Effective parental communication and engagement nowadays isn’t just about launching a new website, working up some pretty email templates or deploying a shiny new app. It’d be great if it was, wouldn’t it? In reality though, to really get the most out of parental engagement, you need to not just think about the what – you need to think about how you’re going to use technology, and why. What kind of communication is going to get the best response, the most engagement, inspire the most parents to attend your event? And how can you leverage the capabilities of the technology to improve this communication?
Here are a few ideas on how to effectively communicate with parents using technology.
Make it two way
A limitation of the majority of school communication at the moment is that a lot of it is one-way, or not truly two-way. SMS messaging for example, can be two-way, but as a lot of services use randomly generated numbers each time you broadcast a message, you or the parent are unable to see a message chain. Sending out a newsletter or adding an announcement to your website is also more of a broadcast approach than a conversational one. Using a tool like a dedicated communication app, you can use in-app messaging to start a two-way conversation with parents, where you and them can review the entire messaging history quickly and easily. It means that messages don’t get missed, and communication is generally more engaging and responsive.
Make it more interactive
Something which technology brings to the table in the communication arena. where paper-based just can’t compete, is interactivity. Technology (or at least, the right technology) gives you the opportunity to get instant feedback from parents who receive your messages. This can be very handy when it comes to things like permission slips, event invitations, and inviting feedback on school activities and policies. Using the app-based approach, you can attach or embed surveys and one-click response forms into messages. If you really want to go to town, you can also use app-based messaging to share multimedia, such as images and video, to make your communication more engaging generally.
One of the advantages of using technology to drive parental communication is that with the right tools, you can use automation to help you keep up engagement with less investment in time and resource. If you use a dedicated communication app, you may be able to set up auto-responses to certain types of messages from parents, or schedule a series of reminder messages on an event or activity to keep the receiver engaged. By employing this kind of strategy, you can improve the responsiveness and frequency of your communication while reducing the burden associated with administering it. All it takes is a bit of forward planning and set up at the start, and you can have a whole campaign of automated messages going out to parents, keeping a steady stream of regular communication.
The best way to monitor the success of parental engagement is to put in place some goals and measure performance against them. Whether that’s a percentage response rate, an increase in attendance of activities, or a reduction of calls to your school reception, a technology-based approach is a great way to do this easily. Dedicated apps often come bundled with handy reporting and monitoring functionality, enabling you to see the success of certain “campaigns” (put simply – messages) at a glance. How many parents did it reach? How many responded? Do you need to drive more people to the app? Do you need to make the messages more engaging? Harnessing technology to measure your communication can help you answer these questions and make the adjustments you need to take engagement to the next level.
Using technology to power your parental communication is a step towards better engagement, visibility and less administration. Don’t forget – it’s all about backing up the capabilities of this technology with the right strategy. If you’d like more advice on parental engagement strategy and how Weduc can help you deliver it, get in touch.