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Getting Your Student's Idols to Get Your Message Out! Getting Your Student's Idols to Get Your Message Out! February 16, 2011 8:00 AM | Tagged as school communication, School Webmasters

I get frustrated, as I’m sure many parents and educators do, when our youth idolize celebrities—from movie stars to sports stars to musicians—who may not be the best examples for them (Paris Hilton or Amy Winehouse come to mind). It would be great if these individuals gave our youth something to strive for and a reason to emulate their success. But, far too often they are getting all the attention for their outrageous behavior with few redeeming reasons to justify such notoriety.

But, there are some notable exceptions. I recently read an article about some schools in New York City who are using celebrity to encourage kids to get to school. It’s called WakeUp! NYC and it is hoped that the new campaign will help local schools reduce chronic absenteeism and truancy. They have recruited such high profile names as Magic Johnson, Jose Reyes (of the NY Mets), or Mr. Songz, who simply provide encouraging pre-recorded messages to be used by the schools for students with more than 10 absences in a year. These messages are delivered by phone via the school’s alert system (systems like School Announcement).

All of this is done to drive home the point that every student should be in school every day. From a student perspective, it is a very positive way to use celebrity to encourage the types of behaviors in youth that will help them lead a more successful and productive life. People they admire and idolize are setting excellent examples and using their power to influence in positive ways.

Are there ways you could do this within your own school? Sure! There are a couple of steps that should be easily accomplished with a few choice phone calls:

  1. Contact your local radio or TV station and tell them about your campaign to keep kids in school and ask for their help. They can do Public Service Announcements or PSAs for you (at no charge). You can also ask if they know of any celebrities who might be willing to be your “voices” on the recordings. They have lots of contacts through their media channels. Check out the recording by Magic Johnson for ideas.
  2. Decide who you could tap to be your local celebrities and give them a call. Who could say no to such a request to help students get back on the path to success? These could be the local Mayor, well-known alumni sports star, successful/prominent community member, local TV announcers, local well-known musician. Think out of the box because I’m sure there are local people who would be recognizable and willing.
  3. Write up a few friendly, encouraging messages for your celebrity volunteers (targeting the kids and what would appeal to them but keeping the vital message intact that being in school every day is critical).
  4. Make the recordings and incorporate those into the current notification system. If you don’t have an alert notification in place, find out how to get one (you can contact School Webmasters and we can make some recommendations or get you hooked up).
  5. If you have access to your celebrity of choice, ask them if they are willing to do a video announcement for you and use this in your campaign to let parents and community members know what you are trying to do.

Put this on your website with an explanation of your campaign and what you hope to accomplish. Be sure to site those great stats that show what a difference a high school diploma means in an individual’s life. It sounds like a great idea to me, so why not put it to work for you school as well!

And, if you know any celebrities willing to record messages for schools across the U.S. to use for free, let us know. We'll make these available to all schools who would like to use them!

Posted By Bonnie Leedy, CEO
Posted in Communication, Public Relations | 2 Replies
Thursday, February 17, 2011 12:30 AM
Yes, and that is something else that I believe they are doing--when attendance improves for those who are struggling to attend, they get a phone call of praise and encouragement. But I love your idea. Why not let kids who have good attendance get a call each quarter. Love it!
Posted by: Bonnie
Thursday, February 17, 2011 12:08 AM
I like the idea, though I'd much rather see the kids that are attending regularly and receiving improving grades get the phone calls instead of those who have too many absences. If word got around that somebody got a call for having more than 10 absences, some might see if they can get one too. I love the idea of using celebrities, though!
Posted by: Judy

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