The “Ticket to Ride Realtor Tour” was organized in response to a growing problem in Fayette County Public Schools in Fayette County, Georgia. Future residents were requesting special permission for their children to attend schools outside of their assigned attendance zone. As the public information officer for the school system, I am the first point of contact with many parents. After noticing this phenomena, I started asking parents why they wanted to change schools before giving the assigned school a try. Often, the answer was that their realtor had led them to believe the assigned school was “lesser than” compared to others in the county.
After identifying the problem, I set out to find a solution. I used the Gold Quill Awards Seven-Point Global Scale of Excellence to help with the thought process and eventually the organization, implementation and evaluation of the tour. The success of the tour was in large part due to the use of the Gold Quill process as a guide from beginning to end. The process helped me establish the desired outcomes, outline the strategies and tactics that would accomplish the goals, set a timeline and create effective evaluation tools. It allowed me to carefully think through each step to ensure that I was making thoughtful decisions that would lead to success. I now use this process for all of my projects to ensure that I am on target to achieve a successful outcome.
The tour gave realtors an opportunity to go inside our schools for a firsthand look at what makes each special, approach students and teachers to ask questions, and visit with administrators to learn how that school’s mission and goals are being achieved.
The tour took place during the 2018–2019 school year and is still talked about today by realtors, as well as our school principals who saw a change in attitude about their schools and noticed fewer parents wanting to make a change. Due to its success and popularity, we were planning to do another tour in 2020, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. As soon as it is safe to bring visitors back into our schools, we plan to work with our local realtors to organize another tour so they have up-to-date and accurate information to share with their clients.
As with the realtor tour, I use the Gold Quill process to help me with all communication projects. It helps me determine if the project is viable and the right solution for the problem I am looking to solve, and assists me with thinking through the goals, tactics and implementation process to make it a success. As an added benefit, I already have my Gold Quill plan written if I want to submit the project for an award.
Not only has Gold Quill made me a better communication professional, it has also advanced my career. Prior to winning my first award in 2019, my leadership was hiring outside sources to do projects that fell within my department. However, none of these outside sources were delivering the results that management wanted. After I won my first Gold Quill Award, it was as if a lightbulb went off among my leadership and I was seen as a more valuable asset. Projects that were previously hired out were coming to me, and I was successfully meeting expectations.
I like to mentor younger communication professionals, and I encourage them to implement the Gold Quill process in their work, as well as participate in the awards program. I tell them it is not so much about winning as it is the feedback you receive from other professionals on how to become better at your craft — that is invaluable. Plus, if you win an award, the prestige of it helps validate your work and the value that you bring to your organization as a communications professional.
Read the full case study on Catalyst.