Public Relations in Schools

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-01-01
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
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With chapter contributions by leading experts" Public Relations in Schools, 4/e," provides a comprehensive view of how community relations affect organizational behavior and the effective management of districts and schools. With a focus on communication alternatives in modern technology and political demands for change it offers an integrated foundation of theory and craft to help practitioners facilitate a positive change in public relations. Beginning with the organizational characteristics of public relations this text offers coverage of specific duties assumed by administrative personnel in planning, collecting and analyzing data, media relations, funding campaigns, evaluating public relations activities, and responding to crisis situations.

Table of Contents

School Public Relations: A New Agenda
Changes in Society and Schools
Public Opinions and Political Contexts
Legal and Ethical Aspects of Public Relations
Social Dimensions of Public Relations
Public Relations in a Communication Context
Programming in Public Schools
Programming in Private and Nontraditional Public Schools
Building Effective Public Relations Plans
Community Relations
Media Relationships
Collecting and Analyzing Decision-Oriented Data
Developing and Executing a Successful Funding Campaign
Responding to Crisis
Evaluating Public Relations Programs
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Although studying the relationship between schools and the communities has long been part of the curriculum completed by aspiring administrators, concerns about this essential association not only persist, they actually have increased. Reasons for the disjunction between theory and practice are many and varied. Some relate to demographic patterns. For example, schools have gotten larger at the same time that the communities they serve have grown more diverse. Other underlying reasons are less discernible and deeply rooted in the organizational culture of districts and schools. For instance, once in practice administrators often must choose between two contradictory dispositions toward community involvement. One, commonly studied in graduate school, posits that broad participation in public education policy and decision making is both morally correct and politically sound. The other, transmitted during socialization to the workplace, posits that external interventions and power sharing cause conflict and subsequently prevent managerial efficiency. Regrettably, the latter outlook remains dominant. Although traditional management beliefs and values toward community involvement persisted in education for many decades, the debilities of this disposition were not challenged widely until the 1980s and 1990s. America's transition from a manufacturing society to an information-based society provided both an infrastructure for rapid and frequent communication and an expectation that this infrastructure would be employed by administrators to engage the public. At the same time, demands for school improvement intensified. Over these two decades, the school reform agenda evolved, ultimately focusing on restructuring local districts and individual schools--a strategy that clearly favors citizen participation and relies on community acceptance. Given this social and political context, the need for administrators to adopt new values and beliefs toward communication and participation would appear axiomatic. Instead, many school officials continue to cling to outdated notions of efficiency, albeit more covertly than in the past. As a result, their interactions with parents, the media, and community leaders remain limited. For them, communication is a one-way process in which they disseminate information to their chosen audiences as they deem necessary. Communication behavior has both symbolic and real consequences. One-way approaches have not only hindered necessary organizational adaptations, but they also have reinforced convictions among policy elites that many administrators are either insecure about bringing all segments of the school's community together to engage in reform or philosophically opposed to doing so. Constructing a shared vision and implementing a strategic plan--arguably essential restructuring tasks--require broad-based participation. Therefore, this text focuses heavily on explaining communication alternatives and evaluating them in the context of modern technology, prevailing social conditions, and political demands for change. Two other noteworthy conditions inhibiting both effective school and community relations and meaningful school reform are given considerable attention in this book. The first is persisting misinterpretations of public relations. Unless administrators and the general public understand the concept of public relations and its vital role in organizational development, they are unlikely to support its core functions. Second, relationships between school officials and media representatives have often been counterproductive. In the aftermath of critical reform reports, administrators and school board members often blamed reporters for sensationalizing public education's shortcomings while purposefully ignoring its accomplishments. Consequently, at the time when image and relationship building are imperative, many education personnel view reporters as the enemy

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