social media campaigns and video production strategy.

From the beginning, it was clear just how unfamiliar I was the struggles of education PR. They live in a different world than I do. Brandcave works in a variety of scenarios, but none of them include superintendents, board meetings, budget committees or demanding parents. Our work helps generate leads and sales; their work is more consistent with politics and pleasing constituents. And, to be honest, I think most of them have a raw deal. My heart truly goes out to them.

They’ve been asked to write, plan and produce compelling video, and they haven’t reached the engagement they hoped for with their social media campaigns. All the while, their real job as a public relations practitioner has become increasingly difficult, not to mention more regulated, so engaging with their target audience is more complicated than they imagined.

After analyzing their issues, I suggested two encouragements:

Begin Videos With Solid Strategies

They asked great questions. Is it important to capture quality footage? How do I know if a video should be produced inhouse or outsourced? What’s worthy of a video? How do I measure the effectiveness of video?

Those questions are resolved by the answers to these questions: 1) What communication goal are you trying to achieve? 2) Who are you trying to reach?

When those questions are answered, details fall in place. That’s because your KPI (key performance indicator) determines the scope of work. It determines the message, quality, length, channel and measurement strategies. Without an intended end result, a video strategy is akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall. If there isn’t a call to action, do we really expect anything to happen?

Video is a great medium for many messages, but the quality of the video should be determined by the priority of the message. Is the focal point promoting a new bond or increasing awareness about a program? Those are two very different kinds of videos. They have different levels of severity. One is better suited for an email campaign; the other probably belongs on Facebook. One could be filmed by students with an iPad in a run-and-gun scenario. The other might require a professional production team using commercial equipment in a staged environment.

I might have oversimplified; I know their situation is much more complicated. The horror stories I heard blew me away.

One person told me their superintendent asked them to only produce viral videos. That’s incredible! Not only is it unattainable, it’s not even desirable. And, while I appreciate the sentiment to make videos that people enjoy, views are not a primary indicator of success. Moreover, virality for the sake of virality is not a solid strategy. It’s the same strategy a 14 year old girl has when she posts cover songs on Youtube.

I encouraged them to look into a video platform called Wistia ( Like Youtube or Vimeo, Wistia is a video hosting and curation platform. Unlike Youtube or Vimeo, Wistia is easier to manage for videos requiring in-depth marketing campaigns. It also allows you to add a custom call to action at the end of your videos (such as linking to another web page or capturing email). It is also easier to control comments.

Focus on Your Target Audience’s Social Networks

I mentioned the importance of understanding communication goals and target audiences earlier, and the same applies to social media campaigns. Their questions applied to improving social networks through public schools, but the management solutions are all the same.

Should schools join Snapchat? If a communication goal is to engage students, absolutely. How do schools engage parents? They might join them on Facebook. Using different platforms allows you to target individual audiences. It’s completely unnecessary, however, to join every social network.

Lastly, I encouraged them to look into a social media management tool called Buffer ( At Brandcave, we use Buffer to manage all of our client’s social media accounts. Besides the ability to schedule posts for all of the major social networks, Buffer allows users to work in teams. Multiple contributors can add and schedule content, and managers have the ability to approve them before they’re sent. In terms of enforcing policies, that’s a godsend. The analytics are phenomenal too.

This is just one example of Brandcave’s ability to improve an association’s social media and video strategy. We would love to do the same for you. Give us a call.