Let Your Message Shine

Capturing your Focus
Pictures, like word, communicate. We’re all familiar with the expression, “a picture says a thousand words.” That’s why I feel compelled to tell you about a recent email blast I received from my local yoga studio.

Discover Vinyasa Yoga
Dear Candace,

Tomorrow’s 4 pm woman only class will be taught by a new instructor, Jessica. Jessica has years of experience teaching Vinyasa flow yoga. Come and try her out!

Please note: The picture is a man, but this is a woman’s only class.

Frame your Message
Seriously?
Lest you think, this was a tzinut issue, I happen to know the women who do tree poses and downward dogs at this studio. They would never pixelate women’s faces! Even if the goal was to “lean to the tzniut right,” there are better options.

Of the yoga images featured in this eZine, which do you think would motivate a woman who enjoys yoga to try out a new instructor?

Do the pictures you choose enhance your message or do they sabotage your communication?

(I just spoke with frustrated board member of a pre-K through 12th grade school whose executive director insists on using only pre-K pictures in all their advertising because they are “so cute.” Careful: “cute” can be PR saboteur.)

Summer Objective
The summer is a great time to sift through old photos and create a compelling database of images!

Have questions? Contact me via email or call me at 516.569.8070 to schedule a free introductory chat about enhancing your communication.

Here’s Looking at You!
Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Draw, Aim, Release

Hitting the Mark

I imagine you’ve been receiving some Lag b’Omer emails – featuring bonfires. I know that I have. Those burning images make me think of two things:

1. S’mores and 2… well fires.

So, much as I would like to indulge, s’mores won’t help me shed the post-Pesach pounds. Nor could they be said to be integral to a heart healthy diet. Lighting a fire, on the other hand, can be helpful. Well… in a metaphoric, not arsonistic, manner.

Is it time for you to light a fire under your marketing materials? If they are working, perhaps not. Complacency, when you have a winning formula, may be just fine. After all, as they saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Yet, when it comes to recruitment, retention, and turning parents into goodwill ambassadors, communication is key. Tweaking, not total “fixing” may be in order.

The summer months ahead present an opportunity to determine if your messages are meaningful, compelling, and on-target.

Look at all your print and on-line materials. Are they consistent in terms of color schemes, font, and diction?

Is it time to:
Congratulate yourself on a job-well done?

Light a fire under some of your messages?

Realize that your messaging needs an overhaul – and toss most of your stale material into the “fire?”

Watch for next week’s issue about the impact of photo choices on messaging.

Contact me via email or call me at 516.569.8070 to schedule a free introductory chat to discuss how your messages can be more compelling.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Sushi, Shushan, and Speaking the Right Script – part I

Sushi Fun

I doubt there was sushi in Shushan – but I can tell you with absolute certainty that sushi making in my kitchen was a fun-filled family President’s’ Day activity!

Lest you suspect that I am “all play and no work,” I will share that I participated in more serious pre-Purim activities as well. In fact, the other night I attended a shiur given by Mrs. Moriaa Weiss, who teaches at Stern College of Yeshiva University. (The lecture was part of a year-long Tanach b’shana program. This could be an interesting course to offer to your parents and community – but that’s another megillah.) Mrs. Weiss pointed out a clever marketing strategy used by King Achashverosh. As the monarch of over 127 lands, he sent letters to the leaders of these lands written in their own languages and/or dialects. He could have said, “I’m the new guy in town; let my subjects get translators.” But he didn’t. Instead, he sent his missive out in accessible, comfortable language.
~
When you communicate clearly and effectively, in a way that makes the recipients of your messages feel comfortable, you create an attitude that is receptive to your message. Just food for thought! Speaking of food… enjoy the hamentaschen (and the sushi)!

