I have recently served as Spokesperson for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). As spokesperson, it was my goal to fulfill two primary objectives.
The first is to respond to media and community inquiries in a transparent manner reflective of the terrific work that we do.
Being located between two major media markets (Washington D.C. & Baltimore) ensures that media exposure is not limited. As Spokesperson, I receive calls and emails daily from members of the media requesting an interview, statement, or information for a story. My objective is to provide them with the most thorough and accurate information while ensuring that the voice of the HCPSS is well represented. This requires the ability to represent the system and system leadership in a manner that is reflective of the outstanding work being done in this county. It required the ability to develop and maintain relationships with members of the media. It required the willingness to correct misinformation and work with the media to ensure accountability and fair representation of our views and positions.
My second objective is to generate coverage for our efforts that is positive and highly visible.
Relationships with members of the media – even the perceived difficult members – is critical to our outreach efforts. Too often we wait for the media to find our stories and then become upset when we deem coverage as one-sided. I changed the approach in the system to one that is far more proactive in nature. Each week I develop and email a digest of potential story ideas along with important details and contact information. This has resulted in a noticeable increase in stories being told that we want told. I follow that up with daily phone calls, emails, and personal discussions with media to assess their needs and how best to leverage their outreach for our efforts.
Acting as Spokesperson for one of the top public school systems in the nation requires competency, willingness, and a comfort with representing the system on a wide variety of topics. Understanding the role of the media and the approach in which they discover and tell their stories is critical to guiding them towards the stories and voices that we want amplified to the community.
This video is a story generated by the Baltimore ABC affiliate on a community meeting to discuss indoor air quality in our schools in which I was interviewed for as Spokesperson for the Howard County Public School System: