Parent Perspective: Communicating with the Audience in Mind.

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Working in school communications for the better part of nine years has given me a strong sense of how to guide schools and districts in informing and connecting with their stakeholders. I have helped guide communications planning, strategy and implementation, using a data-driven approach to reach target audiences, but I’ve only recently become a member of one of those target audiences for a school district. 

In fall of 2021, I became a parent that a school and school district was actively communicating with. My daughter started kindergarten at a very large metropolitan school district and I found out pretty quickly which methods worked for me and which information I needed most. 

With my school communicator “lens” Here are the important questions that were on my mind throughout the school year. of what became most important for me to know as a parent:

 

  • Is my kid safe? –  Right away, I wanted to know from the school what the situation was, what was being done, and what the plans were for everything connected with  student safety. Communicating about emergency preparedness, procedures for entering the building and COVID plans were essential throughout the school year. 
  • Are you consistent?  Every Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. the phone would ring with a recorded message from the school principal with a 3-5 minute update for the week. Minutes later the email newsletter was sent both via email and the parent/school communication app. Every week, we got an overview of what was going on.
  • How is my kid doing?  – This is one where I felt a little disconnected. I saw the report cards and went to conferences, but mostly had to rely on my daughter for this information. She did a great job in case you were wondering!
  • What’s happening in the district? Other than a brief time in preschool just before the pandemic, this was my daughter’s first experience with school, which means it was also our first time not knowing what our kid was doing while at school. Without any kind of social media presence from the school or teacher, we didn’t see any updates throughout the day, and we missed them. 
  • How can I help? Parents want to be part of the process in educating their children if at all possible. COVID precautions kept parents from entering the building for most of the year, but eventually some options became available to volunteer, attend school events and support activities. Some events fared better than others and it was largely due to timely information being shared.

     

My daughter learned a lot in kindergarten, and I learned plenty as well. I saw the different communications channels of email newsletters, website updates, district social media posts, parent phone calls and communications apps in action week after week. Some messages were received loud and clear, while there were other things I felt we were missing out on. In the end, it was a great school year and we are all excited for a break before the next one!

Kyle Noyed is a storyteller and strategist focused on effective and consistent messaging that earns community trust and drives the organization’s mission. With more than eight years in public relations and communications consulting, Kyle has seen a variety of situations and challenges, and helped school districts and other organizations tell their stories.