The podcast for education innovators. Join us for conversations with PreK—12 school and district leaders about ed-tech, curricula, and the big decisions they make every day. In our first episode, we talk with two district leaders about how they make big purchases, their innovative solutions to teacher shortages, and more.
One Real Person: Building Relationships in the Education Market
Gerard Dawson was still teaching when he noticed that writing about teaching made him not just a better writer, but a better teacher as well. His writing helped him form relationships. He eventually left teaching to write and consult full-time.
On this episode of The Education Insider Podcast, Jacob and Gerard talk about why and how to build relationships in the education market.
Learn more about Gerard at:
Learn more about Jacob at www.prp.group
How (and Why) Your Company Should Hire Former Educators
PRP editorial director Chris Piehler interviews Lisette Gushiniere, PRP’s newest strategist and a former educator, about her career path and the benefits education and edtech vendors get from hiring people with classroom experience.
Educators want to hear from you. 5 Tips for Cold Emailing Superintendents.
Our editorial director Chris Piehler recently had the opportunity to sit down with Carmello the Science Fellow, founder and operator of three early education schools in New York, for a chat about how he finds new EdTech products and how he prefers to be approached by vendors.
Here are a few tips to help you be sure you’re putting your best foot forward when talking to potential clients in the early education arena.
Educators Aren’t Complacent
Carmello said that as an educator—and particularly as the head of three preschools—he can’t afford to become complacent about the materials he offers his students.
“You always want to be as innovative as you can be as a pedagog and as an educator,” Carmello said. “And you always wanna meet best practices and try to give your kids the best experiences. So I am always a nerd at heart and I'm always researching things. While my wife might be on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, what am I doing? I'm Googling new coding sets for two year olds.”
If you’re trying to reach educators, that’s good news. They’re trying to find you too. They want you to reach out—as long as you’re providing solutions and helping make their lives easier.
Be Ready to Explain Your Scaffolds
As a preschool leader, Carmello said that he is often looking for ways to build on a product and extend the learning it offers to children in younger grades. It’s difficult, for example, to find a classroom robot designed for children younger than five, according to Carmello, because younger students tend to break sensitive robot parts like motors.
“Computational teaching is key because you want to lay foundations when kids are young,” Carmello said. “And if I'm saying it's that important and it's only my four [year-old students] that have it, well, that's not fair now because if I have three and two year olds, I need to make sure that they're getting that experience so that by the time they are four, they're that much more comfortable coding the robot.”
Even if your product is geared toward students in a particular grade band, it’s a good idea to understand how a teacher working with younger or older students might adapt use of that product to their own students.
“I do not have a model that I could incorporate and then scaffold up,” said Carmello. “I would absolutely love that.”
Sometimes it may feel like you’re just firing marketing emails off into the ether, never to be seen by human eyes, let alone a potential buyer, ever again. If you’re sending them to Carmello, however, not only are his eyes landing on them, but he’s actually excited to receive them.
“You know,” Carmello said, “it's very rare that I get an email from a company saying, ‘Hey, we have this new, amazing, innovative product. Would you like a sample of it, or to hear more about it?’ A lot of the time I have to go out and do grassroots work to get that information. I wish it would happen more because if it were delivered to me, it just makes it that much easier for me to want to venture out and know more about what that product is.”
So don’t avoid cold emails. Just be sure what you’re sending is useful, not spammy.
Show Your Stellar Customer Service in the Follow Up
If Carmello is any indication, your follow up efforts on emails will pay off, as well.
“What I love,” Carmello explained, “is after they send me some information about the product, so many times the company will say, ‘Would you like to get on Zoom or can we set up a call?,’ and to me, that's like a slam dunk because it's all about customer service and customer relationships. I know what my families want from me as an owner of a school, and I want the same thing from the people that are trying to sell me something. I don't want it to be just, you want my money? And then the minute I pay you, you're gone....
Consulting for Educators | Staying Right with Your District While "Edugigging"
Read more at: https://www.prp.group/blog/7-tips-for-staying-right-with-your-district-while-edugigging
During a recent episode of The Education Insider podcast, I chatted with education lawyer Steve Wellvang. He’s the former president and CEO of ECMC Holdings Corp., an education-focused private equity investment company, and the former general counsel of ECMC Group, Inc., a higher-education services company, so he’s quite qualified to talk about the legal considerations, risks, and opportunities related to consulting, influencing, and other forms of “edugigging” income. Here’s what he had to say.
