Maintaining a Public Image
There is a view among some Managers that publicity is a dangerous thing and should be avoided. It is true that there are dangers in becoming publicly recognised, but there are also important advantages: an unknown organisation cannot rely on its reputation to generate new business; and a good reputation can carry an organisation through difficult times.
Avoiding publicity is virtually impossible: if you donít seek it out then it will find you. And the publicity that comes to the organisation unbidden is seldom good publicity. So how can you ensure that your Academy builds a stock of goodwill with the local community? The answer is to make publicity a part of your organisationís communications strategy.
Things to Do
∑ Maintain a good relationship with the local press. Invite them in to talk to the students, provide news regularly and in a timely way, take out regular advertisements Ė even if you donít, strictly, need them!
∑ Work closely with the press office at your sponsor organisation. Your sponsor will be interested in both good and bad publicity, so keep they informed.
∑ Work closely with the press office of the local authority. They can be very helpful in your dealings with the local press.
∑ Produce regular press releases. Getting information for these releases will often involve getting information from teachers, and this can be difficult after the event. Academies should consider building the press release into the planning for any trip, visit or event.
∑ Be aware of the positive and negative publicity possibilities of events involving the Academy. This includes activities involving Academy students outside of the Academy, and the letting of Academy premises for non-educational purposes.
∑ Treat Freedom of Information requests as gaps in your public image. Publish the results of requests on your website Ė if nothing else, this may anticipate similar FOI requests. (Do not, though, maintain a bank of FOI answers on your website: an answer given two years ago may no longer be true.)
∑ Keep Senior Leadership informed about issues and developments as soon as you are aware of them. For external queries the Communications Manager is often the first contact.
∑ In times of crisis, be truthful, be discrete, and remind everyone what data protection, child protection and sub judice mean.
Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay.
What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.
Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any.