Built hundreds of website and helped countless schools realise their potential online. Ian should be called upon for straight-talking advice and to make a difference to the way you present your school through every outlet.
You know much better than we do just how important it is to have strong, effective relationships with everyone in the school community. Parent partnership and good relationships are core to the success of your school. We know that you work incredibly hard on nurturing these relationships.
Firstly, we are going to look at the two types of communication generally used in schools. Then we're going to look at what we should be communicating and how. Finally, we're going to look at the key thing you need to keep in mind to really make your efforts worthwhile.
Firstly, let's explore the power of direct communication. You're already doing it. Whenever you send a push notification via an app, or send an email. When you send a printed letter home to all students, you are sending broadcast information.
This communication is not tailored to the end user. Nor is it specific to any one student. It's broadcast - meaning it goes to everyone or at least a large group.
Keep doing this - it's good! This method of communication has the power to put information in everybody's hands quickly, easily and cheaply.
Direct communication is where you have the option to tailor and customise the information you are sending out and target the people who need that specific information. Do this as much as you can. Audiences will engage with content more directly if the information is specific to them.
What do we mean by that?
If you send a printed or email newsletter home once a week and it contains everything for all year groups it will be harder for each individual to quickly see the information that is relevant to them.
If each class teacher sends a newsletter home with information specific to that class, then immediately, the content is more tailored to the audience.
That doesn't stop a whole school newsletter from going out, but it does mean that both newsletters can be shorter, more targeted and easier to consume.
Do you see the power that we've unleashed by seeking out opportunities to connect directly?
When you start to think about how you can send specific content to the right people, they will engage more with that content.
As parents, we want to know what is going on in the life of the school. We're especially interested in things that directly affect our children.
Most of all, we want to celebrate the very best things that happen in school. We all need some joy right now. Good news coming home from school is a real boon to us.
So, understanding that you need to send information home, what can you do to start celebrating more in the content you send home? Or post online?
We have worked with hundreds of schools over the years. Time and again we see that those schools to target their content and celebrate what is happening in school have the best engagement with their school community.
Every day, amazing things happen in your school.
What has happened today that you can share with your school community?
Then start to think about how ...
Parental engagement apps are hugely the powerful ally in meeting these goals, but as we've mentioned before, parental engagement is not all about apps, apps, apps. We don't want to ignore the power of apps but for today, we're focusing on functions within your website that are often missed.
Two key functions of every school website, no matter your provider, are the news and events sections. These are your greatest ally in keeping your website fresh with new content. Make sure you're using them regularly and keeping them up to date.
But, what can we do to go deeper?
Seek out opportunities to not only use these functions to inform but rather celebrate.
Again, what has happened today that you can celebrate in your website news?
Whatever social media channel or channels you focus on to meet your specific audience, this is probably your most potent option right now.
Whatever you want to celebrate and shout about be sure to do these 3 things as you share ...
Also, think about groups specific to classes. Our youngest is in a class where the teacher has a closed Instagram account. Parents are vetted to make sure they're parents before being allowed to follow the account. Then, a few times a week, we get to see inside the classroom and what they're up to. As parents, we love it.
Finally, the Schudio CMS enables posting to social directly from News, Events and Blogs so when you create any of this content on your website it can be posted to your favourite channel instantly.
Yes - blogs are still a thing! It's great to try to beef up your blog content with photos and video as much as you're able but, don't ignore blogs as an opportunity to celebrate all the things that happen in the classroom. All blogs within every system will give you the option to create class-specific blogs that your parents can access directly. They're great for posting quick snapshot updates but also great for going deeper - tagging posts with curriculum-related tags to create a rich picture of your curriculum in school, while also posting content that parents love.
Do you need to put information in front of all your audiences quickly and powerfully? Remember that your website is the FIRST place parents go for information.
Images that appear when a visitor arrives on your website are very powerful in grabbing attention when you need to let your audience know something very important. The same is true for browser notifications and alert bar functions across the top of the page.
Our advice is to use them sparingly. Have you heard of 'banner blindness'? You certainly know the phenomenon. Think of a website you visit regularly. After a few visits, the big images on the front page don't draw you in as they did on your first visit. We become blind to them over time. Remember this when you're using these functions. Use them too frequently and your messages won't punch through.
How are you feeling about all that? Does that sound like a lot of work?
The very best strategies are easy to maintain once you have them up and running. In a previous post, we talked about the power of automation and task management. We rely on these tools enormously. We would strongly encourage you to create a plan that is attainable, and put those tasks in a to-do list or task management tool to help you remember to do everything you need to.
The most effective and impactful strategies focus on the celebration of relationships. You work so hard on fostering and nurturing these relationships, but we often miss a key element. Celebrating the relationships.
Everything we've talked about in this post is with the express goal of helping you take what you are already doing and shout it from the rooftops.
As parents, we want to celebrate with you. As your tech partner, we want to make this easy for you.
As you continue your week, think about how you can share something amazing that has happened this week using the tools and channels you already have in place.
Then, set yourself a reminder to do it again next week.
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