A few years ago David Thiel (Deerfield Academy) and I gave a workshop on time management. I absolutely love his ability to cut through the underbrush of marketing communications work to arrive at simple truths and time well spent. For example: “Rinse and repeat. Audiences don’t read everything we send out. Say the same thing again, pick up last year’s version, steal the last two paragraphs of yesterday’s speech and use them in tomorrow’s. The best part? The audience perceives this as consistency and clarity in messaging!”
Here are some ways to infuse your day with time saving tactics.
- Expose yourself to good work from other schools and colleges (go to CASE.org—you’ll find Deerfield’s grand gold award-winning magazine).
- Be an active networker—follow and participate in listservs and social media groups (LinkedIn has great groups), join or form a communicators’ group in your area, attend local and national conferences.
- Tap into the talent that resides on your campus—teachers and students can tell your story best, but they won’t think to come to you.
- Do some daily homework: 30 to 45 minutes a day reading blogs, articles, following pertinent social media outlets will refresh your mind and your attitude.
- Have the school’s most important raw ingredients at the ready: bio’s of every teacher, administrator and trustee; financial information; archival material organized and accessible; visual assets tagged and in one place.
- Don’t sit at your desk all day. Get out on the beat—teachers and fellow staff won’t think to come to you with story ideas so attend faculty meetings, cheer on the sports teams and support students at plays and music recitals. You will learn of great stories, and your community will view you as a team player.
- Practice the essentials of good interviewing—and read our blog post for great insights. Remember, Google and LinkedIn make it easy to get to know your subjects in advance so you can spend precious interview time getting to the good stuff and not rehashing information that is readily at your fingertips.
- Rule with an iron editorial hand. View yourself as the advocate of the audience and set the bar high for compelling, conversational content. Do a post-mortem by soliciting opinions and conducting quick surveys to assess your editorial decisions.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Plan ahead and aim to improve what you’re doing now before adding something new. Also, consider outsourcing.
- Track your time and devote it to the important stuff; just say NO when necessary and don’t feel guilty about it.