As we all know, in today’s fast-paced digital age, effective communication plays a pivotal role in the success of educational institutions. As school communications professionals, we serve as the bridge between the school and its stakeholders, including students, parents, staff, and the wider community. And when one part of that bridge, big or small, isn’t fully prepared to hold its weight…well everything can come crashing down. To ensure smooth and efficient communication, it is essential to have a comprehensive onboarding program in place for the professionals who form that bridge. So if you’re not fully convinced by that terrifying metaphor, keep reading!
Building a foundation of knowledge
We all know the feeling of starting a job and even though we made it past the interview process, we still are totally confused about how things work and why we are important. There are some existential thoughts that creep in about the purpose we serve among everyone else we work with and all the other institutions out there.
A thorough onboarding program provides school communications professionals with a solid foundation of knowledge about the institution and helps foster that initial sense of belonging and purpose. It familiarizes them with the school’s history, mission, values, culture, and organizational structure. This understanding helps them align their communication strategies and messages with the school’s overall objectives, ensuring consistency and clarity.
Understanding the stakeholders
The sea of names replying to an email thread is overwhelming to new hires, who only see these people as just names. School communications professionals interact with a diverse range of stakeholders, each with their own unique needs and expectations. An effective onboarding program helps these professionals gain insight into the different groups they will be communicating with, such as students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. Understanding the perspectives and concerns of these stakeholders enables effective tailoring of messages and communication channels to ensure maximum engagement and positive outcomes.
Mastering communication tools and channels
Modern communication is multifaceted, incorporating various tools and channels. A comprehensive onboarding program equips school communications professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate and utilize these tools effectively. This includes understanding social media platforms, email marketing software, content management systems, and other relevant technologies. By becoming proficient in these tools, professionals can optimize their communication strategies and reach their intended audience efficiently.
Crisis communication preparedness
In times of crisis, effective communication becomes even more critical. School communications professionals must be prepared to handle emergency situations, such as natural disasters, accidents, or sensitive incidents. An onboarding program that includes crisis communication training equips professionals with the skills to manage such situations. They learn how to disseminate accurate information, address concerns promptly, and maintain transparency, thereby minimizing panic and confusion within the school community.
Collaborating with internal and external stakeholders
Collaboration is key to successful school communication. Through a thorough onboarding program, communications professionals can learn about the different departments and personnel within the institution, enabling them to build strong working relationships. Moreover, the program can also facilitate connections with external stakeholders, such as media outlets, local businesses, and community organizations. By fostering these relationships, school communications professionals can leverage partnerships to enhance the school’s reputation and engage the wider community.
Continuous professional development
An onboarding program is not a one-time event… Wait, what?! Yes, you heard me. It should be viewed as an ongoing process that fosters continuous professional development. By providing opportunities for skill enhancement and learning, educational institutions demonstrate their commitment to supporting their communications professionals. This can include workshops, conferences, online courses, and mentorship programs, enabling professionals to stay updated with emerging trends and best practices in the field of school communication.
In an era where effective communication is crucial for educational institutions, a thorough onboarding program for school communications professionals is paramount. It establishes a solid foundation of knowledge, equips professionals with the necessary tools and skills, and prepares them to handle crisis situations.
Interested in learning how to create and run your own onboarding program for your school or district? Become a member of the School Comms Lab and you’ll get access to a special training, templates and an e-book to help support your efforts. Join today by clicking here!
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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.