Taipei American School
Taipei American School’s external communications were successful at attracting new families and driving enrollment, but they needed to engage its community in new ways.
Their new strategic plan gave the school an opportunity to overhaul internal communications. TAS’s Director of Communications Lindsey Kundel described:
"As the school had grown, its three divisions were almost as separate schools from a school-to-home communications perspective. The communication office hoped that families would have a better experience with a standardized and cohesive approach to all school communications."
The Challenge: Transforming internal communications
The communications team realized it was time to make changes in order to strengthen their community engagement, improve parent satisfaction, and support a cross-school culture.
Auditing the school’s internal communications was an important first step in the process. TAS conducted surveys and focus groups with community members to gather data, impressions, and feedback about their communications with parents.
To put it simply, looking at the results, TAS parents were suffering from “information fatigue.” There was no clarity between news and actionable items — school communications were becoming white noise and important details were being missed.
But where did they start? On top of the need to tackle this issue, a branding project and a new website were added to the list of priorities for the TAS communications office. It was becoming clear that they should consider enlisting outside help to drive these initiatives.
At a Glance
Taipei American School (TAS) in Taiwan is one of Asia’s top international schools, offering an American-based education with a truly global perspective to students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Founded in 1949, their flourishing campus houses three divisions and enables over two thousand students from the Taipei expatriate community to thrive.
“We weren't entirely sure how to begin navigating our internal communications project, so we contacted Finalsite Advantage and it has been hands-down the best decision that we've made as a team.”
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
The Solution: Partnering with Finalsite Advantage
"You don't know what you don't know,” Kundel admitted, adding that “in this field, we knew that we needed to have somebody on our team to coach and guide us through these uncharted waters, especially as best practices continue to emerge. ”
By aligning with Finalsite Advantage, a strategic partner for school marketing and support, TAS received clear guidance and strategic consulting on developing an integrated and streamlined approach to communication and engagement. Together, TAS and Tracy Tigchelaar, Finalsite Advantage’s senior marketing consultant, established broad goals for the school, which included:
- An agreed platform and structure for school-to-home communication would ensure a consistent experience for parents.
- Creating an integrated approach between push communications (emails) and the school’s online parent portal.
- Redesigning the school’s Parent Portal and transitioning to a largely password-free ‘Parent Zone’ concept.
- Establishing a clear pattern of frequency for push communications to help ensure parents would not be overwhelmed.
- Gaining greater parental engagement with communications by ensuring parents knew what to expect, from whom, and when.
- Providing parents with the ability to access information after it was sent - via the creation of an Announcement Archive.
- Creating a clear delineation between news (reporting on what had already happened) and announcements (information on things coming up).
- Creating a scalable and decentralized model to allow faculty/staff to contribute information directly, while still ensuring the Communications Office had overall control of approval and publishing.
“We so enjoyed working with Tracy — it was like hiring another member of our team,” Kundel said. “She was a coach and cheerleader and provided personalized professional development. It was also great to get an outside perspective on internal difficulties, and her knowledge of what other schools were doing was so valuable."
The Results - Communications that engage and inform the school community
In less than one school year, TAS had secured the support of its large leadership and admin teams and worked hard to ensure that its international parent base was properly prepared for the changes.
“They were diligent and thorough, but most importantly, they made sure that they consulted with different stakeholders throughout the process,” Tigchelaar said. “It was refreshing to work with a school that was truly committed to putting the time in and getting this right.”
Indeed, TAS had set themselves up for success and implemented a new approach to parent communication, including
- A revamped thought-leadership series for their head of school - Holiday Headlines
- A new weekly school digest for parents - The Parent Post
- A newly organized and designed 60+ page online portal - The Parent Zone
Having successfully implemented their new approach, the team sees this as just the start. As Dr. Kathy Limmer, Assistant Head of School for Advancement explained, “We will continue to engage with our community to check on the progress we have made and make any necessary tweaks and adjustments based on their feedback, but we are extremely pleased with how things have gone so far.”
As the new school year approaches the team has now turned their attention to several other large initiatives on the horizon — a branding research project to help them redefine messaging and develop a fresh new visual identity, and a new Best-in-Class website. After the past year's experience, Limmer and Kundell needed no convincing that continuing to partner with Finalsite’s Advantage team would be a key element in setting them up for future success.
The Advantage service is designed to help schools develop — and implement — a clear vision for their online presence, so they are able to get the most out of their redesign project and launch an outstanding website they can be genuinely proud of.
“A website redesign for a school as large and complex as TAS is a major undertaking,” Tigchelaar explained. “Their current site has an outdated design and too much content (386 pages!) so there’s a lot to be done. As any school that’s done one before knows, a website redesign can feel as overwhelming as it is fun and exciting, so I’m really pleased to be able to support the TAS team and navigate this process together,” Tigchelaar added. “I’m looking forward to sharing the results in another case study when the new site launches!”
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