Is your newsletter giving you grief? 5 ways to make things easier…

Is your newsletter giving you grief? 5 ways to make things easier…
2 Feb 2023

When I work with schools on marketing and communications, there's always one form of communication that causes the most stress. No, it's not social media or creating a new website, but the regular parent newsletter!

If you're one of those people who ends up stressed every Friday when half the content hasn’t arrived and then your completed newsletter won’t save in the right format, read on for some ideas to make it less of a chore...

1. Plan your content

The biggest misconception about newsletters is that everything must be written close to the sending deadline. In practice, most of the information is available well in advance and even if you know of an important event happening towards the end of the week you can write most of the content in advance. You can even anticipate things like the inevitable complaints about parking that turn up a few weeks into the start of term!

A content calendar is a great tool to help with this – you can also use it to ensure you’re being consistent in messaging. Here’s a simple example (we discuss more advanced versions in our School Marketing Workshops).

2. Create (and re-use) reusable content

There’s a tendency to create content for a particular platform, often your favourite social media channel, and then re-write it for the newsletter. This can take a lot of time, especially if you’re trying to find and resize photographs as well as changing the length of written content. An easier way is to host your stories on your website – you can then just share a link in both your social media and then in your newsletter. And you can also update the story if you get more information or a great photograph.

3. Use new tools

I've been blown away with recent experience of using Microsoft Sway on a number of recent projects (the first newsletter for the exciting new ‘School Media Team’ project pictured at the top of this article for example). One of the best things is that you can simply drop different types of content in – such as social media posts or videos from YouTube. If you’re not a Microsoft school or don’t like Sway, you could try Adobe Express or Canva which offer similar functionality.

4. Explore different ways to share your content

Most schools now email newsletters, although occasionally I come across a primary school that still prints their newsletter and sends it home with pupils. But that might be worrying if you’ve a youngish parent body – Thierry Delaporte, chief executive of Wipro, which employs 4500 people in the UK and 260,000 globally, said last month that around 10 per cent of his staff, mainly the younger ones, “don’t even check one email per month”. Another problem is that emails with attachments, especially large ones, may not make it to parental in-boxes.

The solution is to host your newsletter itself online – if you’re still using PDFs you can put them on your website – and share a link via email, your social media platforms and even instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp. As well as increasing reach you'll also get more feedback - and you can encourage parents to share with family members and their wider community, supporting future recruitment.

5. Get feedback on what is read and what is wanted

As with all marketing and communications tools it’s important to check in regularly with your audience. Think about three areas...

a) Are people reading the newsletter - and if not how can it be made more accessible to them?

b) What do they read?

c) What would they like to see that isn’t there?

You can answer a lot of these questions if you have a hosted newsletter and track the clicks - but it's always a good idea to do a regular survey as well.