When he’s not acting as Sales Manager for our US office, Jamie can usually be found trying his luck on the Colorado ski slopes (with mixed success).
The school newsletter is an integral part of the communication used by K-12 schools to share important, detailed, and regular updates with parents. It’s a way to help current parents feel more connected to the everyday workings of the classroom and to showcase a glimpse of school life for prospective parents.
Traditionally, the forms of distribution for newsletters have varied, from printed newsletters being taken home by students, right through to online links and emails. In this article, we’ll explore easier and more effective ways to distribute your school’s newsletter in order to enhance engagement, particularly through the features available on a designated school app.
The number of ways in which schools can distribute information to parents and students has increased significantly, so why are newsletters still such an important form of communication for the school community? Newsletters provide a centralised location for all regular updates, detailed information, and highlight reels, conveniently accessed on a single platform. This helps to create a stronger parent-school connection.
Newsletters provide an expected level of consistency, as opposed to more sporadic communication methods such as emails, blog posts, or social media posts. 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 where you can brainstorm and allocate different topics or themes across each month.
The level of detail that newsletters can accommodate allows schools to be more informative and descriptive with their community. Other forms of communication often have to be much shorter and punchy to ensure they capture the reader’s attention. Newsletters are a great platform to cover those specific topics that require more detail, such as a principal’s address, recent achievements in sports and music, and updates in curriculum departments. If your newsletter format supports it, like on a school app, you can also link out to other PDF attachments for further information.
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-on 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!
Now, let's take a look at some of the ways you can boost parent engagement with your school newsletter — sometimes, it's all about the delivery!
Offering your newsletter in a digital format will help to increase accessibility, ease of use, readership, as well as sustainability. You can consider 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. Distributing digitally rather than physically means there’s no risk the newsletter is misplaced in transit, and you can be confident that parents can access the newsletter at any time, anywhere in the world.
Using a school app to distribute school newsletters is an effective way to increase and improve readership. With a busy schedule, parents may not be regularly checking their phones, and push notifications are the perfect way to remind them when a new issue of the newsletter is published. Statistics show that push notifications have an open rate of 90% and have an increasingly higher rate than any email marketing communications. Our Digistrom 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. Newsletter notifications also work really well because once in the app, users are more likely to explore some of the other available features and further engage with your app content.
Statistics show 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 receiving your school’s emails in the correct inbox (rather than a spam folder!) and are actively 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 can create information overload and may influence the user to close the email without taking any further action. A hot tip is to create a call to action button that links to the newsletter, nudging parents to click the link in the email and open the newsletter.
Social media is another 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 to, as they take on a more formal, business to business tone than Twitter or Instagram. This kind of social media post does not require large amounts of text and can be accompanied by an appropriate photo.
One of the challenges with this distribution method is that it can be somewhat unreliable; many parents might actually miss the post, due to the inconsistent nature of social media news feeds and their algorithms. You might also find the post appearing for some 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 it’s mobile responsive, provides a simple method for members of the school community to access the newsletter in their own time. 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.
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.
As you can see there is a wide variety of options when it comes to distributing your school newsletter. The key is honing in on a method that is convenient for your school, whilst maximising engagement from your audience. This is why we recommend sharing your newsletter through your school’s app.
It is the simplest way to ensure all relevant links and information can exist in a single easy-to-access location and provides updates to parents in a convenient and user-friendly manner.