By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe
Parents have always been involved in school and their children’s education. They’ve gone to PTA/PTO meetings, participated in parent-teacher conferences, volunteered in the classroom and, of course, helped with homework. But 2020 and the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic took that involvement to a whole new level.
With little or no notice, “school” was in families’ dining rooms and living rooms. Parents—who, in many cases, were also trying to work from home—were suddenly helping their children logon to learn, ensuring that they were on task and supporting everything from class assignments to remote assessments. According to a survey by the National Parents Union, during the pandemic, nearly two in three of parents of school-aged children said they were more engaged than ever before in their children’s learning.
As a result, educators, and even at times education companies, were called upon to communicate with parents in new ways. And for back-to-school 2021, it is likely that trend will continue and perhaps even escalate, providing you with a new opportunity to support your customers. Here are some potential strategies:
- Ask the educators you work with what kinds of questions and requests for information they are getting from parents and how you can help them respond. This information will help you develop tools that they can use to communicate with parents and think about strategies to support that outreach.
- Provide schools and districts with parent-facing messaging for your products and services. As parents continue their higher levels of engagement in their children’s education, they are likely to have more questions than ever before about the products, tools, and resources that are being used for instruction. Developing messaging that educators can use to communicate with parents, either proactively or reactively, will support them as they explain how and why your products are being used to support student learning.
- Develop a parent communication toolkit. A toolkit of resources and templates for communicating with parents about your product could prove very valuable to your education customers, particularly when they are introducing something new to parents. A great approach is to provide them with templates that they can customize so that they work best for their parent communities.
- Consider proactive approaches to communicating with parents, such as webinars or a targeted product web page. Designing a webinar specifically aimed at parents and collaborating with your customers to promote it to their communities can offer schools a great tool for explaining why they choose your product to support student learning as well as provide you with an opportunity to communicate features and benefits and answer parent-specific questions. A parent-directed web page gives educators a place to send parents to get their questions answered.
All signs indicate that heightened parent engagement with their children’s education is here to stay—a positive outcome of the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. This provides you with a prime opportunity to help educators support this increased parental involvement and help them effectively communicate the educational value of your products and services. If you are thinking about integrating these new strategies into your sales and marketing plans for the new school year, MDR is here to help.
Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications
Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.