PMP398: Leveraging Executive Internal Communication for Stronger Brands with Brittany Keil

Hello, Friends! It’s Will Parker here from Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast. We’re excited to announce that we’re approaching our 400th episode! Can you believe it? To make this milestone even more special, we’d love to hear from you. If this podcast has inspired, helped, or encouraged you, would you consider sharing your thoughts with us? It’s easy: find a quiet spot, record a 60-second voice memo on your phone, and email it to We’re eager to hear why the show resonates with you, your favorite moments, or anything you find particularly thought-provoking or funny. Thanks in advance for your contributions, and thank you for doing what matters!

Brittany Keil is the Research and External Relations Manager with SchoolCEO, a research and perspectives magazine for school superintendents and other K12 leaders published by Apptegy. Prior to working as a writer full-time, Brittany taught English and Special Education for eight years in Arkansas and in Washington, D.C. Brittany is an alumna of Johns Hopkins University, the University of Central Arkansas, and is a former Fulbright Scholar. 

Brittany was a previous guest along with Tyler Vawser in episode 335 in a discussion on branding and marketing your schools.

On October 9, 2023, SchoolCEO, published the article, Layers of Leadership Leveraging Executive Internal Communication for Stronger Brands, authored by Brittany Keil. In today’s episode, she talks about what prompted her to write this article, and the scope of the work involved in interviewing principals and superintendents for its findings, and the implications of those findings. Using a qualitative research model, Brittany conducted 15 interviews with superintendents and principals from across the country, representing all sizes of districts.

Listen-in to the entire conversation for more takeaways.

Here’s a summary of our talking points:

With declining trust in institutions, research shows principals often play a pivotal role in why parents say they trust their child’s school. With that thought in mind, Brittany was curious about the shared values as well as differences in the ways superintendents and principals are approaching school marketing and branding.

Brittany Keil explains the five observations included in her findings:

  1. Everyone knows school marketing is vital.
  2. Principals struggle to incorporate school communication into their day-to-day work.
  3. Principals are reluctant to initiate conversations about school marketing with their superintendents.
  4. Getting everyone on the same page is a challenge—but having a communications team generally helps.
  5. Clear lines of communication are critical.

She also discusses applications school leaders are to keep in mind as they work together for stronger shared branding and communication:

  • Make sure principals are part of the district-level cabinet, and therefore aware of district-level priorities.
  • Build intentional relationships between principals and school communications staff (if your district has them).
  • Emphasize communication and branding as part of regular discussions, as well as your principals’ annual evaluations.
  • Place administrators such as deans and assistant principals around your principals to alleviate some responsibilities and allow for more focus on communication.

In addition, she discusses four recommendations for districts supporting principals in branding and marketing:

  • Train principals early and often.
  • Emphasize a principal’s role as an experiential marketer.
  • Invest in communications professionals, if possible.
  • Make your mission and vision come alive.

Brittany also references my book, Messaging Matters. How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities. You can find it here.

Finally, Brittany mentions the dynamics superintendents and principals share and where that work overlaps with reference to this image:

Now It’s Your Turn: What is one action you are taking to showcase the experiences happening in your school community that demonstrate the overall vision and mission of your school community? What’s one step you can take today to prioritize or create structures that promote your school’s brand? 

Article source:

Brittany Keil is a writer and researcher at SchoolCEO and can be reached at

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker