This month we’re featuring ways you can share success stories in your district. The November TechEdge is all about innovative ways you can communicate what your district or school is doing right. If you’re a TCEA member, keep an eye out for it in your mailboxes soon! In the mean time, enjoy this guest blog describing a powerful program to share video success stories in Cleburne ISD.
CISD Matters is a district-wide, bi-monthly video presentation that showcases what students and teachers are doing in Cleburne ISD. It is in its third year of production. The Cleburne ISD Superintendent, Dr. Kyle Heath, was instrumental in starting this initiative at the district level. He wanted the community to see our district stories come to life in a video format.
Tips for Starting a Video Program
Many lessons have been learned while producing CISD Matters. If your district is interested in developing something like this, please consider the following. First, keep your production short. Shoot for 8 to 10 minutes tops. We try to limit the total number of stories to three or four at the most. It’s also important to capture what’s happening district wide. With this in mind, build a solid team that will select the best stories for your district. At Cleburne ISD, our team consists of Superintendent Dr. Kyle Heath, Director of Community Relations Lisa Magers, and me, Tracy Shea, the District Multimedia Specialist. We work together to choose the best stories for each broadcast.
Spreading the Message
Next, think about your distribution process. How will your students, parents, teachers, and community members see your videos? In CISD, we do this in several ways. The first is by posting videos on the front page of our district website. We want these positive messages to be one of the first things people see. If you post to a website, you want it to run on an online media player. A link will not get the same play. We use SchoolTube and embed the code into our website’s rich text. This embedding process creates the media player we use on the front page.
Email is another option. We want to cover all of the bases. Lisa Magers emails the video to the entire district. This method brings the story right to the employees and is just a click away.
The last distribution avenue we take is sharing the production through social media. If you use social media, please consider separating the stories into separate videos. As a standard, social media posts need to be short if they are going to gain traction. Again, this was a lesson learned. In fact, I feel social media is probably now one of our most used news outlets, so it is vital to include this communication medium as a distribution option. Finally, the big plus with social media is the sharing mechanism built within it. People can help share your story for you.
Producing Great Content
You also want to consider the production process. For this, I will speak from an AV production point of view. First, your total video needs to be concise. You only have your viewers’ attention for so long. Immediate engagement is key. Second, know that film and photos work together to tell stories. Event photos can easily be used to illustrate interviews. It takes different types of media to tell a story. Next, be prepared to support those you are interviewing. Often, they will need your direction. Sending the script to them before the shoot is a great way to decrease anxiety and help people feel comfortable. But ultimately, it comes down to how they feel when they are with you. Stories come alive when people feel relaxed.
As described above, a district-wide broadcast is an excellent way to reach stakeholders. Please know it takes time to get the product you want, but with each episode, improvements typically occur. If you would like more information about CISD Matters, please feel free to contact me.
For more communications resources, check out this blog on communication apps districts can’t live without or this one on communicating with photos.
This is a guest blog written by Tracy Perez Shea, the Secondary Instructional Technology and District Multimedia Specialist at Cleburne ISD. To learn more about Cleburne, visit their website here. You can also learn more about the CISD Matters program and check out the latest videos at their homepage here.