Nothing to get excited about and certainly nothing to shout about – pretty much sums up my school food experience, which isn’t too much of a distant memory as I’m only 25!
But knowing that more than 3 million pupils now eat a school meal every day, instead of a packed lunch – a number that’s grown for four years running – it’s fair to say school dinners have undergone a total transformation since my last serving.
For some, the ‘bad rep’ of school meals persists, so I think it’s time for a little DIY PR!
Taking a really simple and no-cost approach to building new relationships and communicating with families and children can do wonders for credibility and reputation. It’s all about telling the right people what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, how you’re doing it and why. Here are a few pointers to get you started….
Make a media list. Do you read a local paper? Listen to a local radio station? Ask other parents what they read in your area, pop into your local newsagents or use good old Google!
What’s newsworthy? Do you have a VIP guest joining you for a cooking lesson? A new school meals menu going live? Started growing your own vegetables in your school garden? Holding a bake sale for charity? Tell all those on your new media list about it and invite them along. You could even have a go at writing a simple news release. This website tells you what a journalist likes to receive.
Seeing, or perhaps tasting, is believing – You could hold a press lunch and invite a reporter from your local newspaper or radio station to join you and your pupils for lunch and have a free school meal. I bet the majority of adults won’t have seen let alone eaten school meal for over a decade, so maybe it’s about time you showed them how good they really are!
Whatever’s going on, ALWAYS have a camera ready! A photo of a tasty school meal is much easier to digest than a bunch of words. Photos are a great way to gain exposure and a real coup for children who get to see their picture in the press. And if they’re anything like mine, it will certainly keep the grandparents happy! You could even upload them to Flickr to share with the world (we’ve just started doing this too http://www.flickr.com/photos/childrensfoodtrust/). Just don’t forget to get permission from parents before you send a child’s photo to media or upload it online.
If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try and try again – Reporters are busy people, so if you don’t hear back after your first shot, don’t give up! Just be careful to make sure you have a new angle each time you get in touch.
Jump on the social bandwagon! Its free, gets your message out faster and everybody’s doing it. Twitter is a fantastic platform to promote everything you do and respond to the latest developments in the world of education as it’s actually happening – it enables you to express an opinion on things important to your school, children’s health and all family matters. A news release can take days to make the press, but you can post your news with a simple tweet and weblink the very second you want it to. These guys at Surrey School Meals have got it spot on http://twitter.com/surreyschmeals/. And if you do join the Twittersphere, make sure you check us out too! https://twitter.com/ChildFoodTrust
To see how we do it, check out the news section of our website and let us know if you have any success! Good luck!
Sarah is our Media and Communications Assistant. Email Sarah.