Elizabethton schools fill 1st public relations post

Published 9:17 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Last night, the Elizabethton Board of Education approved a contract with Kayla Carter for public relations services beginning today. This is the first time Elizabethton City Schools will have someone in this position, but according to Board Chair Rita Booher, they have needed a PR person for a long time, and the lack of one leads to these responsibilities falling on the shoulders of others.
In Carter’s proposal, she noted her experience as a reporter and stated that “many of these skills transfer seamlessly when applied to public relations.” Aside from the skills, she has developed relationships with many teachers, organization directors and city and county officials, along with getting to know citizens.
“I’m excited to work with the media to increase coverage of the city school system’s events and share in the celebration of all accomplishments,” said Carter.
She is being hired on an hourly rate with an annual income not to exceed $24,000. Her services will include writing press releases and feature articles, conducting interviews, facilitating internal communication, managing web content, updating social media, coordinating events, producing promotional items, and documenting events and people with photography and videography.
Keeping the website updated and the community informed of events and awards is an ongoing struggle, especially when one considers the workload taken on by school staff. Currently these responsibilities are loosely divided between Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour and Director of Tech and Personnel Joey Trent.
“What we want to showcase are the great things happening in the school system, and we need somebody to give it to the media,” said Booher. “Oftentimes, we are too busy, so we need to have somebody to keep the community aware of student and teacher accomplishments and education news.”
An issue recognized in the meeting by Board Member Dr. Grover May was that between board meetings, many notable accomplishments take place that may not be of interest to the newspaper or television that parents and community members would like to know. With Carter’s help, Gardenhour said he believes it will help the schools to communicate better and to actively manage their images while keeping stakeholders and parents informed.
“I want all city teachers, students, parents and administrators to know they can come to me with all the interesting happenings they hear about or want to let the public know about,” said Carter.
Board Member Susan Peters opposed the approval of the one year contract because she believes the timing is not appropriate to fund such a position. May countered saying that they are already relying on others to try to manage these tasks, which have been determined to require 25 hours weekly, and that it may be more thorough and efficient to hire someone to manage it all.
Board Member Tyler Fleming was absent.

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