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When Nobody’s Listening: Effective Ways To Improve School Communications
Connor Gleason

Through emails, newsletters, mass notifications, and all the other ways your school connects, you share the big news, the small wins, and everything in between. You keep everyone from school administrators and teachers to students and parents connected and informed.

However, there's a challenge: even though effective school communications are vital, there's the feeling that no one's listening or responding. Despite the hours poured into crafting thoughtful email newsletters or planning strategic communications, your messages often hit a brick wall. Despite your best efforts, it's as if no one's listening...

This isn't just frustrating — it's a problem.

Forty percent of consumers have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox, meaning important district communications can go unread and be missed altogether. As the one in charge of communication, it's your job to ensure your messages are sent, received, understood, and acted on.

Let’s explore why sometimes messages don't seem to get through, and by merging the two elements — the why and the what — how you can improve your school's messaging.

The Cause of Unheard Communications

To diagnose this problem, we need to take a step back and review two fundamental elements of your communication strategy: your motives and your messages. Understanding these “why” and “what” and their interaction is key to improving school-wide communications that resonate with your audience. Moreover, those components significantly contribute to your branding, which serves as the public face of your district. More than that later...

Understanding Your Motives

Before sending out the next round of school emails or drafting a mass notification, pause and assess your motives. Your motives should be the guiding light for your communication strategy. 

Four questions to ask yourself:

  1. What and who do you value? Your values should be evident in your communications. Is it academic excellence? Community engagement? Diversity and inclusion? Your audience should have a clear understanding of what you prioritize.
  2. What's your mission? A well-articulated mission statement serves as a roadmap. Does your mission emphasize the holistic development of students, or is it more focused on academic achievement?
  3. What are your goals? Your communications should reflect your goals. Do you aspire to increase parent involvement, boost participation, or improve parent-teacher communications?
  4. Are you seeing your people? This question touches on empathy and understanding your audience. Are you aware of the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the students, teachers, parents, staff, and community members who receive your communications?

Understanding your motives ensures your school communications are meaningful dialogues that reflect your school's vision.

Mason City Public Schools newsletter mockup on a tablet

With regular newsletter communications highlighting stories about its diverse community members, Mason City Schools drives home its focus on culture, inclusive excellence, and personalized learning. Using Finalsite Messages, the district can send out mobile-friendly and branded newsletters showcasing how the district helps form meaningful connections between its families.

Mass Communications Guide

Assessing Your Messages

The other half of the puzzle is your message. You communicate this "what" through your email newsletters, school emails, and other platforms.

  • What results do you get? Assess the impact of your messages. Are they eliciting the desired responses, such as increased parent-teacher meeting attendance or higher event participation?
  • Who do you help? Your messages should offer value or aid to your audience. Are your messages offering helpful information, solving problems, or providing necessary guidance?
  • What's your plan? A strategic communication plan helps ensure your messages are consistent, timely, and relevant. Does your plan consider the frequency, channel, and content of your communications? It should!
  • Where can they find you? Make it easy for your audience to reach you. Is your contact information readily available on your portals, and are your communication channels easily accessible, mobile-friendly, and ready to be translated?

The answers to these questions will help fine-tune your messages to align with your audience's needs — and expectations.

Klein ISD weglot translation on a smartphone

Klein Independent School District’s news keeps stakeholders updated on the latest developments, including a recent scholarship announcement. With just one click, users can translate Klein’s good news into Spanish using Weglot, Finalsite’s preferred translation partner. That means Klein’s announcements are engaging a more expansive, diverse audience.

Combining Motives and Messages for Effective Communications and Branding

Put it all together, and your school's branding is the mix of your motives and messages. This forms an identity that your families can quickly identify and associate with your school. The most crucial aspect of effective branding lies in aligning your motives and messages, a process that requires careful thought and strategy.

When your motives — your values, mission, goals, and understanding of your people — intertwine with your messages — the results you aim for, the people you assist, and your communication plans — it paves the way for effective communication. Your branding communicates who you are and what you represent as a school community. It sets the tone for your emails, mass notifications, newsletters, and other school communications.

Keep Reading: 5 Brand-Building Communication Tools For Schools

Suppose your district values community engagement, and one of your goals is to foster strong relationships between parents and educators. Your messages should reflect this motive, so you could issue school emails detailing opportunities for parents to get involved in school activities or mass notifications of upcoming parent-teacher meetings. The key is consistency and clarity.

Sun Prairie Newsletters screenshot

Sun Prairie Area School District's brand shines through with its beautifully branded community newsletters. With regular glimpses into its classrooms, its newsletters drive home its commitment to rigor, relevance, and engagement inside and outside the classroom.

By aligning your motives and messages, your branding becomes more authentic and meaningful. When your stakeholders understand and trust your brand, they will likely engage with your communications.

Effective Ways To Improve Communication In Schools

Improving your school communications can seem daunting, especially in the moments when you feel unheard. However, you can make your communications more effective and engaging with a few easy steps.

  • Define your motives clearly: Start by stating your school's motives.
    • What values guide your school community? 
    • What is your mission, and what goals are you aiming to achieve?
    • Are you genuinely seeing your people?
  • Assess your current communication practices: Conduct a thorough review of your messages. Are they in line with your motives? Are they getting the results you desire? Are they helping your audience in the way you intended? 
  • Plan your communications strategically: Successful school communication doesn't happen by chance— it requires a strategic plan. This should consider the timing, frequency, and channel of your communications. For example, regular email newsletters might be best for updating parents about school events, while mass notifications could be reserved for urgent news. Ensure your plan is flexible enough to adapt to changing needs and circumstances.
  • Make your communications accessible: Ensure your audience knows how and where to find you. Make your contact information available and promote an open-door policy for concerns or suggestions. 
  • Encourage feedback and dialogue: Communication is a two-way street, so encourage feedback from your audience. Provide platforms for them to express their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. This will make your audience feel heard and help improve your school's communications even further.

Key Takeaway

The feeling of "no one's listening" to your messaging can be frustrating. However, by understanding your motives, critically assessing your messages, and combining these elements effectively in your branding, you can ensure your motives and messages are heard and understood. It's a continuous learning and adapting process, but the result is a stronger, more connected school community.

Messages XR Tour

Connor Gleason Headshot


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.

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