Improving School Newsletter DistributionJuly 5, 2020
A note from Digistorm: This post was originally published in December 2017. We’ve updated it to include more valuable, relevant content and more recent statistics.
The school newsletter is an integral part of the communications that K-12 schools use to share important, detailed, and regular updates with parents. It’s a way to nurture the relationship between parents and the classroom for current parents and a way to showcase a glimpse of everyday life at the school for prospective parents. Traditionally, the forms of distribution for newsletters have varied ranging from printed newsletters being taken home by students, right through to online links and emails. In this article, we discuss how schools can change and improve their school newsletter distribution to ensure that they are reaching a large amount of their audience.
Why school newsletters are so important
The number of ways in which schools can distribute information to parents and students has increased, so why are newsletters still such an important form of communication for the school community? They provide us with a communication platform where regular updates, detailed information, and highlight reels can all be included in one area to create a strong parent-school connection.
Newsletters take on the form of a formal and expected update that is sent from schools to their communities, opposed to more sporadic communication methods such as emails, blog posts, or social media posts. Newsletters are a form of communication that is expected by parents due to its regularity. The benefit of this is that it provides schools with the opportunity to get creative with their content. It’s important that a school newsletter provides regular updates, but it’s also integral that your newsletter content is not overly repetitive to the point that it becomes boring. Consider creating a content calendar for the year for your school newsletter where you can brainstorm and allocate different topics or themes across each month.
The level of detail that newsletters offer allows schools to be more informative and descriptive with their school community. Other forms of communication often have to be short and punchy to ensure that the post will capture the reader’s attention. Newsletters are a great platform to cover those specific topics that require more detail and can’t be hosted on the other platforms. A school newsletter can go into significant detail for different topics including a principal’s address, recent achievements in sports and music, and updates in curriculum departments. Within school newsletters, you can also link out to other pdf attachments for further information. An example of a well collaborated newsletter is from All Hallows’ School which has a significant amount of text and detail accompanied by engaging and relevant photos.
Source: All Hallows’ School
Remember that your school is likely to communicate with parents throughout the entire year, so think of your school newsletter as a highlight reel. The newsletter exists in order to communicate the most significant, recent news and to highlight aspects of the school that are really important to parents so that they can feel up to date and in the loop.
Newsletters play a huge role in making parents feel involved in the school, so it’s important that they can easily access them. Keeping parents informed about the goings ons in their child’s week creates an additional level of connection between the parent and the school. If you have a prospective family that’s interested in enrolling at your school (but needs that extra nudge), a school newsletter could be the perfect communication tool that takes them over the line!
How to increase parent engagement
Offering an online solution
Offering your newsletter in a digital format will help to increase accessibility, ease of use, readership, and distribution to parents. You can create a digital version of your school newsletter by saving it in a PDF format and hosting it on your school website. Your school can also look at using services such as issuu, Schoolzine or SchoolTV, which can help you create and instantly publish news to an “e-newsletter” or stream. By offering an online option you will be increasing the customer experience for parents who may be time poor and are seeking a fast option that they can access from their mobile devices. Increasing the customer experience will help nurture the relationship between your school and the parents. Another benefit of a digital newsletter is that the risk of paper newsletters getting misplaced will be mitigated. You can rest assured that parents will be able to access the newsletter at any time and they can still print or save the newsletter if they would like a hard copy.
Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of communication to reach your audience, with statistics showing that the average person checks their emails up to 20 times a day. Direct email marketing allows for schools to send targeted communications, such as a link to their school newsletter, directly to the inbox of their audience. It’s important to note that the challenge with this method is ensuring that parents are opening your school’s emails amongst the many other communications they receive on a daily basis. If you plan to send out a link to your newsletter via email make sure that the email text is short and contains only relevant information to capture the parent’s attention. Try to avoid filling up the bulk of the email with text that the parents can find within the newsletter as this will create a text overload and may influence the parent to click off the email without taking any further action. A hot tip is to create a call to action button that links out to the newsletter that will nudge parents to click the link in the email and access the newsletter.
Social media is another great platform that schools can use to distribute their school newsletter. A benefit of posting on social media is that your newsletter may reach new audiences and prospective parents that would otherwise not know about or have access to the newsletter. Both Facebook and Linkedin are effective platforms to link your newsletter too as they take on a more formal, business to business tone then Twitter or Instagram. The social media post does not require large amounts of text and can be accompanied by an appropriate photo. An engaging example of this can be seen from Heritage College Victoria, where they have linked out to their monthly online newsletter.
Source: Heritage College Victoria
The challenges with this communication channel can be that the post may be missed by many parents due to the nature of social media news feeds and that the post can likely be seen by Facebook users who are not associated with the school and are uninterested in a school newsletter.
Placing links to the school newsletter on your school website, particularly if mobile responsive, provides a simple method for members of the school community to access the newsletter. We see a large percentage of schools hosting their current and archived newsletters on their website. It’s an effective platform to host all of your school’s pre-existing newsletters so that current and prospective parents can get a glimpse into past events and achievements at the school. You can see that on the St Rita’s College
school website the newsletter links and dates have been neatly and clearly shown for easy navigation for parents.
Source: St Rita’s College
The relevant challenges of promoting your school newsletter on your website are around the requirement of external channels to notify the community and push them to the page. If there’s no external communication to drive parents to the website they may be unaware that the school newsletter is even hosted there. To ensure that there’s a consistent traffic flow to this website page your school may need to consider combining other communication platforms such as email and social media posts as mentioned above.
Using school apps to distribute school newsletters is an effective way to increase and improve readership. With a busy schedule, parents may not have the time to be regularly checking their phones, and push notifications are the perfect way to remind them of your school newsletter and influence them to check their school app. Statistics even show that push notifications have an open rate of 90% and have an increasingly higher rate than any email marketing communications. Our Digistom school apps can send instant push notifications to parents when a newsletter is posted on the app. Once parents slide or click to open the push notification alert they will be taken directly into the online newsletter. The quick access to the newsletter will help fill communication gaps that may be appearing between your parents and the school.
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