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10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Next School District Newsletter
Connor Gleason

Your district newsletter isn't like any other email your parents' inboxes; it's a powerful representation of your school's brand and a critical tool for connecting with families.

During a time of information overload, parents want and need relevant and helpful updates about their students. Despite receiving more than 100 emails a day, email is still the preferred method of regular communication and updates for parents.

The best school newsletters strengthen this connection, making families feel more involved and informed about their children's education. On the flip side, poor communication can erode trust and leave parents feeling out of the loop and frustrated.

But even small missteps can make a big difference in how your newsletter is received. That’s why creating a strong, engaging, and effective newsletter is so important – it’s your direct line to maintaining and enhancing the trust and involvement of your school community.

By avoiding these common pitfalls and knowing what to do instead, you can create newsletters that truly resonate with your audience. Let’s explore what to avoid — and what to include — in your next district newsletter.

1. Generic Subject Lines

Why It’s a Problem: Think about your inbox. How often do you open emails with vague (or sketchy) subject lines? A generic subject line like "School Newsletter" doesn't really stand out, and it fails to spark curiosity or convey the value inside. And after months and months of weekly newsletters, it’d be hard to sort through them looking for that one update or recap parents need.

The Fix: Create subject lines that are specific and engaging. Try "Meet Our Chess Champion!" or "New Art Class: See the Creativity!" This approach instantly tells readers what’s exciting in this issue. At the very least, include a date in the subject line.

Pro Tip: Use a personalization token to include your recipient's name in the subject line — email messages that are personalized can see open rates as much as 29% higher and a click-through rate 41% higher than non-personalized messages.

Email Newsletters: Successful Strategies for School Districts | Finalsite

2. Juggling Too Many Topics

Why It’s a Problem: Overloading your newsletter with too many topics or looking too far ahead in the calendar can confuse readers. This scattershot approach makes it hard for important messages to stand out.

The Fix: Center each newsletter around a single theme or a two-week time period to stay focused. If you're highlighting the annual science fair, focus on that.

191 District newsletter

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191 prioritizes quality over quantity and focuses on just a few impactful and meaningful stories in its newsletter.

3. Multiple Goals

Why It’s a Problem: If your newsletter tries to do too much – say, recruit volunteers, announce events, share recaps, and seek feedback – the main message gets lost. Readers might be unsure about the main takeaway or what you want them to do.

The Fix: Set a primary goal for each issue. Whether it's sharing important details, driving attendance to a school play, or the update on new policies, let that goal guide your content.

4. Targeting Multiple Audiences

Why It’s a Problem: A message meant for everyone often resonates with no one. When you try to address parents, students, and staff all at once, your content may become too general or irrelevant to specific groups.

The Fix: Identify who you’re speaking to in each newsletter. If you start by using a school newsletter template, customize your content or pull in dynamic elements to address different constituents’ interests and needs.

Issaquah School District 411 newsletter

Using Finalsite’s email marketing tool, Messages, Issaquah School District 411 can quickly choose from its school-specific custom templates for its branding and content to resonate with certain audiences and automatically pull in posts relevant to those constituents. Beautiful!

5. Overloading with Links and CTAs

Why It’s a Problem: Bombarding readers with multiple links and calls-to-action (CTAs) can be overwhelming. It can dilute the focus, making it less likely for readers to engage with any of the CTAs.

The Fix: Simplify! Choose one or two key actions for readers, such as visiting a webpage for more information on a new program or RSVPing to an upcoming event.

6. Excessive Self-Promotion

Why It’s a Problem: Continuously focusing on your school's achievements can come across as self-involved and might disconnect readers. It's important for your community to feel included and not just like an audience to your accomplishments.

Tupelo High School Newsletter

The Fix: Balance is key. Showcase how achievements are a collective effort, and mix in stories about individuals, like how Tupelo High School celebrates the students, teachers, and staff of its school.

7. Not Including Actual News

Why It’s a Problem: If your newsletter content isn't new and interesting, it might be considered irrelevant. People look forward to news and updates – without them, the newsletter loses its purpose.

The Fix: Always include "newsworthy" items. This could include updates on school events, changes in policy, blog posts, or exciting projects students are working on.

8. Using Stock Images

Why It’s a Problem: Stock images can make your newsletter feel impersonal. They lack the authentic connection that photos of actual students, teachers, and school events provide.

Iredell-Statesville newsletter

The Fix: Use real photos from moments around your school, which Iredell-Statesville Schools includes in its weekly newsletter. This personal touch helps to build a stronger community connection and makes the content more relatable. Plus, parents LOVE to see their students!

9. Using a Serious Tone

Why It’s a Problem: If your newsletter reads like a formal report, it may fail to engage families. A heavy, overly formal tone can make the content seem distant and unapproachable.

The Fix: Use a conversational tone as though you were writing to a friend or neighbor, which makes your newsletter more readable and friendly.

10. Excessive Length

Why It’s a Problem: Long newsletters can be daunting. People are busy and might not have the time to read through pages of content. Important information can get lost in the length and besides, Google can clip newsletters if they get too long.

The Fix: Be concise and focus on delivering your key messages in a clear, brief manner. Use bullet points and break up text with images to make the content more digestible on smaller screens.

Key Takeaway

Email newsletters can be an opportunity to connect and inform your community. Make the most of it, and use it as a chance to ensure your newsletters are not just read but actually enjoyed and valued by your school community.

Loud and Clear Mass Communications Guide

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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