Transparency = Good PR
5 web communication tips
Your website is a valuable public relations tool. Whether it is a bond issue, academic ranking or budget proposal, transparent information sharing builds trust with stakeholders, and increases the likelihood that your school will be the first choice for accurate information.
When it comes to using taxpayers' money, community support can truly make or break an initiative. Since 78%* of adults use the Internet, you have a huge public relations opportunity to reach your target audience with one dynamic tool - your website. However, that tool will fall short if it lacks transparent, up-to-date information.
According to a 2011 survey by NSPRA**, the top requested school district information is:
|Top Requested District Information||Parents||Non-Parents|
|Rationale for decisions made by school leaders||59%||65%|
|Curriculum descriptions and program options||62||57|
|School district academic comparison to other districts||53||56|
|Budget/tax/finance election information and funding updates||43||58|
|Safety-related incidents and precautions on school grounds||43||31|
|School closings and other time-sensitive information||43||30|
|School calendars of events||38||32|
|Opportunities for volunteerism||22||34|
|School building construction/renovation updates||14||21|
|Awards and recognitions||17||17|
|Student enrollment information||13||14|
The last thing you want is a stakeholder looking for this information from other sources. Control rumors and innuendo by having a proactive communication strategy. If your website enables you to easily post content, you can stay in the forefront of issues and manage your messaging.
5 website communication tips for keeping the public informed
1. Provide the means for two-way communication between stakeholders and school leaders. Tools like article feedback, non-scientific polls, and comprehensive surveys encourage interactivity and bring your readers back. By allowing interactivity, you send a message that your followers matter and their voice will be heard. For added control, employ a system that provides moderated feedback so that you can preview a comment before it is posted live.
2. Display your transparency by giving the public access to budgets, student progress reports, tax rates, construction progress and school board agendas and minutes.
3. Keep your audience in the know by creating an easy-to-find section that contains current district information like enrollment, graduation rates, student-to-teacher ratios and student demographics.
4. Email up-to-date information to subscribers using an e-newsletter and calendaring tools. Look for a system that enables you to select choice stories when creating an e-newsletter. If you have the option of using many listservs for targeted emails, even better. Parents will also love the ability to sign up for email calendar notifications so they can stay on top of new and changing events.
5. Assign a team of people to keep content up to date and accurate. This could be administrative staff, teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and trusted student and parent volunteers. A system that allows for restricted permissions will aid in managing the process.
Build a following for your school district website bonded by a sense of ownership and community pride. With transparency reporting and interactive tools, community members are sure to bookmark your website as a reliable resource.
SOCS offers an easy-to-use content management system that makes posting last minute articles a snap. SOCS also provides the means for article feedback, surveys, polls, e-newsletters, interactive calendars and unlimited sections, articles and user administrators.
For more information on how to turn your website into a valuable public relations tool, contact us for a free demonstration.
* Pew Internet and American Life Project, May 2011
** National School Public Relations Association reported, âÂÂÂÂInformation most desired varied across the respondent groups. All groups showed a need for district decision rationale.âÂÂÂÂ