Strategic School District Communications Services

Proactive and Reactive


JT’s school district work is led by:


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JT has worked with hundreds of school districts providing a wide range of proactive and reactive strategic communications services. 

We understand the challenges and opportunities public bodies face when communicating with parents, faculty/staff, local residents, community/civic leaders, elected officials—and the media. We are frequently engaged by law firms representing school district clients who face communications challenges resulting from labor negotiations, personnel actions, environmental/facilities issues, student discipline, cybersecurity threats and more.

  • Rapid response and issues management

    • A crisis can come in many shapes and sizes. It can come on suddenly, putting your school district’s reputation at risk, disrupting operations, and consuming your attention and resources for days, weeks or even months.

      How you respond to public concerns at a time of intense internal stress and external scrutiny truly matters.

      Around the clock, JT is prepared to immediately jump into the thick of a crisis to support parent, public, internal and media communications. Our scope of work often includes strategic counsel; development of key messages, media statements, Q&A, talking points and digital content (website and social media); mainstream and social media monitoring; and spokesperson preparation.

  • Crisis communications planning

    • JT works with school districts to prepare for potential crises before they occur by developing a comprehensive crisis communications plan. Elements of such plans often include:

      1. Practical and tactical “best practice” guidelines for managing communications in a crisis

      2. Development/refinement of topical organizational messages

      3. Target audience identification and recommended communications protocols for each

      4. Customized local scenarios based on potential crises unique to your district, including template communications materials

  • Communications audit and strategy development

    • JT conducts comprehensive communications audits that thoughtfully consider what is and is not working, identifying new ideas and opportunities to enhance the impact and effectiveness of your communications and outreach efforts, and offering actionable recommendations to maximize district communications, internally and externally.

      All audits include JT’s expert analysis of current communications tools and tactics and interviews with key internal stakeholders to gain their insights and perceptions. Other additional components that can help assess perceptions and attitudes of target audiences and inform the development/refinement of key messages and communications strategies, include:

      1. Professional public opinion research (telephone or online polling) 

      2. Focus groups

      3. One-on-one opinion leader interviews

      4. Benchmark analysis of comparable school districts 

  • Media, message and presentation trainings

    • Even the most skilled school administrators can lose sleep thinking about such media interviews or community meetings, and many school board members step into their roles with limited or no media or public speaking experience.

      JT’s hands-on, customized communications training features both hands-on skills-building and realistic practice scenarios developed in collaboration with our clients to ensure that the training is relevant to actual opportunities and challenges currently facing the school district.

      Our media training workshops are for individuals or groups of up to 12 participants. Sessions are designed to help school district leaders:

      1. Better understand how reporters work and what they are trying to get out of an interview.

      2. Develop basic media interview skills for a variety of purposes.

      3. Learn how to communicate key messages under pressure or during a crisis.

      4. Prepare for and deliver high-impact community or conference presentations, including Q&A responses.

  • Video production

    • JT’s in-house video production team can help package school programs and initiatives into visually compelling digital formats for use in presentations, on websites and on social media. We can start from scratch by capturing footage, conducting interviews and editing, or we can package and edit existing footage.

      Click here for an example of a recent video JT edited using footage provided by the school district.

  • Of-counsel communications support

    • JT often provides “of counsel” communications support to school districts, serving as a sounding board to help administrators evaluate communications strategies and brainstorm proactive initiatives through spot counsel and hands-on implementation support. This type of engagement also allows superintendents and communications professionals to build a relationship with JT staff, so should an issue emerge or crisis occur, we have already developed trust and a working knowledge of the district.

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To explore ways your school district can more effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders, both proactively and reactively, contact Executive Vice President Holly Bartecki.

Office: (312) 337-7400

Cell: (312) 671-0101


JT publishes a free daily digest of issues-focused, school-related news clips that is emailed to hundreds of superintendents, school communications professionals, board members and consultants across Illinois. To subscribe, email Executive Vice President Holly Bartecki at