Summer is here, and while school isn’t in session, your job as a K12 communicator doesn’t get to take a vacation. 

You’re probably spending this time reflecting on the previous year and getting things ready for the 2021-2022 school year. After all, it will be here before you know it, and it never hurts to be as prepared as possible. 

We put together this handy guide to ensure you’re getting the most out of these last weeks of summer before school ramps up again. So read on for some specific ways you can lay the foundation for a great year ahead.

1. Plan and Organize

Summer is a great time for the organization that’s tough to manage when school’s in session. Here are some things you can do as the school’s communicator to set yourself up for success in the fall.

Utilize Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a no-brainer for K12 communicators. It ensures you facilitate regular communication and provide need-to-know information to the right people, freeing up your time for higher-level tasks. By automating standard emails, like welcome emails for new students and staff or monthly newsletters, you can get ahead of your inbox and stay on top of communication.  

When you automate routine communication, you’re making sure that the job gets done without delays, and you aren’t bogging down your to-do list in the process. Your time management becomes more efficient, and you become more productive; it’s a win-win! Plus, once the emails start going out, you can track engagement and open rates to see how your communications are landing with your audience, as these tools are built right into your automation tech!

Clean Up Your Lists

Another great feature that’s built into your marketing automation is email contact list management

Email bounces and inactive accounts can affect your email deliverability and drag down the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Email is an effective mode of communication. It gives you a direct line to your audience, so it’s important that you maximize your reach as much as possible. Start by cleaning up and organizing your email list so that your actual and intended audiences are as close as possible.

When segmenting your lists, think about who will need to hear what, and create groups accordingly. For example, faculty emails will be vastly different from parent newsletters. Look at all the emails you sent over the last year to gauge how to best organize your recipient groups.  

Conduct Surveys

Feedback is the backbone of an effective communication plan. Send out short surveys to parents, students, and faculty to understand how effective your communication plans are and if they have any specific needs that aren’t being met. Analyze this data and use the insights you glean to inform your plan for the coming year.

The additional benefit of asking for feedback is that it gives parents a chance to feel heard. And when they feel heard, they’ll pay more attention to the communication you send them and participate in school events and activities. 

Identify Policies and Important Content 

The world has changed dramatically over the last year, and so have the needs of parents and students everywhere. When creating your content and communication plans, think about how you can make them relevant to the current context. 

Does your school have a new vaccine policy? Are there rules regarding masks or social distancing? Consistent education is key to making sure any recent developments and back-to-school protocols are integrated and made aware to those they’ll affect. 

When formulating a content plan, make sure that your communications across various channels work together to send one message. For example, your social media posts, emails, and intranet announcements all need to work simultaneously to deliver a unified message. 

Formulate processes and templates over the summer. This will make sure that during the hectic school year, you will be better prepared to manage the chaos without letting it affect your content.

2. Engage

The summer break isn’t a reason to shut down communication channels with parents. Continue to send out emails (as long as they’re purposeful) and post consistently on social media. Just because students are away doesn’t mean school should disappear from their radar. Use this time to keep parents engaged with informative and useful content.

Informative content could include local summer activities, camps, and resources. Mix it up with some light-hearted reading, like interesting facts about the faculty, student achievements from the previous school year, book recommendations, or fun quizzes. The summer is a great way to show the human side of your school and build a relationship with parents, making them more receptive to your future communication. 

3. Upskill

As a school communicator, it’s likely you wear many hats: digital marketer, copywriter, internal communicator, and maybe even designer. Prioritize self-growth and development during the quieter summer months by reading into digital and technological developments, marketing automation, email campaign strategy, and more.

Webinars are a great way to stay abreast of industry trends. They’re super convenient, as they offer the ability to learn and share knowledge across borders, from the comfort of your home or office. And a quick Google or LinkedIn search will help you find relevant virtual events.

The evolution of school communication has created new relationships between schools and parents, and as a K12 communicator, you’re at the forefront of this incredible shift. By using the summer months well, you can make sure the next school year offers exciting opportunities for collaboration and growth within and between schools, faculty, parents, and students.