Learn your district’s policies.
If you’re thinking of moonlighting, the first step is to familiarize yourself with your district’s policies, which can often be found online. If you find that outside employment is barred for district employees in your position, that may be the end of it for you. But even if there is no specific policy against it, you’re not in the clear yet. Wellvang said that you want to go beyond the specific policies and look at codes of conduct as well.
As he explained districts typically have, “a code of ethics and also typically a conflict of interest code. And so in Minnesota, for example, there's a state law that school administrators have a code of ethics just for school administrators and every school district.” However, he added, “It tends to be more general in nature and doesn't specifically address outside employment, but there are some provisions in that code of ethics for administrators that do have some implications for outside work.”
Policies you should pay special attention to include:
Conflict of Interest policies;
Outside work policies; and
Procurement and purchasing policies, which may involve educators who help choose what products or services the school or district will adopt.
You can read and interpret these policies on their own, but for further peace of mind you can bring questions to your supervisor or your district’s legal counsel. You can also speak with your ethics officer.
Follow your district’s procedures.
Knowing your district’s rules and policies isn’t enough. You also have to follow them. That includes policies like not entering into conflicts of interest, not disclosing confidential information, and never acting against the interests of your employer, even if you didn’t find any specific formal guidance about it.
When in doubt, disclose everything.
Your district policies likely require some level of disclosure regarding outside work, but when in doubt, opt for full disclosure. “Get your thoughts together about what you would like to do, and then talk to your supervisor, your superintendent, or your school board chair If that's the only person” available, said Wellvang. “If you're a superintendent, talk to the ethics officer to get a sense” where to disclose if there is no specific, clear guidance for your situation.
“Making appropriate disclosures in advance is the way to generally avoid problems down the road,” said Wellvang. “People, frankly, in this sector get crosswise with their district when there has not been proper disclosure and it surprises someone.”
Never use district-issued devices.
If you do end up doing outside work, never use a phone, computer or other electronic device issued by the school district, even if it’s authorized for personal use. To be safe, be sure to use your own equipment and devices. And, of course, that includes things like email and social media: always use your own, never your school account.
If you have a business, register and insure it.
If you’re just being paid to give the occasional lecture or otherwise picking up piecework here and there, maybe you don’t have a business. But if your moonlighting does amount to a small business, you should treat it as such by...
What Is the Difference Between Marketing and PR and how can they work together?
As a public relations company, we at PRP are often asked what the difference is between PR and marketing. While the former is about creating and maintaining your organization’s good reputation and the latter is about selling products and services to people, there’s still a fair amount of overlap and no bright dividing line.
To help understand the overlap and shed a little light on the differences between the two, I invited two members of the PRP leadership team, Kristen Plemon and Chris Piehler, to join me for the latest episode of the Education Insider podcast.
What is PR?
“I think there are just some misconceptions by business leaders and organizational leaders on what PR really is because historically we haven't done a good job of defining it to others outside of our industry,” Plemon said. “Or people only really see a portion of it because they see interviews on TV or they see quotes in a newspaper article.”
Plemon said that while the words and messaging you put out there are important, PR encompasses much more.
“People don't necessarily realize it's really everything that you do,” Plemon explained. “It's the perception that you give from your actions and from your words, and that can be from your customer service reps or your spokespeople or your sales staff.”
Marketing has different goals and objectives than PR, according to Plemon, but in the end, it’s pretty similar to PR and it certainly contributes to the overall perception that organizational leaders should be trying to shape with their PR efforts.
“There is an overlap between PR and marketing and sales and pretty much everything that you do as an organization,” Plemon said. “Marketing's purpose is to try to sell products. It's to try to get people to want to purchase and to renew that purchase or buy additional products from that company or organization, whereas PR is trying to build a brand. It's trying to create a specific idea in people's minds of what that company or organization represents and the value that they offer.”
