Marketing has become a big part of school communications, particularly in districts where parents have a choice where to send their children.
Websites, mailers, and social media all play into a school’s outward appearance in the community and can be very effective outreach tools in drawing in potential new families. However, there comes a point in the year when marketing moves aside as a priority, and the nuts-and-bolts communications pieces should come together to create a comprehensive toolbox for your school.
When your school looks at its overall communication plan, it’s important to give a significant amount of attention to the methods utilized to connect with your community. How will you keep families informed and engaged on a regular basis? How will you conduct outreach to parents who can’t make it to the school building regularly but still need crucial day-to-day information to support their child? Here are a few things to consider:
Establish who’s in charge
Who oversees how and when communication to parents takes place in your building? Maybe in your school, it’s an administrator or a secretary, or even a small team of staff. Is that person or team equipped for the job and do they have the capacity to meet your school communication goals? Ensure that they’ve been provided the right tools and information to be efficient and effective and that their role is clear among the entire staff.
Utilize a central calendar
A common tool for schools is a Google calendar embedded into their website. An updated calendar (and an updated website) allows parents to plan ahead without relying on teachers or the school secretaries to answer frequently asked questions. You might also have an internal calendar for staff that serves a reminder for when and how to send out alerts or reminders to parents. If you use social media or a communication platform, schedule these parent reminders in August in order to avoid scrambling to send messages at the last minute. For messages that can’t be scheduled in advance, like alerting families about an unexpected snow day, decide the protocol for which channels will be used to communicate last-minute information.
Basic information toolbox
Kindergarten has a field trip to the zoo. 5th graders need a white shirt for a music performance. Parent volunteers are needed for Field Day. With all the moving parts in a school, how are you keeping parents updated with the information they need to know throughout the year? Chances are you’ll need a combination of tools that will allow you to reach your entire school community (and not just the parents who are actively asking for information). These tools might include:
- Systems for sharing short, basic snippets of information with parents (think: who, what, when, where). When easy-to-read, concise action items are sent out to relevant audiences, they are more likely to be read and remembered by parents
- Regularly scheduled newsletters for school-wide communication. Aim to keep these short and to-the-point, as information can be lost in long-winded, multi-page newsletters
- Methods for teachers and coaches to communicate specific information to smaller groups of parents on a regular basis
- Online sign-up systems to reach and include working parents
- Translation tools or staff to communicate with parents who may not speak or read English
- A central place for parents to receive and find current and past information. Sending out the majority of electronic information through a communication platform like Digital Deets is helpful for organization.
There’s no one right way to do school communication- it’s about making sure that you have a plan in place, that staff responsibilities are clear, and that parents and families feel like they’re informed. At Digital Deets, we’re well-versed in the many pieces that make up a comprehensive communication plan, and we’re happy to talk with your team about the best ways to connect with your parent community.