Strategic Communications Plan

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1 Communications Infrastructure Strategic Communications Plan Staff of 3 communications graduate students and ancillary staff at partner organizations. Project is being completed as part of coursework for Master s Program. Goals The goal is create a strategic marketing strategy that will effectively communicate the unique opportunity presented by USC s Hybrid High to the parents of potential students. We want to emphasize the benefits of Hybrid High while downplaying any association with traditional alternative or online high schools. Our message will be that Hybrid High is a hybrid of charter school rigor of education and alternative high school flexibility of schedule. We will also create messaging that will provide consistent talking points for all staff members and members of the media. Target/ Target Audience We believe that if we properly communicate what sets Hybrid High apart from other charter schools, that parents will be enthusiastic about wanting their children to attend. The parents are our only target audience, but to reach them we must go through parent organizations, integrated social programs and churches. We will produce a one page document that outlines the benefits of Hybrid High, its unique structure, and dates for when parents can attend open forum meetings and focus groups. Research Personal interviews with parents representing the various ethnicities of the neighborhood around Hybrid High will be interviewed. Transcripts of these interviews will be content analyzed to come up with key messages that will have an impact on how Hybrid High should position itself with members of the community. This method can assist in understanding what our audience wants when choosing a charter high school and how we can best highlight the positives of Hybrid High. We will use previous academic research to learn how to best frame our messaging. The issue is really about providing a flexible learning environment that places an emphasis on completing coursework that will lead to college admission. We want to emphasize that the is open 7 days a week, 315 days a year, up to 12 hours day in order to both accommodate students schedules, and ensure that we state the courses are computer based, not online based. The most desired students are the ones who want to attend college and are high learners, but are not succeeding in school due to language barriers or home life problems. We need to involve their parents, inform them of Hybrid Highs strengths and requirements and get them to enroll their students. We also need to highlight USC s involvement in the school, which will help give Hybrid High s reputation an immediate boost in the eyes of the community. If sold as a community service of USC, the universities reputation within the community will automatically be

2 transferred over to the new high school. In this way, we do not need to try to launch the Hybrid High brand from a non-existent awareness level. Message Problem. The problem that Hybrid High is solving is that most charter schools do not provide the flexible schedule needed to accommodate at risk students and alternative schools do not push academics. Neither school type addresses the growing use of computer based and online learning environments. Hybrid High addresses all of these concerns, while being backed by USC and Ednovate, a leading Charter School management group. The main problem with Hybrid High s strategic communication thus far us is that the school has been slow to announce its fall 2012 opening due to their pending charter status. Hybrid High needs to immediately inform the community and parents of its existence and strengths. Solution. Focus groups, surveys, academic research and a stakeholder analysis should be conducted to discover the proper messaging framework. Take-home flyers and speaking points should be distributed to specific members of the contact network within the community. Action. The hand outs and talking points should include dates for focus groups and open forums where more information can be provided by school representatives. The messaging should stay consistent between all the information presented. Informational materials should be made available at key community points churches, centers, etc. Media should be invited via press release to attend an open forum in order to disseminate information regarding the school and its unique attributes. Materials should be made available to the press to ensure consistent messaging and accurate fact reporting. Spokespeople The best messengers in the first phase of the plan, the initial dissemination of information, will be players within the community parent leaders, church officials, etc. During the second phase, the focus groups and open forums, the best spokespeople will be members of the faculty and board for Hybrid High. A professional spokesperson from Ednovate would be a good candidate for leading the open forums. Media pieces could include interviews with Dr. Dwyer and the incoming principal, both of whom would accurately articulate the message of the school and display a passion for the project. Newshooks The involvement of USC, Hybrid High s 315/7/12 schedule, and Hybrid s emphasis on small classrooms and computer guided learning. A tagline communicating that Hybrid High combines the best of charter and alternative high schools into a college prep school would be a good angle for messaging and media pieces. The school s goal of a 100% college matriculation rate will also be a major selling point.

3 Once school has commenced, the communication leads can pre-screen two sets of students and parents and have them available for the media to profile and report on how this school design is giving these families a second chance at education when the traditional school system has failed them. This angle will position Hybrid High not just as another alternative school, but a solution to a critical problem in these communities. Media outlets to be targeted would be education reporters from the L.A. Times, L.A. Sentinel, Our Weekly, LA Voz, Hoy, Telemundo, Univision, and the local major network TV affiliates. Communications Channels and Outlets Our initial channel will be community partners, such as churches and integrated social service agencies, who can distribute newsletters and flyers. s linking to a landing page advertizing the school and open forums can be sent to prospective parents. These s can be procured by partnering with parent s organizations. We will also contact news media for interviews and profile pieces on the school. Pitch Reporters USC is proud to announce the opening of their brand new charter high school, Hybrid High. Hybrid High will be open 315 days a year, 7 days a week, up to 12 hours day in order to provide students with the flexible schedule that today s student requires. By combining computer based learning programs with direct teacher interaction, Hybrid High will prepare students for their future, one that includes earning a four-year college degree. Hybrid High is different because it is an educational institution that will adapt to the unique lives of students living in the cycle of poverty. Many of these students work, provide childcare or take care of relatives. The traditional school system, in this respect, has failed them. Hybrid High is an innovative way at educating our students with the most challenging needs. Hybrid High will encourage a passion for education within its students while providing a unique model that will change the way the community views the possibilities of charter schools. Open forums will be held for the community to announce this enrollment opportunity on XX. These forums will educate the public on the exciting educational opportunities offered by Hybrid High, as well as a chance to meet with some of the school s administrative staff. Social Media Strategy Create a Facebook page for Hybrid High where the staff can promote upcoming forums, post links and upload images and videos. All posts should be written in English and Spanish. A separate Spanish language page may be produced to avoid confusion for those who are using the Facebook page as their primary source of information. The goal of the Facebook page should be generating excitement for the upcoming enrollment and staying true to the school s messaging. A Twitter account can also be created that parents can follow for updates on upcoming forums this should also provide links for the media to gain more relevant information and contact Hybrid

4 High staff about article opportunities. A separate Spanish language feed would be necessary for twitter, as the character restrictions would make posting in both languages unfeasible. We would also recommend a third feed dedicated to academics where links to studies and feeds by the administrators to increase Hybrid High s visibility in the academic world. If Hybrid High is able to meet its goals, it could become the subject of academic research that will increase its reputation and help its goals of opening more schools in the future. Deliverables/ Collateral/ Event Media Advisories News Releases - yes Fact Sheets -yes Brief Bios of HHS Administration -yes Brochure -yes Web Newsroom Media Briefings yes Track Coverage Media tracking will be done by following up with pitched reporters to get a sense of any coverage. In addition, a Google Alert will be established with Hybrid High School as the key term. Every time, HHS appears in an online news story, we will be notified by . In addition, we can keep track of the number of flyers distributed by our community partners and the number of s sent. We can keep contact with all reporters and media personnel and receive updates on all official reports written. We can also create a Facebook page and Twitter feed to inform the public of upcoming information events. We can track friends, reposts, followers and retweets for all of our social media communications. Evaluation Our efforts will be a success if Hybrid High has an enrollment of 150 students who are prepared for the academic environment the school wants to offer. We want positive notice in the press and amongst the community, as well as accurate information and consistent messaging throughout all of our exposure. We do not want Hybrid High to be seen as an online school, a school for troubled students, but as a model for the future that can help students who want to go to college, but would be prevented from doing so by traditional environments.

5 Leave Behind Flyer

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