Click here to read Sushi, Shushan, and Speaking the Right Script – part II

To learn more about crafting compelling messages that will inform and influence your readers, please send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Happy Purim!
Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Sushi, Shushan, and Speaking the Right Script – part II

Safely Celebrate

Every year we hear horrific stories that result from teenage drinking on Purim. Speak with your students. Partner with their parents and synagogues. Teens can be merry but also smart and safe!

Purim Treasure

Shalach Manot gift! Purim treasure just for you!

Be one of the first five responders and receive a free phone strategy session, which includes a review of a one or two page document.

To claim your purim treasure call 516.569.8070 or send me an email.

Dynamic PR

Ready to plan your authentic Pesach PR now? Request a consultation!

Click here to read Sushi, Shushan, and Speaking the Right Script – part I

To learn more about crafting compelling messages that will inform and influence your readers, please send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Happy Purim!
Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

A Kiwi & Some Dates Walk Into A Bar…

Let’s just say that yesterday I volunteered to do my favorite three-year-old’s Tu b’Shevat shopping. It turned out that my assignment was less then clear.

Sadly, I’ve heard parents complain that, at times their schools communicate in a confusing manner. Perhaps in attempting to have a wide appeal the administration is sending watered-down generic messages. Or, perhaps the person charged with communications  lacks clear direction. A host of reasons can be responsible for poor communication.

Be sure you don’t get dates when you want kiwis!
Be sure that all your messages are clear and compelling!

To learn more about my crystal clear Creative Communications services, or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Happy Tu b’Shevat! Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

ps. Are you curious? I bought two kiwis and a container of dates!

Social Media

It used to take a day or two for gossip to spread. Now thanks to social media, it’s instantaneous!

My friend Ari Katz recently shared this article with me. As the director of Camp Mesorah, he had summer camp in mind. Clearly, his message applies to schools as well. Social media can be dangerous for campers, students, their parents, and institutions.

Today, hundreds if not thousands, of parents feel free to comment about perceived insults, challenging assignments, gross fish sticks, or annoying new policies. In the past, an upset parent might have commented to a friend, “My child had too much homework tonight – it was just busy work!” Or… “I thought the school trip was disorganized.” Perhaps the parent would have put a note in their child’s knapsack or called an administrator.

Channeling negative social media is a challenge. First, you need to point out the possibility of a culture that promotes negativity, snarkiness, and a lack of ownership. Mot important, you must create an alternative, open communication environment so that parents know their feelings and needs will be heard and addressed.

I remember the day I introduced my grandmother to the Internet. She asked, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” I replied, “both.” It’s up to us to ensure that it is a good thing.

Click here for more insights and helpful advice from Ari Katz.

To learn more about crafting compelling mission statements, creating memorable narratives, or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

The Authentic Face – part I

Buzz Words

Buzzwords come and go. We could dismiss them as passing fashions or recognize that they reflect societal concerns. Last week at two different professional conferences I attended, the word that dominated all conversations was: authenticity.

In today’s politically charged climate, the thirst for authenticity is not surprising. As Purim and its themes of masks, unmasking and Jewish identity and survival approach, I invite you to consider how authenticity applies to your school.

That might seem strange. After all – how could you not be authentic if you are a Jewish school? Isn’t honesty a core value? Sure, but… from a messaging perspective, you might be surprised.

Let me “share.” During the past month I’ve spent too much time perusing “Jewish women’s” Facebook sites. The wildly divergent responses to posts inquiring about schools committed to specific priorities in specific areas shocked me. (Of course, as a person who has been labeled yeshivish, modern-machmir, and left wing orthodox on the same day, I know that labels are in the mind of the labeller.) Yet, it seems clear that, in an effort to be all things to all people, many schools are not getting a clear, authentic message out.

