Publication Guidelines and Links
The DCSS Update is the district’s newsletter. It has more than 1,300 subscribers from the community and we want more! We are so happy to have this group of interested people and we want to be sure they get as much good news about the system as possible. We also want to make sure that we put forward the best possible image to our constituents. And since the Update is a system-level publication, we want to make sure the information it contains is of interest to a broad audience. That’s why we’re somewhat selective about the stories we publish. Not that all your stories aren’t great...they are! It’s just that some are more appropriate for your school-level newsletter or social media rather than the system-wide Update.
The Update’s main focus is on showcasing the many honors, awards and achievements of our students (and staff!), demonstrating community relationships, and positive image building, along with a listing of upcoming events. After reading this guide, please use the links below to submit your news for publication.
What Kinds of Stories Should You Submit?
Remember—just because you like it doesn’t mean others will! Christmas parties, Milestones kick-offs, spelling bees, club officer elections, all make for interesting school newsletter stories. However, every school has them. Your challenge for the DCSS Update is to submit stories that are unique and show your school in a light that would be interesting to readers both inside and outside of the school system.
So, you may be asking, exactly what kinds of stories are we looking for to include in the Update? Well, some examples might be:
- Regional, state and national honors, awards and achievements
- Special initiatives that support and benefit student learning
- New and innovative academic programs
- Volunteer activities that impact learning
- Business partnership activities
Now, some examples of what we are not looking for in the Update:
- Club meeting reports
- Parties—Christmas, end-of-school, etc.
- School-level awards (i.e., school spelling bee winners)
- Kick-off events (Milestones, etc.)
Publishing Guidelines for PR Reps
All stories sent into the Public Information Office should include the “5 W’s and 1 H.” Who is doing What, When, Where and Why this is significant. And, in our case, How this impacts learning.
- Be Timely. We prefer to print stories that are no more than two weeks old and will not print any story that is more than one month old.
- All news items should be submitted via the forms on this webpage. If you don’t see your story posted to the DCSS website within three business days, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- All submissions require a photo. This photo can be taken using a smartphone (preferred). See the photo tip sheet below. Do not embed photos in an email or Word document—it makes them unusable
- Keep your stories simple but interesting
- Check for understandability—minimize educational jargon
- Spell out all acronyms the first time they appear within a story (i.e., Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP))
- Give both first and last names for each person in the story and an explanation of who they are (i.e., Janie Jones, President of 1st Best Bank of Albany)
- Ask yourself—”Does this story give the public an ‘inside look’ at education in the Dougherty County School System? Is it appropriate for system-wide and community distribution, or is it better featured in my school’s newsletter?”
- Make every effort to send one final copy. Multiple drafts and corrections are confusing and time-consuming
- Write as though your audience has never heard of the topic before
- Write from a relationship-building and positive image-building perspective rather than a feel-good perspective
- Send your info in early; be respectful of deadlines
Tips for Better School Photography
Great photos are one way to make your story stand out! Here are some tips to remember when getting behind the camera/smartphone.
- Try to limit group photos to four people or fewer when possible. When a large group is involved in a great activity or has won an award, it’s so tempting to line everyone up in rows and snap a photo of the whole group. However, group “line-ups” are some of the worst photos that you can make. When placed in the small space available in the Update, almost no one is recognizable and it makes no statement at all about the honor or event. Instead, try taking an action photo of several participants engaged in the activity.
- Look for unusual angles for group photos. Get on top of a playground slide or look up from below the stage; change your usual perspective.
- Overshoot everything. With digital cameras/smartphones it doesn’t cost any more to take a dozen photos than it does to take one. It’s better to shoot too many pictures than to miss a photo because you didn’t take enough. However, choose only the best 1 (2 at most) to submit along with your story. Show people’s faces in all pictures of students or teachers unless you intentionally don’t want to identify them.Good rule of thumb, if a person’s face is smaller than a dime in the photo, it’s too small to recognize.
- Try to show some action in all pictures. Avoid “grip and grin” photos.
- Watch out for detail. Be alert to reflections off eyeglasses, for instance. Remember to check the background so objects do not seem to be “growing” out of someone’s head; often a slight change in angle will solve the problem.
- Shoot close-up. Many photos are spoiled because the subject is too far from the camera.
- Be sure you have adequate lighting. Use a flash if necessary. Events held in the school gym or cafeteria are notorious for poor lighting and often produce unusable photos.
- Do not embed photos into a Word document or email message. Always attach the original .jpg file. Embedding a photo makes it unusable.
- DO NOT place your subjects so that a window or bright light is directly behind them! Instead, turn around and have them face the light.
- If it’s an event where you need to ensure good photos/video, please email email@example.com two weeks before the event.