In this digital age, flooded with push notifications and seemingly never-ending newsfeeds, you could be forgiven for questioning if the humble school newsletter is nearing its sell-by date. However, as once-unstoppable social media platforms struggle with dwindling traffic, email has enjoyed a 77 per cent increase. But far from being a relic of the past, the school newsletter remains a critical tool to connect, inform and celebrate the school community – if done well.
Whether travelling home in a bookbag or popping up in an inbox, newsletters keep the entire school ecosystem in sync. Providing this regular, direct and reliable one-stop source of information can be a welcome respite amongst the pulls and tugs for readers’ attention within the online and physical world.
Highlighting newsletter communication as something that worked well during remote-learning, Ofsted has praised school newsletters’ enduring ability to engage pupils and parents.
That’s in theory – but what actually makes a good newsletter?
Consistency is key
Quite simply, a good newsletter is a newsletter that is read. Boosting readership and engagement is dependent on embedding newsletter communication within part of the core school routine. Readers should expect its arrival the same way as they expect the morning school bell or a Monday morning assembly. Maintain a regular publication schedule, be it weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or termly, to build a sense of anticipation and reliability.
The digital divide
There is no overlooking that lockdown restrictions launched digital transformation in schools into hyperdrive. Coupled with climate action commitment and stretched budgets, more and more schools are now opting for paper-less, with parent communication solely by email.
But what format produces the best newsletters: paper or email? In truth, it is not a matter of ‘either-or’, it’s a matter of what works best for your school – and sometimes that means offering both options.
Stop the press! Or… don’t?
Print newsletters have a tactile presence that can be impactful, particularly in an era of screen fatigue. Often displayed on fridges or noticeboards, they serve as physical reminders of upcoming events or notices. Moreover, in areas where digital access may be inconsistent, print remains a crucial means of ensuring equitable communication.
Conversely, digital newsletters can be delivered instantly, far and wide, with minimal environmental impact, greater scope for translation or screen-reader app integration, low cost and can be archived for easy access, building a living history of the school’s narrative. Hyperlinks, videos, and interactive content bring a digital newsletter to life in ways print cannot, catering to the multimedia engagement that many students and parents have grown accustomed to.
Breaking: Good news is good
Don’t underestimate the power of a good news story. Alongside term dates and afterschool club notices, the human element should be a core thread of your newsletter and weave together each component of the school community.
Pupils find joy in seeing their achievements in print or on-screen, feeling a sense of pride and encouragement. Parents learn insights into the school’s activities and what to expect from the experience of upcoming year groups. Teachers and staff utilise these platforms to celebrate successes, share information on upcoming events, and foster the school’s ethos.
Good school newsletters create a shared space for community triumphs, spotlighting everything from sporting victories to academic endeavours, from fundraising initiatives to alumni accomplishments. They offer a snapshot of the daily life of the school, encapsulating moments that might otherwise slip through the cracks of busy school days.
The book cover does matter – at least a little bit.
The idiom a picture speaks a thousand words has never been more true than in this new attention-economy with the average social media video being watched for just three seconds. The power of images holds true for school newsletters. High-quality images of school events, student artwork, or even infographics can break up text and add a dynamic element to the newsletter. A clean, professional design that reflects the school’s branding creates a visually appealing and recognisable publication.
Amongst the buzz of the school day, it can feel difficult to find the time to craft school communications and PR. Be it developing a bespoke school communications plan, generating content or creating a new brand identity, we at PLMR are here to advance your communications objectives so you can focus on the most important job of all: educating.
To learn more about the support we can provide you and your school, get in touch with us today.