Ready, Set, Go! – part II

Which leads me to two ideas to share.

1. We think in terms of the calendar but how often do we seize the opportunity to do April’s work in January? How do you shake up your marketing messages so they don’t get stale? What do you do about recruitment in November? What about hakarat ha tov – not around Thanksgiving but in February? If you are the only school in town you don’t want to bore editors. If you are one of four local day schools pitching the same reporters, you need to pitch creatively and differently. Consistent marketing should never be boring!

2. Life-skills: Your parents want to know that their children will be ready to forge their way in the world. Stellar time management skills are crucial. And… all the apps in the world can’t teach them! I will never forget the very sad day when – after driving a car pool in which young ladies claimed to have studied nine, ten, and even twelve hours for a Navi quiz – I asked a school administrator to help them master time management and study skills. He showed me an impressive age-appropriate time management workbook and said, “We don’t have time.” One super-effective marketing theme – that can include several different narratives – can be pitching your school as one that teaches students critical life skills. Think about it – if you have time!

Click here to read Ready, Set, Go! – part I

As you look ahead to Tu b’Shevat, Purim, and Pesach – I wish you a calendar full of dynamic learning experiences. Should you wish to discuss ways to plan effective, creative, marketing calendars – or even a pitch or two, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Where are all the Morot?

Allow me to share two seemingly related memories:

Recently I attended a Jewish communal leadership seminar where participants spent 15 minutes creating mission statements. The statement that impressed me the most was written by a young educator who not only crafted a clear, compelling mission but also articulated HOW he aimed to achieve it – within the 25-word limit!

Last week my favorite five-year-old, Bella, spent shabbat with her family at her parents’ college alma mater! She enjoyed celebrating the rabbi and rebbetzin‘s son’s bar mitzvah and was awed by college life.

Among Bella’s questions:
How do the students know when to leave the gym?
Do they forget to go to class because they are on the treadmill?
Who tells them when to go to sleep?
What happens if they wake up late?
If teenagers aren’t grown-ups, why don’t they need to have their grown-ups with them?
In the dining room, in absolute astonishment: where are all the morot?

Bella: “Mom, where are all the morot?”

Mission Statement
Ultimately the answers to these questions are just as important to your parents as those about smart boards, collaborative learning, Hebrew language immersion, and SAT scores.

Back to the mission statement: WHERE are you going? HOW are you getting there? How does a five-year-old who needs to have a “grown-up” in close proximity at all times become a self-actualized young adult who gets to minyan daily, submits work on time, makes healthy diet and exercise choices, enjoys a robust schedule of extra curricular activities AND balances all of those elegantly? Ultimately, how does that kindergartener choose friends, a career path, and a life-mate wisely?

If you can tell your parents HOW you will prepare their children to thrive as dedicated Jewish adults on college campuses – and AFTER – you will have created one of the many compelling narratives you need!

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

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

In the News

Ripped from the Headlines

 

 

 

 

I hope you are enjoying your summer. I just read Dr. Chaim Y. Botwinick’s insightful article about the challenging and changing roles of head of schools. It featured twenty common sense leadership principles. Dr. Botwinick wrote them to help heads of school “evolve, develop and grow as true inspiring leaders, role models and exemplars of leadership excellence.” I share them here in the hopes that some, if not all, will resonate with you.

(Dr. Botwinick is the author of “Think Excellence: Harnessing Your Power to Succeed Beyond Greatness” (Brown Books, 2011)

1. Always strive to delegate and empower others, utilizing the strengths of your team members; channel and direct their strengths.
2. You don’t need to have all the answers; or be the expert in everything; if you don’t have the right answers, seek them out from others who may.
3. Always seek advice and authentic feedback from your staff and faculty.
4. Hold everyone, including yourself accountable.
5. Exhibit Derech Eretz, empathy and compassion for your students, staff, faculty and parents.
6. Be passionate about your job.
7. The school’s core values, mission and vision is your road map and compass, use them wisely and strategically.
8. Take risks, but ensure your decisions are well-informed and data driven.
9. Trust is earned not acquired – it should never be transactional.
10. Admit mistakes, but don’t overly apologize or misdirect the blame (never play the blame-game).
11. Give credit where credit is due – always seek ways to celebrate your faculty and staff.
12. Keep your Board of Directors informed continuously – no surprises.
13. Always keep your team motivated.
14. Act decisively – procrastination will paralyze.
15. Build leadership in others.
16. Think and act strategically.
17. Develop your own professional goals in partnership with your Board of Directors and always manage Board expectations.
18. Articulate your vision with clarity and conviction.
19. Don’t mistake “sizzle for stake” – it’s not about charisma, it’s about substance.
20. Enjoy your leadership role and responsibilities – “positivity” can be extremely rewarding, contagious and motivating.

Click here to read the entire article.

Should you have any questions about marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, crafting compelling stories, utilizing data-driven research to present your case, or 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

Got Questions? – part I

Do you have a question?

I’ll bet you do! After all, on Pesach, we are mandated to re-experience the Exodus. For educators, that demands innovative, creative pedagogy guaranteed to evoke questions. With older children, we elicit and explore deep questions about the Exodus narrative, the hagaddah liturgy, and the lasting lessons both can teach us. With younger children, we use costumes, props, and dramatic reenactment.

Got matza? Got wine? Got gefilte fish?
My sedarim – which always featured locusts, blood-like water, and ma-nishtana puppets along with meaningful divrei torah – have become a bit less intense, but much more fun, since we’ve started parting the Nile (a blue, ocean-themed, shower curtain hung up in my dining room archway), welcomed Eliyahu (my good-natured, costumed nephew), and discovered wiggly, green jello frogs perched on our plates. These recent additions evoke not only squeals of delight but also a myriad of questions from the more recent additions to our family!

However, right now I’m thinking about a different type of questions – ones that your parents yearn to ask. I suggest that this year, in the goal of true partnership and transparency, you invite your parents to question you. But don’t just play lip service to the concept: really open it up! This takes a bit of daring.

Want to learn more? Click here to read Got Questions? – part II.

Please feel free to call me at 516.569.8070 or send me an email to learn more about how to turn your present parents and stakeholders into loyal ambassadors and supporters. I’m also happy to discuss special projects as well as annual retainers. Chag kasher v’sameach!

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Got Questions? – part II

Parents’ questions will yield:

 Enhanced relationships
 Important, actionable data

How you invite these questions depends on your school’s culture. Possibilities include:

 Open school-wide town hall meetings
 Small parlor meetings
 
A physical question box that children decorate or build (in a preschool class or a high school woodworking class)
 
A user-friendly online form

Follow up is key! Of course, you must respond to each query in a personal and timely manner. More important, you need to analyze the queries. The questions may show you areas that need slight tweaking or larger overhauls. Questions may motivate you to open up clearer lines of communications, revamp your Ivrit curriculum, revisit tenure polices, or just pat yourself on the shoulder for an A-plus job. Either way, opening up lines of communications will show parents that you value them. How can this Pesach be different for your parents than any other chag? Let this be the one that is transparent, inviting, and demonstrates that parents are your partners!

Click here to read Got Questions? – part I.

Please feel free to call me at 516.569.8070 or send me an email to learn more about how to turn your present parents and stakeholders into loyal ambassadors and supporters. I’m also happy to discuss special projects as well as annual retainers. Chag kasher v’sameach!

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