COMMUNICATIONS PLAN. Prepared by Communications Services. Golden, Colorado 80401

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1 COMMUNICATIONS PLAN Prepared by Communications Services 1829 Denver West Page Drive, 1 Bldg 27 Golden, Colorado 80401

2 MISSION Jeffco Public Schools Communications Services exists to help the district and the Board of Education communicate with internal and external stakeholders. It is committed to helping the district achieve the goal of providing a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future. Our mission is to establish positive relationships and credibility between Jeffco Public Schools and its stakeholders through the timely and accurate dissemination of information. The department also serves as a crucial link between the media and the district in both proactive and reactive news situations. District Mission To provide a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future District Values Integrity, valuing people, teamwork and exemplary performance Page 2

3 INTRODUCTION This communications plan will serve as a guide for Jeffco Public Schools communications strategies during the school year. It will ensure the communications efforts align with the district s Call to Action strategic plan goals and meets the mandates of District Policy KD (Public Engagement and Communications Program) and Ends Policy 8 (ensure effective communication with employees and community members). It will guide the district as it communicates key messages effectively to all its audiences. Ongoing communications efforts Jeffco Public Schools Communications Services department is an award-winning team of professionals dedicated to serving principals, schools, managers and departments to meet all of their communication needs. The following activities are performed continuously, some every day: Media relations We work to publicize our schools good news; events, activities and awards. We serve as the district spokespeople and as a liaison between schools, the district and the media. A strong relationship with the media is also important in promoting district, student and staff accomplishments. Public relations counsel and training We develop communications plans; train staff and parent groups; and provide public relations, marketing and communications counsel on issues that impact schools, departments and the district. The communications staff provides advice on written and oral material, including school newsletters, letters home, brochures, talking points, key message development, media requests, etc. Community relations and outreach This area of focus is designed to build support and reach out to the greater Jefferson County community. We work with dozens of community groups, service clubs and organizations, and key business and opinion leaders to inform, recruit and promote community involvement. Crisis communication and management We provide counsel to schools and district leaders to resolve crisis situations and/or emergencies, including the use of communication vehicles like parent letters, social media, talking points and key messages. We also provide crisis media relations when schools are locked down or have experienced an incident. Employee communications The communications team is responsible for the content and/or publishing of e-newsletters and online information for Jeffco employees. Employee Connections Employee Connections is an online portal with information specific to Jeffco employees. The communications webmaster regularly posts information on Employee Connections and coordinates content creation and web architecture. Page 3

4 Multimedia production The media production specialist produces informational videos for employees with messages from the superintendent and other district employees about budget issues, assessment scores and other timely topics. The videos are available on the Employee Connections website as well as in SuperNews and the Messenger. Multimedia presentations are produced for community meetings, budget forums and internal leadership meetings. Jeffco Public Schools photographs are also used in all of our publications, presentations, district website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. SuperNews (direct from the superintendent) SuperNews is an newsletter from the superintendent directly to employees. The Leadership Memo One of the most popular informational tools, this weekly publication is sent to all administrators (principals, assistant principals, department managers and supervisors and principal s secretaries), and features brief updates on current district issues in a quick, easyto-read manner. Information is divided into action items, management items, instructional news, training and development opportunities, and FYI reminders. Administrators receiving the Leadership Memo are encouraged to share the information with their staff. The Messenger A weekly e-newsletter for employees published during the school year, The Messenger, is available to district employees via and on the district s website. The Messenger contains district news and information, job opportunities and announcements. Other publications and social media Annual Report The annual report showcases the district s achievement and accomplishments of the strategic plan. The annual report is published online each year. The annual report can be accessed here: Members of the public may request a printed copy. Good News about Jeffco Public Schools Good News is a weekly e-newsletter sent to over 1,800 readers. The goal of the publication is to provide a snapshot of the many accomplishments that occur in Jeffco schools every week. Recipients include parents, community members, business leaders, media and organizations. Jeffco Schools Quarterly The Jeffco Schools Quarterly is a partnership between Jeffco Public Schools and Colorado Community Media Newspapers. It is distributed to approximately 80,000 community members, business leaders, teachers and parents in Jefferson County three times per year. It includes district news, events, budget information, feature stories, district resources and Page 4

