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January 2020

Talk about benefits first, then about buildings

After 28 years and hundreds of research studies on behalf of public school districts by Patron Insight, there’s one thing I can say for certain: Most people in your district just don’t care about your upcoming ballot issue.

Don’t assume that “don’t care” means “won’t vote.” Scads of the uniformed step into the voting booth or mail in their ballots and, in doing so, decide your election.

Why would they do such a thing? Because somebody told them something about it, they saw a yard sign, got a mailer, received a robocall and so on. Their interest level isn’t piqued. They just know they saw or heard something about it.

If this information was from your district or your campaign committee, our experience tells us that focusing your communications on the physical changes is a sure way to get these uniformed voters to nod off, or to vote “no.” I mean, do you really expect them to be interested in the details about the proposed high school bathroom remodel? 

When preparing informational or promotional materials, think “Benefits first, then buildings.” Take what you had planned to say, write or present and flip the order.

For example, rather than saying, “This bond issue will allow us to build an eight-classroom wing at Grant Avenue Elementary School that will help with our overcrowding problem at that building for the foreseeable future,” try this instead:

“This bond issue will allow the district to reduce class sizes and eliminate the need to place students in modular classrooms, by constructing an eight-classroom expansion at Grant Avenue Elementary School.”

The message is that the proposal will create a better learning environment, because of the classrooms, not the other way around.
By the way: If you know the reference to Grant Avenue Elementary School (hint: it’s from TV and it was actually Grant Avenue Grammar School, if that helps) comes from, email me at ken@patroninsight.com and put “Grant Avenue” in the subject line. I’ll send a free flash drive to the first 20 readers who get it right, no strings attached. Good luck!
Have an election upcoming and want to have a spot-check on whether your communications are “Benefits first, then buildings”-focused? Drop me an email at ken@patroninsight.com or call me at 816-225-0668.

54 seconds about how to deal with perpetually "no" patrons

Patron Insight Small School District Initiative Launches in February

Patron Insight will be providing an opportunity for school districts under 5,000 students to enter to win Stakeholder Snapshot Research at no cost, beginning in February. A total of six such studies will be given away to small districts who would not have access to such services otherwise. Please watch your email and this newsletter next month, for full details on how to enter.

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