15 years ago, the original thought behind this article was to “start” a monthly eNewsletter, rather than typing one, printing it on paper, and sending it home in your students’ backpacks to their parents. That strategy was a main reason why many families never received their monthly newsletter. They were either found crumpled at the bottom of the backpack, or sometimes, as a folded square in the clothes dryer.

Today, many schools have an eNewsletter. But are you mailing out one eNewsletter to all your constituents, or do you customize it to the 5 audiences you have?

Here’s what you’ve just thought: “Five eNewsletters a month? Is he nuts? I don’t have time to do the one that I do now!”

The good news is you don’t have to do 5 completely new eNewsletters a month (or, iZines, if your prefer that term).

First consider these are your 5 audiences your school needs to connect with:

1) Parents of Prospective Students
2) Parents of Current Students
3) Prospective Donors and Supporting Businesses
4) Current Donors and Supporting Businesses
5) The media and the community at large.

Your eNewsletter will be very different for your current parents, while the other four constituent groups will have basically the same letter, with a few tweaks. By using a newsletter service (like Constant Contact, Curated, Behiiv, EmailOctopus or MailChimp), you can “brand” your eNewsletters with your school colors, photos, and links to articles on your school’s Web site, as well as links to your school’s Facebook page, X feed (if you’re still using that platform – send an email to [email protected] with the phrase “No To The X” in the subject line as to why you may not want to use the former Twitter to promote your school), and your Instagram account. You can also categorize your constituents into groups, as well as “clone” the eNewsletters you create with some of those services. This way, you don’t have to start from scratch all the time, and you can “tweak” those eNewsletters you’ve already created too and use them as templates.

How important is it to customize a message to the constituent communities? A parent newsletter may have information about school lunch menus, important safety items, and upcoming important dates to remember. You certainly don’t want to put that information into an eNewsletter that you send to your donors and potential donors.

If you’re posting parent information like that to your Web site, that was a best practice 5 to 10 years ago!  However, remember that “best” practices are only “best” until the “next” best thing comes along.  Your Web site should now be the repository for ALL public information about your school, with the primary intent to market your school. That way, your eNewsletter becomes a preview of what you want to communicate, with a “Continue to the Full Article” link so that you can track what articles are of importance to each constituent group.

As for your current parents, their information should be part of your student information system, and should be best accessed by an app that designed specifically for them.

So what about print communications?

Yes, those are also VERY important today – but not necessarily for your parent community, whether they be parents of current students or parents of prospective students.  High-quality annual report books with color photographs, glossy paper, and compelling articles are important to your school’s development efforts.  Be sure to print enough copies to send to everyone that contributes to your school’s annual appeal.  In it, include stories about the students as individuals…and not necessarily about the capital improvements made to the school…unless you relate them to the impact they’ve had on individual students.

If you’re not doing any of those things, you now have something else to add to your “Do” list.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2023 (Original Publication Date: 20080915)