This is Day 4 of my thread on the potential value of blogging by K-12 administrators. Today I'll address issues related to branding and creating "customer evangelists." Previous posts covered news sharing, progress monitoring, and status alerts; marketing and public relations; and community building and customer relations. This series of posts stems from Chapter 4 of The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil. So... why blog as an administrator?

Reason 8: Branding

As real estate agents know, perhaps the first question that relocating families want answered is "Where are the good schools?" Certain school districts, and certain schools within districts, have reputations for providing high-quality learning experiences for children. These school organizations are the ones that attract families with high social capital and high-achieving children.

Parents are increasingly checking out school web sites as part of their relocation decision-making. As noted in previous posts, the same messages from the principal that create warm, fuzzy feelings of community, belonging, and academic excitement also are perfect for outsiders who want to see what the school is all about. It would be fairly difficult for a relocating family to acquire several months worth of newsletters, e-mails to parents, etc., but the public availability of a blog ensures that everyone - existing stakeholders, relocating families, realtors, potential corporate partners, and other outside community members - can see the wonderful things that are occurring in the school building.

Reason 9: Creating "customer evangelists"

Customer evangelists are those individuals that are passionate about the school and publicly advocate for the school to others. They do this of their own volition - they are not paid to do so. These are the people that talk about how great the school is to everyone they meet. They help build the reputation and the buzz of the school organization and contribute to overall feelings of satisfaction by staff, parents, students, and community members.

Evangelists are important contributors to a school's success. Indeed, as Malcolm Gladwell and others have noted, evangelists may be the only information source that others trust and believe. Nearly everyone is experiencing overload from an unlimited variety of information sources - evangelists are the folks that capture people's attention and sway opinion.

Blogs give evangelists something to talk about. Regular updates, news items, and other highlights feed the conversations that evangelists are having with others. These people can make or break a school's reputation - administrators would be wise to feed them well on a steady diet of positive information.

Just one day left! Tomorrow we'll cover thought leadership, advocacy, and replacing the school web site.