We all agree communication channels are critical in times of crisis. So, school communication is even more important, considering it usually involves children. Is your school set up to quickly handle any communications needs that might arise?
Recently, a school bus caught fire at our local high school while returning from a football game. It was loaded with students, staff, and their athletic equipment. Luckily, all the kids got out of the bus without any injuries. It only took a few minutes for the bus to be engulfed in flames.
Like any urgent situation, this incident needs quick and simple communication. Let’s use this situation as a good example of how communication channels can work.
Once the kids are safely out of the bus, the communication really begins. The bus driver contacts emergency services and then the district administrators. While he is doing that, the coach notifies all the parents of the situation and assures them that their children are safe. So, with a few clicks on their phone apps, they have informed and reassured everyone concerned. But it doesn’t end there:
- Parents can respond to the coach and ask questions. They can be personally reassured and will recognize the laudable responsibility the school maintains for their children, and their trust skyrockets.
- School administrators can notify school personnel so they are informed and available to help if needed. This increases the sense of school community that all good administrators strive to instill.
- The media can be informed quickly and by those who are trained to manage the public relations for the school district (when necessary). This keeps school public relations proactive and not reactive.
What’s your school’s communication strategy?
When planning for your school’s communication needs, you’ll first decide what is needed. Most schools typically want mass notifications (to parents, students, school personnel, classes, grades, clubs, groups, etc.). You’ll also want to include text messaging and voice calls (as some of your shareholders prefer one method over the other).
Another concern is that you’ll want to streamline your communications and consolidate the platforms you use to ensure that everyone gets the same messaging to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. Ideally, you’ll look for a communications platform that is customizable to fit your school’s unique needs so that whether it is announcements, assignments, parent/teacher communications, or emergency notices, you’ll have exactly what you need on a simple, streamlined platform.
Messaging and Notifications
Whether you need to get messages out monthly, daily, or in between, you’ll want to know that you’ve reached everyone on your list. The ideal platform (often an app from your phone) will let you:
- push messages to the App, including two-way messaging;
- send standard mass notifications (voice, text, and email);
- update your school’s website homepage;
- send stories to your school’s social media pages; and
- all at once and from the same place.
Think of the time you’ll save and the improved levels of communication your school will become known for!
Make sure everything is connected
Since we’re talking about the ideal communications platforms, another aspect of this ideal is ensuring that everything syncs with your school’s Student Information System. In this way, everything will always be current. New students will be added, changes in phone numbers or emails will be updated, and notification preferences will stay current.
This synchronization will let your notifications connect with everyone at one time, or allow one-to-one notifications seamlessly. Teachers can easily message their students’ parents, and everything is delivered in their particular language and archived for future reference if needed.
Put technology to work for your communications
Depending on your role, or your staff’s role, you will want each individual to see just what is relevant and have access only to what is authorized and needed. This might look like:
- a teacher sending messages to her students;
- the band director notifying parents that the bus is getting back late;
- the basketball coach notifying parents of the winning score;
- a club sponsor notifying the members of a meeting location change;
- reminders to team members about practice;
- and, all while the superintendent can see everything that is going on.
Whether there is the need to send one-on-one communications or information to your whole school, the ideal App would be flexible enough to customize the look, feel, and functionality of the platform to be tailored to your school’s needs.
Having it all in one place
The most effective communications strategy would include letting you and your school staff to easily get the necessary information where it needs to be. That includes getting updates to your school website as well. Sometimes it is an exciting news story, a video, photos of current events, calendar items, or staff changes. If you can avoid duplicating your efforts and post the necessary (or desirable) message and information to all places with just a few steps, you will improve your school-wide communication and do wonders for your school’s brand. That doesn’t count the money you’ll save on staff time by streamlining their workload.
Let School Webmasters do it for you!
School Webmasters is the ultimate customer service company, and while we are known for our school websites and website management, we are expanding our offerings to include messaging and the App. We will build the App to match the website, keeping your brand consistent and professional. We create it all for you, get the App into the app store, and even help you roll it out to your parents and the community. Of course, after extensive research into what will help your school reach the ideal in school communication, the School Webmasters App will include all the functionality that we’ve mentioned previously.
There’s not enough room to list it all here, but here are a few of the other things “the App” can do for you:
- Custom forms (with digital signatures)
- Interactive maps
- Engaging news feeds with all your great stories
- Anti-bullying hotline and anonymous tip reporting
- Choose from 40 languages
- Access digital ID (library, cafeteria, on- or off-campus events)
- Customize the look, layout, and feel that highlights your school’s colors, logos, and featured photos
- Subscribe and view calendars (general events, athletic teams, parent groups, student clubs, etc.)
- Upload and access important documents (student handbooks, policies, enrollment forms, etc.) for viewing, printing, and sharing
- Quick access to the school’s website and social media pages
- Accommodate people with a wide range of special needs (physical motor limitations, limited vision, blindness, etc.)
- Text messaging
- Voice calls
- Unlimited number of users
- Shared lists
- Shared groups
- Parent portal
- 24/7 unlimited support
Share the great things that are happening at your school! And when it isn’t all good news, don’t let ineffective messaging worsen bad news. Call us today at 888-750-4556 to get some limited-time discounts! Or email Jim and he’ll get right back to you! Or, just go online and request a quote (for website design or just our communications app).