Donovan Group Insights

4 Tips for Keeping School Communications Up This Summer

The summer months are filled with many exciting activities—camping, swimming, traveling, visiting relatives and much more. For many students, teachers and families, summer is usually a time to put school behind them and focus on enjoying their vacation.

For school administrators, summer isn’t just about going on vacation. It’s about preparing for another successful school year. Part of that preparation involves developing communications strategies for the future, as well as engaging audiences at a time when school becomes an afterthought.

Below, we’ll explore how your audience can benefit from communication efforts that remain strong all year round.

Why focus on communications now?

Summer is the in-between season when students, families, teachers and administrators get to take a break from school. There aren’t many classes or programs going on, so it’s easy to think that communicating with your audience is a lower priority during summer.

Contrary to what many might think, summer vacation is one of the best times to finetune school communications. Below are a few reasons to delve into your communications this time of year.

There’s more free time during the summer

It’s difficult to plan communications while you’re actively communicating with your audience. Summer gives you more time to plan future communications because classes aren’t in session. Without students, teachers and families around, you can give your school’s communications strategies the time and attention they deserve.

Unlike during the school year, summer is an opportunity to put your entire focus towards improving school communications. Using summer to plan future communications means your team has more time to make the messaging even better, which in turn improves the school’s ability to engage audience members.

Review and revise last year’s strategy

Summer is a time for rest and relaxation. For school administrators, it’s also a time for revisions and reflection. The summer months allow you to review last year’s communications strategy and identify ways to improve it for the upcoming academic year. These reviews are best conducted when there are fewer obligations to school community members.

As you review last year’s strategy, keep a record of what went well and what didn’t go so well. Think of why the communications didn’t pan out as expected, then plan for how your team can improve them next time that same communications scenario comes up.

Reduce stress at the beginning of next year

Have you ever felt rushed to get communications out? You’re not the only one—many school administrators feel the same way! One of the most effective ways to prevent stress at the beginning of the school year is by creating a communications plan weeks (or even months) in advance.

In addition to reducing stress, planning communications during the summer gives you more time and mental bandwidth to focus on students, teachers and families as they return to school in the fall. By planning communications ahead of time, you’re more able to focus on what really matters—your community.

Plan for upcoming needs and challenges

Prioritizing school communications over the summer gives you a chance to step back and ask your team, “What does our audience need? What challenges do we anticipate for the upcoming school year?” Identifying these needs and challenges allows you to plan for them before the new school year arrives.

The summer months allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your audience, as well as how you can best support them through improved communications in the coming year.

Hit the ground running in the fall

Think about how you want to start the school year. Do you want to scramble to prepare communications at the last minute? Or do you want to start the year with a thorough communications plan already in place? By preparing communications well in advance, the second scenario is much more likely to become a reality.

Your team already has an idea of what will go into the upcoming school year’s communications plan. Start fleshing out the communications plan now, even if you have to leave some blank spots for the time being. As summer goes on, you’ll be able to add more and more ideas until you have a thoughtful, comprehensive game plan for the school year.

4 tips to boost your summer communications

You and the team are used to communicating a lot with students, teachers, families and community members during the school year. The summer months might be slower, but there are still plenty of ways to engage your audience.

Check out these four strategies to keep the communications flowing throughout summer.

1. Start the conversation

Most students, teachers and families aren’t thinking about school right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them! Take the initiative by sparking conversations with your audience. Chances are, more people want to stay connected than you think—but you won’t know until you try.

A quick and simple way to engage your audience is by posting questions on social media that get the conversations started. Ask questions that are fun and easy to answer, such as, “What’s your favorite summer activity?” or, “Where’s your favorite place to visit?” These types of questions help keep community connections alive while school is out of session.

2. Promote summer programs

Summers might be slower, but there are still things going on that are worth talking about! Camps, daycare programs, supplemental learning—these are all opportunities for your audience to stay involved with their school community during the summer months.

It’s worth noting that people might have different preferred ways of staying in touch during the summer. Take stock of the communication channels that will be most effective for reaching your audience at a time when school is not at the forefront of their minds.

3. Advertise open job positions

If you’re looking for summer content ideas, consider the positions you’re hiring for all year-round. Even though classes aren’t in session, it’s always a good idea to get a head start on filling vacant roles before the new school year is here.

Emphasize to your audience that there are always positions that need to be filled, even during the slow summer months. Advertising open jobs also lets interested candidates know that it’s never too late—or too early—to discover a fulfilling career in your school district.

4. Send out feedback surveys

As mentioned before, summer is a great opportunity to reflect on the previous school year. Students, teachers and families are excellent resources to help your team pinpoint areas for improvement in the communications strategy.

Tap into your audience’s insight by sending out feedback surveys for each different community group. You can make these surveys more visible by emailing them, sending them in the mail or posting them on social media. Use the survey responses to help inform decisions for next year’s communications plan.

Communications don’t stop for the summer!

Many community members don’t realize how much behind-the-scenes work happens during summer vacation. Summer is a time to relax after a long school year, and it’s also the prime opportunity to revamp your school’s communications strategies. Remember to keep the conversations flowing, too. Although students are taking a break from classes, community ties are meant to stay strong all year long.

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