During this past year, we have heard from our community about our need to focus and prioritize communications and engagement.
After an in-depth review and assessment, we believe a structural change is needed; our strategic engagement and communication is critical, especially as we emerge from the most challenging episode in BSD’s history through the pandemic.
Bellevue School District asked the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) to conduct an audit of the district’s communications. Starting in fall 2020, NSPRA reviewed communications materials, conducted virtual focus groups and interviews with diverse BSD stakeholders and evaluated all components of the BSD communications program.
BSD leadership asked for the audit after hearing from staff, families and the community about a need to better connect and relay information in a timely and accurate manner.
The NSPRA audit states that BSD has strong community support but must reimagine the role of its communications department and start making changes and improvements to communication processes and structures to improve overall communication.
NSPRA listed several recommendations for BSD to improve communications including:
- Strategically align the overarching goals of the communication program and the daily efforts of the communication staff with BSD’s mission, vision and strategic plan.
- Make internal communications and employee engagement a strategic priority.
- Increase alignment between BSD’s communications and engagement functions.
- Enhance and implement the crisis communication plan.
- Continue to refine the district’s social media presence and engage more stakeholders.
- Develop a digital communication plan.
- Enhance communication to better serve the needs and interests of non-English speaking and minority families.
We are taking the recommendations and the full report to heart and are reevaluating the roles and functions as they currently exist and plan to make changes to recreate a new engagement and communications structure for staff, families and our community. While we determine exactly how to restructure and then recruit the right leader, Janine Thorn, who is currently communications director at the Puget Sound Educational Service District, is filling in now as Interim Communications Director.
Janine, who is also a Bellevue parent, is providing communications strategy, support and overseeing the team while we restructure the communications work to elevate and prioritize this focus.
In addition, the district has increased our presence on social media, is planning to improve our website, is focused on improving internal communications and working on how to better integrate communications with our engagement work.
You can read the full NSPRA communications audit here.