[Updated on 22nd July new resources & ideas by Adam Mathew]
School newsletters are a great way to keep your community informed and connected with what’s happening in your school.
Obviously, 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. Are students reading it? How many parents read their child’s school newsletter anyway? Is it worth the effort? You might find yourself asking.
Many folks are in the same boat. You’re not alone.
If you’re the chosen editor-in-chief of your school, you might find yourself in a bit of a stress cycle. For starters, it can be difficult to learn how to make a good newsletter for school. There are also impending deadlines, frantic searches for new topics and chasing contributors. Even the veterans among us feel that imposter syndrome creeping in, too. It’s tough to maintain the right article tone, perfect our grammar and settle on a final layout that pops just right.
Learning how to write a newsletter article for school and being a one-person publishing house isn’t a pushover. We could all do with some guidance - and this is where we come in!
Enclosed in this article are some expert tips, tricks, ideas and resources – a complete guide on how to make an exceptional enewsletter. We’re going to help you to write better articles for school and show you ways to see how many parents are reading their child’s school newsletter. Together we’re going to delight and expand the fanbase of your faithful readership.
1. Set your goals
Without a doubt your first concern needs to be reader benefit. Fail to engage an audience, and you’ll just be firing info off into the ether. Doggedly persist at this and you’ll start to lose eyeballs en masse.
Any successful communications strategy needs a roadmap. What does your audience need? And what do you want to get across to them?
Scan this parent newsletter example and you’ll see that there needs to be an understanding: your average reader is time-poor. Most of your readers will have short attention spans and an overwhelming amount of other entertainment options. For example:
A recent report has shown that there are over 270 billion(!) emails sent every day across the globe.
Checking to see if you’re balancing reader benefit with school benefit is paramount. Your time is precious and spending it in the production phase needs to be justified to the higher-ups with a quantifiable return.
Every once in a while take some time out to list what you hope to achieve with your newsletter. Informing parents of their child’s activities is the obvious one to tick off. But perhaps you also seek to better extol the successes of your school in regards to sporting achievements and other feats of academia. Or are looking to build community. Maybe you’d like to boost numbers when it comes to fundraising, volunteering or extracurricular activities.
Really nailing down your intent is well worth the time investment. Once you have a basic skeleton in place, all you need do is flesh it out with content.
2. Tips for content inspiration
In the long run, the weekly task of filling out a newsletter can quickly lose its appeal if you rehash the same ideas. Mixing things up is imperative, but how does one do it?
For starters, I’d look at integrating some of these 50+ newsletter ideas and examples. I’ve handily divided them up into chunks of content that can be seen as a student benefit or a benefit to the school.
I’ve also included the best means to break things up with what I like to call media intermissions. Even your most dedicated readers will become sick of a weekly onslaught of nothing but wall-to-wall of text.
3. Easy to use tools to supercharge your content
“Don’t work harder, work smarter”
Coming up with great content to write takes time. Getting around to producing it can often take even more time than it should (such is the power of procrastination). In this section, I’m going to reveal some powerful tools that have made my life easier in the world of content production.
Unless you want to break out the crayons or you’re a dab hand at MS Paint, you’re going to need to find a large pool of images to draw from. I’ve written previously on the site about how to navigate the minefield that is correctly discerning one’s copyright permissions. I also identify freebie websites that offer the most painless browsing experiences out there.
Next up is the matter of typos and grammar. The simple fact is we’re not all the modern reincarnation of William Wordsworth. Typos will be made. Grammar rules shall be forgotten (or misremembered). And it must be said: writing a newsletter that you know is going to be consumed by professional mistake spotters (read: English teachers) is all sorts of daunting.
The good news is that the SkoolBag eNewsletter system comes with a basic form of spell-checking. You can also install writing aid browser extensions like Grammarly. They serve as a secondary layer of spell-checking, highlight grammar mistakes and even teach you why they were crimes against punctuation.
Last but not least, turn the spoken word around you into words on a page. Take a notetaker or use the recording function on your smartphone at your next PTA meeting/school speech night/or similar. Using the audio file you can cherry-picking quotes for part (or all) of an article. Transcribing is a cinch with a website like Otranscribe.
4. Stay on top of things
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!
5. Make the switch to digital
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 the content.
If you’re nervous about stepping into the wider world of eNewsletters, have no fear. I’ve whipped up a step-by-step guide that makes the entire process child’s play. With this highly visual guide, you can go from rookie to pro in all of thirty minutes!
6. Speak your audience’s language
Here’s one thing to consider: how diverse is your audience and are you catering to everybody in it?
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. Share your work effectively
“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. Reap the benefits of data feedback
Start implementing some of these tips and chances are, your community will become a lot more engaged in your school newsletter.
But to understand what’s actually working for your 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 to hearing how you get on!
Keen to give SkoolBag eNewsletter a try?
Right now we’re giving access to this feature for FREE (no catch!).
Or if you’re already a SkoolBag customer, contact support to request access to this feature.