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New Era Surveying: Key Strategies for Effective Promotion

Surveys are only as successful as their response rates—making a strong promotion plan a critical part of your surveying strategy. 

That means paying attention to not only what you say but also how you say it

If you’ve developed a thoughtful comprehensive surveying strategy, the what part becomes easy. You’ll just want to ensure the key information makes it into each pre-survey communication, including what the survey is, who’s being asked to participate, when and how it will be administered, and why the survey is important. 

The how part can be a little trickier—especially in today’s climate. 

A multi-channel approach is still essential for reaching all stakeholder groups and building trust. But strategies that worked pre-pandemic may not be as effective as they once were—or, in some cases, they may not work at all. And if your school buildings are only partially open or temporarily closed, that can present additional challenges for effectively getting the word out. 

Below you’ll find 4 key strategies for promoting a survey or other community engagement effort during the pandemic, including practical ideas for how to do each.

1. Think outside the envelope.

The days of sending letters home in backpacks are gone. But letters are still an effective communication tool, provided you use the right vehicle. Here are a few ideas:

  • Send email letters to stakeholders
  • Post an open letter on your school and district websites or blogs
  • Submit a letter to the editor or op-ed to the local newspaper
  • Hand out letters to community leaders to get some face time, or consider an email

2. Give your message a voice.

Any communications your schools or district sends out are a key part of your brand—and, more importantly, a critical opportunity to build public trust. Bring them to life by putting a voice to them.

  • Develop short, engaging videos for your district website, social media channels, blogs, and more 
  • Call parents to remind them about your engagement project 
  • Create short (think 15-20 seconds) ad spot and share them online and on TV

If your school buildings are open, consider these additional strategies: 

  • Provide survey administration scripts to survey facilitators to read aloud before a student survey or post them on your district intranet to guide staff members on how to administer surveys
  • Use a morning announcement script to inform students about the survey
  • Play a short video or ad in the cafeteria during lunchtime or other prominent locations

3. Delve into the details

Whether you’re sending external communications or ensuring your internal staff is on the same page, the details matter. Give stakeholders a way to learn more about the survey and ensure consistent messaging with these approaches: 

  • Use an FAQ document internally to answer staff members’ questions and let your leaders know how they can help
  • Link to external FAQs at the end of other communications pieces to provide more information and preemptively answer stakeholders’ questions
  • Guide conversations, meetings, and presentations with talking points
  • Share talking points with community organizations and leaders who may help promote your district’s work
  • Distribute executive summaries and narrative summaries at leadership meetings or use them to guide conversations about completed projects

4. Use more images.

As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words—and they’re a great way to share a lot with a little. Here’s how:

  • Email any image that’s flyer size or smaller to staff, parents, or students
  • Mail a postcard to stakeholders 
  • Make an infographic come to life by posting it on district and school websites, sharing it on social media, and including it in newsletters or presentations

If your school buildings are open, you can also: 

  • Hang posters and flyers in your schools, offices, and other places where they can be easily seen by your community
  • Send flyers home with students 
  • Pass out postcards and business cards at school, district, and community events or for administrators to hand out when they’re meeting with parents and other stakeholders
  • Print infographics as posters to hang in your schools

Once you know what you’ll say and how you’ll say it, you can map out your communications timeline (which folds back up into your overall surveying strategy) to ensure everyone gets the right information at the right time. 

Want to learn more about our comprehensive approach to surveying your school community? Sign up for a free, no-obligation consultation.