1. What’s the difference between a PR firm and The Jane Group?
The difference is significant.
PR firms focus on placing stories in the media, cultivating media relations, and generating messages in social and traditional media which promote an organization to its constituents. Crisis management is usually not their core business.
They measure success by the positive news, editorials and stories you see, hear or read about their clients.
Our goal is the opposite. For our clients, success is often what you don’t see, hear or read.
During a crisis, the rules for working with the media change. In times of crisis, it’s generally best not to be in the media at all. Keeping your school off the front pages, minimizing what is reported, and making sure it reflects positively on the school, is the goal. No school wants to be the poster child for bad news, day after day.
Having served hundreds of independent schools over the past 20 years, The Jane Group understands this; a traditional PR firm may not.
2. In a crisis, don't we need a local firm that has a strong relationship with the local media?
No. It may even be counterproductive to your school. Why?
A typical firm, with a local presence, works hard to cultivate good relationships with the media. That means encouraging its clients to readily be available for interviews, to hold press conferences, and to provide expert opinions, when asked. Local PR firms’ success depends, at least in part, on how helpful they are to the media. You need a firm that knows how to do the opposite: strategically limit your school’s exposure to the media. It’s critical to understand when to issue a media statement and how much information should be offered. It’s critical to understand what pitfalls to avoid. And it’s critical to understand the harm that can be done from an ill-advised media interview or press conference.
The Jane Group does this every day for its independent school clients and has no conflict of interest in doing so. Crisis management for independent schools is our business, our only business.
3. How important is it for the firm you choose to know independent schools?
It’s critical. Independent schools are unique. General PR advice won’t serve your school well in a crisis. And your school doesn’t have time during a crisis for a “do over”. You have to get it right the first time.
The firm which can best serve you is the one that understands not only the very atypical media relations during a crisis but also how best to communicate with your key constituents - parents, staff, students, alumni and donors. That means knowing just the right tone to use, the amount of information to provide, and the level of transparency which your school community deserves. It also means knowing how often to communicate and what method of communication is best.
Best practices are key to the successful management of independent school crisis communications. We know what they are. And we follow them every day, with every client. Our consultants at The Jane Group are experts who have worked with hundreds of independent schools, handling every kind of school crisis imaginable.
4. What specialized expertise does The Jane Group offer to your school?
Members of The Jane Group team have vast experience handling every type of crisis imaginable: we have successfully worked with independent schools for 20 years. But we also offer an additional, very valuable benefit: we have access to a network of experts who have extensive experience handling all types of independent school issues. We work closely with the best attorneys, independent investigators and security experts, all of whom understand the types of crises we face every day. With this group of seasoned professionals, there is no need to spend precious time getting them “up to speed”. They immediately “get it”.
5. Why have media training?
You probably know how to give a good interview to the media. You know how to hold a standard press conference. You know how to cut a ribbon and make a good speech.
Do you know what to do when someone thrusts a microphone in front of your face and asks a question you don’t want to answer?
Do you know what to say – and what not to say - when someone insults you, your school, your students or staff?
The Jane Group has trained hundreds of heads of school and trustees.