Delivering a message to your school community that’s quick, compelling, and clear is a delicate dance. It's what you strive for every day, and whether it's through email newsletters or mass notifications, your central message must remain clear and resonate with its intended audience.
The success of your message doesn't just hinge on what’s being said but also how it's conveyed — an effective message is a blend of its core components and the tools used to deliver it.
How it's presented, driven by the right communication tools, ensures the message is received and remembered.
And whether it's the language, tone, or medium, every element plays a vital role in making your school's communications hit its mark. Here are seven ways to improve communication at your school and ensure your message is clear, relevant, and engaging:
1: Focus on Just 1 or 2 Main Points
2: Decide What's The Most Important Information
3: Use Colorful Language to Convey Interesting Points
4: Use Quotable Language
5: Tailor the Message to Your Audience
6: Leverage Multiple Channels
7: Engage Your Audience
Tip 1: Focus on Just 1 or 2 Main Points
The beauty of effective district communications lies in its simplicity. Your message becomes powerful by narrowing the focus down to just one or two key points. This also ensures your audience isn't lost in a flood of details. If the main goal of an email about an upcoming school event is to inform parents about the date and time, ensure that this stands out more than any other details. Simple enough, right?
Imagine you're crafting an email communication about your school's homecoming celebration. While you might be tempted to discuss the theme, the schedule, past year highlights, and many other details, if the primary objective is to ensure attendance, the date, time, and location should be most prominent.
With the cutoff for registration quickly approaching, Lee Summit’s R-7 focused on reminding families of the upcoming deadline — links within their newsletter further detailed how and where to do it, but time was of the essence and the focus of the communication.
By spotlighting these details, you're giving your community a clear call to action: "Mark your calendars for this date, at this time, and here’s where you need to be." Focused communication simplifies the information for the receiver and increases the likelihood of your desired response.
Tip 2: Decide What's The Most Important Information
Not all information holds equal weight. Every piece of information might seem vital, but filtering out the noise is essential. Start by drafting all the points you want to convey. Then, rank them in order of importance. Like the inverted pyramid used in journalism, this little exercise can assist in presenting the information coherently.
Discerning which information is most important for effective communication is crucial, especially in a district setting. For instance, when sending mass notifications about a change in school schedules, the change's nature and the effective date should be front and center.
Once this is laid out, the next step is categorization. Rank each piece based on its relevance and importance to the core message.
Consider a scenario involving your school's PTA meeting changing and the need to send out a communication about it. While there's a flurry of details, the pressing concern might be to get parents to block their calendars.
In such a case, the mass notification could lead with: "PTA Meeting Rescheduled to [new Date] due to unforeseen weather conditions." This message quickly and efficiently informs parents and students of the most pressing issue: the date change. The nature of the change (weather conditions) and the new date are important. Other details can be conveyed in subsequent communications or delegated to different platforms, ensuring that the immediate message is clear and actionable.
Tip 3: Use Colorful Language to Convey Interesting Points
Language is more than just a vehicle for information; it's an art form. The words we choose, their rhythm, and the imagery they evoke can transform a mundane statement into a memorable message.
Colorful language isn't about using jargon or complex words; it's about using terms that paint a vivid picture and stir the reader's emotions.
Consider the difference in impact between these two sentences. Imagine your school is launching a new environmental initiative. Instead of merely stating, "Our school is starting a tree-planting campaign," a more colorful take could be, "Our school is breathing life back into the earth, one sapling at a time, as we embark on a green journey to grow the campus!”
Tip 4: Use Quotable Language
What gets remembered from communications isn’t the long paragraphs but those succinct, hard-hitting lines. For example, “Education is our beacon” is more likely to stick than a long explanation of the district's mission.
Community Consolidated School District 62 uses the branded language of “Future Ready Learners” across its site, an idea that supports its mission to empower its students for whatever the future holds.
Tip 5: Tailor the Message to Your Audience
The key to effective messaging lies in knowing who's on the receiving end of your communication. With district communications, the spectrum is wide – from parents and teachers to students and other stakeholders.
Research the demographics, preferences, and even past interactions to frame your message. An email newsletter tailored for parents might highlight safety measures, while one for teachers might discuss upcoming changes to classroom observations.
Tip 6: Leverage Multiple Channels
A single message can have multiple facets, and each communication channel has its strengths. While email newsletters might be excellent for detailed communication, voice alerts or texts can be more immediate and direct for urgent updates. Use each platform to its maximum potential, but ensure the core message remains consistent.
So, the core messaging should remain whether it’s a tweet, a newsletter, or a voice message.
Email newsletters, for instance, provide depth, allowing for comprehensive details, backstories, and context. They’re ideal when you want to dive deep into a subject, like discussing the intricate planning behind a school event or laying out the steps for an upcoming district-wide initiative.
On the flip side, texts are direct, attention-grabbing, and immediate. They're your go-to when time is of the essence, like notifying parents of unexpected school closures due to weather conditions.
Social media platforms, such as Twitter (now known as "X"), can be restrictive and public, but it’s perfect for quick updates, reminders, or generating buzz.
Portland City School took to Twitter, now known as "X", and then linked back to an update to remind its community about the change to the date of the first day of school.
Now, imagine there's an unexpected change to the date of the annual school science fair because of a sudden scheduling conflict.
- An email newsletter might thoroughly explain why the change was necessary, the new date, how this might affect participants, and what steps need to be taken next.
- A mass notification would promptly inform: Science Fair rescheduled to [new date]. Check email for details."
- A tweet could read: "📢 Heads up, scientists! This week’s Science Fair’s got a new date: [new date]. More info in your inbox!"
Tip 7: Engage Your Audience
District communications are a two-way conversation. Once the message is out, it’s equally crucial to be receptive. By engaging, you clarify potential misunderstandings, support the relationship, and make future communications more effective.
So follow up and engage with feedback forms or surveys about your message's effectiveness or preferred methods of communication, similar to how Howard-Suamico solicits feedback from its community with an online form on its district’s website.
A well-thought-out message can shine through amid email newsletters, notifications, and constant updates. Your communications can make the impact you want by focusing on key points, effective writing, tailoring the message, and ensuring engagement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.