Keeping your community and district stakeholders informed is a key part of the job and blogging is a great way to get your story out in your own words. Adding a blog to your communications repertoire can be an effective — and fun — way to get your voice out in the school community and connect with parents, students and other educators.
First, you’ll need to decide exactly how you want to blog. Ideally, you will post blog entries directly to your district’s website. That makes it easier for readers to find the blog and can help drive additional traffic to other parts of the site. If that is not an option, WordPress and Blogger are popular, easy-to-use blogging platforms. (Here is a comparison list of other blogging platforms you may want consider.)
Next, you may be tempted to sit down right away and start writing. But before you do, spend some time mapping out a mission for your blog and choose a specific goal or purpose for your writing. Perhaps you want your blog to offer an insider’s view of your schools. Or maybe you want to use it as platform to discuss bigger educational issues. To avoid blogging burnout, choose a topic or focus you are passionate about and one that will afford you plenty of content.
When — and What — to Share
Once you’ve chosen a blogging platform and a mission, start writing! As you become accustomed to blogging, you’ll find that you start to see potential post topics all around you. When you get an idea, jot down a note; create a list of possible future posts so that you will always have ideas ready on the days or weeks when you feel less inspired.
Post regularly. A good goal to start might be once a week. Try to post on a reliable schedule, such as the same day each week, or consider posting regular features on certain days. For example, you might feature an innovative classroom project every Friday or do a tips post for educators every Monday. This will train readers to come back often to read new content.
Here are a few superintendents who are doing it well:
- Dan Gutekanst of the Needham Public Schools
- Brian Kurz of the Community Unit School District #4
- Tamara Uselman of Bismarck Public Schools
Promote, promote, promote. Spending all that time writing is useless if no one is reading. Don’t be afraid to share your writing everywhere you can, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (click those links to view our guides for those platforms). Write a catchy headline or choose an impactful quote from the post when you share the link to get readers’ attention and make them want to read more.
Encourage others to share it, including the district’s own social media accounts and others in the district office with personal social media accounts. Sharing others’ content is also a good way to build relationships; if you share their content, they’ll probably share yours, too.
The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Blogging for Superintendents
Do: Be Authentic
Write in an authentic voice. Be yourself! It’s ok to be funny, quirky or enthusiastic in your writing. In fact, it will help readers feel more connected with your words, which means they will be more likely to engage with it, share it, and come back for more.
Don’t: Be too longwinded
Blog readers tend to have a short attention span, so don’t let your posts start to look like white papers. Try to keep your posts to about 700 words or less.
Do: Get Visual
Include a visual element whenever possible. Including a photo makes the content more shareable on sites that give more weight to visual posts, such as Facebook, or on photo-centric sites, such as Pinterest and Instagram. If you don’t have a photo for a post, break the text up in other ways, such as with bullet points or lists.
Don’t: Forget to Write for Your Audience
If you are targeting primarily parents, skip the academic jargon and abbreviations. If you are writing for other educators, include helpful links for more information. Always take a moment to remember for whom the post is intended before you start writing.
Do you have any tips for district leaders considering blogging? Let us know in the comments.
For more tips on sharing your story, check out, How to Share Your District’s Ed-Tech Success Story.
And don’t forget to check out our other Superintendent guides: