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District uses PR firm to broaden reach

Fees not to exceed $15,000 a year, according to contract

OREGON – The Oregon School District wants to be the “district of choice” for families in Ogle County.

But how does a medium-sized district in the shadows of some of the most elite schools in the state become the district?

It hires a public relations firm.

The Oregon School District last year started working with KMK Media Group out of Rockford to not only write news releases, but also to redesign its logo, train staff to effectively use social media, and create marketing materials.

“As our enrollment decreases, as we are in competition with other districts for families, we need to be more aggressive with our marketing,” Superintendent Tom Mahoney said.

The district will continue to work with the firm this year to redesign its website and launch an interactive Facebook page.

In most school districts, the superintendent or his secretary, a building principal or an English teacher might be responsible for public relations functions. In many suburban districts, a full-time public relations director – a member of the district staff – handles those tasks.

“We took that more common, traditional approach ... and we weren’t getting the response we wanted from our efforts,” Mahoney said. “None of us is a professional marketer.”

The district wanted to expand its reach more regionally and into different media, such as television, and the firm has helped the district do that, he added.

The Oregon School District has an annual contract with KMK Media Group for services not to exceed $15,000. The district reviews and, if desired, renews the contract every year.

The cost is “reasonable” and a “great value” for the level of expertise the firm brings to marketing efforts on behalf of the district, Mahoney said.

“Sometimes, I think we don’t do a good enough job promoting what we do,” he added. “And I know we can’t expect local media to do that. So, it’s incumbent upon us to be more proactive.”

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