Category Archives: Branding

ISOBEL pARKE 1926-2020

ISabel Park

Isobel Parke was born in 1926 in Dorset, UK, the 3rd of 5 daughters of Charles and Jean Hamilton Gordon Parke.  She graduated from the Winsor School, Boston, MA, and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, UK, with a degree in History in 1947.  Isobel worked for a short time at the UK Ministry of Education. After teaching in Germany and Kenya, she served as the adult education manager at Moor Park College (Farnham, UK) for 12 years.

In 1965, Isobel joined the behavioral public relations and management consulting firm of Jackson Jackson and Wagner in NH, where she provided invaluable counsel to clients in a wide variety of industries for over 5 decades.  She was a trailblazer, advocating for public relations practitioners to have a place at the decisionmaking table and influencing the PR field with their innovative strategies and behavior-change theories.  She was married to Patrick Jackson, a past PRSA president and PR leader in the public relations field.

An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Isobel served as National Secretary.  She was inducted into the College of Fellows in 1991.  She served as PRSA’s representative on the Council for Journalism and Mass Communications as well as on two PRSA education commissions. Isobel was best known for her work with independent schools and environmental concerns. Her work with the coalition SPACE (Statewide Program of Action to Conserve our Environment) led to a NH constitutional amendment change in 1968 and passage of the current use law to preserve open space in NH – a law that still stands today. She was the first woman president of the NH Timberland Owners Association and served on both the boards of Lamprey River Watershed Association and UNH Cooperative Extension Rockingham County Advisory Council. Passionate about land conservation, she worked closely with the Southeast Land Trust on their efforts to conserve open space.

Since 1963, Isobel lived on Tributary Farm, a 1745 house in West Epping, NH with 700 blueberry bushes and 160 acres of forest land.  She loved spending time outdoors and in her garden; and every July, she would host a blueberry breakfast for members of her JJ&W family. Raised in the Episcopalian church, she became a long-time member of the West Epping Quaker Meeting.  Loved and respected by countless family members, friends, professional colleagues and clients, Isobel will be missed by us all.


A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring and announced when set. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to a conservation or environmental fund of your choice.

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School Communicators Take Note: For Flawless Execution, Prepare Beyond Your Written Crisis Plan

Yesterday, it was the dismissal of a teacher at the Fieldston private school as a result of anti-Semitic remarks that enflamed tensions between Jewish parents and school administrators.  Today, it is concern over the Coronavirus and its impact on boarding schools with Chinese pupils and international study programs abroad.  What will it be tomorrow?

While most private schools – especially those with boarding school programs – have had had to put their crisis communication plans to the test with issues ranging from student fatalities to inappropriate teacher/student relationships – how many have solid issue anticipation programs in place to prepare for the crisis around the corner?

In our experience, spending a little time and money upfront on thorough preparation goes a long way.  For consideration:

  1.  Updated contact information for ALL key internal audiences.  Most schools have their Board members and leadership team on speed dial…but anticipate everyone you want to communicate with directly in a crisis.  This means working with Development to insure you have up-to-date text/email information for alumni, and with Admissions in case prospective students need to be reached.  When the crisis hits, you want to be able to press a button for instant notification.
  2. Spokesperson training in advance.  Chances are, your Head of School and Communication Director have had the most experience with on-camera or phone interviews – but how about your subject matter experts?  For example, you might have your Head of Security as the spokesperson in a data breach situation, or Human Resources for a roundup story on your school policies impacting transgender students.   Mock interviews — where your spokespersons can practice staying calm and circling back to key message points in the face of tough media questions – are a valuable exercise.  Take it one step further by recording and playing back the interview to observe body language, nervous habits etc.  Make it engaging by involving the others in the recap of what worked well and what needs improvement.
  • Make time for issue anticipation and social media monitoring.  Whether you appoint someone inside or work with an outside firm, your Communications Director should be asking themselves this question everyday: “What’s going on out there, and could it happen here?”  Social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite Insights and Synthesio allow you to monitor news sites, blogs and forums by specific topics and audiences.  Cultivate relationships with your PR/communications network of professionals for best practice sharing.  Google search recent cases on topics of concern to see how other schools handled – or mishandled – issues and learn from their situations.
  • Prepare templates for likely situations for a “headstart” on your holding statement.  While you can’t have a statement for every situation, you can identify likely issues within specific categories (e.g. mishandling of finances, security issues, personnel issues, accidents and fatalities etc.).  Decide with your leadership/crisis management team on key messages to deliver in each situation – then get the holding statement templates blessed by the legal team in advance.
  • Update your media, social media and spokesperson policies.  It’s one thing to have these on paper, buried on page 60 of your crisis plan, and another to proactively and regularly communicate them to all members of your school family.  You want everyone to know what to do when the media calls, or how to handle student friend requests on LinkedIn and Facebook.  When new employees come on board, make sure they are up to speed as well.
  • Have a system in place for the “Lessons Learned” review.  Decide who from the crisis team should be involved and schedule the review right after the crisis ends, while it is fresh in everyone’s minds.  Important:  appoint a good note-taker to capture the conversation … chances are you, or a colleague, will need it for future reference.