“PR is an ongoing story,” Added Piehler. “It's a narrative that you're building about not just your products, but your company, your people, all of that stuff put together. And I think that's why we call ourselves storytellers because that's one of the things that we build is that larger story.”
Marketing, on the other hand, “is “a little bit more direct,” added Piehler, pointing out that marketing messages are generally focused on the benefits of a product, how they will help customers, and information about how to go buy it, which they all suggest, in one way or another, you should do very soon.
How has PR Changed Recently?
The main way that PR has changed in the recent past is the proliferation of social media, according to Plemon.
Social media has “really expanded how you can tell your story,” Plemon said, “the ways in which you can tell your story, the various channels you can use to reach people so that they hear the story that you want to share.”
Sharing your stories through all those new social channels may be PR work, but it also does some lifting on the marketing front because it can bring people into your marketing experiences. When someone from your company is featured in a meaningful op-ed in TechCrunch or cited by a reporter at District Administration, potential customers see that and then some of them are going to go look at your website and encounter your marketing at precisely the moment that they are primed to think of you as a credible expert solving challenges in their field.
“Oftentimes PR is helping to open the door so that they're more amenable to that marketing message,” Plemons added. “Really marketing PR are collaborative. They support each other.”
Is Marketing or PR More Valuable?
Organizations really need both PR and marketing, according to Plemon, and that...
Howdy Partner: Engaging with Superintendents
Matt Kinnamen is the president and co-founder of New Era Superintents, an organization dedicated to helping superintendents put the focus back on student success at a time when there’s a lot of distractions and political division. He’s an expert in the field. Before founding New Era, he was VP for events at Thoughtexchange, and group publisher at District Administration magazine, where he was part of the team that created and ran DALI, the District Administration Leadership Institute.
Quintin Shepherd, New Era chairman, is superintendent of the Victoria Independent School District in Victoria, Texas, and a nationally-recognized voice on transformational and collaborative leadership. Also, he recently published The Secret to Transformational Leadership.
I sat down recently to chat with Matt and Quintin to find out how vendors can better support superintendents and achieve district-level adoption.
Know the Hows and Whys of Your Product, Not Just the Whats
Shepherd said that he doesn’t want to start by hearing what a vendor has to offer, but why they are offering it.
“I want every kid to graduate with a high school diploma and something else,” Shepherd said. “They either need an industry certification so that they can go to work, they need a military enlistment letter, or they need acceptance to a college and university. I think of them as the three Es: it's either enlistment or it's enrollment or it's employment. Those are the three E's that I want for my own kids when they graduate.”
“If you keep that as your lodestar, that's it. That's why we're here,” Shepherd said. “And then, and only then when you answer that question, do you back out to the how and then you talk about what are we going to do.”
“Too many people start with the what, and then try to figure out the how, and they completely forget about the why,” added Shepherd, ”but if you stick to the why, and then the how, and then the what, things sort of fall into order in a pretty interesting way.”
Focus on Student Outcomes Everyone Wants
Kinnamen noted that though division seems ever-present in the United States these days, the mission of education can be a powerful unifying force.
“You could have a room of people who are bitterly divided on topics, but if one of us says to that room, ‘Look, every third grade student needs to be able to read at grade level because we know that if a third grade student can read a grade level, he or she has better lifelong prospects across all measures of success,’” Kinnamen said. “And we'll have agreement on that. There will be 100% agreement on that statement.”
That doesn’t mean that anything else is any less important, according to Kinnamen. It’s simply not the “We need to also start from being singularly focused on what we came here for in the first place and what we all can agree on rallying around, and that's delivering these levels of success to students.”
Explain How Your Product Will Improve Educator Capacity, Processes, or Resources
Quintin said that educators trying to improve teaching and learning have three domains within which to make those improvements. Comprising the supports of three-legged stool because no two will work on their own, those areas include capacity, resources, and processes.
In deployments that succeed, it’s because vendors have a solid understanding of the processes that make their product succeed when they’re deployed and fail when they’re not.
“They can tell us where it worked and why, and they can tell us where it didn't work and why,” Shepherd said. “They have unique insight into the processes that we don't have from our own system. So when we're trying to improve our capacity, the conversation that I want to have with the partners at the table is, ‘Where is it working? Where is it not...