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Five Strategies to Ensure Your Back-to-School Message Resonates

The excitement of the new school year is here! Welcome back events, first days, and big transitions are behind you. Now, how will you ensure that the excitement and engagement of your students, parents, teachers, and staff lasts throughout the year? 

In a competitive education landscape, communicating your message at the right time, in the right place, to the right audience is crucial. Here are five proven strategies to ensure your outreach efforts resonate.

1. Be Proactive

Creating a consistent and compelling communication strategy requires a proactive approach. Careful consideration of what you’re sharing, when you’re sharing it, and how you’re delivering it will contribute to a well-orchestrated communication plan. By aligning your messages with key milestones in your school such as enrollment periods, orientation and open house dates, community-wide events, and even classroom projects, you can maintain consistent outreach. Get input from your teachers and staff and regularly monitor the engagement metrics to adjust your strategies along the way.

2. Designate Your Channels

Being strategic and transparent about when and where you share specific types of messages will enhance clarity and overall effectiveness of your communication efforts. Your website should be the central hub for prospective families and employees, while email can be used for more segmented messaging to nurture engagement. Similarly, your social media platforms offer the opportunity to showcase visual content and interact with the wider community, while text messages and voicemails can be used for internal and timely alerts. When designating channels, it’s important to know what your audiences’ preferences are for each. 

3. Create Concise and Personalized Messages

Tailoring your messages to specific segments of your audience demonstrates that you know their needs and concerns. By segmenting your emails, text messages, newsletters, and print materials, you can craft more concise and personalized content that addresses the unique experiences of each student, parent, teacher, and staff. 

4. Utilize Visual Content

Visuals are one of the most powerful ways to convey messages quickly and effectively. Incorporate images, videos, infographics, and interactive elements to convey your school’s achievements throughout the year. See for example how Brevard Academy creates a consistent visual identity across its website and social channels.  

5. Showcase Compelling Stories

A compelling story can capture attention and foster school pride. Identify stories that showcase your school’s unique strengths and values to highlight throughout the year, especially during peak enrollment windows. For instance, Richland One Middle College incorporated two alumni testimonial videos into their communication plan to drive engagement and interest in enrolling.

By implementing each of these five strategies to build your back-to-school and year-long communication plan, your leadership team can ensure that your messages reach the right audience, at the right time. Remember, the average attention span is less than 10 seconds. How will you capture – and keep – the attention of your school community?

This post was originally published for the NC Association for Public Charter Schools’ “Matters of Principal: Back to School Issue” on September 1, 2023.


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