As a parent and marketing professional I am frequently frustrated with the quality and quantity of communication that I receive from my children’s school.
Just this week, my five-year-old was tasked with verbally providing me with vital information concerning her daily schedule. I received no note in her school bag. No email. Nothing in the enewsletter. And while she did pass the information on, I couldn’t quite believe that the school would not follow up with any method of formal communication. I didn’t believe her!
Communicating is a skill and the key to good communication is in understanding your target audience. I would argue that to discover the best way to communicate with your parent body is to ask them!
Surveying your parent body can provide you with important insights that can help inform all future communication. You can discover if your parents prefer to access communication from the school via a desktop computer, on a tablet or mobile device. Is email, text message, social media or hard copy notes preferred? With frequent advancements in technology and methods of communication, it’s really important that surveys are done on an annual basis so that you can stay in touch with your parents’ needs and expectations.
Every school has access to comprehensive demographic information regarding their parent body through the MCEETYA data collection that occurs at enrolment. This is a good starting point from which to form opinions about your parents. Are they working parents? Professionals? What is their highest level of qualification? Is English their first language? All of this information – as a whole – can help you understand key factors that can contribute to how your parents receive information from the school. You can make assumptions about how time poor they are; how involved in their child’s education they are likely to be; and whether or not they can actually understand written communication.
Once you understand how your parents are able to and like to receive communication, you need to consider the best method of communication for the message. For example, time sensitive issues such as last-minute cancellations to sports carnivals should be communicated via text message. Random promotional announcements for the upcoming parent ‘Bogan Bingo’ night (this is actually a thing) should not be communicated by text message – it’s intrusive.
If the majority of your parents prefer to receive notices via email rather than hard copy notes, then it’s important that email is used over traditional printed handouts.
There is such a thing as too much information, too often. I suggest schools have one role that is responsible for monitoring all outgoing communication from the school. Set rules about how many emails, enewsletters, text messages, etc can be distributed each week.
Conversely, failing to communicate at all (e.g. relying on five-year-olds to relay information) is equally ineffective. It tells parents that they cannot rely on the school to provide them with up-to-date information.
Parents are time poor and so I recommend avoiding writing heavy blocks of content, especially for online platforms. Research indicates that online users don’t read content … they scan it. With this in mind, avoid verbose text and get straight to the point with only factual information and bulleted lists. The use of visual aids (bolding or highlighting key words; breaking up blocks of text with bullet points; and the use of imagery) can also enhance your written communication.
Measuring the success of communication is an important step in continuing the ‘research’ phase and helps you understand the needs of your parents. Review your enewsletter and email analytics regularly. Most enewsletter and email marketing tools can provide you with valuable insights about which items are being read and how much time is spent per item. This can help inform future communications.
A recent study found that 77 percent of customers preferred emails over other communication channels for receiving permission-based messages. So how do you maximise this old workhorse for new gains? Sometimes the best way to learn what to do right is to consider what not to do.
Resources to help you unlock the key to good email communication with your parents
- How to develop personalised welcome emails that convert
- Do school newsletters really work?
- How to develop an email marketing strategy for your school
- More blogs on email marketing which might be of interest to you
- Download our free ebook to discover the five most common email marketing mistakes and some advice on how to avoid them.
Talk to an expert:
- To talk to us directly about reviewing your school’s communication practices - book a free call now
This blog was written by Shelley Garcia-Webb
As a Senior Account Manager, Shelley oversees the corporate communications for a large portfolio of clients. She has a strong reputation as a dedicated marketing professional with a keen eye for detail. When she’s not writing creative copy or juggling multiple projects she can be found obsessing about food, dreaming about outdoor adventures and travel and dancing to live music … especially The Cat Empire.