From the Web site for National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting firm that specializes in school security, crisis-preparedness training, and, apparently, public relations. Although school violence is declining, many schools have beefed up security in the wake of the Columbine massacre.
School administrators of the past often feared that by publicly acknowledging and addressing security and crisis preparedness issues, their school would be perceived by parents, the community, and the media as unsafe and, in turn, that they would be viewed as ineffective managers. Today, however, progressive administrators recognize that working on improving security and crisis preparedness is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a positive public relations tool. Our experience at National School Safety and Security Services, along with numerous national surveys, shows that parents and the community want to know that school officials are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of students, staff, and school facilities.
We work closely with our clients to help them not only professionally assess their security needs and to educate their school community, but also to use their efforts and our services as a positive public relations tool. A district couldn’t receive a better headline than this one from a story on our work with a school district in Indiana: “Expert gives FWCS [Fort Wayne Community Schools] high safety marks.”
Our success is due to our working knowledge and experience in dealing with local, regional, and national media. We take an extensive amount of time to provide reporters with a working understanding of the complex issues associated with school safety and security, crisis preparedness, and related issues. We encourage our clients to invite the media to our training programs and to host interviews....
While we will never compromise the integrity of our services for the sake of public relations, we do go beyond most consultants by taking the time to help school administrators understand how to effectively communicate school safety and crisis issues, and most importantly how to communicate their efforts to address these issues, to their con sti t uents and the broader community.
A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 1999 edition of Teacher as Selling Safety