Public Relations in Schools

Last week I have the opportunity to spend some time talking with a local school corporation public relations professional, Donna Petraits, of the Brownsburg Community Schools Corporation. It is clear that this is a growing area of the profession, despite recent budgetary issues in all schools.

The reason for this is funding and the importance of education. Schools — education? Yep. In Indiana most major funding issues now have to go to a public referendum (as in most states). This now means that the old model in schools of “trust me” we know what we’re doing, is now “show me you need the money.”

This is a significant departure from the old model where school boards were entrusted with funding authority and the community needed to trust the school board. Now, school corporations have to establish a significant need in the public’s mind before any major new funding can get approved.

This is a classic public education model. But for many public schools, they have little experience with this and often no internal expertise to help accomplish this. Enter the PR professional.

It is now increasingly important for school corporations to have a public relations professional on staff to help the superintendent and board keep the community informed about the schools’ needs and to help “make the case” for funding increases. Those school corporation who have PR professionals will value them increasingly (as long as they are training and effective), and those that do not….

Watch my interview with Donna Petraits:


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