Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't Forget Your Constituents

When making a major news announcement, don't forget to inform your constituents.

Yesterday, my high schooler sent me a text informing me that our beloved high school principal (yeah, that's Mr. Paddock in the picture) announced to the 1,800 HS students in grades 10-12 that he would be retiring at the end of the school year.

This is big news for a number of reasons, so because I'm subscribed to the superintendent's e-mail announcement list, I waited yesterday for the "official" word. None came. When my daughter got home in the afternoon, she told me there were reporters at school to cover the story. Well, then, certainly, the superintendent would want to tell his constituents before they saw it on the 6 p.m. TV news, right?


The news was on TV last night AND announced in a decent-sized article in this morning's paper. That sent me and my bed head shuffling to my computer to check for an early morning e-mail from the superintendent because of course he wouldn't let his parents see it on TV news one night and in the newspaper the following morning without commenting himself.

OK, you know already... there was no note. Worse, there was nothing on the district Web site, either. An announcement has been added to the Web site since I first checked this morning, but I haven't received it via e-mail.

This is a good example of what not to do in school communications: Don't let your constituents get your news from the media or you will risk undermining your credibility and their trust in you.

Bottom line: As soon as Paddock announced to students in homeroom that he was retiring, the superintendent should have sent an announcement to his e-mail distribution list and posted it on the district Web site. It's OK for Mr. Paddock to tell his students first, but reporters shouldn't be getting the news before parents do. It's really that simple.

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