Donovan Group Insights

Summer as a Strategic Breather: Planning Your 2024-25 Communication Strategy

The summer months are a great opportunity for schools. While the school grounds might be quieter, this period is perfect for reviewing and revising the school’s communication strategy. Taking the time to refine your approach can pave the way for a more robust and effective rollout in the new academic year. Here’s why and how you should make the most of this quiet period.

Why revise your communications strategy?

Revising your communication strategy helps your school improve its engagement and effectiveness in delivering key messages. Your school’s communication needs are likely evolving—staff, teachers, parents and students are influenced by technological advancements, changes in community needs and shifting educational priorities. By regularly revisiting and updating your communication strategy, you ensure that your school remains responsive, relevant and connected.

Revising your communication strategy will ensure clarity and consistency in messaging. Over time, messages can become fragmented, and platforms may diverge in tone and content. A thorough review helps realign these elements, creating a unified voice that resonates across all channels.

Similarly, updating your strategy allows for the integration of new tools and technologies that can help your communication efforts. There are always new ways to reach and engage your audience more effectively. Incorporating the latest tools and social media platforms can streamline processes, improve efficiency and provide richer data insights. For example, advanced analytics can offer deeper understanding into which channels and communications are most effective, enabling strategic planning and execution. By analyzing feedback and engagement metrics, schools can also identify gaps and areas for improvement in their communication efforts.

Revising your strategy also supports proactive planning. Instead of reacting to issues as they arise, a well-thought-out communication plan anticipates potential challenges and prepares responses.

Consider the past year’s communication efforts

The first step in revising your communication strategy is reflecting on the previous year. Assess what worked well and what didn’t by examining engagement metrics from newsletters, social media interactions, website visits and feedback from surveys. Identifying strengths and weaknesses in your communication efforts helps you build on what resonated with your audience and address the areas needing improvement.

Learning from this feedback is crucial, even if it isn’t what you’d hoped it would be. Parents, students, and staff often provide valuable insights into how to improve. For instance, if parents appreciated timely updates about school events but felt the newsletter was too lengthy, you can adjust the format to be more concise while maintaining the same frequency.

Conduct a comprehensive communication audit

A thorough audit of your current communication channels can be helpful. Evaluate your website, social media platforms, email newsletters and any other mediums you use. Ensure consistency across all platforms to guarantee that your message is clear and unified, building trust and reliability within your community.

Enhancing user experience should also be a priority during the audit. Check if your website is easy to navigate, if emails are mobile-friendly and if your social media content is engaging. For example, if your website’s event calendar is difficult to find, restructuring the site’s layout to make it more accessible can significantly improve user satisfaction and engagement. Similarly, if you use Instagram to keep the community informed, you probably know that links are prohibited in descriptions. Consider using a service like Linktree to allow people to click on a single link in your school account’s bio page, and find the appropriate link to the school website.

Revise your communication goals and objectives

With insights from your reflection and audits, the next step is to revise your communication goals and objectives. These should align with the school’s broader goals and be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Clear objectives provide direction and focus, ensuring that every communication effort contributes towards achieving these goals.

Having measurable success indicators is crucial. If one of your objectives is to increase parent engagement with the school newsletter, set a specific target, such as a 20% increase in open rates. This allows you to track progress and adjust strategies as needed throughout the year.

Plan your content and campaigns for the new academic year

Using the summer months to plan content and campaigns allows for a more organized and proactive approach. Create an editorial calendar that outlines key messages, important dates and planned campaigns. An editorial calendar ensures that your communication is timely and relevant, avoiding the last-minute rush and potential oversights.

Advance planning also allows you to integrate various communication efforts, ensuring a cohesive approach across different platforms. For example, if you know the dates for major school events, you can schedule social media posts, email reminders and website updates well in advance.

Leverage new tools and technologies

Summer is a great time to explore new tools and technologies that can enhance your communication efforts. Consider new software for email marketing, social media management tools or website analytics platforms—especially if your communication audits revealed gaps in these areas. Modern tools can automate many tasks, freeing up time for more strategic efforts.

Advanced analytics tools also provide deeper insights into the effectiveness of your communication, helping to refine your strategy further. For instance, using a tool that tracks the engagement of each newsletter can help you understand which types of content are most appealing to your audience. This allows you to tailor future communications accordingly.

Consider training and development for communications teams

Investing in the professional development of your communication team during the summer can yield significant benefits. Consider training sessions on new tools, workshops on effective communication strategies or courses on digital marketing. Continuous learning ensures that your team is equipped with the latest skills and knowledge.

Boosted morale is another benefit of training. Investing in professional development shows that you value your team. For example, a workshop on social media trends can inspire your team to create more engaging content, knowing they have the skills and support to succeed.

Prepare for rollout

With a revised strategy in place, you’re ready for a robust rollout in the new academic year. Ensure that everyone is aware of the new strategy and their roles within it. Communicate the changes and improvements to the school community to build excitement and anticipation.

Increased engagement is more likely with your new, well-planned communication strategy. For example, a kickoff event (virtual or otherwise) at the beginning of the school year to introduce the new communication strategy can set a positive tone and encourage active participation from parents, students and staff.

Turn summer into the most productive months of the year

The quieter summer months are a great opportunity to review and revise your school’s communication strategy. Embrace this time to enhance your communication efforts and set the stage for a year of effective and engaging communication with your school community.

Whether you try one of these steps or follow the entire plan, these tips and tricks will help you create an informed, close-knit school community. Parents, teachers, students and staff can all benefit from your revised communications policy—take this time to determine where your school is lacking and to fill in the gaps, and your efforts now will pay off throughout the entire academic year.

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