5 more. Jeffco schools also receive approximately 25 copies for distribution to parents and visitors. Chalk Talk (e-newsletter for parents) Chalk Talk is a monthly e-newsletter sent to Jeffco parents. It serves as an information tool to communicate district news and events to the community. The e-newsletter is available in English, Spanish and Russian. Key Communique The Key Communiqué is a publication for members of the Key Communicators network which consists of community leaders, Jeffco residents and parents. The Key Communiqué is published monthly with news about Jeffco schools. Jeffco s Facebook,Twitter and Instagram pages Jeffco s Facebook and Twitter pages provide real-time district and school news to the community. The pages are used as a tool to relay information of school closures, emergencies, good news and events. The pages aim to engage community about local, state and national education news/topics, report from live board of education meetings and other district meetings and events and post student and staff pictures and achievements. Instagram is used to share photos from around the district. Engage Jeffco Schools EngageJeffco is a virtual town hall experience where anyone with an interest in Jeffco Schools can engage in a conversation and share ideas about topics affecting students and the community from budget to homework help. Topics change on a regular basis and ideas can be shared with district leadership. The site can also be used for instant polls and for posting upcoming events of interest to the community. Jeffco Public Schools website The district s website, is a comprehensive source of information about district programs, schools, curriculum, policies, events and operations. It was designed to meet the information needs of parents, students and the community. The site was created using web best practices, which included a usability study conducted with parents, students and staff. The performance of the site is monitored using analytics and a yearly online user survey is conducted to ensure the site meets key indicators and the goals of the district's Call to Action. School Profiles: The online school profiles, provide parents and students detailed information about Jeffco Public Schools. Communications Services maintains these profiles which are updated several times a year. Page 5

6 VISION It is the vision of Communications Services to develop a high level of support from the community for Jeffco Public Schools. Through efficient and productive communications with all stakeholders, the district will be known for providing a quality education for all students and for being a good steward of taxpayer money. The district will actively pursue two-way communications by listening to its staff and community to continuously improve and evaluate communications efforts. Communications Services efforts will help Jeffco students be known for their educational excellence and for their community leadership. Communications Services will help our employees be knowledgeable ambassadors for the district, communicating key messages to the community. TARGET AUDIENCES Internal Jeffco Public School employees External Parents Students Businesses, partners The community Media Page 6

7 IMPLEMENTATION PLAN Goal 1: Establish an effective community relations program to build collaborative relationships and strengthen support for and confidence in Jeffco Public Schools. Strategy 1: Cultivate and strengthen relationships with the district s Key Communicators to engage them in the district s vision and financial challenges to help them understand and engage in the vision and challenges. Tactic 1: Ongoing update of the Key Communicator database. Tactic 2: Exchange information for use in communications with established parent organizations (PTA): assist County Council students with marketing of annual Senior Citizen Ball Publish the Jeffco Schools Quarterly as a district communication tool for Jeffco residents who have children in school and those who do not. Strategy 2: Determine public attitudes toward the district and increase awareness and support for Jeffco Schools. Tactic 1: Update list of strategically selected community organizations. Tactic 2: Continue to evaluate groups for their strategic relationship to the district. Tactic 3: Conduct public opinion research and feedback through website ( and social media. Strategy 3: Leverage external communications through existing community and civic publications such as neighborhood newsletters, municipal newsletters and other targeted community publications. Tactic 1: Use local publications to communicate strategic information: Arvada Report Looking at Lakewood City & Mountain Views Wheat Ridge Connection Lakewood Friday Report Yourhub.denverpost.com Tactic 2: Develop an editorial calendar to pitch articles on a regular basis to targeted publications. Page 7

8 Strategy 4: Explore the development of a district-wide school volunteer program through a needs analysis. Tactic 1: During the school year, Communications Services staff assessed the current volunteer programs available in the district to determine if a school-based volunteer program is viable. Tactic 2: Met with Oasis coordinator and determined 30 elementary schools use the program that organizes adults and senior citizens to tutor students in kindergarten through fourth-grade. Tactic 3: Discussed pilot volunteer program with Human Resources and Risk Management. The pilot program coordinates athletic coaches and activities volunteers at six high schools through application and screening process. Goal of pilot program is to implement a district-wide volunteer program. Tactic 4: During the school year, we received input from principals through volunteer survey in Leadership Memo regarding volunteer needs and already established programs at the school level. Of the 49 schools that responded, two schools do not currently have a volunteer program. Tactic 5: Listed communications services as point of contact for prospective volunteers on community and volunteer Web page to assess community interest. Tactic 6: Recommendation at this time is to continue to evaluate community interest and school needs as well as explore possibility of leveraging current Human Resources and Risk Management pilot program. Tactic 7: Volunteers have been given access to work on district websites. Page 8

