Update the School Website? Snow Way!

Tips to make it easy to stay on top of your website when it snows

“I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

Okay, that’s a worst case scenario. Hopefully winter won’t last as long as it did for Phil in Groundhog Day, but with last December the coldest on record, you probably wouldn’t surprised if it snowed again.

So how prepared are you to get the message out if your school has to close? We’ve pulled together a few tips and a few ideas to help you should the white stuff drift back.

The School Website

Increasingly the central hub of school communications, we know that your school website is the first place parents go to find information about the status of the school. Our website traffic statistics show remarkable consistency – there will be a ten fold increase in the number of visitors to your school website should snow arrive. Better make sure it’s up to date, right?

We probably all know from personal experience that when it snows it’s great to have positive confirmation of the situation, rather than wonder whether news just hasn’t yet been communicated.

Hopefully your website has a web based content editor which allows you to quickly update your home page from the comfort of your own home. Otherwise you’ll have to persuade someone to go into school to get hold of Dreamweaver or call the parent at 6am who kindly offered to build the school a website so they can make the updates for you.

Some tips:

  1. Your school is slick & efficient. Parents are seeking information – eliminate doubt about and update your website even if it is just to say “business as usual”.
  2. Include the date & time of the status update
  3. Make sure you have the log in details for the website CMS (Content Management System) with you and have tested them from home
  4. Use “drop in content” to create an unmissable news flash prominently on the home page
  5. If your website CMS has version control, why not prepare in advance, save it as a version, then all you have to do is fill in the specifics? No matter how easy it is, no one likes to think too hard too early in the day.
  6. Create a news item. If your school website allows parents to subscribe to the school’s news via an RSS reader, these parents will automatically get an update via their news reader, many direct to their mobile phones.
  7. LAs often post updates, sometimes with links to the school website. We know that often the school website URL is out of date so check the contact details the LA hold in advance

Twitter

Many schools now have a Twitter feed which enables parents to receive updates from the school, again often directly to their mobile phones. Equally someone from the school can tweet directly from their own mobile phone. Amazingly powerful!

Some tips:

  1. Again, ensure your mobile phone is set up correctly and/or you have the school Twitter log in details handy to log into Twitter on the web.
  2. Tweet often. Many parents may not realise the herculean efforts staff go to on days like these so why not keep up a running commentary? It’s only 140 characters after all!
  3. If you have an integrated Twitter feed on your school website home page, even parents not currently using Twitter will see your “mini” updates. They may well sign up to Twitter just because of this!

iPhone & Other Apps

If you’ve had the foresight to organise an iPhone (or other mobile) app for the school, updates to your parents will be effortless. Add a news item to your website and your parents will instantly get pinged via their mobile phone app. Sounds too extravagant? Well, we’ve developed an iPhone & Android app which is affordable for everyone!

Facebook

Seized control of Facebook with an official page? Well, make sure you also post any snow related information on your Wall!

It’s Just Communication

Like any communication these days, there are many different ways to communicate instantly & electronically – there are many “channels” through which you can reach your parents. Your parents will already be used to some, if not all, of these “channels” and increasingly expect schools to communicate in these ways.
Communicate with your parents in modern ways, and many will correctly believe that you are preparing their children for modern, innovative methods of interaction.

If you’d like to discuss any tips or ideas here or wish to learn how a Green Schools Online website can help your school, please call us on 0844 668 6844.

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