There's a quote from Leonardo da Vinci I've always liked:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
It is so easy to make things complicated. Boiling plans, systems and procedures down to their simplest form is not easy, but it will usually make them their most effective. Your school communication plan is no different.
If you're not convinced about the importance of effective communication for schools, CLICK HERE for a quick read on why communication is so important.
Creating a strong communication plan is the foundation for establishing effective communication for your school. Although there may be a lot of moving parts, the communication plan for your school doesn't have to be complicated. The key is to create a plan using multiple communication channels that you can easily manage and consistently execute.
Here are some simple tips you may find helpful in creating a rock solid communication plan for your school.
1. Don't reinvent the wheel.
I'm sure you know of other schools that excel with communications. What are they doing that works so well? Find out and copy them. There is nothing wrong with learning from other schools and implementing their successful ideas.
2. Survey and/or research your community.
When you can reach stakeholders when & where they are looking for information, your communication will improve dramatically. Keep in mind, everyone is different and some people respond to certain communication channels better than others. Get to know your community and learn the best ways to reach them.
Here's a simple idea. Create a google form and survey your community. Use it to find out your stakeholder's preferred methods of communication. Google forms work well on desktop or mobile and will be easy for people to submit. The information you gather will be invaluable for your communication plan.
3. Take the Hemingway approach.
Hemingway's distinctive style was plain, simple and direct. When you are looking at the information you need to communicate, keep it simple and to the point. With all the content being created today, people are on information overload and you need to help them if you want your messages to be read.
Does this communication really need to be sent? Is it adding value to your stakeholders? If not, don't communicate it. This seems obvious, but schools have so much information they need to communicate, it can be very difficult to sort through it all to find the truly important information.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Hemingway App. It will help make your writing bold and clear if you'd like the help.
4. BONUS: Key communication channels to consider.
I know I said 3 tips, but I couldn't resist giving a little bit more information. I hope you don't mind...
The following is a pretty good list to consider when evaluating which communication channels will work best for your audience.
- Website : I haven't come across a school that isn't using a website for communication. Make it as easy as possible to find the most important information.
- Face to Face : This can be a time consuming channel of communication if it has to be done one on one. Having said that, I don't believe there is a better way to connect with people.
- Email : This is another one that is pretty standard and a must have.
- Phone : Some schools are still using auto dialing systems, but in a lot of cases this is becoming pretty archaic. It's important to know this is a preferred channel for your community before jumping into it.
- Social Media : With all the different social channels out there it can be overwhelming. Pick no more than 2 of the most appropriate social media channels for your community and get them right before choosing more to work with.
- Blogs : This can be a great way to post news announcements as they happen. Almost every blog platform out there is super easy to view on any screen size (desktop, tablet or mobile), making the content easy to consume.
- Video : I'm not seeing a lot of schools take advantage of video, but it is an excellent way to build rapport with people. On top of that it is becoming a preferred way for people to consume content. In most cases you will combine video with your other communication channels to make it easy for stakeholders to consume your video content. As an example, a quick (less than 2 minutes) weekly video from the principal to stakeholders has the potential to go a long way in developing strong relationships with stakeholders.
- Text : Some schools are using text to get out emergency alerts. It can be quite effective for short, important announcements.
- Mobile Apps : I'm a little biased on this one because my company provides mobile apps for schools. Our school partners are finding a school mobile app to be a very effective way at providing easy access to important information. Similar to text, push messaging through a school mobile app is another great way to get out short, important announcements to your community. A mobile app will enhance and compliment your other communication channels...in other words, it will make your other communication channels more effective. Most people have their smartphone within reach 24 hours a day and schools are taking advantage of that with mobile apps.
When your communications are simple, reach stakeholders when & where they are looking and are easy to reference, you will automatically start to increase reach with your community. If you need help on your school communication plan, don't hesitate in reaching out to us.
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