Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Joined: 05 Mar 2012
Legal 101 for PR
Your school has implemented a public relations program. After spending hours honing and developing a winning program, your PTA has given its blessing and your school board has signed off on the hard-won budget...so you're good to go, right?
In any school system, especially where elementary school is concerned, students' parents are an important part of the education process and in many cases, your public relations program probably involves your students, either directly or indirectly. As we have discussed before, public relations program may include outreach to local media, planning on or off-site events to help integrate the school with the community and the release/discussion of academic records in public venue.
To safeguard your students - and to keep your school from falling victim to a messy legal battle that could un-do all of your hard won efforts, keep some of these documents - which can easily be found on the internet - in mind as you execute that long-awaited PR program.
Non-disclosure agreements. These forms are used when you want to legally prohibit a reporter from sharing information that you have disclosed with them. Should you ever release private information to the media whether "off the record" or to offer background information or context, it may be prudent to request that the reporter sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure that students' privacy will be protected. To the same end, it is important to tell parents if and how proprietary information will be used, especially as it may relate to standardized test scores.
Photo Release Forms: If you are planning to invite reporters to an event, whether it be a fun outdoor excursion off school property for Earth Day or a Friday family movie night in the school cafeteria, you should not let them pose for any media photographs unless they have a photo release form signed by a parent. If a photo of a minor child appears in print or online form without permission, there could be legal ramifications. To avoid these, ask parents to sign a blanket form in the beginning of the year so that you can keep track of their preferences. If you can give parents advance notice that a photographer will be attending an event, this also reduces the likelihood of incidence.
Join the discussion about Legal Considerations in PR over in our PR for Schools Group!