School communications can be time consuming and difficult to get right. If your school or trust is struggling financially, it may be tempting to cut down your communications output to a minimum, only communicating periodically or when it is absolutely necessary.
While it’s important to consider the value of the messages your school is broadcasting, there are many unforeseen risks to neglecting school communications. In this article we’ve outlined the problems this course of action creates.
Missing Out on Reputation-Building Stories
One of the primary goals of school communications is to further build the school’s reputation in the local community. Schools with better local reputations have higher admission numbers and an easier time recruiting quality staff.
While some events, such as positive Ofsted inspections, will naturally improve your school’s reputation, there are many more opportunities to do so that can only be grasped through communications work.
Teachers do everything they can to help their pupils achieve to their maximum potential. The extra effort that teachers put in often translates to good news stories of interest to the school community. By building up a base of good news stories, you not only improve the perception of your school, but also create a cushion that softens the blow of bad news. Consequently, by neglecting school communications, your school is left unprotected.
Developing a Relationship with The Press
Poor relationships with the press can be devastating to the public opinion of your school. However, with a little cooperation, local papers can be turned into a tool of significant benefit.
Journalists need content. This means that they are open to receiving stories from local schools. By providing journalists with a supply of high-quality press releases, you can both ensure that there is plenty of positive local coverage of your school, and also make them more inclined to present your school more positively when it comes to more ambiguous, or negative, news.
Inversely, if your school only interacts with the press in response to negative stories or crises, its presence in local news outlets will be correspondingly negative.
Keeping Parents on Board
Handled well, parents and carers can be a great asset. Handled poorly, they can create serious headaches for your school. A key part of getting them on board is communication.
While most won’t want to be bombarded with content, and some will never fully engage, most parents and carers will respond very positively to updates on what’s happening in their children’s school. Similarly, they’ll be easily annoyed if they feel they’re not listened to or aren’t given information they deem important.
Therefore, by neglecting school communications, you significantly increase the risk of creating a hostile parent community; an outcome that can create direct problems for your staff, but which also has a significant negative impact on your school’s reputation.
Producing and delivering good communications requires experience. At Eduprise, our ability to consistently create positive outcomes for our clients has been built over several years of working in education communications.
By neglecting school communications, you risk leaving yourself unprepared for a crisis. Earlier this year, the coronavirus pandemic created a demand for school communications unlike any event that preceded it. The Eduprise team helped a trust of more than 30 schools manage their communications to the families of more than 10,000 children. The experience and infrastructure we had built during more than two years of working with the trust allowed us to help them emerge from the crisis with an improved reputation.
Disregarding school communications leaves your school ill-prepared for crises, risks developing ill-will among the parent community, increases the chances of a poor relationship with the local press, and damages its reputation in the long term.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help your school make a success of its communications, contact us today.