December 21, 2011

Being social

So, I'm the PHS webmaster this year. It's my first year back on the job after a hiatus of a year and a half. It's also the first year that PCSD has been without a public relations (PR) director in my eleven years in the district. Perhaps as a result of that latter happening, I've been finding myself more and more interested - and sometimes frustrated in Princeton's various online personas.

Today I'm going to run through the various online presences that exist in and around Princeton City schools. This will be an incomplete list because I'm pretty sure there are other presences out there that I don't know. I'll come back early next week with my thoughts, beliefs, and understandings about our online brand.

There's the district website, redesigned almost two years ago now and managed through SchoolWorld, a website/company that managed school websites around the country. The district website is being managed by our technology director and the secretary of the former PR director. Each of the school websites - all a part of and largely indistinguishable from the district site - is managed by somebody in the building.I'm the high school webmaster, but some of the elementary schools are being managed by the building's principal.

There's the high school's Twitter feed, managed by our principal, occasionally by some of his student interns, and - I think - by our athletic director/principal/fotball coach. The feed is branded as being our principal's, self-described as 'leader; innovator; visionary; change agent." In a weird way this seems to make it less official for me because if the principal leaves, I assume that Twitter feed would leave as well. Two examples of that exact problem is here @PCMSViking where the former principal left the building for our central office or @PrincetonSchool, the Twitter feed of our former PR director. When that happened the Twitter feed died, leaving anyone who relied on it as communication to be lost. Makes me wonder what will happen to Dale Even (@EvendaleLilVike) when their principal leaves or @ImproveSchools when Tim Dugan retires...again.

For a while our principal also had his personal YouTube channel that he was using as the high school's channel, uploading videos and linking them to the official website and Facebook page (that's coming in a paragraph or two). At some point, however, that stopped, and the PrincetonVikings channel - which was created a year and a half ago to post a valedictory speech video. I'm not sure how many people upload videos there, but I know of at least a half dozen high school employees who have the password.

The most viewed Princeton online presence might be the high school's Facebook page. There are six administrators there - a music teacher, me, two principals, our librarian, and our technology director. We have 5217 likes there, and this is the place with the most frequent updates from PHS - especially since almost every Tweet gets reposted here. Somewhere along the way, the choice was made that only official posts show up when people land here. There's also the Princeton Vikings 'person' which simply refers visitors to the main high school Facebook page.

A while back - two years, three years maybe - I created the PHS Vikings PicasaWeb account. For $5 a year, we get 20GB (for now, the amount of space for that price will likely go up) to post photos. There's only one person who has the login info for that account, and that's intentional.

The final online official PHS presence (that I know of, anyway) is a Wordpress blog called Leadership 24/7. There our administrative team and invited teachers post entries about, well, leadership. The blog saw six posts in August; none in September or October; then four more posts in the ten days after I asked our principal if I could go ahead and remove the link to the blog because of inactivity. That was in late November and the first week of December.

Now we get to the less official presences of Princeton on the web, the sites that aren't being run by Princeton employees or at least aren't purporting to represent Princeton in any official capacity.
  • Shades of Grey - This used to be an annually-published literary 'journal' but has turned into a tumblr and YouTube account posting student-read and, I assume, written poetry, prose, photography, and singing. This one is run by a PHS teacher and PHS students but does break the district policy against posting student first and last names with images unless prior, written permission fro a parent is obtained.
  • Princeton Vikings - This Facebook 'person' says it's PrincetonHighSchool, but it's not run by any Princeton employee that I know of. Instead, it's largely a front for a person/business that sells DVD transfers of Princeton football games from the glory year 80's and early 90's. I have registered a number of Facebook complaints against them as not being any official Princeton capacity. 
  • Princeton BoysBasketball (Boosters) - This Facebook 'person' seems to be run by our basketball boosters, which would mean that it's quasi-official since the boosters is an quasi-official Princeton group. It's probably a Princeton parent or two - maybe with the endorsement of our two basketball head coaches, but it's interesting to wonder how the management of the page passes from year to year.
  • PHS Pasta for Pennies - This one's mine - with Calen, anyway - and was created as a non-profit entity for our annual campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (speaking of which, it's not too early to sign up for the March 5K.) Princeton certainly didn't authorize the creation of this page in any way. We just made it and have largely shifted forward to our Facebook group instead for most communication.
  • Princeton Viking Orchestra - This one is also a Facebook 'person' and seems to be run by a Princeton employee, a music teacher or two. I don't know how many of the music teachers have control of this, but I'm guessing it's not Bob Monroe, the person officially in charge of the district music program at this point but whose name doesn't appear once on the district's website.
  • New Princeton Vikings Middle School and High School - This one is weird to me in that it's not run by anyone at Princeton but is tacitly endorsed by the Princeton administration. It's run by Cole + Russell Architecture. They post occasional renderings and photos of the architects in meetings.
  • Princeton Vikings  - This is another 'person' page that isn't Princeton in any official capacity. It appears to be somehow football-related just based on the content that I can see, but it doesn't appear to be run by the football coach/athletic director/principal himself. There hasn't been any content change here since July.
  • Princeton Vikes - Another 'person' that is neither a person nor Princeton. 
  • Princeton Vikings - This group has one post and very few images.It's fully public, so I know that's all there is there.
  • @VikesFootball - This one doesn't appear to be run by the football program. I say this mostly because it isn't the kind of quick updates that a coach would be offering to his parents and players. It's more rah-rah, bragging stuff.
  • There are also countless YouTube, Picasa, Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts that include Princeton content but don't title themselves in any way that suggests that they are a Princeton organization or person.


cmorin said...

This is just absurd.

PHSChemGuy said...

It's a little nuts, yeah. I think most of it happened bit by bit without any consideration of the entirety of the package.

thort said...

While I understand the need for financial restraint, in this day and age of instant access, an official "web" presence is essential. PCSD really dropped the ball when the position of "spokesperson" was eliminated. When I first joined the staff in 1994, Princeton was ahead of the curve in terms of technology and cutting edge materials for students. I was encouraged to have a web presence back then (albeit a very rudimentary. And now, it seems as if it's the wild west. In this day and age, a sanctioned voice is almost essential to spread the "company line"

Thanks PHSChemGuy for bringing this to everyone's attention