The Three C’s of Parent Communication
Vol. 16 No. 3
Organization is essential for effective communication with your parent body. It’s possible that your parents receive daily communications from the school on everything from emailed classroom updates and event announcements to posts on social media to mailed letters and postcards. This amount of information can quickly become overwhelming.
It’s up to the Marketing and Communications Department to set the tone for your school’s parent communication strategy. We recommend using the three C’s to guide your efforts.
- Charge a specific person with overseeing parent communications.
- Consolidate information so each communication is seen as important.
- Coordinate mailings by establishing a communications calendar.
Select one person to oversee all general parent communications from the school, including its different offices, individuals, and organizations. This is an obvious task for someone with a global view of the school, such as the Director of Marketing Communications or a staff member in the Admission or Development Office. Do not delegate this role to a volunteer. Only a school employee can provide the consistent and careful oversight the job requires.
This person is a gatekeeper, obtaining information from various school groups and ensuring it is disseminated in a cohesive and effective manner. The person isn’t necessarily responsible for creating materials or content to be distributed. If parents have questions, the gatekeeper can help them get in touch with the right person at the school.
Some groups may protest losing their ability to directly contact parents on a frequent basis. But show them how often parents are contacted by the school—it can help them see that a cohesive strategy is necessary.
Establish a communication cadence. It can be once a week, biweekly, or monthly—whatever makes sense for your school. Send an e-letter on that predetermined day and also include the same information on a page of your website.
When it comes to format, put the same type of information in the same place in each letter. For example, always place calls-to-action (things parents need to do) on the top right-hand side and reminders (upcoming events and notices) on the bottom right-hand side.
Set a deadline with contributors on when content will be accepted. For example, the last day to submit content for a Monday morning e-letter may be Thursday afternoon. You’ll undoubtedly come up against people who miss deadlines and insist that their information be included. Unless it’s a true emergency, hold your ground. Eventually everyone will learn to respect the due dates.
Coordinate Your Strategy
With your cadence set, start to think about the larger picture. How will you coordinate the information you send throughout the year? Set up a communication calendar that includes all major items to be sent to parents. This strategy helps guarantee that you:
- have a clear overview of what is being communicated to parents and when it’s going out;
- avoid conflict. For example, you don’t want to send an annual fund solicitation and a tuition notice on the same week;
- space out information appropriately; and
- ensure information arrives in a timely fashion.
You’ll want to account for events that occur every year, such as enrollment contracts, report cards, and annual event notices. Then you’re free to decide the optimal time for special mailings, such as fundraising efforts. An added benefit of producing a coordinated communication calendar is that you have something tangible to share with faculty and staff that illustrates the “big picture” view of parent communication.
Following the three C’s of parent communication can help streamline your strategy and ensure parents get the information they need from your team.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 13 No. 8 4 Ways to Reach Your Parents
The Source for School Heads Vol. 14 No. 9 The Pros and Cons of Mass Alert Communication Systems for Schools
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 9 Marketing Communications and the Parent
I&P Vol. 31 No. 6 Your Parent Education Plan: Predictability and Support