Brand building and transparency

If Seth Godin is right and the success of a brand is proportional to the smoothness of the access, then some school districts will be very popular while others…not so much. Access for millennials in particular and even digital immigrants to some extent means a quick and easy way to e-mail. Many districts conceal this information from the public. With few exceptions (Houston, San Francisco, Portland, Montgomery County MD and Baltimore County MD), it seems the larger the district, the more sophisticated the e-mail cloaking. This is similar to having an unlisted phone number, and complaining that nobody calls!

The internet has changed the way the public expects to contact you. It has also shortened the appropriate response time. If you haven’t already and the volume of your e-mails is extensive, re-organize your staff for timely response to the constant flow of external and internal e-mails. (And, by the way, the robo-reply that says “I see all of my e-mails, but I get so many that I may not respond to yours”, is not sufficient either.) Designate someone on your staff that is trustworthy and authentic to handle your digital correspondence. Delegate that responsibility in whatever manner you choose from complete authority, to trust but verify, to full review prior to release. But above all, don’t hide.

If your contact information (digital and voice) is not readily accessible to the public, you will be criticized for a lack of transparency and your “brand” will suffer as a result. If superintendents as busy as Terry Grier in Houston and Dallas Dance in Baltimore County can respond promptly to all of their e-mails, clearly you can as well.

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