9 Strategy 5: Maintain and improve superintendent s outreach programs. Tactic 1: Arrange speaking engagements for the superintendent at strategically selected community and civic organizations. Tactic 2: Maintain and continue to build the Key Communicator database. Tactic 3: Conduct virtual town hall meetings. Tactic 5: Use of videos with the superintendent to reach parents, employees and the community at large. Page 9

10 Goal 2: Establish an effective media relations program that enhances the district s image in the community. Strategy 1: Develop a strategic media communications program that is proactive and reactive. Tactic 1: Respond in a timely, reliable fashion to media inquiries and requests. Tactic 2: Write and distribute op-ed pieces about district educational issues to local media. Tactic 3: Provide the local and national media with proactive stories about Jeffco Public Schools. During the school year, the communications department pitched/posted 401 positive Jeffco education stories to local/national media. Tactic 4: Assist media by providing access to schools/classrooms and district education experts who can provide interviews and background information about important education-related topics. Tactic 5: Distribute an annual media survey to measure satisfaction with district communications team. Tactic 6: Members of communications services team will act as district spokespeople and public information officers when necessary. Tactic 7: Social media has become part of media relations; many reporters follow the district s Twitter feed and Facebook page. Communications services will continue to use Facebook and Twitter to inform the media. Page 10

11 Goal 3: Establish an effective employee communications program that improves knowledge about, and support for, the district. Strategy 1: Continue to strengthen the content and design of key communication tools for employees. Tactic 1: Deliver a weekly employee e-newsletter, The Messenger, to provide timely district and education news, board of education agendas and action items, Jeffco events, photographs/videos and feature stories to all Jeffco employees. Tactic 2: Deliver daily media monitoring reports of current Jeffco and other education-related media stories to district cabinet members, department leaders and other employees as requested. Tactic 3: Deliver the superintendent s e-newsletter, SuperNews, to all employees on a monthly basis during the school year and more frequently as needed. Tactic 4: Deliver the weekly e-newsletter, The Leadership Memo, to district leadership. Tactic 5: Use Employee Connections Web page to post important information for employees. Tactic 6: Utilize the Education Center lobby s digital sign to highlight district publications, events, student pictures and share positive Jeffco education stories. Tactic 7: Produce videos with stories and topics that impact employees which are then incorporated into district publications and social media. Tactic 8: Use social media and Schoology to enhance employee communications. Page 11

12 Goal 4: Establish a strong, positive connection between individual schools and their communities. Strategy 1: Develop tools and resources to help principals become more effective in their roles as communicators for the district. Tactic 1: Provide assistance to schools as needed for: marketing analysis, brochures, Web pages, Key Communicator networks review schools current communications methods and tools as requested including video and still shots. Tactic 2: Provide media training that will help principals understand how to work with the media and develop skills to communicate appropriate messages for their schools (as needed). Tactic 3: Write and distribute articles for school newsletters on important topics; will include photographs/video when appropriate. Tactic 4: Review school websites and make suggestions for improvements. Strategy 2: Update targeted communications for parents of Jeffco preschoolers. Tactic 1: Ongoing updates to the preschool Web page. Tactic 2: Post information about school and district news and education topics through social media websites catering to moms of toddlers/preschoolers. Tactic 3: Preschool information is available on school websites where preschools are located. Page 12

13 Goal 5: Support members of the Board of Education in their efforts to engage the community around district issues and initiatives. Strategy 1: Develop strategies for effective community engagement for the Board of Education. Tactic 1: Communications Services team will utilize social media to inform the public about board meetings (i.e. Twitter and Facebook). Tactic 2: Support board members with talking points and frequently asked questions on district issues. Tactic 3: Support board members with informational videos and PowerPoint presentations to be used during public meetings. Tactic 4: Utilize Twitter and Facebook from regular Board of Education meetings. Page 13

