I'm in San Francisco International about to board my flight back home to Dallas. I came in Friday afternoon and spent time Friday night and Saturday with a group of my former peers, the men and women who serve daily as the communications directors and representatives of the largest public school districts in America.
This was the ninth annual Council of Great City Schools PR Executives meeting and as far as professionals go, these are among the best in the nation. These are the people who work tirelessly (and exhausted) to help provide the public with current, honest and sometimes not the most pleasant news. Most in this line of work think of others before they think of what's best for themselves.
They are at the beck and call of their local news media, and even sometimes national and international news media. They constantly hear from parents, administrators, teachers, and the press. They visit your children's schools, and often know short cuts through your city to get there the fastest if an emergency happens. But they also have a lighter side. They all still have the ability to laugh, to cry, and always give a comforting smile in a heated situation.
Whenever I did an interview for TV in Dallas during my stint from 2001-2006, I always tried to put myself in the shoes of a parent, watching TV at home. What would they like to know about what happened. I knew if I was watching, I wouldn't want a stodgy answer that confused anyone. I was direct. I was honest and open.
My colleagues a great bunch of people and I enjoyed getting to visit with them this weekend, to host their event on behalf of my favorite client, and to catch up with their life in the trenches.
We got to talk about some very exciting things they're doing with social media as a way to enhance their communications with all of their audiences. That's fantastic news to hear. Now if their IT departments will only listen and understand that Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube can be helpful communications tools for parents, educators, the press and administrators.
Thanks guys for a great meeting. It was a pleasure to see Mary Louise from Indy Schools. Mary Louise has been to every one of the nine meetings and has me by seven! Thanks so much, too, to Henry and Tonya from CGCS for coordinating such a great conference. I'm sure everyone learned a lot from the topics of discussion and later today will have a great excitement about getting back home to begin putting into place some of the many ideas they've picked up this weekend.