I've decided to start writing again. There are so many words of frustration boiling in my head, and I need my place to vent. And so, I've ventured back into The Deelirium!
My gripe for today: I've come to the conclusion that there are maybe five to ten public school PR / marketing / social media professionals truly active on social media, especially Twitter.
I'm out of school PR right now, not of my own choice. That means for the most part I'm outside the walled garden of content (albeit meager content) and socialization that occurs in the school PR world.
But why is it a walled garden? In this age of the Internet and social media, there is so much to be shared, so easily! Livestreaming, livetweeting, Flickr, email newsletters and listservs, discussion boards... I mean, come on — discussion boards are not exactly cutting edge technology!
Yet very little of this technology is used to share our knowledge among one another in the school PR world. Maybe I'm wrong and I just don't know where to find it. But I don't think I'm wrong. I think my colleagues are missing such wonderful opportunities to share in their knowledge and ongoing learning in our field.
Let me provide some examples—
- Today, as I write this, there is a local/state chapter conference being held in the middle of the state. I'm technically no longer a member of the chapter because I now live on the other side of the country. So obviously I couldn't attend. But there are a bunch of chapter members that I'm sure would have liked to attend but couldn't justify the cost or the travel. What about them? Why is there absolutely NO ONE livetweeting or livestreaming or even mentioning that the conference is occurring? Maybe I'm just a tech/social media snob, but if it isn't being mentioned on Twitter, then it might as well not be happening.
- The national association has so egregiously abandoned social media and new technologies that I don't even know where to start. The website is actually decent, but the discussion board is hidden and mostly ignored by members. Most content is hidden behind a members-only paywall. There is next to nothing on their Twitter and Facebook pages, save for some automated job announcements. There is absolutely no interaction, and quite frankly, I wonder how often they even bother to check social media or the web for mentions of their own association or of school PR content.
Ok, I get it - they don't want to lose revenue by putting all their content out there in the open. But don't you think there are a gazillion other organizations out there that have figured out a better way to monetize than by hiding all their content behind a members-only paywall? There's got to be. Figure it out, pronto!
- Finally, and a little less relevant to the topic, is the local chapter where I've moved to. Again, I'm not actively working in school PR right now because there haven't been any openings at the local districts. But I did decide to join the local chapter to keep up with the topics and maybe chime in when I could help with a social media / technology / web / design question. After months I have received only one email. I emailed one chapter rep to ask if there was a listserv or where do the discussions occur. No answer. A couple days ago I emailed another rep with the same question. Thus far, still no response.
Furthermore, there is a very active group of charter and private (or 'independent' as they like to say) school PR pros providing content and engagement online all the time. How are they monetizing? Somehow, they 'get' it.Public school PR pros? I'm not sure most of them get it — yet.
So, basically if you're not in the same room with other school PR pros, then there is little or no discussion. Not on Twitter, not on Facebook, not on discussion boards, and as I recently discovered, not on email either.
I feel like I'm shouting into a vacuum.
I don't know. Maybe I'm the only person who cares to find and share information in these ways. Maybe it's better that people socialize and learn together face-to-face. But I do think it's kind of ironic, considering how much lip service is given to the concept of using social media and web tools in school PR these days.
And it does make me feel like a total outsider, now that I'm not currently active in the field. And maybe that's what this all comes down to, and why I'm bothered by it so much: without online interaction and social media, I'm now an outsider to the world of school pr.