I am currently the publicity chair for my child’s school PTA. This is a new experience for me even though I have been in web administration and design, marketing, and social media marketing for years. I try to look for other PTA websites to see how others are using their sites and social media. Our PTA is not very active yet, the website is new as of this year, and the Facebook page was only created last year.
Using a Facebook page.
It seems that almost everyone has a Facebook page. This is a huge advantage for schools and school organizations. Here’s a list of what a school can use their Facebook page for:
Making Announcements. School staff and school leadership can easily make announcements that students and parents are comfortable using.
Scheduling Events. The calendar function makes a quick and easy way to let everyone know about upcoming events at the school such as fundraisers, school dances, PTA/PTO/PTSA meetings, conferences, field trips, and more. Best of all, it is then a constant reminder of what’s coming up unlike the usual old flyer that goes home once, twice if you’re lucky. Also, flyers get lost or sometimes don’t even make it into parents’ hands, not to mention the expense of paper and printing.
Brainstorming. Maybe you need ideas for a new fundraiser, or event theme. This is a great way to establish an open conversation about what students and parents would like to see or do.
Share Photos. There are always dozens of parents, families, and students taking pictures at every school event. What better outlet to share all of those photos. Photo tagging enables parents and students to add their own pictures to your photo library.
Volunteer Requests. This is a quick and easy way to ask for volunteers, even last-minute ones. Maybe one of your volunteers is sick or a teacher needs help making copies. Post a message for help and get someone quick!
Twitter can be a helpful outlet as well. Find someone on the school staff, like the principal, assistant principal, or school secretary to tweet once or twice a day or more on the day’s events. This can also be done by the school media person, if you have one, or a PTA member.
Using a website for the school and/or PTA, PTO or PTSA.
I can count the number of people I personally know that DON’T have internet at home or use a computer on a regular basis on one hand. Everyone’s “connected” today and schools and school PTAs should be taking advantage of this. According to the Census Bureau’s projected figures for 2011 school enrollment will be as follows:
Pre-kindergarten – Grade 8:
Public – 34,974
Private – 4,598
Grades 9 – 12:
Public - 14,580
Private – 1,363
At our school alone there are over 790 students currently enrolled for the 2010-11 school year and our elementary school is the smallest in the district. Keeping all parents and families updated without using the internet and social media becomes a very costly expense, an expense that most school systems can’t cover without sacrificing other, more beneficial programs for the students.
How should schools fix it? Ask. It is almost guaranteed that at least a handful of parents are familiar with web design of some sort, even if it’s just basic blog setup through Wordpress or Blogger. Is having just a blog ideal? No. But it is at least a starting point if they have limited resources. Wordpress is free, a domain is usually $15 or less, and site hosting can be a nominal monthly expense as well, about the cost of a ream of paper.
So get a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a website and “trash” the paper notes. Watch parent and student involvement grow. Keep everyone informed. The days of paper-pushing are over! If you’re really bold, start an e-newsletter. Watch for a follow-up on creating an effective school newsletter.
Copyright 2011, Article by Sarah Baker of Eos Concepts, LLC. EosConcepts.com