At most schools, July 1 marks the start of a new academic year. Because it’s also a rare time when school offices are quiet, the start of July is a wonderful opportunity for communicators to start preparing for the coming year.
Any summer to-do list should start with closing out the old year: for example, reviewing the school’s entire website to catch any outdated information, such as departed administrators, faculty, and staff or last year’s governing board roster.
If your office manages the school’s learning management system, you have a fuller list of wrap-up tasks, including advancing students to the next grade, archiving academic materials, and revoking credentials where appropriate.
But summer’s real opportunity is not in looking back but in setting up a successful year ahead.
- Gather your team to brainstorm the communications projects that would significantly improve your school.
- Collect and review analytics to discern what your audience is telling you through their clicks (or lack of clicks).
- Think through the needs of each of your primary constituents—current parents, prospective parents, employees, and alumni—and assess how you could better fulfill those needs, mindful that the answer may be not to do more but rather to do better.
This process is even more critical this year, after last summer was consumed with responding both to COVID-19 and Black@ social media campaigns. As these took priority, schools lost their best opportunity to make meaningful progress with communications — ironically, just as those programs would become even more central and important.
Once you have your projects in mind, the fun part begins: establishing a priority list, lining up resources to accomplish them (including time and budget), and setting completion dates.
As you keep your eye on the big picture, save a little time to plan the near term, too — back-to-school messages, Opening Day, the annual report. In doing so, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how much capacity you have for the bigger projects.
At the start of July, summer feels like it’ll go on forever, but the next eight weeks or so will fly by fast. Good luck!
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