Effective communications are critical to the functions of schools. Most schools juggle several communication channels, ranging from text messages, to websites, to Facebook posts. This recipe presents a framework for simplifying communications within a school or district. It will use many tools in conjunction with Abre Apps.
Feel free to adjust this recipe. We understand that folks have preferred workflows and models. Our goal here is to provide a structure that reaches all stakeholders in efficient ways while keeping a level of control over the channels.
We assume schools have the following communication channels:
- A front-facing website
- Abre (headlines and announcements)
We also assume someone (or a group of folk) owns the process.
For this recipe, we use some of the most common tools used for creating communications in school. That said, if you would like to see an alternative method that dives into more advanced tools (but greater efficiencies), check out our Discover post “Using WordPress for School Communications: A Tool Review.”
A Communications Recipe
We’ve defined a recipe to gather, plan, create, and publish communications.
Use Abre Headlines and Forms.
Use a master document to plan, assign, and track communication elements.
Leverage the power of templates.
Publish to the various communication channels.
Schools have stories! Highlighting successes in the classroom, sharing engaged learning, and celebrating culture are worthy news events. Yet it can be challenging to regularly gather stories. One way to solve this challenge is to use Abre Headlines and Forms to allow for story idea submissions.
- Go to the Forms App.
- Create a “Newsworthy Form”. This form is to collect stories from staff.
- Specify the fields you want to use. For this example, we have 3 fields plus and upload button for featured image.
- Apply the form to “Staff”.
- Add folks who should have access to the responses under Form Settings/Share Responses With.
From time to time, activate an Abre Headline to “nudge” folk to submit stories.
- Create a Headline.
- Either include the form within the Headline or include a link to the form.
You now have a means of collecting stories (albeit in “raw” form) that you can draw on for creating communication stories.
With the number of communication elements and artifacts growing, we’ve found a master schedule to be quite helpful. Not only does it keep track of tasks, it also provides metrics on what is being created and at what rate. This schedule doesn’t need to be complicated. In this example, we’re using a Google Sheet. The sheet can feature any number of column headings, but we recommend:
- Type (for example, website post, Facebook post, etc.)
- Status (e.g. not started, started, draft, published)
- Due Date
- Short Description
- Intended Stakeholder(s)
Anyone responsible for the schedule (creators and editors) should subscribe to changes so they receive email notifications. Use the schedule to guide the continual creation process.
GSuite and Office 365 are tools that allow real-time collaboration for writing. We recommend creating a template file that can be reused. In this example, our Google Doc Template is broken up by headings.
I. Meta Information
This includes information from the master schedule (ie, Type, Topic, Title, etc.).
II. Main Article
This is where the majority of the writing happens. Where the main article exists.
III. Twitter Summary
Given the character limitations of Twitter, this is where you write the Tweet.
IV. Facebook Summary
The Facebook summary (also due to character limitations).
The Doc is shared with editors who add and comment on the communication. Once the editing is complete, the doc is ready to publish!
This part features good old copy and paste. For example:
- Copy and paste the main article into and Abre Announcement. Be sure to include feature image.
- Copy (when required) to the main website.
- Copy Twitter and Facebook Summaries into the respective platforms.
Some shortcuts might be taken here, given what a school uses for their main website. But for this recipe, we’re keeping things process-oriented.
What communication gains traction? To answer this, monitor the metrics such as the number of retweets, Facebook likes, hits to the website, and Abre likes. Use this information to inform future article creation.