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Public Relations in Schools / Edition 5

Public Relations in Schools / Edition 5

by Theodore J. Kowalski


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Public Relations in Schools / Edition 5

A contemporary and practice-based school public relations text that centers on the importance of communication, relationships, and technology.

Outfitting students with a wealth of practical, practice-based knowledge that they can take directly into the halls of their school, the new fifth edition of Public Relations in Schools has a fresh, contemporary focus on both how administrators can effectively communicate with the community and how building strong relationships with stakeholders can ultimately lead to overall school improvement. Through a blend of theoretical and tacit knowledge, this text offers students an in-depth guide to 1) how to successfully communicate with both internal and external school entities, 2) how to build and maintain positive and active relationships via social and political capital and 3) how to translate the value of these relationships into positive change within the school. While exploring these three central themes, the book emphasizes how new technologies can aid school success. At the same time, real-world case studies at the beginning of each chapter introduce readers to actual public relations issues and bring the material to life.

The revised fifth edition of Public Relations in Schools is updated with new materials and references throughout the text, including two new chapters – one on harnessing technology for your public relations needs and one on collecting, assessing, and applying public opinion. In addition, the new fifth edition text contains a matrix at the front of the book showing how content relates to ELCC/NCATE Standards ­­– the widely used criteria for administrator preparation and licensing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780137072453
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 08/06/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 404,574
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Theodore J. Kowalski, PhD

Theodore Kowalski is professor and the Kuntz Family Chair in Educational Administration at the University of Dayton. He began his professional career as a teacher and building-level administrator in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana. Subsequently, he served as an associate superintendent and superintendent. He taught at Purdue University and Saint Louis University prior to becoming professor and dean of the Teachers College at Ball State University.

In addition to his duties at the University of Dayton, Professor Kowalski is editor of the Journal of School Public Relations and serves on the editorial boards of several other professional journals including Educational Administration Quarterly and the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice. In 2000, he was selected to be the editor of the 2001 National Council of Professors of Educational Administration Yearbook, the first yearbook of the new millennium.

The author of numerous books, professional articles, research papers, and monographs, Dr. Kowalski has received awards for his research, writing, and scholarship including the Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the Teachers College at Ball State University in 1993, the Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award from the School of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton in 2002 and 2005, and the Alumni Award in Scholarship from the University of Dayton in 2005. Since 1986, he has delivered over 100 invited lectures at colleges and universities and has provided consultant services to numerous education and business clients. Professor Kowalski's primary areas of research are organizational behavior and communication, decision making, and school and district administration.

Table of Contents

Standards Matrix (ELCC/NCATE)

Part I: Contemporary Perspectives

Chapter 1 School Public Relations: A New Agenda

Case Study: The New Superintendent’s Public Relations Plan


Perspectives of Public Relations

Erroneous Perspectives

Multiple Definitions and Models

School Public Relations



Persistent Barriers

Current Importance

Underlying Themes

Information Age

School Reform


Reflective Practice


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 2 Social and Political Contexts

Case Study: Diversity and Local Public Schools


Social Conditions and Schools

Changing Family Structure


Immigrant Students

Effects of Social Problems on Student Behavior

Effects Social Problems on Schools

Political Conditions and Schools

Education Goals

Politics, Reform, and Engagement


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 3 Legal and Ethical Aspects of Public Relations

Case Study: Maynard Constructs a School Web Page


Legal Dimensions

Tort Liability

Constitutional Torts

Political Speech

Privacy Rights

Religion and Public Schools

Community Values and Curriculum



Ethics in School Administration

Ethics in PR


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 4 Current Contexts of School Reform

Case Study: Applying a Communicative Approach to Policy Development


Local Control and School Reform

Democratic Localism and Representative Democracy

Local Reforms and Stakeholder Involvement

Civic Engagement and Administrative Behavior

Civic Engagement Approaches

Administrative Behavior

School Improvement and Public Relations

Why Civic Engagement Matters

How PR Can Contribute to Engagement


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Part II: Conceptualizing and Institutionalizing a Public Relations Program

Chapter 5 Communication and Conflict Management

Case Study: Importance of Internal Relations



Communication Basics

Listening Skills

Nonverbal Communication

Communication Networks

Communication Competence

Conflict Management

Conflict Types

Conflict Contaminants

Conflict-Resolution Strategies


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 6 Public Relations Programs

Case Study: High Hopes Gone Sour


Conceptualizing a PR Program


Intended Beneficiaries

Organizational Structure

Non-traditional Public Schools and Private Schools

Non-Traditional Public Schools

Private Schools

Organizing PR in Schools of Choice

Student and Parental Involvement


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 7 Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Programs

