So much for the 2021 – 2022 school year being back to normal.
Just when you thought it was safe going back into the school marketing waters, the Delta variant is making back to school a complicated proposition. Schools are back, but there are many unanswered questions and much worry as children are starting to feel the effects of the new COVID strain.
How Can You Prepare for Another School Year of COVID
The school year is not going back to 2019 typical. Here’s what school communicators can do to prepare for a new school year of COVID ambiguity.
1. Embrace the Mask
I overheard many conference-goers at NSPRA this summer say they were waiting to create most of their content when masks were one from the classroom. Guess what??? You can’t wait that long. Face coverings are going to be around for the foreseeable future. It is time to embrace the mask. Your audience sees covered faces as the new normal. Do not worry if they are part of your marketing campaigns.
It is okay for your videos, print ads, and other marketing campaigns to have students wearing masks. It might be necessary. Do not be afraid of covers, but also be prepared when masks disappear.
2. Prepare for Virtual Events
Just like face-to-face classroom instruction is best for learning, in-person events are the best to sell your schools and programs. However, even if numbers improve, some families will never feel comfortable attending live events at your schools. The COVID Pandemic moved even more people online as they navigated a non-tangible society.
Events could be an essential marketing tactic for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Have you prepared to “Go Virtual” when your significant events take place this year?
Here are things to think about when going virtual:
- Research Companies that Offer Virtual Platforms
- Make Your Schools Comfortable Offering Virtual Events
- Practice Before You Go Live
- Create Pre-Recorded Content to Support Your Message
- Record Your Presentations for Future Use
- Promote the Upcoming Event at the School Level
Be prepared for another year of virtual events, or at the very least create a plan for a hybrid model.
3. Welcome Social Media Comments
Yes, COVID has put everyone on edge. Comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have gotten insane. However, even the craziest of your comments and glean some insight into what your audiences are feeling.
Comments have become an excellent way to learn about obstacles in advance of a landslide of audience backlash. Staying ahead of trending problems is key to solving issues before reaching the tipping point of becoming a tragedy. Comments also give us a chance to craft meticulously planned responses to situations.
In the past, we have constructed a database of commonly asked questions and concerns from our social media platforms and any community page on Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter, Instagram. It has become an excellent method to examine our community’s pulse and give power to our department to resolve problems expeditiously. The simple database is a Google Sheet that departments can access.
Quick Tactics to Make this Process a Success:
- Review All Social Media Channels for New Comments
- Answer Concerning Questions Immediately
- Record Common Questions to Share Across Departments
- Create FAQ’s Based on Comments
- Create Personalized Messages to DM Answers
The more you understand your audience, the more skilled you will get at marketing. Discover all you can about your audience. When you learn what your audience loves and hates, you can generate content expanding what they love and then produce content to solve what they dislike about your schools.
4. Prepare to Boost Morale
Just as you worry about the enrollment of students in your district, you better start concentrating on retaining your teachers. Labeled as the great resignation, 2021 has shaped up to be a rough year to fill teacher positions in many school districts. I hope you do what you can to make your faculty and staff happy to be part of your district.
Ideas to Boost Morale in Your District:
- Create personalized, handwritten Notes
- Recognize the achievements of your teachers and staff
- Give them a treat when they need it
- Give them a jeans day
- Give them a voice to ask questions
Your teachers and staff are the lifeblood of your school district. We always hear “do it for the students,” but please don’t forget to do it for your employees too.
5. Make People Feel Safe
Many of the concerns for moms and dads going into the new school year is the safety of their children. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, safety is paramount. How are you communicating that your schools are safe?
Here are suggestions to make parents feel safe sending their children to school:
- Highlight Extra Procedures Put in Place at Schools
- Be Transparent with COVID Data
- Record Video Messages from School Nurses
- Film Video Tours of Your Schools
- Make Sure Classroom Pictures Adhere to Protocols
- Create a Tip Sheet to Showcase Safety Procedures
The more you can communicate a safe environment, the safer parents will feel about having their child in the classroom.
How school districts approach, the new normal will be part of our marketing strategies moving forward. The more you prepare, the better you will be at being able to communicate and promote all the wonderful things happening in your school district.
Do you have additional ideas to have a better year while dealing with COVID? Do you have questions about my ideas? Feel free to contact me and I will be glad to help.