For more information on issue anticipation programs and proactive media training, contact Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson Jackson & Wagner at 603/770-3607.

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Stand Out From The Crowd: Research-Based Branding

My colleague Jayme Simoes and I had the pleasure of presenting on the topic of branding twice recently, first at the NH Nonprofits Conference and Expo and again at PRSA’s Northeast District Conference, NEXPRSA, in Providence, R.I.

Here are a few highlights:

  1. A brand is a space in the mind.  It’s more than a logo or a tagline; a brand is about the feelings and perceptions you stimulate when both internal and external audiences hear your name.
  2. Research is key to the process; it can help you test words, phrases and visuals before you roll out your branding campaign; create a baseline for measuring your success and provide an opportunity for a mid-campaign check with key stakeholder groups to see if messages are resonating with them.
  3. Articulate your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition) in your mission statement.  Does your mission statement differentiate you from your competitors, or is it so “plain vanilla” that it could belong to anyone?
  4. Think strategically before you rebrand.  There are plenty of “triggering events” that may cause you to consider a rebrand (e.g. merging with another organization, expanding or changing the products and services you offer or even an upcoming milestone anniversary).  If you’re well-known and easily recognized, though, there’s no need to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” … a refresh of your brand may be enough.  For the “serial rebranders” – you may be doing more harm than good by confusing your customers.
  5. How effective are your brand ambassadors?  Is everyone in your internal family speaking with One Clear Voice?  Take the “elevator speech” test – select any 3-5 people in your organization and ask them, independently, to describe what your organization does.  Are they hitting on your key message points consistently?

Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Counsel and Partner Jackson Jackson & Wagner , 603/770-3607 or rschell@jjwpr.com

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The Art & Science of Behavioral PR Research: Effective Strategies For Measuring Outcomes and ROI

I’m delighted to be visiting the PRSA Tucson chapter this spring to talk about “The Art & Science of Behavioral PR Research:  Effective Strategies For Measuring Outcomes and Return On Investment”.  To give you a sense of what I’ll be talking about on April 23rd, read on!

Choosing the right strategies (for example, using the best methodologies for collecting data you need from the right target audiences) and asking the right questions the right way will insure that you are on a productive path to getting the information you need.  In many cases, your best measure of success will be the behavioral outcomes you achieve as a result of your researched-based campaign.  For example, if your goal was to increase membership by 30% this past year, you can measure your success by the numbers – you either hit that target, or you didn’t.  If the proposal for a new Walmart is accepted by your town – and you are Walmart – that is a measure of success.

A few things to keep in mind when designing and collecting research data:

  1.  Use creativity in your data collection strategies.  To get feedback on the newsletter at a national laboratory we counseled, we polled employees passing through the on-site cafeteria – which is where most people grab a copy to read at lunch.  To test perceptions and barriers to purchasing beer, we stood by beer cases in select stores and waited for the customer to put their hand on the beer they planned to purchase before asking questions about why they made their choice.  Think about your target audience and the best way (as well as the best time) — to capture their feedback.
  2. Ask the right questions.  Finding out if a potential customer is aware of your product or service is a good first step, but don’t you want to go deeper to find out their behaviors around that product or service?  Would they recommend it to others?  Have they done so in the past?   How likely are they to try an upgraded version of the product or service at a slightly higher cost?  Why or why wouldn’t they do that? 
  3. Ask your questions the right way.  Avoid biased or “leading” questions.  Vary your scales to make the respondent really think about the answers, in order to avoid “auto-response” and the tendency to check the same number of the scale for every question.  Include some “open-ended” questions to get valuable data about the “why” behind the question.  Anticipate the cross-tabulations you’ll want before you finalize the survey.
  4. Choose methodologies with a double purpose.  Research can be an opportunity to educate as well as measure.  To get a handle on the energy-saving behaviors customers were doing now and would consider in the future, we asked about everything from unplugging appliances when they were not in use to buying LED light bulbs to purchasing solar panels.  When helping a public health network identify behaviors around preventing Lyme disease, we used a “pre” and “post” test to measure the jump in knowledge levels and likely behaviors as a result of a presentation on that topic.
     

