Building effective public relations with all sections of people and learning to behave with respect and patience can prevent many crises we come across in our mission.
PRACTICAL TIPS RELATED TO EFFECTIVENESS OF MISSION AND PUBLIC IMAGE:
1. Change the transfer policy of heads of public institutions and train for lifelong productive mission.
2. Appoint principals and heads of institutions only after giving them training in leadership, professionalism and socio-political scenario.
3. Introduce developing skills of communication and public relations in all stages of formation.
4. Participate in all public programmes organised by secular organisations and people of other faith. Go to such programmes after doing homework of gathering information about the group and people who organize the events.
5. Appoint a person or a team with competence for public relations in all institutions and communities. Provide required facilities for the work. They shall also prepare strategies to prevent and resolve crisis and troubles.
6. Introduce regular evaluation of all activities of institution and community following the principles of transparency, participation, accountability, communication to all members. Every work shall be taken as community mission and involvement of all members are to be ensured.
7. Nurture the media without selling our values. The PRO (Public Relation Officer) shall co-ordinate the media management with dignity and self-respect. Never go for ‘paid news’. Learn about the ‘who is who’ of the local media.
8. Make use of the service of the experienced professional lay persons in our mission / institutions as advisors and patrons.
9. Educate all members of the community and institute about the changing socio-political scenario and the threats to prepare them to adopt new ways: “New wineskin to contain new wine”, to meet the new challenges.
10. Abandon everything which is related to the colonial past and fundamentalism in our practices and preaching, such as dress, uniform of schools, logo, prayers and many other practices.
11. Accept the truth that pluralism as the heritage we have received from Jesus and avoid any kind of imposition of Christian practices on students and teachers of other faith.
12. Promote the inclusive spirituality of Jesus in all our policies and activities. Abandon all practices based on the exclusive mentality of ‘ours and theirs’.
13. Speak the local language whenever there is a gathering of parents especially where large majority of parents do not understand English. All communication to parents shall be given in their language.
14. Respect the local customs and rituals of other faiths instead of imposing Christian prayers and traditions on students and people of other faith.
15. Place photos of great Indian leaders and saints of all religions on our walls and notice boards. Write symbols of other religions and inspiring quotes from other scriptures along with quotes from the Holy Bible. Large majority of students and teachers in our institutions belong to other faith. Honouring them will surely create good will.
16. Welcome all who come to meet us with cordiality and respect. Every meeting is to be taken as an opportunity to create better public image and publicity. Demands and requests could be refused politely.
17. Train the staff and workers to be cordial to all who come to the campus and provide clear communication.
18. Conduct review meetings with all staff as often as possible. These meetings should be opportunity to educate and equip everyone to prevent any crisis and confusion.
19. Prepare the staff and students to be ambassadors who create positive public opinion about the institution. If you take them into confidence and share your vision then they will be the most effective defenders of your institution.
20. Prepare the parents as partners of the school. Take them into confidence and establish regular cordial communication with them. When you have won the confidence of parents, neither politicians nor government officials will dare to trouble you. The routine transfer of principals will damage this relationship and the mission of Christ will suffer.
21. Publish a monthly newsletter with information of the activities of the school to keep the link with the parents. A well prepared message from principal in local language is an opportunity to share our vision and concerns to parents.
22. Form an alumni association to keep in touch with all ex-students. Send regular information through news bulletin and personal correspondence. Appoint a person to keep contact with the ex-students regularly and co-ordinate their programmes. The purpose is to continue the mission of mentoring and accompanying in their life.
23. Invite the former principals and other sisters and priests who served the school and made influence in the society in the past whenever programmes are organised for the parents and ex-students. Provide them opportunity to meet and talk to parents and ex-students so that the friendship and good relationship of the public could be sustained. Since it is a community mission personal ego and complexes of individuals should not stand in the way of gaining maximum good will of the people of the locality. Travel expenses of the invitees should be paid by the school as a gesture of honouring them.
24. Review the co-curricular activities in the school and analyse their impact. Abandon the routine and unproductive ones and innovate creative and educative programmes for the holistic development of the students and teachers.
25. Make education less expensive and beneficial to the last and the least. Abandon expensive uniforms, activities and excursions which benefit only the rich. Bearing LASTING FRUIT (Jn 15: 15) from all even from the ‘last and least person’ (ref. Mahatma Gandhi) should be criterion of all decisions.
26. Create opportunity to invite and honour prominent citizens and leaders of various organisations in the city / town to our institution. Organize small functions of short duration to celebrate different events such as birth anniversaries of great people and festivals of different religions. These prominent people could be honoured as guests of the function. This will help us to nurture good relationship with them. Send the news and photographs to the press. They will spread positive opinion about the institution and our works.
27. Children who study in the school, the teachers who teach there, parents who come to the school and all who enter in to our campus should feel belongingness. They should cherish only happy memories of the school. Principal, staff and all workers should create a positive and happy atmosphere in the school.
28. Pay decent and just salary to all staff and workers. Don’t wait for the Government to force us to do it. The staff and the public know to calculate the income and expenditure of our school. While we proclaim education is a mission why do we make it a business?
29. Don’t use shrewdness of business people to earn more profit by not appointing permanent staff to pay less salary, escape paying provident fund and other benefits to the staff and workers. Follow government rules in all matters.
30. Prepare a brochure about our institution clarifying the vision, goals, policies and salient features of our institution. Make it with more secular perspective with the focus of nation building. It should not appear like an aggressive publicity to Church and congregation. Present the name of the registered society with registration number and year instead of colonial expressions like province and provincial. Avoid all kinds of terminology inherited from the colonial era in the brochure. Give this brochure to all who come asking for information about the institution and its activities.
31. Transparency wins the trust of both the co-workers and the public. Sooner or later we will be forced to publish details of the source of our income and expenditure by the government. Why don‘t we take initiative to publish them without waiting for the Govt. to ask us to do? As a public institution we are expected to be accountable to the public. Let us be the salt and light to the world by setting example of transparency and accountability.
32. Instead of organizing routine orientations for teachers, students and parents by anyone available from the locality who would speak of theoretical ideas copied from the books and internet, invite persons with competence and experience and would motivate the audience. Don’t count the cost when the programme is of quality.
33. Capacity building and updating of teachers should be made top priority. Explore the possibility of exposure for teachers which will be both motivational and educative. Make provisions in the budget for such expenses. Quality teachers with commitment and motivation are essential for the quality of education and standard of school.
34. Presence and active participation of principal in all orientation and training programmes should be mandatory. This is essential for the follow up of all training programmes. As Jesus, the Good Shepherd, principal shall set example by leading from the front.
(Published on 19th August 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 34)