Case Study: When Schools and Relationships Fail to Improve


Program planning

Planning Processes

Characteristics of Effective Plans

Planning Team

Administrator Interventions

School-Level Supplemental Planning


Administrative Responsibility

Naming the Program

Resource Allocation

Evaluating Programs

Types of Evaluation

Outputs and Outcomes

Essential Questions


Methods, Techniques, and Sources


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 8 Using Technology to Exchange and Manage Information

Case Study: Roger Creates a Web Page


Essential Constructs

Technology Literacy

Information Literacy

Information Technology

Management Information System

Technology Tools


Electronic Newsletters

District or School Web Pages

Electronic Networking


Chat Rooms



Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Part III: Focused Objectives

Chapter 9 Community Relations

Case Study: A Mentor’s Questionable Advice


Relationships and Communication

Improving Community Relations

Identifying and Analyzing Publics

Communicating with the Community

Deploying a Multicultural Perspective

Positive Relationships with Parents

Need for Parental Relationships

Building and Maintaining Parental Relationships


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 10 Media Relationship

Case Study: Mismanaging a Sensitive Situation


Organizational decisions

Media Relations Plan

Implementing a Media Relations Plan

Employing a PR Specialist

Working with Print Media Reporters

Establishing a Foundation for Effective Relationships

Working with New Reporters

Accommodating Deadlines

Dealing with Negative News

Speaking Off the Record

Refusing to Comment

Telling the Truth

Staying on Track

Getting the School’s Story to the Media

Preparing News Releases

Planning and Conducting News Conferences

Correcting the Record

Working with Electronic Media Reporters



Web-Based Outlets


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 11 Public Opinion

Case Study: Good Intentions Aren’t Always Enough


Defining Public Opinion

Civic Engagement and Policy

Types Citizen Engagement

Public Opinion as a Form of Civic Engagement

Surveying Opinions

Scientific Polling

Sampling Issues

Return Rates

Data Collection Alternatives

Focus Groups

Question Development


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 12 Developing and Executing a Successful Funding Campaign

Case Study: Playing Hardball


Validating the Need


Focal Points

Collecting Data

Projecting an Election Outcome

Referendum Campaign

Steering Committee

Campaign Consultant


Positive Campaign Characteristics

Mistakes and Problems to Avoid

Evaluating the Campaign


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References

Chapter 13 Responding to Crisis

Case Study: Suicide at McKinley Middle School


Safety and Security Planning

Integrating District and School Responsibilities

Defining a Crisis

Planning Scope

Appointing the School Crisis Team

Safety and Security Audit

Constructing a Crisis Plan

Preparing Employees to Implement the Plan

Evaluating the Plan

Crisis Communication

Pre-Crisis Tasks

Communicating During the Crisis

Communicating After the Crisis


Questions and Suggested Activities

Case Study

Chapter References


Although studying the relationship between schools and the communities has long been part of the curriculum completed by aspiring administrators, concerns about this essential association not only persist, they actually have increased. Reasons for the disjunction between theory and practice are many and varied. Some relate to demographic patterns. For example, schools have gotten larger at the same time that the communities they serve have grown more diverse. Other underlying reasons are less discernible and deeply rooted in the organizational culture of districts and schools. For instance, once in practice administrators often must choose between two contradictory dispositions toward community involvement. One, commonly studied in graduate school, posits that broad participation in public education policy and decision making is both morally correct and politically sound. The other, transmitted during socialization to the workplace, posits that external interventions and power sharing cause conflict and subsequently prevent managerial efficiency. Regrettably, the latter outlook remains dominant.

Although traditional management beliefs and values toward community involvement persisted in education for many decades, the debilities of this disposition were not challenged widely until the 1980s and 1990s. America's transition from a manufacturing society to an information-based society provided both an infrastructure for rapid and frequent communication and an expectation that this infrastructure would be employed by administrators to engage the public. At the same time, demands for school improvement intensified. Over these two decades, the school reform agenda evolved,ultimately focusing on restructuring local districts and individual schools--a strategy that clearly favors citizen participation and relies on community acceptance. Given this social and political context, the need for administrators to adopt new values and beliefs toward communication and participation would appear axiomatic. Instead, many school officials continue to cling to outdated notions of efficiency, albeit more covertly than in the past. As a result, their interactions with parents, the media, and community leaders remain limited. For them, communication is a one-way process in which they disseminate information to their chosen audiences as they deem necessary.

Communication behavior has both symbolic and real consequences. One-way approaches have not only hindered necessary organizational adaptations, but they also have reinforced convictions among policy elites that many administrators are either insecure about bringing all segments of the school's community together to engage in reform or philosophically opposed to doing so. Constructing a shared vision and implementing a strategic plan--arguably essential restructuring tasks--require broad-based participation. Therefore, this text focuses heavily on explaining communication alternatives and evaluating them in the context of modern technology, prevailing social conditions, and political demands for change.