Click here to read The Authentic Face – part II

To learn more about compelling video marketing tools or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

The Authentic Face – part II

Unmasked, Authentic Face

So – what should a school do? Be transparent! Explain your priorities. How? Well, I know of two single sex-schools that proclaim their Zionism proudly. One prides itself on the floats that students spend months creating for the Salute to Israel parade; the other excuses students who cut school, with parental permission, to attend the parade. To use Facebook vernacular: what’s up with that? School number two does not want its boys to socialize on Fifth Avenue with the girls from school number one (or any girls from any school). That core value surpasses attending the parade. Both schools should have marketing messages that make their priorities clear. One pluralistic school I worked for professes its inclusive welcoming of all families. Yet, it schedules mandatory family activities on Shabbat – granting shomrei Shabbat students who don’t live in walking distance of the school a pass. Authentically welcoming?

Your messages must be honest. It is not disingenuous to highlight certain priorities to specific parents and stakeholders. Of course, you need to address each parent’s concerns. In terms of unmasking, one constituent may need to see your eyes, another your mouth and a third – your ears (or your Ivrit b’Ivirt, STEM, and learning disabilities program). But, ultimately everyone must see your whole unmasked, authentic face.

Explore Purim! 

A few links to Purim Resources.

Lookstein Center

JTeach, (You may need to register.)

Jewish Agency

Click here to read The Authentic Face – part I

To learn more about compelling video marketing tools or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Lights, Camera, Action! – part I

Lights, Camera, Action!

“You’re ok live on camera, right?” This simple question makes many uber-confident heads of school, principals, and executive directors shudder!

Chances are, like it or not, you will be asked to do live interviews. Some might be the softball variety – requiring perhaps a few nice words as an honoree, some may be for local TV stations seeking color about Jewish holidays or your social action leadership program, while others may be interviews with reporters whose agendas are not clear-cut.

We’ve all suffered through dinners featuring normally vivacious educators and leaders looking stiff and uncomfortable. Worse, we’ve seen articulate people deliver memorized words in drab monotones. Since you don’t want to be THAT person on camera, take some time to prepare!

Click here to read Lights, Camera, Action! – part II

To learn more about compelling video marketing tools or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Lights, Camera, Action! – part II

Set the Stage

Except for circumstances where you have no advance warning, it’s best to prepare by practicing your message and your presentation style. These tips from photographer/videographer Judah Harris should help.

  Be sure that you know, to the greatest extent possible, the intended purpose of the video, where it will be seen, and why you’re the person being asked to appear on camera.

  Think not only about what you want to say, but also – especially if this is a marketing message – what the viewers might want to hear. Connect the two as seamlessly as possible. Stick to your message, but consider your audience.

  For a more natural (and believable) presentation, DO NOT memorize your text. Of course, you need to remember select ideas and specific key words so that you remember to incorporate them.

  Don’t be afraid to stop talking and look directly into the camera. Pauses can be very effective.

  Let the interviewer lead the way. Refrain from answering before the question has been completed… even if you are sure you know exactly what the question is.

  How are you doing on camera? If your school is producing this video, ask for the producer’s candid feedback. Are you coming across as interesting, believable, and clearly understood? If not, request a retake. (You certainly have this luxury when your school, not a TV station, has commissioned the interview.)

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Judah S. Harris is a photographer and filmmaker whose photography documenting Jewish life has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York City, Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv, and the Klutznick National Museum in Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit his website.
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There is a classic tale from the Talmud (Ta’anit page 23A), of Honi Ha-Me’agel, the circle maker, who came upon an old man planting a carob tree.  Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?”  The man replied, “Seventy years.”  Honi then asked, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree?”  The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”  Trees help us focus on the next generation… on a meaningful future.

On Tu b’Shevat (and every day) we applaud the Jewish educators who focus on the next generation day in and day out to ensure that our legacy continues mi’dor l’dor. I extend a personal mazal tov to our next generation: Bella! Of course… a hearty yashar koach to her parents and all her morot at Yeshiva Har Torah.

Click here to read Lights, Camera, Action! – part I

To learn more about compelling video marketing tools or any of my other day school marketing and development services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman