St. Charles CUSD 303 (IL)

Navigating high-pressure communication needs during the pandemic led St. Charles CUSD 303 to seek feedback from outside experts on if their approach was working. The Baseline Communications Assessment provided positive reinforcement, plus a few new revelations.

The Opportunity

After two decades in K12 public relations, Director of Communications and Community Relations Carol Smith from St. Charles CUSD 303 in Illinois knows when to charge forward, and when to ask for help. In October 2020, during a pressure-filled time when the need for clear communications was at a fever pitch, Carol and her district superintendent wanted third-party confirmation that their approach to the community was working and aligned to the needs of their community.

Carol engaged CESO Communications and learned about the expedited Baseline Communications Assessment process to interview communications team members and school officials as well as use a feedback tool to capture opinions of one-quarter of the district (2,000 responses). District staff had minimal involvement in the process and were able to continue their work while the results of the assessment were compiled.

These are former school PR professionals who have been in the trenches, understand the role, the importance of the role, and could give quality feedback you can use in the future.

Carol Smith

Director of Communications and Community Relations
Blue quotes

The CESO Solution

As part of the Baseline Communications Assessment, Carol learned that most parents found communications to be accurate and timely, which was an enormous weight off her mind. More importantly, the school board presentation provided by the CESO Communications team gave concrete and authoritative answers about the work, perceptions and next steps.

Better still were revelations Carol didn’t expect — like the need for a staff newsletter and more communications activity aimed at community members without children. What the district loved about the report was that it didn’t belittle current efforts in any way — instead, it exulted the areas of strength and categorized the action steps based on urgency. “I really like the ‘Do Now,’ ‘Do Soon’ and ‘Do Later’ structure of the report. An audit is such a vulnerable process where you’re putting yourself out there,” said Carol.

Now that she’s on the other side of the Assessment, Carol continues to use its contents to drive action across the district. She’s already implemented the staff newsletter, and received great feedback on that change.

Services Provided

Baseline Communications Assessment (BCA)
A dedicated team of Senior Strategic Consultants interview staff and evaluate your processes, then create a customized and prioritized path to more effective communication.

Social Media Audit
We take a deep dive into your current social media practices and provide a path to more effective engagement. Plus, our media strategists can optimize your approach to refine the message and grow your community.

Community Engagement
Using a variety of methods, from online tools and interviewing to community forums and beyond, we help engage your school community to collect authentic responses.

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