Two other noteworthy conditions inhibiting both effective school and community relations and meaningful school reform are given considerable attention in this book. The first is persisting misinterpretations of public relations. Unless administrators and the general public understand the concept of public relations and its vital role in organizational development, they are unlikely to support its core functions. Second, relationships between school officials and media representatives have often been counterproductive. In the aftermath of critical reform reports, administrators and school board members often blamed reporters for sensationalizing public education's shortcomings while purposefully ignoring its accomplishments. Consequently, at the time when image and relationship building are imperative, many education personnel view reporters as the enemy and they anticipate that their contacts with them will be confrontational.

Clearly, the quest for school reform in the context of an information-based society has redefined effective practice in school administration. Today, outstanding principals and superintendents are not only competent managers, they are dynamic leaders. They value democratic processes, respect the professional status of teachers, and see diversity as a potential asset. They understand that schools are most effective when they maintain a symbiotic relationship with the communities they serve. As they seek to lead and facilitate positive change, principals and superintendents utilize modern communication technology to access and disseminate information. They model two-way communication as an effective approach to identifying and solving problems.


The primary objective of this book is to examine the potentialities of educational relations in the context of contemporary societal conditions. More precisely, the process of public relations is examined in relation to (a) life in an information age, (b) practice in social institutions, (c) the use of technology in the practice of school administration, and (d) sustained demands for school improvement. The following features are relevant to this goal:

  • A broad perspective of public relations is presented--one that integrates theory and craft knowledge in promoting two-way communication procedures and extended uses of information.
  • Public relations is defined as an essential and pervasive administrative function. Consequently, every administrator, regardless of assignment, requires a complete understanding of how communication and community relations affect organizational behavior, and, ultimately, organizational effectiveness.
  • The functions embedded in a comprehensive public relations program are deemed especially vital to school reform. Current strategies, such as state deregulation, district decentralization, and school restructuring, depend on schools identifying real needs and making appropriate adaptations based on those needs. Functions nested in public relations are integral to this task.
  • The book's content is structured to encourage professional reflection. The case studies, questions and suggested activities, and suggested readings at the end of each chapter are designed to promote critical thinking in problem solving.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I, "Contemporary Conditions," provides a foundation for understanding the applications of public relations in educational institutions. The topics addressed include

  • A historical perspective of public relations and modern definitions
  • An analysis of contemporary social conditions and their effect on education
  • The role of public opinion in prevailing political contexts
  • The legal and ethical aspects of communication activities
  • An in-depth discussion of verbal and nonverbal communication in the delivery of public relations programs

Part II, "Public Relations in Districts and Schools," focuses more directly on the applications of public relations in schools. The discussion begins with an examination of districts and schools as social institutions--a discussion that magnifies the importance of communication. Then, the development and delivery of public relations programs are examined at the district and individual school levels. The last chapter in this section addresses public relations in private and nontraditional public schools.

Part III, "Administrator Responsibilities," is devoted to specific duties assumed by administrative personnel engaged in public relations activities. These duties include

  • Planning
  • Media relations
  • Crisis management
  • Collecting and analyzing data
  • Funding campaigns
  • Evaluating public relations activities

All 15 chapters conclude with a case study. The cases are purposely not taken to conclusion so that you may place yourself in the role of decision maker. This allows you to integrate chapter content with a contemporary problem faced by a school administrator.

Perspectives presented in this book represent a rich background of practitioner and academic experiences. Whereas many of the chapter authors specialize in educational leadership, others are highly respected scholars in communication, business, and public relations. The collective experiences and knowledge of the contributors result in a unique book--one that integrates theory and practice from multiple disciplines to provide school administrators with emerging perspectives about communication, information, technology, and human relationships.


The third edition provides a balance of theory and practice. Special attention is given to prevailing reform strategies, especially state deregulation, district decentralization, teacher professionalization, and parental choice. As an example, the chapter on private schools has been expanded to include discussion of public schools of choice, namely charter schools, alternative schools, vocational schools, and magnet schools.

Diversity is another topic that receives added attention in this edition. Most communities, and hence most schools, have become increasingly diverse. Demographic projections suggest that this trend will continue and result in minority-majorities in many local districts in the next few decades.

Suggested readings and references, and most of the case studies from the second edition, have either been replaced or revamped to reflect changing conditions in education. Last, the topics of technology and public relations theory are infused across the chapters rather than discussed separately. This modification provides a more integrated discussion of contemporary public relations.

Three new authors are contributors to the third edition. Professors Patti Chance (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) and Lars Bjork (University of Kentucky) are coauthors of Chapter 6 on the social dimensions of schools. Professor George Perreault (University of Nevada-Reno) is a coauthor of Chapter 8 on programming at the school level.

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