The end of the year for most people is marked by colder weather, holiday celebrations, darker evenings, and reflections on the past 12 months. The end of the school year is no different…okay, maybe a lot different since it’s summer, but one major thing is the same— it’s a time to evaluate the past year and to make improvements for a new beginning.
Though kids aren’t in school, that doesn’t mean it isn’t the time to continue to communicate over the summer and to prepare communications for the coming school year. Luckily, the empty classrooms also mean that your work putting out day-to-day fires is a bit lighter which leaves the perfect space for a good old audit. A proper evaluation of your school’s communications, marketing, and enrollment practices, fosters awareness of your school’s strengths and weaknesses and puts you in a position to strategize goals, tactics, and opportunities for the future.
What is the scope of our current communication channels?
Before you can even begin to carry on with an audit or answer any of the following questions, you must first determine all the places you communicate with your audiences, including staff, parents, students, prospective families, the media, and community members. Layout out each and every place—print or digital. At the end of the day, all of these places contribute to the overall effectiveness of your school’s marketing and communications. Even if that one little print flier seems small and distant now, you shouldn’t exclude it.
How is our current communication perceived?
This is where parent and staff surveys really play a valuable role. Sometimes it’s hard to assess your own job when you are the one seeing the communications through. So where better to know how you’re doing than your own audiences? Though you may feel your communication efforts are consistent, trusted, and appreciated this may not actually align with how it is perceived on the other end. Parents and staff members may feel communication is out of date, inconsistent, reactive, or untimely. Feedback from respondents can let you know how things appear.
Is our internal communication prioritized?
Along those same lines, when making an impression on new friends, you may put more effort into your image and actions. Then you may go home to your family and let all the effort, manners and greetings go. Similarly, when focusing so much on external communication and pleasing students and families, it can be easy to forget about prioritizing internal communication with those who are already an integral part of your school. However, this is exactly why internal communication matters. Without good communication on the inside, you don’t have a good culture.
Is our communication consistent and inclusive across different groups and campuses?
Particularly for districts or schools which are broken up more, it may be true that some administrators and teachers are doing a better job of communicating than others. Though one portion of your audience at one school may feel communication is great, another may not feel the same. Make sure to evaluate and compare schools, groups, and channels.
Are our websites up-to-date and easy to navigate?
Websites are the hub of all information for your school or district, so it’s essential to check in to make sure the design and layout of your website is keeping up with its content and audiences.
Are our branding and key messages clear and relevant?
As society evolves, so do branding and messaging. It’s okay to shift gears and alter your district or school’s guiding principles and values.
How effective are our methods for evaluating and analyzing engagement data?
Determine the methods and resources you use to track the success of each communication effort. Look to see if there are any areas for improvement with your processes.
What are the roles of the communications staff and how are they performing?
Marketing and communications is a constantly shifting field and, as you all know, so is the buzz around school communities. To keep up with roles that shape-shift with the communication each new day brings, it’s important that your comms office is a tight-running ship at the ready. Whether the office is just you, or it’s a hive of over 15, figure out if this is a team that has and can keep up. Do you need more hands on deck? Do you need to adjust some job duties? Is leadership effective?
So long, 2022-2023!
As most of you probably know, there are a thousand more questions we could be asking as we evaluate our work over the past year. But as some results may show, too lengthy of messaging is not the most effective, so I’m not going to stop this list here. A summer audit may seem overwhelming when all you want to do is set down your screen and soak in the sun. Hopefully, our top eight questions can serve as a starting point for you and your team.
For School Comms Lab members, check your portal for our upcoming monthly trainings, member calls and new templates that will help you get through your summer comms and marketing audits.
Also, looking for other ways to work on your school’s marketing over the summer? Check out some opportunities here!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Brand Journalist Gabby Esposito is a student at the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in journalism and philosophy. As a Brand Journalist with School Comms Lab and Holdsworth Communications, she works to tell the stories of brands and businesses, including schools.
Her articles are an organic form of PR, branding, and marketing. She is passionate about sharing the stories of others—big or small—and learning about lives and ideas that are different from her own. She has written for publications including Her Campus and UConn.
Gabby is from Connecticut and enjoys spending time with her family, dog, and two cats. Aside from writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching Tik Toks, and listening to podcasts.