Since We Were Monitoring The Conversation

Oh what a difference a 12 months makes. One year ago my school district acquired a lively (and eventually positive) PR issue at end to the institution year: a higher school student protest at the administration building. The Timberview employee received notice of the administrative transfer to a middle college in MISD as a teacher and trainer starting in the 2011-12 college year. To date, this individual is one of 75 Mansfield ISD employees who received such administrative exchanges in our continuing efforts to save careers in the District. The important thing to note is that in this example is we were not amazed by the demo.

The students tipped their hand through word of mouth and social mass media. The rumor-mill revved up over the last week of school about the students being upset that one of the instructors was being shifted/fired/replaced/sent away/etc. Thankfully, I got blowing wind from it fairly early because we aggressively monitor traditional media and social mass media for mentions, problems, topics related to the campuses and District.

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It wasn’t long before the students got to Twitter and Facebook to rally support and organize the demo. Using Twitter search and a Boolean search string with hastags, campus name, the teacher’s name and the ‘OR’ operator, I had formed a pretty good deal with (and free look) into the discussion on that channel. The students also create a Facebook Page to save lots of the coach and virtually left it wide open for anybody to see. This is good because we’re able to see as well.

When the conversation moved to an actual organized protest for the last day of college, we were not taken by shock and could actually anticipate their actions. Originally, they wanted to show at the senior high school, which was a negative idea because in addition to it being the last day of college it was also a finals day.

Naturally, the concern here was a disruption in the academic process particularly for those students not included or thinking about this particular demonstration. Since we were monitoring the discussion, we followed the news headlines that the students decided against rallying at the senior high school and instead were heading to assemble and demonstrate at the District administration building.

Great. Again, this was the last day of college but this is a much better situation for us since we could contain things from students taking finals. The radio station explained they had heard there have been “300 students collected at the stadium” to protest. Since we’d expected the students’ goes and had verification from District police, I could give her the real numbers (around 50 kids at the time) and an updated location of our administrative organic. I informed her to have the reporter meet me in the parking lot and we’d go from there.

And thus started the media relations side to this story. As members of the local media began to reach and get their b-roll of the students marching then coming over to get some interviews I took an chance to show just a little strategic support for the students. I had fashioned our student diet department deliver cases of water in bottles so we could distribute among the students during that which was quickly learning to be a hot Texas day.