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Before Terry Corallo decided to pursue her Master’s in Public and Organizational Relations in 2009, she had spent her career working in marketing and public relations.   As she saw the incredible growth in social media, she began to fear she was going to become a dinosaur in her field if she did not become more engaged in social media.

Today, not only is Terry a social media whiz, working as the Executive Director of Information Services for Paterson Public Schools, but she has also been named the 2017 Administrator of the Year by the Frederick Jordan Memorial Scholarship which honors outstanding professionals in Paterson, New Jersey for their contributions to the community. In her current role, Terry supports Paterson’s educational community in a way she would have never imagined eight years ago— as the school district’s primary “voice” to the public.

Since joining Paterson’s school district in 2010, Terry has led many initiatives including the launch of the district’s Central Registration function to manage the student registration process for over 3,000 students annually and the introduction of social media to the district’s wide range of communication tools. Paterson Public Schools has its own free mobile app and currently has approximately 5,000 Facebook followers. (If you haven’t already done so, Terry urges you to “like us” today!

While many school districts discourage the use of social media, Terry realizes students are exposed to these networks, and parents and board members all use these platforms to communicate, so why not capitalize on an opportunity to enhance stakeholder relationships?

“The SCM Master’s program stressed the importance of two-way communication. In the past, public relations was viewed as simply issuing a press release—not as a way of engaging in conversation with key stakeholders,” Terry says.  “Social Media is most effective when it’s used to build relationships with people who matter the most—students, staff, alumni, community members.”

As the district’s primary media spokesperson for a school district with 56 schools and over 28,000 students, Terry is an expert in handling crisis situations. But she has a passion for making sure the news media cover the positive district news too.

“The Paterson Public School system has come a long way over the past few years—including dramatic improvement in our graduation rates (45% in 2009 to 78% in 2016). This month we announced that we were 1 of 11 districts nationwide to receive a digital device grant to bridge the “homework gap”. Thanks to the Sprint Foundation, all 9th graders in our district will now receive a free mobile device and free internet access at home for the next four years. The media show up quickly when the news is negative and are a little more reluctant to take time to attend the positive…but that’s when we use social media to spread the good news!”

Terry was on to something eight years ago. According to a 2016 Social Media Marketing report conducted by Social Media Examiner, social media skills continue to be the backbone of employee’s desired skills, especially in marketing and public relations.

Terry’s advice: “If you are looking for a job in this wonderful profession, you have to get out there and network; and you also have to be willing to take some risks. Going back to school at my age was a big decision but I'm so glad that I did. I'm now here in Paterson for six and a half years, and I have learned so much. I’m extremely fortunate to have the best communications team.  And yes, we use social media every day!”

So, if you’re considering entering the field (or are a current dinosaur in the field), learn a thing or two from Terry and get social media ‘smart’.

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