School newsletters are great way to keep your community informed and connected with what’s happening in your school.
However they can take a huge amount of time and effort (and sometimes frustration) to get right. Searching for newsletter article ideas, pleading for contributions, editing and formatting. It’s a big task. And sometimes a thankless one. Is anyone reading it? Is it worth the effort? You might find yourself asking.
Well you’re not alone.
But don’t despair. You can turn your newsletter into a powerful method of communication with a bit of planning, the right tools and some best practices.
To celebrate the launch of of SkoolBag eNewsletter, our brand-new feature, we’ve collated some top tips and essential resources to make your school newsletter stand out and get noticed.
1: Start with why
With any communication strategy, you should always ask yourself 2 questions.
Firstly, why are we doing this?
You probably know that you should have a school newsletter. But you might not have stopped to think, why? What’s the benefit for my school and what are we hoping to achieve?
You might be trying to drive participation in extracurricular activities? 0r foster a greater sense of community?
Whatever the motivation, it will help to have a clear sense of what your trying to achieve before you dive into creating content.
Second, what does my audience want?
A successful newsletter is all about focusing on content that your community is keen to engage with. So understanding your audience is critical.
Recent reports have shown that there are over 270 billion(!) emails sent every day across the globe.
That equates to over 72 emails per email user per day! So remember that your audience has a choice of what to read and there is a LOT of competition for attention.
The next time you get the opportunity, try asking a parent what they enjoy most in your current newsletter or what they want to see more of.
Chances are that that will be a good place to start.
2. Get organised
Always scrambling to get your newsletter finalised?
Content Calendars are a great way to plan ahead and ensure you don’t get caught short on a deadline.
If you have multiple staff members contributing content ideas and articles, consider a collaborative planning tool that enables multiple contributions.
At SkoolBag, we use Trello, a free online tool, to collate content ideas and plan our newsletter content calendar, but a spreadsheet can work too. Here’s an example of a Trello content calendar to get inspired.
Don’t worry if this all seems a bit much. As long as you have somewhere to see what content is due, and when, you’re off to a good start!
3. Make it (mobile) accessible
This means that PDFs simply won’t cut it anymore.
Whilst attaching a newsletter PDF to an email might be what most schools are used to, they’re unlikely to attract to a great readership from today’s mobile-first parent.
Web-based or “e” newsletter platforms (like SkoolBag eNewsletter!) build newsletters that automatically respond to the device on which they’re viewed, changing screen size and ensuring that viewers don’t have to zoom into content.
4. Try a different Subject Line
The first step to getting your community to engage with your newsletter, is to get them to open the email!
The subject line is key to this.
If your newsletter subject lines are less than exciting (Term 3 Week 7 Newsletter sound familiar?), then why not mix things up?
Keep the first half of your newsletter consistent, then use the second half, separated by a colon, to hint at some of the content.
Here’s an example:
Mountain Springs News: Sports Carnival Photos, Ski Trip Details and more
Sound a bit more enticing?
Note that the ideal subject line length is between 61 and 70 characters (which is possibly more than your currently sending).
5. Use quality imagery
“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” Walt Disney.
As Walt knew all too well, quality imagery is a great way to ensure you get message across.
As well as including galleries of imagery from community events, it’s a great idea to include images with key content pieces to break up text.
6. Cater to diverse audiences
One of the best ways to expand the audience of your newsletter is to speak their language, literally!
SkoolBag eNewsletter has an in-built Translation feature, powered by Google Translate. Meaning your community can select whichever language they prefer to read your newsletter, without you needing to so much as open a dictionary.
7. Make it go further
“Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!” P.T. Barnum.
After all the hard work you’ve put into your newsletter, it’s important to maximise your views by making it available across all your school’s channels, including your app and social media.
This is tricky with a PDF, but easy when your newsletter is web-based.
8. Check your results!
Start implementing some of these tips and chances are, your community will become an lot more engaged in your school newsletter.
But to understand what’s actually working for you school, you’ll need a way of tracking how many views your newsletters are getting.
Keep a track of how many views each newsletter receives (SkoolBag eNewsletter shows you views for each newsletter!) and make a note of what works best.
Now over to you
We look forward hearing how you get on!
Or if you’re already a SkoolBag customer, contact support to request access to this feature.