The Galloway School
The City of Atlanta surely didn’t intend to sever a main waterline to The Galloway School during construction, but of course…it happened, and Galloway needed to shut down its campus.
A closure for severe weather, sudden changes to the drop-off/pick-up schedule, or the notice of an early dismissal — they all require urgent communications to be sent to the school community and when the clock is running, the pressure is on.
“We really found a need to be communicating more efficiently,” shared Meghan Stauts, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Galloway School, an independent school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. With 750 students in PreK through 12th grade, Galloway is a close community of parents, faculty, trustees, and administrators — nearly 1,400 constituents, each of whom needs to be reached in the event of an urgent communication.
“Once we got into the pandemic, we realized we needed to be contacting people quickly if a class had to move into quarantine, or certain grade levels had to isolate,” Stauts said. “We realized how crucial it was to be able to contact our entire school community in the event of an emergency.”
But siloed procedures and lack of data integration became a challenge when it came to important communications, and that meant Galloway ran the risk of not contacting everyone it needed to reach.
For urgent communications, one person would start the email, someone else would draft the text, another would prepare the website updates, and the IT director would to grab the lists from the database.
“I recognized the need for a more streamlined platform that would allow one person to really do everything because of the way we were managing emergency communication.”
“Now that we can use Messages XR, we’re able to send both text and email emergency notifications quickly without worrying about if our student/parent contact information is up to date ... With all of our data synced, we don't have to constantly hound people and we're confident that we’re reaching families with their preferred method of communication.”
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
So Galloway looked for a way to integrate its data with Finalsite’s email communication platform, Messages, so it could seamlessly send urgent messages without worrying about mixed wording or updating its parent and student data.
“We had looked at using other systems, but it was a ‘no brainer' for us when Finalsite introduced Messages XR. We met with our IT Department and I pulled our database manager into the conversations. We thought it’d be a great solution to everything we had been complaining about and the more we can streamline our platforms, the better.”
With Messages XR, a mass notification solution from Finalsite, a message can be emailed, sent via SMS and voice, pushed via a mobile app, and displayed on the website — a streamlined communication process when urgent messages arise.
Better yet, the recipient list is synced with constituents’ contact information in Galloway’s Blackbaud student information system, so even when families change their contact information, it’s updated automatically and ready when needed.
“Now that we can use Messages XR, we’re able to both text and email emergency notifications quickly without worrying about if our student/parent contact information is up to date — that's been a huge help,” Stauts said, “especially given the nature of our world. With all of our data synced, we don't have to constantly hound people and we're confident that we’re reaching families with their preferred method of communication.”
“This allows me to be the one to do everything, all at once,” Stauts added. “What’s been the most useful thing that we've identified with Messages XR, is that the messaging is the same. With different stakeholders involved, there can be mixed messaging. An IT director isn’t always thinking thru the lens of a marketing or a communications team, whereas I'm focused on ‘how can we best deliver this message?’”
The tool was recently put to test during an early closure at Galloway. “From the time the assistant head of school called the team together, the decision was made, and the message went out to the community, it was just minutes. It's a two-step process now, rather than a five or six-step process.”
Now, Galloway is seeing open rates for emails typically fall between 70-85% (an almost 20% increase since 2020) while the SMS messages sent from Messages XR are seeing a 100% delivery rate.
“Removing the director of technology from the process of sending the text messages was a huge bonus and school leadership appreciates the speed with which we’re able to send emergency notifications.”
Stauts also appreciates the ease of previewing the text and the option to link to a detail page for more information. “As a Director of Marketing and Communications, it gives me peace of mind knowing that we are able to distribute emergency notifications and standard communications quickly across a variety of platforms.”
“Our community is so connected, and as a smaller independent Atlanta school, our community is so tight-knit,” Stauts added. “There’s an expectation of being notified about everything, and the ability for us to communicate this way reinforces that value — it helps families feel like they are included in everything we do. Parents always want information in different ways, and it's great that we have this option now.”
“The streamlining of communication in a post-pandemic world has been such a game changer for us. But as a school in the sunny south,” Stauts laughed, “we’re just hoping we can eventually use it for a snow day.”
See how easy it is to create dynamic messages and send them across email, SMS, voice, website, and mobile app push notifications.