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What does Public Relations have to do with school communication? Well, almost everything. Public Relations can be defined many ways, but is generally thought of as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their public. With 38% of schools still relying on paper-based solutions for their communication needs and very low open rates for emails, it is worth exploring other approaches to develop a strategic communication system that will benefit your school.

As a US-based School PR Specialist says:

‘Communication that is frequent, consistent, and meaningful says to your audience, “We care, and we’ll show that we care by keeping you informed and making sure you have all the information you need easily accessible.” This kind of message establishes a rapport of trust and respect with your audience.’

Communications plans can be waylaid, despite a school’s best intentions. Perhaps a school is time poor, as they are working so hard to educate students. Perhaps they don’t have the budget to keep up with all the bulk text messages, social channels and website updates. This can leave parents and families unsure of where to turn and can lead to information being missed entirely. In this situation, administrators can end up spending all their time fielding calls from parents who are contacting the office seeking accurate information.

The more parents know what is going on, the more eager they are to support the mission of the school. So, whether your school uses a fully integrated mobile communication app or a suite of products, it is important they are a good fit for the administrators, business managers and parents.

‘Such communication is vital because you can’t rely on students to accurately relay what’s happening at school—if they tell their parents anything about school at all. Some kids bring home news, others clam up. Anything you can do to explain to parents what children are learning will be appreciated. When good news happens, don’t wait to showcase it. As time goes by, the news becomes old news and, therefore, less relevant. You’ll get the most impact from parents and others if you publicise your good news early’.  Education World

Establishing good practice is also important if a situation arises where parents need to be contacted instantly. A parent using the School Stream mobile communication app noted that when Cyclone Debbie hit, she knew exactly where to go for information about any evacuations at her daughter’s school.

If you would like to see how your school ranks in parent communication, follow this link to take a short quiz. The quiz is based on the responses of hundreds of schools about their own school communication practices. There are 20 questions and the whole process takes about five minutes.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any success stories you’d like to share about school communication?