14 Goal 6: Communicate the district s vision and goals through strategic messaging. Strategy 1: Develop message/position statements that represent the district s vision, goals, challenges and accomplishments. Tactic 1: Evaluate the district s Call to Action strategic plan to determine messaging points. Tactic 2: Communicate financial challenges. Produce video stories and interviews for website, Facebook, and internal and external e-newsletters that represent the district s goals and challenges. Page 14

15 Goal 7: Improve the public s access to online district information and provide online tools that empower the public to interact with Jeffco Public Schools. Strategy 1: Develop online communications, including websites, for stakeholders parents, students, potential employees, businesses and the general public that best facilitate the flow of information and provides an efficient and clear delivery of district services. Tactic 1: Improve the Web governance structure and organizational policies that define responsibilities, relationships, and rules involved in managing the district s online communications. Tactic 2: Gather data and analyze the needs of stakeholders (Web and social media users) in order to develop an appropriate Web/online structure and content. Tactic 3: Work with IT to identify technology that will facilitate accurate and timely communications with stakeholders. Tactic 4: Provide access to online tools such as Parent Portal, SchoolMessenger, Jeffco Connect and Schoology. Tactic 5: Write appropriate content for the identified Web audience. Tactic 6: Identify news and other content that can be published online to keep stakeholders informed. Tactic 7: Use website analytics data to monitor usage and ensure best practices. Strategy 2: Use social media to provide immediate two-way communications with stakeholders and build relationships and awareness of issues. Tactic 1: Create and maintain Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites to reach stakeholders who use these forms of online communications. Tactic 2: Use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to extend the reach of our communications and improve the district s reputation. Tactic 3: Use EngageJeffco to create a dialogue with the community about educational topics affecting schools and students. Tactic 4: Support the use of Schoology as a learning-focused social media tool. Page 15

16 Tactic 5: Use Twitter and Facebook to provide real-time communications about events, school board meetings, activities and crisis situations. Tactic 6: Use social media to monitor conversations about Jeffco Public Schools and manage rumors and misinformation. Page 16

17 Goal 8: Create an effective crisis communications strategy that ensures the public and staff are informed, safeguards student and staff privacy, maintains safety and protects the educational process. Strategy 1: Identify and prepare communications tools to be used during a crisis. Tactic 1: Ensure that staff is trained on SchoolMessenger the district s emergency messaging system for communicating with parents via phone, text and . Tactic 2: Create and maintain an emergency school closure/alert Web page and social media sites. Tactic 3: Maintain an emergency school closure/alert phone line. Tactic 4: Develop a media call list for school emergency alerts. Strategy 2: Identify key roles and responsibility to be instituted during a crisis. Tactic 1: Determine decision points and timeline for release of alerts and notifications. Tactic 2: Coordinate with law enforcement on the release of information to ensure its accuracy. Strategy 3: Develop and use key messages. Tactic 1: Identify target audiences. Tactic 2: Write base key messages for parents, media, students, staff, and general public. Tactic 3: Identify timelines for communications. Tactic 4: Identify affected individuals and ensure their privacy. Tactic 5: Work with law enforcement/first responders in developing key messages. Tactic 6: Gather background information. Page 17

18 Strategy 4: Develop media plan. Tactic 1: Identify a media staging area. Tactic 2: Identify media onsite at crisis area. Tactic 3: Determine coordination with law enforcement/first responders. Tactic 4: Identify and communicate timeline for updates to the media. Strategy 5: Work with schools to prepare for crisis communications. Tactic 1: Communicate to principals how the communications team will support them during a crisis, which may include SchoolMessenger, Facebook and/or Twitter. Page 18

19 EVALUATION AND MEASUREMENT The following resources will be utilized to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of this communications plan. Principal/leadership survey Employee survey Chalk Talk survey Key Communicator survey Community feedback Media survey Media hits proactive Social media usage: Facebook friends and Twitter followers Messenger survey Website usage CONCLUSION This communications plan is an outline for communications efforts in Should the district s needs change significantly during this time period, this plan will be altered. This plan will be updated each year to reflect progress and new goals. Page 19

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