With modern technologies, there is an increasing pressure on schools to have more frequent and meaningful communications with their school community around student progress, school activities and other points of interest. A drive for convenience, personalisation and mobility mean that many schools are having to take another look at the way they communicate with their stakeholders in order to deliver effective communications.
Communication the key to engagement
A study by Harvard found that frequent teacher-family communication had a positive impact on student engagement*. Many state education departments have in place guidelines for parent and community engagement. For example, the Queensland Government’s communication strategies for schools states that schools should take a multichannel approach with the “use of a wide range of communication tools and channels, including newsletters, websites, e-mails, assemblies, parent/teacher interviews, P&C meetings, web conferencing and text messages”.
Figure: Potential School Communication Channels
With lots of potential communication channels, this multichannel approach may seem like an overwhelming proposition, especially for schools who do not have specialised marketing staff. It is important that not only is the communication delivered in the most effective way possible, but that the communication channel and design supports the school brand.
The right information, at the right time and in the right way
Our post on the, Six digital leadership principles for schools, suggests that using an ‘outside in’ approach to communication and branding is beneficial to fostering stakeholder engagement. By standing in the shoes of your stakeholders you can gain insight into the best channels of communication to ensure that the right information is delivered at the right time and in the right way to ensure maximum engagement. These channels should not operate in one direction; it is harnessing the two-way nature of communication that can help build positive engagement.
There are marketing automation tools available that can support both two-way digital and more traditional forms of communication, with staff being able to draw-on templates and resources to ensure that communications are in line with the school brand and record parent and student preferences for how they like to be communicated with.
Where to start?
With lots of different communication types and channels in your school it can be difficult to know where to start. The good news is that you do not need to overhaul all of your communications in one go. You can pick the ones you feel are most important and test how modernising these communications, with a focus on two-way engagement, impacts your school community. Once you are satisfied you can then move onto other communication types depending on your schools’ priorities.
As a first step, Fuji Xerox Australia is able to help evolve communications by working with schools to conduct an audit of your current approach. This will help the school to identify which communications will feel the most immediate benefits of modernisation.
If you would like to learn more about how taking a multichannel communication approach could benefit you school, please contact the Fuji Xerox Education Industry Team.
* Kraft, M. A., & Dougherty, S. M. (2013). The effect of teacher–family communication on student engagement: Evidence from a randomized field experiment. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 6(3), 199-222.