Overcommunication can be overwhelming to guardians and lead to burnout. So, what do you do when parents and guardians feel inundated with information while simultaneously feeling uninformed about community events and programs that can benefit their children? Take that as a sign to iron out your communications strategy! Curating content and understanding how it is best communicated to guardians is a crucial step to using communications tools effectively.
On a recent episode of Peachjar Extra Credit, Matthew Jennings met up with communications expert, Lesley Bruinton, to discuss how you can leverage school communications tools in your district. Many tools are accessible to districts right now, but are all tools created equal? Matthew and Lesley share best practices for utilizing tools and highlight strategies to increase effectiveness without causing burnout for staff or guardians.
9 TIPS FOR LEVERAGING SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS TOOLS:Be Mindful of Overcommunication
- Events and community programs can be easily missed in a deluge of communications.
- Avoid the possibility of parents/guardians tuning out communications by ensuring messaging is concise, timely, and effective.
- Internal or external, data allows you to better understand your audience and team—while providing powerful insight into potential growth opportunities in your communications strategy.
- Analyzing data also allows you to determine how to communicate best with your district and which tools guardians are most receptive to.
Plan it out
- “Often, phone calls are last minute due to lack of effective planning” - Lesley Bruinton
- Anxiety from last minute communications can lead to practitioner burnout.
- Plan out how you will communicate various content pillars to the community, including the frequency of communications and when you will use each tool.
Ensure content is easily digestible and accessible
- Straightforward and to the point. That is what parents need, especially when their attention is diverted elsewhere throughout the day.
- Understand that even though communications are drafted on a desktop, most guardians review communications on a mobile device—adjust accordingly.
There is value in a good, well-maintained website
- “Your website is your first, best impression” - Matthew Jennings
- Stop organizing your website based on an organization chart that external viewers do not understand. That leads to your website being hard to navigate, and can cause visitors to miss out on important information.
- Instead, consider organizing your website around the users!
- EXTRA CREDIT TIP: Start auditing your website monthly.
Let your communications be a testament to your brand story!
- While your website is a great place to showcase your brand story (mission, vision, culture), your other communications should reflect that as well
- Show your community and audience that you live your mission. Before sending communications, answer this question: “What are the main takeaways you want people to know about your district?
Don’t put all your eggs in one communications tool basket
- Look into the PESO model of communications (outlined more in Matthew and Lesley’s conversation)
- P: Paid
- P: Paid
- Social media can be a great addition to your communications strategy, but it should not be your only tool. See our YouTube video about Social Media for Schools to learn more!
Reserve emergency communications tools for emergencies
- Discourage the use of phone calls or other emergency communications tools for planned events.
- No matter what communications tools you decide to use, be consistent. Consistency teaches your community when to expect information from you and where to look, should they need to find or review previously sent information.