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School Communication Plan: How to Build An Effective Strategy

“There is no greater tool than having a thoughtful and mission-aligned communication plan for your district.” – Lodi Unified School District Public Information Officer Chelsea Vongehr

A communications strategic plan serves as a roadmap for your district’s communication efforts – it can be your go-to guide to help ensure that you are reaching all stakeholders in the ways that work best for them and building engagement.

Where should you start when creating your district’s plan? We’ve walked through three steps to ensure you have a strong strategic plan.

Step 1: Identify your audience and determine your goals

Forming a communications strategic plan first involves considering who your stakeholders are, what channels you should use to communicate with them, and what your communication goals are.

Your communications plan should be aligned with what stakeholders shared in the survey, as well as the district’s overarching mission, vision, and goals.

First, get organized by listing out the different stakeholders that you’ll be communicating with (i.e. students, staff, community members, etc.).

Next, consider the best way to communicate with each group and what is most important to each of them in terms of communication. Remember that what works best for one stakeholder might not be the preferred communication method for another group – stakeholders are more likely to be engaged with communications if you reach them in their preferred method!

One way to determine the best communication methods for each group is by surveying your community. For example, Lodi Unified School District used one simple question to survey stakeholders – “How do you feel about Lodi Unified School District’s communication?”

You can also include more questions like:

  • What information do you wish you had more of?
  • What information do you wish you had less of?
  • What is a recent example where internal communications worked really well?
  • What is a recent example where internal communications failed?
  • What other suggestions do you have about improving our communication strategy going forward?

With ParentSquare, your survey invitations can be shared via email, text, app notification and voice calls with families, staff and even students with StudentSquare. Data collected from these communications can be tracked and analyzed to see who received it, when they received it and if it was opened. Everything you need to make sure you’re hitting your target audience is kept in one convenient place.

The results of your audit can then be used as a starting point for refining your communication goals and creating your plan. Your communications plan should be aligned with what stakeholders shared in the survey, as well as the district’s overarching mission, vision, and goals.

Step 2: Develop your tactical communications plan

Now that you know who you’re reaching, how to reach them, and what is most important to each stakeholder, it’s time to create tangible activities and steps.

Here are five tips:

  1. Decide what communications you want to send and how frequently. Create a schedule of communications so you can ensure that you’re not over communicating. Be sure to consider regular communications, like monthly newsletters and community mailers, as well as annual items, such as back to school information.
  2. Determine who is responsible for each piece. Assign a lead from your team to each aspect of the communications plan to ensure that nothing gets missed.
  3. Ensure each department is trained. In addition, every member of your team should be trained to communicate with the appropriate stakeholders and know which channels to use.
  4. Get direction from leadership to refine and finalize your strategies. Share your goals and draft plans with your leadership team – they can provide valuable feedback and help refine your plan.
  5. Be consistent across the school or district. By being consistent, you can gain trust and loyalty with stakeholders.

Step 3: Sharing your plan

Now that you have your plan, it’s important that everyone is aware of it and will be ready to follow it. Lodi Unified School District created a public facing document to make sure all stakeholders could be involved in the plan – including leadership, school board members, staff, families, and the community.

Consider including classroom stories and photos to make the document visually appealing and remind them that your team is there to support student success.

Once this document is ready, share it with your leadership team to review and refine. After that, you’re ready to present to the board and share with the public!

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