Tell a superintendent or school system administrator that parent communication needs to be a top priority for their district and no one is likely to walk away from that conversation calling you a genius.
Captain Obvious maybe.
Of course school leaders know it’s important to keep parents in the loop. What they sometimes struggle to realize is that parents are but a small portion of their overall constituency.
Writer and marketing professor Dorie Clark confronts this disconnect in a recent article for Forbes. Where school leaders once focused solely on parents, Clark says changing demographics have forced administrators to reach out to and connect with other members of the community, including taxpayer households that do not have school-aged children.
To reach these people, Clark asserts that schools are increasingly investing in the kinds of modern marketing tactics favored by private-sector companies.
The school-choice movement has accelerated this trend, to be sure. But before you go taking out ads to compete with the charter school across the street, it’s important to understand what a successful marketing campaign looks like in the context of K12 education.
Outbound vs. Inbound
School systems have long excelled at the art of outbound communication. From newsletters to traditional advertisements to text-based notifications and emails schools have any number of ways to get their message out. What’s more difficult is finding a way to listen—in an authentic way—to the comments and feedback coming in.
This requires giving parents, community members and other stakeholders a way to connect with district decision makers on important issues. More important, it means leveraging that feedback in the form of data to drive targeted improvements in your school system.
It’s not easy. But school administrators who learn to effectively balance the need for outbound communication with the strategic benefits of inbound communication will find that they connect with more stakeholders in far more productive ways.
Want to ramp up inbound communication at your school or district? That process starts with the ability to have a more effective conversation.