By Marc C. Whitt
There is no other means more cost-effective, efficient and productive for your organization than public relations—if done correctly.
By following a few, simple objectives, you can launch a vibrant PR program that will develop and maintain better internal communication with your band, choir or orchestra parents, and enhance greater awareness and appreciation for the music program among your supporters (that is, school and school district’s administration, teachers and students, local citizens, businesses and civic organizations).
Public relations also provides much needed support as you advocate for your school’s music program.
The bottom line is this: If you can describe your parents organization or music program as the best kept secret in town, please do not consider that asa bragging point! People won’t support your program and efforts unless they know what you are about and how they can make a difference for your school’s band, choir or orchestra.
So buckle up and hold on! Your best kept secret is about to become the talk of the school and community!
- Appoint a Public Relations Coordinator – Perhaps your organization already has someone who is a public relations professional or who writes and communicates well. Make sure before someone is appointed or elected to this position that you and your band, choir or orchestra’s director have developed a job description that features clear, concise goals and expectations.
- Develop an Annual Public Relations Plan – Determine your organization’s goals for the year and list the ways you will communicate with your various constituents. Some of the most effective means are through news releases, email, social media, electronic newsletters, video and special events. A well-developed plan will help you stay on track as you monitor and measure your PR efforts.
- Host Special Events for the General Public and Media – Special events are among the best ways to bring people together and spark their interest and involvement with your school’s band, choir or orchestra program. In consultation with the music director, plan and execute events that will build and engage your music parents and their families as well as those from across your community and the media. And don’t be afraid to add a creative twist to your ongoing special events. Maybe invite your town’s mayor to be the guest conductor for a concert or a TV news personality to serve as emcee. The media often like to cover such appearances.
- Coordinate a Civic Organization Speakers Tour for the Music Director – What better way to bring the message of your school’s music program to the local community than by having your band, choir or orchestra director address a local civic organization during their monthly breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting! The heart of your director and his or her pitch for support will go a long way with these civic-minded leaders. You may also wish to have a student musician join the director on the program. I guarantee you will strike a major chord (no pun intended) with this community relations measure!
- Schedule Editorial Board Meetings with Local Media – Very few music parent organizations take advantage of meeting with their community’s newspaper, television and radio station editorial board or news staff. These are great ways for the president of the music parents organization along with the music director to sit down and update publishers and news editors on the vitality of the music program. Before proceeding, though, make sure to first contact your school district’s central office, especially the district’s public relations officer, to arrange for pre-approval. No one, including the school principal or district superintendent, should be surprised by you meeting with the media. However if planned well, editorial board meetings can further advance the cause of music education and your school’s music program through communication. You or your music director may also wish to occasionally prepare op-eds—or editorial page articles—touting your school’s band, choir or orchestra program. Sunday papers, in particular, work best for reaching a wide audience.
- Publicize! Publicize! Publicize! Once you have selected or elected someone to coordinate your organization’s PR efforts, make sure they publicize your fundraisers and special events by giving media plenty of “lead time.” Most traditional media ask that they be notified at least two-to-three weeks in advance of an event or launch of a community fundraiser. Also consider use of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Social media is one of the best, most effective ways to communicate with those most interested in your message.
These are but a few effective ways to implement public relations in your music parents organization’s efforts. Please feel free to share other ways you are implementing PR by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always enjoy hearing from all of you who support music in our schools. Happy PRing!