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5 Tips for Simplifying Your School Communications Plan
Connor Gleason

Clarity and simplicity are at the foundation of any solid school communications plan. By communicating well with students, families, school employees, and your stakeholders, you’ll build and maintain the trust and engagement needed to achieve the goals of your district.

Call it what you will — a blueprint, roadmap, outline — a school communications plan really boils down to delivering the right message at the right time and using the most appropriate channels. Planning and implementing that process can alleviate the stress of trying to create a plan last minute, which can avoid confusion and miscommunications. With so many different "flavors" of communications, a simple, plain vanilla plan is often the best solution, so leverage these five tips for simplifying your plan for your community.

1. Clarify your school's communication goals

Communication plans should be straightforward and reflect your district’s overall strategic plan. The more clarity you can provide on your school or district's website, the better you can manage expectations and the more buy-in you'll receive. 

Ask yourself:

  1. What are the overarching goals of the district?
  2. What are the district’s purpose and values?
  3. Who is the target audience of your digital communications?

Your communications plan should express how you'll take your school or district’s strategic plans and communicate it to the community, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel — reviewing other districts’ communication goals can provide helpful context for creating your own.

screenshot of adams five stars comms plan

Adams 12 Five Stars Schools keeps things simple by directly answering what the communications department does. Neatly organized in accordion folders, the district outlines how the department addresses the different needs of the schools, like crisis communications, community engagement, and communications planning.

Keep Reading: How to Create an Effective Communication Plan for Your District

2. Survey your school community

Get to know your audience in advance and learn the best ways to reach families. Start by researching your community, and consider sending out a survey on their communication preferences (mobile app, email, social media, text message).

screenshot Lodi USD comms plan

To prepare its communications plan, Lodi Unified School District conducted an audit of its district communications, resulting in feedback from over 1,500 individuals. That input helped guide its approved communication plan, which presented a clear and concise framework for engaging and communicating with audiences in its school communities — an overview that included the district’s communication goals, timelines, and procedures.

Want the latest detail on parent communication preferences? Finalsite has partnered with Project Tomorrow to gather data from nearly 5,000 parents across the country about their preferences for effective school communications. 

Download your free copy of “Text, Twitter, Email, Call: Parents’ Preferences for Communication and Engagement in 2022."

Responding to their preferences and needs can help streamline your communication plans, so ask yourself these key questions:

Are you sending personalized school communications?

Make sure you're meeting parent expectations and increase your district’s website engagement with personalization, which features targeted relevant content, and personalized communications with parents and your entire school community.

The best technology allows your school or district to provide timely communications segmented by the audience so people can access the resources and information that matters most to them. Mobile apps, mass notifications, and community portals are examples that enable users to read calendars, news posts and blogs, directories, and more, specific to their constituent level.

Is your technology accessible to everyone?

Your school communications tools and apps need to allow your site’s content to be accessible not just to your current families, but to all users. That includes:

  • Language translation
  • A built-in accessibility checker
  • Support for adding alternative (alt) text and video caption files

Is your technology secure?

School websites are a prime target for cyber-attacks, especially since the pandemic. Choosing open-source platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and others carries levels of risk that are just too high. Ensuring the safety of your site and your user’s data is a priority.


3. Organize your school resources

Resources, including critical back-to-school information and popular content throughout the year, should be front and center and easy to find; that will help reduce the emails and calls to your communications or central office. When consolidating and condensing resources for students and families, be sure to include the following:

  • Orientation information
  • Registration forms
  • Vaccination forms
  • Permission forms (media waivers, field trip permission slips)
  • Class supply list
  • Calendars for important dates
  • Lunch menus
  • Bus routes/transportation
  • Uniforms/dress codes

Remember, posting PDFs aren't accessible, and who really wants to edit and post PDFs again and again throughout the year? Having your most sought-after resources in one convenient location, while easily updating and sharing with families can ease that burden. Be sure to include that link in your navigation or a separate back-to-school portal or communications hub.

4. Embrace parent-teacher messaging

Let your teachers have some control and help build your brand equity by sharing positive stories on social media or via notifications. Providing parents with relevant teacher updates in one collaborative school-to-home messaging tool helps streamline parent-teacher communications. Communicating critical classroom updates directly to parents, students, and guardians helps provide a consistent experience across every classroom throughout the school or district.

5. Create once, publish everywhere

The C.O.P.E movement is breathing life into outdated and clunky communication practices across K12 districts. By writing content and messages once, selecting preferred communication methods, and publishing across your desired channels, you’ll save time, create consistency, and build capacity for your team while delivering on your communications plan. Simple and easy.

san mateo foster city mockup

As part of its communication department overview, the comms office of San Mateo-Foster City School District includes its recent district news. Using Finalsite Posts, they can easily create the news content once, then have it populate anywhere across their sites, just as they’ve done on its Communications page.

Key takeaway

Building and maintaining trust with your school community requires communicating quickly and clearly with students, families, and school employees. By simplifying your communications plan, you'll streamline the engagement and the information your school community both wants and needs, and you'll be saving your office valuable time and resources. 

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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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