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

The Treasure of Trees – part I

It’s Time to Celebrate!

While some people I know and love are counting down until Pesach, I’m thinking about birthday parties. Truly, I’m thinking about one in particular – the one that occurs on the 15th of Shevat.

My mom and I share an annual laugh recollecting buxser – that inedible fruit that PTA moms, for some inexplicable reason, distributed to us each Tu b’Shevat. Perhaps they were dentists. Thankfully, my children were presented with sweeter, easier to bite, fruits and even participated in meaningful Tu b’Shevat sedarim. (Turns out that buxser is actually carob – but not those chocolaty chips I sprinkle on my frozen yogurt while pretending virtuously that I am eating a healthy, low-fat treat. Buxser is also noticeably absent from the list of biblical fruits that includes olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates.

Tu b’Shevat presents many easily implemented opportunities for marketing messages. In fact, this morning, I received a LinkedIn offer for a free poster from Aishdas. I must say that I was quite attracted to its marketing message, “We often complain that we spend so much time on the halachic trees, we lose sight of the forest. Hoping this helps you remember.” Why not take advantage of Tu b’Shevat to publicize how you keep your eye on both the trees and the forest – nurturing children, planting seeds, and reaping lasting, nourishing, wholesome, results?

Reach out to your stakeholders using these themes of planting, sowing, and reaping.

For a comprehensive list of resources, click here to read The Treasure of Trees – part II.

Should you have any questions about implement a Tu b’Shevat plan, marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, crafting compelling stories, utilizing data-driven research to present your case, or about any of my cost-effective day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

The Treasure of Trees – part II

Resources to Explore

Lookstein Center
The Lookstein Center compiles an extremely comprehensive annual list of resources including creative teaching activities, projects you can recommend to families, and Tu b’Shevat sedarim.

Hazon
Hazon’s shmita project
 expands awareness about the biblical Sabbatical tradition.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF)
JNF details the values represented with shmita.

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) website provides creative resources about the Jewish approach to the environment.

Click here to read The Treasure of Trees – part I.

Should you have any questions about implement a Tu b’Shevat plan, marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, crafting compelling stories, utilizing data-driven research to present your case, or about any of my cost-effective day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

What’s Your Story?

Tell me a story. Make it a good one!

Savvy administrators, educators, and fundraisers know the power of a compelling story. We’re told to collect them… so we always have the perfect story to illustrate a point, convince a parent, persuade a student, or seal a deal. Yet, finding a perfect gem to add dazzle to your school’s story collection can be overwhelming.

In her pitch for a nonprofit storytelling conference, Vanessa Chase shares five concrete questions you can use as prompts when trying to motivate others to share their stories. 

Watch and learn!

I hope that you are creating wonderful memories and stories this summer! Should you have any questions about marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, crafting compelling stories, utilizing data-driven research to present your case, or about any of my day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Summer Sizzle – part I

Cultivate Relationships

I hope you are relaxing a bit this summer. After all as the Gershwin lyrics proclaim, “Summer time and the living is easy…”

The classic Broadway hit contains a PR truth. August presents a wonderful opportunity for savvy educators and administrators to gain free media coverage for their schools. Sounds counterintuitive, I know. Yet, think about it. School is out, many business slow down. Nevertheless, radio and TV stations have to fill airtime, and newspapers must fill pages. Editors who feel the dearth of stories don’t want to sacrifice their credibility by running boring fillers. That’s where you can step in, fill the void, cultivate relationships with the media, and create a win-win situation.

What’s Your Story?
We discussed the importance of pitching stories strategically in past issues. While it’s nice to gather clips; they are not your only goal. 
If you missed What’s Your Story, a PR pitching primer, click here.

Summer Sizzle
Your smiling graduation pictures along with lists of your high school/seminary/yeshiva in Israel/Gap Year/College acceptances have appeared in the local news. Wondering what else to pitch? Here are some story ideas to make your schools summer PR sizzle.

 Promote an educational goal such as reading or reinforcing a foreign language
“Nothing, it’s summer!” was the clear response I received the other day when, after buying lemonade from my entrepreneurial ten-year old neighbor, I asked, “Read any good books lately?” Ask your reading specialist to provide five summer reading tips for different ages. Be sure she mentions community resources such as your local library’s summer reading program. In fact, pictures of your students at the library demonstrating how day school students are part of – not apart from – your community may be important to your school’s particular perception, recruitment, and retention challenges.

 Reinforce a foreign language
Many foreign language teacher say, “Use it or lose it.” And while daily Tefilah, weekly Parsha review and other studies, are probably part of your students’ lives; they do not reinforce Modern Hebrew language skills. Ask one of your Hebrew teachers to offer Five Easy Ways to Reinforce Language Skills. If you are pitching to a non–Jewish newspaper be sure to ensure your article’s universal appeal by making it clear that the skills described apply to all foreign languages.

 Enable high school students to build their brag sheets
Meaningful, interesting, and even quirky extracurriculars help high school students stand out from the crowd when applying to competitive colleges. While a summer stint doesn’t replace long-term commitment, it offers students time to explore new possibilities. Even students who worked at summer jobs often find themselves with down time in late August before school starts. Editors might appreciate your list of five suggestions to jump-start your High School Brag Sheet!

Click here to read To Summer Sizzle – part II

Should you have any questions about PR Pitches, developing and implementing a winning PR and fundraising plan, or about any of my cost-effective day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Summer Sizzle – part II

Think Healthy
Editors are always on the lookout for savvy, easy-to-implement health ideas. Wondering what you can contribute?

 Enlist a science teacher, school nurse or alum to submit a health article with a summer angle. Or, ask one of your budding journalist students to research and write the article.

 Skin Safety
Efficient tips about reducing exposure to the sun’s harmful rays are always welcome. How about deconstructing the sunscreen aisle?

 Summer Foods
Submit an article about summer foods that can help boost moods and reduce stress.

Provide easy to cook with your children summer recipes. For an educational spin, incorporate the hands-on math and science lessons that can be learned from each recipe. Keep it lighthearted and fun!

Warm Welcomes! Don’t wait until September to roll out the media welcome wagon to welcome new faculty members.

If you wait, the local papers might only have space for a headshot and a few lines head about an auteur nest Science teacher. In early August, however, the chances are better of running your entire story about her plans for each sixth grader to complete an original “green” project. Be sure to get double exposure from these “welcome aboard” articles: Post them on your website and distribute them to your parents in September.

Turn Holiday Time into Your Time.
Labor Day is labor free for most people – but not for radio and TV editors.

Editors still need guests. Let them know that you are available to be interviewed on Labor Day. A few weeks in advance, submit a few transitioning back to school ideas and chances are excellent that you’ll be on the news!

Look back…look ahead
Of course, this is always a good time to sum up the year’s challenges, innovations, and accomplishments. You’ll also want to introduce exciting new ventures for the next year.

Click here to read To Summer Sizzle – part I

Should you have any questions about PR Pitches, developing and implementing a winning PR and fundraising plan, or about any of my cost-effective day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman