Skydiving without a Parachute

Four Reasons Why School Communications Need Measurement

By Sandy Cokeley, APR


  1. The sky is endless.
    And so is our work in school public relations. Have you ever heard a district or a colleague claim they’ve “got it all covered” when it comes to communication? The demand always exceeds the supply. Knowing how to best allocate your invaluable time and budget requires knowing where the greatest needs lie. Knowing where the greatest needs lie requires research and measurement.
  2. You need to pick the right parachute.
    Parachutes vary widely in size, design and cost, and jumpers choose based on experience, body weight and budget. The variances in school communications tools far exceed those in parachutes and budget is a never-ending consideration. Do we send an eblast? Tweet? Hold a community forum? Picking the rights tools for each message becomes easier when we have the data and analytics on the resources available to us.
  3. Identifying the landing spot matters, a lot.
    Jumpers typically practice their craft in Drop Zones with designated areas for landings. The goal is to land in the designated area and not in a lake, forest or landfill. How to get there requires a full assessment of the conditions of the jump. Knowing where we want to “land” in school communications becomes much clearer when we’ve researched our starting point (baseline) and what we want the end result to be. Is it a change in awareness, knowledge, perception and/or behavior?
  4. If you’re heading for trees, close your legs.
    One vital lesson skydivers are given – if you find yourself headed for trees, close your legs and hold your arms down close to your sides. School PR practitioners can all relate to minimizing the damage when there are troubles. Knowing how your audiences prefer to get information, how much they trust you, and where your strengths and vulnerabilities lie can minimize the fallout during times of crisis.

And if these aren’t reason enough, know that we can all find inspiration by the same quotes:
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”
“Don’t just fly, soar!”
“You can skydive without a parachute, but only once.”

Disclaimer: I have never skydived and have no intention to. Any references are through research and speaking with those who have. I have, however, navigated the world of school PR measurement for over 25 years including my current role as CEO of SCoPE School Surveys, a national standardized assessment focused solely on school communications. 844-322-8675