Communication with schools and parents happens all year, and it’s always important. The reason we call out back-to-school communication is simple. Professionally, it’s your product launch. In more personal terms, it’s like your “first date.” And any way you look at it, the way you communicate leading up to the first day of school creates a first impression and sets the tone for the rest of the year.
Our recommendation is to take it as an opportunity, and make it awesome! Keep reading for ideas.
We’ll get to all those ideas on how to make back-to-school communication awesome. But first, here’s a quick look at some of the essentials to communicate.
Our white paper called Building the Relationship Between Home and School at Back-to-School Time offers a more detailed look at what to communicate to parents.
Parents are bombarded from every direction, especially at back-to-school time. Sports teams, bands, clubs, before-/after-care, parent groups—there are many organizations and services vying for parents’ attention leading up to the first day.
It can be tempting to provide every detail in every communication, but it’s best to keep it simple to grab attention and link to where parents can find the details relevant to them.
There can be a tendency toward “one and done” posting, meaning you post something once and cross it off your list—but in reality, it often takes multiple views to pique someone’s interest and get a response. There’s also more leeway on social media channels for repeating messages; people are used to seeing the same or similar posts multiple times.
Having all of your back-to-school information on one main page makes it easy to share (for those simple messages we mentioned above), and parents will learn that this is the page to visit when they have a question. Keep the page easy to skim by breaking it into well-labeled sections, but err on the side of including everything.
There are so many tools out there that it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones to try. Start with a streamlined set of tools that will help you effectively manage communication across multiple channels, and reuse content and creative assets as much as possible. Our recommendations for a starting point:
A well-organized content calendar helps you plan what you’ll send and post with enough time to make sure you have the images and any approved text so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. It also makes it easy for someone else to jump in and publish a post when you’re not available.
Pro tip: Include other calendar items relevant to school parents (like tax-free days in your state), and promote it with a back-to-school subject line that highlights how it’ll make shopping easier and more affordable for parents. This extra step will show parents that you care about them, and you’ll gain their appreciation and support before school even starts.
The most efficient way to schedule posts on social channels is to load a batch of them at one time. Use a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social and get everything scheduled for the week. What tool is best? There are pros and cons to all of them, and it’s easy to get mired in the analysis. But most of them have pretty good basic functionality, so pick one and get started. When you find that there are things you want to do but can’t, that’s the time to look around and compare.
It’s great to use photos from your schools and events as much as possible, but you’ll probably need to use other stock images, as well. There are many sites with royalty-free images; both Pixabay and Pexels are good options.
Once you have your image, you might want to add some text or design elements to it. There are many online tools and apps; here are a few to start with:
Bonus: We have you covered for back-to-school supply list graphics. You can download and use the banners and images we’ve created to let your families know their school supply lists are ready.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the constant pings of notifications coming in from various channels. If you’re using a tool to schedule your social posts, it probably has an easy way to see responses so you don’t have to get pinged every time someone responds. Another option is to set notifications to be delivered once a day rather than individually. Of course, if you have a sensitive post or something that needs close attention, you’ll want to change the notification settings for that post.
On the flip side, you want to take advantage of our notification-centric culture and push out important messages to parents so they get noticed. Your EdTech partners can probably help; many of them can send push notifications.
Pro tip: Recommend to parents that they sign up to be notified when your school supply lists are posted. It saves you fielding questions and returning phone calls—we’ll let them know for you!
With cluttered inboxes and busy social feeds, the ability to cut through the noise is more important than ever. And the bar is higher—we have so much information thrown at us daily that the dry and factual messages end up falling by the wayside. Even the algorithms are in on it! Facebook uses engagement (likes and comments) to decide how much attention your carefully crafted post will get, so it’s important to make sure it really sings.
Puns, silly images, and funny memes are all good ways to get attention. Of course, everyone has a different sense of humor, so you’ll want a good mix; you also want to stick to humor that’s G-rated and appropriate for everyone.
Bonus: Download and use our funny cartoons to let parents know back-to-school supply lists are ready.
Don’t just tell people what to do—inspire them. Back to school can be a trying time for parents and families, so post inspirational memes, quotations, and other content that convey messages of “we get it, and we’re with you!” It’s a thoughtful approach that encourages engagement.
Use popular and relevant themes and topics in your communications and posts. National days of recognition are a good source of themes—for example, “Dough-nut forget to mark your calendar for our back-to-school welcome event!” would be a fun message to post on National Doughnut Day (the first Friday in June).
Tap into other topical content—messages with an element of kindness, gratitude, local weather, popular shows, etc. often perform well.
Do you have back-to-school communication tips and tricks to share? Maybe a great Facebook post or winning Instagram story? Share it in the comments!