Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Power Social Marketing for Teachers

Patti Fletcher's credentials would not necessarily lead you to take her seriously. She is the global leader of the Cross-Portfolio Marketing and Social Marketing Center of Excellence teams at IHS, and is the Co-Founder and CEO of PSDNetwork, LLC, which sounds like a huge gobbledygook salad with jargonaisse dressing. Fletcher's work "centers on enablement and culture change with a particularly interesting focus on women in the boardroom."

In a recent post on Leader Networks entitled "Social Marketing and Gender Equality through Power Networking: 4 Common Trends Related to Transformation, Power and Influence," Fletcher lays out four ideas about institutional transformation that are directed at empowering women in the business world, but which have equally powerful implications for teachers and education. It's worth your time to read the whole piece, despite the heavy dose of business-speak that it promises, but here's the main points of the main points.

Trend #1. There is no separation between a  professional and a personal life.

Women tend to integrate more than separate. We don’t have a work life and a personal life. We have a life! Taking that a step further, many successful female executives and millennial entrepreneurs I speak with all say they do not separate their relationships. “I don’t have work friends and personal friends, I have friends,” says Mark Johnson, former CEO of Zite (acquired by CNN in 2011, spun off to Flipboard in 2014). 

This holds true for lots of teachers as well. Certainly, teaching in a small town, I am always a teacher no matter where I'm found. After all these years, some students are still shocked to see me in a grocery store, buying food. This is also why, in many communities, teachers really are held to a higher standard of conduct. When you're out in a bar drinking, people will still see you as their child's teacher.

Trend #2. It's not who you know that matters the most, it's who knows you.

Why does the media keep calling Randi Weingarten whenever they need a teacher's persepctive? Because she's the person they know. Why don't teachers appear on talk shows, news broadcasts, or any of the other places where education is discussed? Because the people in power, the people who decide these things, don't know any teachers.

How to break that barrier is a challenge. But it's part of the answer we're looking for.

We B2B social marketers want our brands to be first in mind within our target topics. We want to be in the hearts and minds of our customers, industry influencers, our partners. The people who know us are far more important that the people we know. The more people who know us and will advocate for our brands — whether we are present or not — the more our brands become the go-to source for thought leadership, engagement, and eventually business.

Why does Campbell Brown get to be the face of the latest reformy attack on teachers? Because people, both in the general public and the halls of power, know her. Reformsters have this part down. Teachers, not so much. In particular, unions could be creating whole speakers bureaus of  teachers-- active classroom professionals available to everything from media to the local Rotary Club.

Trend #3. Power relationships are based on mutual interests and sharing information, not frequency of transactions.

In other words, networking. Fletcher says women are often reluctant to network because the interactions seem so force, unnatural, and self-serving. But connecting with people, being able to help them out, connecting them with other like-minded people-- those all build up power networks.

Teachers can be, of course, the ultimate anti-networkers. Let me just stay in my room and never talk to anybody over the age of ten. Often we overlook the most obvious of networking opportunities-- our own former students. But even connecting with our own colleagues would be a step forward for some of us.

Fletcher cites Judy Robinette, author of How To Be a Power Connector.

Robinett connects with people on what they care about and focuses on how she can help them. And, she works hard at her relationships. “I am not going to be a one-hit wonder. I am not going to do you a favor and never hear from me again,” says Robinett. She works hard at cultivating her relationships by being the source of information and of new connections. 

Trend #4. Context and Strategy Are Critical

Whether we are talking about building a power network of key players in an industry you are targeting for your next business, or you are trying to engage potential customers online, first you have to find out where they are and then go to them.

Which sounds like about pretty much everything in teacherland.

In the ongoing debate about the future of public education, we need to remember that as alarmed as we may be, the charge is not to explain to civilians why we are upset, but to explain why they should be upset. We should not be telling them where they should go to get the information; we should be bringing it to them where they are.

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