Donovan Group Insights

Why Personalized Communication Matters in Education

Communication is more than putting words onto paper. It’s building authentic connections between people. For that reason, the content creation process needs to evolve beyond thinking of a message, writing it down and sending it out. The speaker has to infuse the message with their voice, and they have to consider which individuals make up their audience.

Personalization is the key to connecting with stakeholders and developing strong relationships. Giving communication that personal touch comes with many invaluable benefits for your district—namely, the community’s respect, support and engagement.

How your district benefits from personalization

Communication isn’t one-size-fits-all. When you speak, the words have to sound like you. They have to resonate with stakeholders’ wants and needs as well. Putting extra thought into your communication is a big step toward gaining new school community members and winning over their respect.

Here are just a few reasons why personalized communication is critical to your district’s success:

  • Grow your community: Personalized communication makes people want to be a part of your amazing school community. Many district leaders believe the secret to making everyone feel included is by speaking to everyone all at once. However, if you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one. When you speak, it has to sound like you’re speaking to just one person, whether that’s a prospective parent, potential donor or member of a local organization. Speaking to the individual will instill a sense of belonging, which helps draw new stakeholders to your community.
  • Develop stronger relationships: Personalized communication can also help you further develop relationships with the people who are already invested in your schools. The words have to come from you—not the school district, but you as a person. Stakeholders respond best to communication that sounds like one person speaking to another. A strong district-stakeholder relationship is built on real human connections. Embrace your authentic voice, and let it seep through your communication.
  • Rally the community’s support: Personalized communication nurtures strong relationships, and strong relationships translate into community support. In order to rally support in times of need, your district must first establish a foundation of trust and respect with its stakeholders. You earn stakeholders’ trust and respect based on the way you speak to them. So, if you want to secure their support in the future, you have to look at how you’re communicating with them in the present.
  • Increase participation at school events: Personalized communication is better at engaging stakeholders. When you speak directly to someone, they’re more willing to hear what you have to say. This gives you a chance to inform stakeholders on how they can get involved in their school community. Once you’ve grabbed people’s attention, you can tell them about all the exciting events, activities and initiatives happening in your schools. Personalized communication leads to greater engagement, which in turn leads to greater participation at school functions.

Infuse the words with your personal voice

By this point, you have a clear understanding of why personalized communication is so important. That leads many to wonder, “How do I personalize my communications?” It all starts with the speaker: you!

Before you put pen to paper, you have to do a little introspection. What makes you unique? What are your core values? What do you have to offer that others don’t? The answers to these questions will set you apart from other school leaders, whether they’re in your district or a neighboring one. When you communicate with stakeholders, it should be immediately clear that the words are from you and no one else. Channeling your personality, your values and your voice into the content will make it much easier to connect with people in your community.

The next step is translating those personality traits into your communication. Write an email, newsletter, update or speech, then read it over. Do the words sound like you? Identify sections of the content that could use a little more voice. It’s entirely possible to let your personality shine through while maintaining a thoughtful, professional brand. Remember, stakeholders don’t connect with your district. They connect with the people in your district.

There’s no one in the world like you—use that to your advantage!

Tailor communications to your audience

Now for the opposite side of the coin: your audience. Personalized communication requires you to think about both the speaker and the people receiving those words. As stated earlier, there’s no one-size-fits-all message that’s guaranteed to resonate with all stakeholders. In order to communicate effectively, you have to tailor your words to each individual stakeholder group.

Start by asking yourself this question: who is your audience? Try to narrow it down as much as possible. For example, you might need to write a message informing parents about an updated school policy. Which school is this for? Is the policy update only relevant to parents for a specific grade level? The more you pinpoint your audience, the more successful you will be at holding their attention—and, the more likely your message will get through to them.

Communicating effectively with the intended audience also involves understanding their wants, needs and concerns. It’s important to acknowledge these in your messaging because it shows stakeholders you’re listening to them. Prove that you’re a good listener, and they’ll be more willing to listen to you. Acknowledge their wants and needs, then communicate how your district can fulfill those wants and needs. They will be different from one group to the next, which is why personalization is critical for successful communication.

Explore AI-powered solutions (responsibly)

There are so many people your team needs to communicate with—students, teachers, parents, government officials, civic groups, prospective families, the list goes on. Your district’s communication needs are vast, and chances are, your team members spend most of their time crafting messages for various stakeholders. Thankfully, there’s a solution to help you save time and communicate more quickly, and that solution is powered by AI.

Content-generating programs like ChatGPT have earned a spot in school district communication. They excel at whipping up professional-sounding, well-thought-out messages in mere seconds. AI programs can help your team write blogs, newsletters, social media posts and more, making them useful tools that allow you to communicate more in a shorter amount of time.

However, it’s extremely important to remember that ChatGPT is simply a tool. There’s one thing it cannot do, and that’s personalize your communication. No AI program can replace your unique, authentic voice. You still have to cast your eyes over AI-generated content to make sure it speaks to the right audience as well as their wants, needs and concerns. ChatGPT will give you good content to work with, but it takes a real human to go in and add those personal touches.

Change the way you communicate today

The secret to effective communication is this: real people talking to real people. There’s no cookie cutter approach that will allow you to speak to everyone all at once. Personalized communication requires effort, and it’s effort well spent. Speak with authenticity, and think about who you’re speaking to. The rest will fall into place.

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