For more information about behavior-based research, register for “The Art and Science of Behavioral PR Research:  Effective Strategies For Measuring Outcomes and ROI” sponsored by the Tucson PRSA Chapter on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  For more information about Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA or Jackson Jackson & Wagner, visit www.jjwpr.com or email Robin at rschell@jjwpr.com.

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Changing Behaviors On Concussion Treatment Through “Chalk Talk”

The "4 Steps To Public Behavior Change"  by Jim Grunig, Harold Mendelsohn, Brenda Darvin,  Max McCombs and other behavior change specialists laid out a path of action that has been used with great success by such efforts as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), smoking cessation programs and others.  Now it has been applied to the problem of concussions and learning. 

The Brain Injury Association of NH (BIANH), in cooperation with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College and the Bureau of Developmental Services (BDS), has developed a pilot program called “Chalk Talk” for returning students with concussions to the classroom with the same care taken that they would use to return them to the playing field.

For the past 3 years, BIANH representatives have worked with Concussion Management Teams at 9 high schools and two middle schools to establish a protocol that involves baseline testing before a concussion occurs, and careful monitoring to ease them back into their academic schedule to allow the brain time to recover.

“Instead of sending the student home for 2 weeks, where the temptation to watch TV and use electronics is high, the student recovers under the careful guidance of a team of school professionals.  This may include time out of the classroom in a specially designed location to address issues of fatigue or sensitivities to light or sound,” says Lynne Fleming, Program Coordinator. “It’s a team approach, and the school nurse, athletic trainer, teachers, parents, guidance counselors and Dartmouth Hitchcock’s pediatric neuropsychologists are all evaluating the student’s progress.  They are monitored and given a reduced work load, so they are only sent back to a full schedule of classes when they are ready.”

In addition to comparing post-concussion data with baseline data, parents, teachers and nurses are asked to complete forms to evaluate the student’s progress on a daily basis.  “Having the expertise of a trained pediatric neuropsychologist is key,” says Steve Wade, Executive Director.  “We were fortunate to receive a 5-year ACL (Administrators for Community Living) grant, much of which is used to pay the pediatric neuropsychologists for consulting to the education team.”

In 2012, NH Governor John Lynch signed SB402, otherwise known as “return to play” legislation.  This bill gave schools clear guidelines on returning a student to the playing field after they had sustained a concussion.  Now the BIANH is considering legislation for RLT or “return to learn” to take the protocols developed in Chalk Talk one step further.  “There are 7 states out there with Return to Learn legislation,” says Executive Director Steve Wade, “and we are in the process of studying how it has been implemented elsewhere.  We plan to talk with opinion leaders on the topic of brain injury here in NH about the merits of similar legislation here.”

So the 4 steps to public behavior change,  was ideal for successfully asking for Return to Learn legislation.

The 4 Steps In Action:

Step 1 developed a coalition campaign to educate the public that a concussion is a brain injury and it is critical not to overtax the brain while it is in recovery mode.  This involves identifying opinion leaders on the topic, getting them to recognize the problem and how they could be affected, and giving them opportunities to address the problem (by serving on concussion team task forces, advocating the proper treatment of concussed students, advocating legislation etc.).

Step 2, enforcement, or establishing laws or guidelines that would mandate the behavior change –is where Return to Learn legislation would come in .

Step 3, engineering, or enacting a structural change to work around the situation is what  BIANH has done with the creation of the Chalk Talk program and system for evaluating progress.

Step 4,  social reinforcement –is where the behavior becomes a socially-acceptable norm, and social rewards and punishment take over the job of enforcing it.  Ideally, in the future, every school will have a protocol for returning a student to the classroom after a concussion.   Just as we have learned we need to protect the developing brain from re-injury on the playing field, we now know we need to reduce cognitive demands in the classroom in order to give the brain time to heal.

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