We’ve all heard the saying ‘No News is Good News’ but this certainly isn’t the case when it comes to your school website. It is, in fact, the complete opposite. Think back to a time you have visited a school, or indeed any organisation’s website. What impression have you been left with when you’ve seen news or content months or more out of date? It’s not a good impression, is it? And, what’s more, it’s probably not a fair reflection of that school or organisation. But updating news pages takes time and it, understandably, sits at the end of a very long to-do list for many schools.
So here are five tips to help you keep your news pages looking ‘busy’ without it keeping you busy!
1. Keep it short.
Your news stories don’t need to be paragraph after paragraph after paragraph for the reader to gain an understanding of the story you are telling. In fact, in most cases, readers don’t want to spend ages scrolling down a page. They are looking for a quick news fix. Answer the questions 'who, what, when, where, how and why' to cover the basics of your news article. Also, limit your articles to two or three paragraphs in length, they don’t often need to be more.
2. Make it a whole school responsibility.
You’ll want your school news page to showcase the whole school community with articles covering different year groups, subjects and extracurricular activities. By asking staff across the school to share news stories with you, you not only share the workload but also give everyone in school a chance to share their good news. Regularly remind staff during briefings or via email that you are looking for news stories. Keep it simple: give them examples of the sort of things you are looking for, ask them to email with bullet points and photos, if they have taken them, and pulling an article together will take no time
3. Involve students.
Students are just as well placed to share school news as staff. Why not create a position such as a school reporter or media officer and task that student with sourcing news stories, taking photos, etc. This can work with any age student but could be particularly beneficial to a student applying for a journalism course at university or an apprenticeship in the media industry as it is an opportunity for them to build up a portfolio of work.
4. Create a bank of stories.
Some news stories are time-sensitive and become ‘old news’ quickly so need to be shared with audiences immediately. However, there are plenty of news articles for which this is not the case. Try to identify these opportunities in your school and create a ‘bank’ of articles for those weeks when you simply haven’t got time to find new content. That way you will always have something ‘new’ to share.
5. Simplify your approval process.
Like all website content, your news articles will need to go through some sort of approval process and rightly so. However, have a look at this process and see if it can be simplified.