A picture is worth a thousand words: it’s a circa 1911 cliché that was as true then as it is today. Actually, it’s probably even more relevant in modern society.
Without alluring visuals, some folks won’t read more than a few sentences of your average school newsletter, thereby diminishing its power to build inclusive communities.
That said, and while some school apps have default posts designed to be pleasing to the eye (possibly with a lovely warm “placeholder” gradient,) there can always be too much of a good thing. Not to throw another cliché your way, and dive farther back in time to 1785, but variety is indeed the spice of life.
“79 percent of users always scan any new page they come across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.” (Jakob Nielsen)
Today we’re going to give you some tips on beautifying your school newsletters like never before. Scroll on and we’ll offer you a number of handy resources, tips on which imagery to use, and we’ll even outline the minefields that are photographer attribution and copyright infringement.
Most of all, and once again, it’s about getting more people reading your school newsletter.
TIP #1: The Copyrights and wrongs of image use
So you’ve spotted a picture online that would be an excellent fit for your content. Great! But it can be difficult to know whether you’re allowed to use it. To know for sure, you really need to be across the following terms: copyright, fair use, creative commons and public domain.
Alternatively, if you’re not up for a long Wikipedia trawl on those bits of legalese, we’ve found this easy-to-grasp flowchart by designer Curtis Newbold to be of great help. Still unsure? Best use the general rule of thumb that is “ask permission first and don’t use any image if in doubt”.
TIP #2: The freedom of free images
Honestly, your safest way to go is with one of the many handy websites that offer libraries of 100% royalty free download-and-use images. We’ve scouted a number of these sites in our time and have come up with a top three list worth checking out.
Pexels should be your first stop for stock photos that are fine for commercial use and require no attribution of any kind. If you can’t find anything in their extensive libraries, we also recommend you dive through the 42,000 images on offer at Pixabay or StockSnap.
TIP #3: Image context is king
We know how it can be sometimes. You’ll be trawling through one of the aforementioned image sites when all of a sudden you’ll land on an artfully photographed person or place. You’re smitten. It’s so pretty it demands to be used.
Unfortunately, personal tastes have to take a back seat when deciding which “1000 words” you’re going to put forth. Prettiness needs to reined in by more pertinent considerations:
- Does this image sell the core purpose of your article/content at a glance?
- Are all subjects depicted relevant to your audience, given the cultural/gender/religious make up of the school?
- If the image is intended to be light-hearted, does it strike a balance of amusement, appropriateness and professionalism?
- Should you try something new or abstract? Could this image be too similar to previous posts, thereby creating user fatigue?
TIP #4: Homegrown photographers and SkoolBag’s image capture
That’s right, there’s no need to hire a professional when all you need is the SkoolBag app and the inbuilt camera functionality of your phone. With one shutter click (and the requisite permission) you can easily personalise latest app update with a well-taken picture of the school grounds or teachers and students hard at their daily learning.
Alternatively, this could be an opportunity to encourage some of your especially artistic students to become involved in the newsletter construction process. Writing content can be tricky for them; taking and submitting photos for inclusion is child’s play (literally). Seeing a “photo credit:” subtitle can be a huge thrill for any budding future photojournalist!
TIP #5: Photos aren’t for everyone, and that’s no hassle!
As we all know, parents are to be offered the choice on whether or not their beloved children are to be photographed and included in supplementary school material. The good news about SkoolBag app can make this thorny process easier for all involved via the set up of permission forms. With forms likes and a few simple app taps, parents can easily opt out of school imagery. No fuss, no muss.
Your turn now
Now that you’re armed with info, resource libraries and images aplenty, is it time to take your school newsletter to the next level?
Hungry for more tips? Check out 8 Simple Ideas for Getting More out of your School Newsletter.