Tip Sheet #2 – Ten Commandments, Media Coverage, & Letters Home

Ten Commandments for Superintendents

  • Thou shalt not lie.
  • Thou shalt not flee TV cameras.
  • Thou shalt not wear thy sunglasses on camera.
  • Thou shalt not guess.
  • Thou shalt not let the reporter put words in thy mouth.
  • Thou shalt use only positive words; Thou shalt never repeat negative words.
  • Thou shalt not talk past the prepared statement.
  • Thou shalt not assume anything is off the record.
  • Thou shalt not smile or laugh at sad or troubling moments.
  • Thy reporter cannot report it if thou does not say it.  

How to Get the Media to Clamor Over Your School’s Good News

  • Remember the Big Three: 
    (1)Safety (2)Academic Achievement (3)Taking Care of Tax-payer Dollars
  • Timing is Everything!  Connect stories to holidays/current news stories
    Example:  Tax day and how we are spending dollars wisely
  • Offer statistics; provide charts if possible
    Example 1:  Survey Students – Groundhog Day, children host news conference to share findings
    Example 2:  Tell your OWN budget story. 
    Bus Drivers  3%, Teachers  80%, Principals 1%, Top Admin 0.2%
  • Board Agendas – Select 2, 3, or 4 good stories and release in advance of board meetings 
  • Draw Clear Visual Images; Be Bold and Dramatic (Remember TV News is King)
  • Collect stories of students who overcame great odds to graduate (get permission). Submit the stories to media with contact info.
  • Collect Back to School Stories for July and August.  What’s new at each school?  School will be harder, new supports, school will be safer, no cupcakes with sprinkles.  Dollars spent on construction this summer.  
  • Create safety stories:  Peanut Butter Recall – Collected all sandwiches & replaced
    Principal warns of man trying to lure students; New security cameras in buses

Source:  Terry Abbott, Former Press Secretary for Houston Public Schools and
Chief of Staff, US Department of Education for Rod Paige, Secretary of Education and Deputy Commissioner for Communications at the US Social Security Administration

How to Improve the Readership of Letters Home at NO Added Cost

  • Sign the letter.
  • Copy the letter (black and white) on letterhead.
  • Use the USA Today format with fewer words and more images.