- Broadcast email: collect email addresses from members. Use email to send meeting reminders, announce upcoming events, and distribute the PTO newsletter.
- PTO newsletter: create a periodic newsletter focused on PTO activities. Announce events, thank volunteers, profile upcoming activities, solicit help, and provide information. Include photos.
- School newsletter: if your school has its own newsletter, make sure PTO news items—such as meeting reminders, thank-yous, and fundraising results—are included.
- Correspondence: prepare notes of thanks, sympathy, inquiry, etc. as needed on behalf of the PTO and with approval of the executive board.
- Post! Post newsletters and special thanks to Facebook, your website and ParentSquare.
- Maintain! Maintain a Google Drive of all your work, including photos of displays and samples of each document.
What to Remember About PTO Communication
Define your goals: focus on involvement and engagement.
What is your organization’s goal? Is it maximizing your meeting attendance? Is it meeting your fundraising target? Or is it creating a community that celebrates learning and creates an atmosphere that welcomes family involvement? Once your PTO decides on the direction, build a plan to meet these objectives together.
Develop your key messages: Parent involvement
Please is a common word in PTOs. Please come to our meeting. Please volunteer. If and when the pleas aren’t heeded, the conclusion is that parents don’t care. Step back and think about what’s in it for parents. Why is parent involvement so important? Because your involvement helps your child. This is a message parents can respond to. Make your PTO message personal: Get involved with your school because it is so important to your child and his or her success.
Create effective channels: Time is the new currency
We don’t need to tell parent leaders about the value of time: jobs, kids, school, sports, scouting and music classes. The demands on today’s families can be overwhelming. Make every effort to keep your communication concise and clear. In a recent survey, 63 percent of Rockwood parents said email was their preferred communication channel. A short email, with links to your school PTO Web site for more information, can help busy parents stay informed and involved.
Repetition reinforces the message and increases action
People scan; they don’t read. Research shows most people take 4.4 seconds per 100 words. Here are three steps to help reinforce your PTO communication:
- 3 tells: Month: tell what’s coming up; Week: tell them to act; Days after: tell results
- 7 ways: Variety of channels such as WOM, email, website, newsletters, flyers, bulletin board
- 7 times: Plan your 3 tells and 7 ways to encourage parents to act.
Evaluate: Is it working?
Each school and community has its own culture. What works at one school, may not work at another. Changes in elementary, middle and high school means different kinds of opportunities for parents. Manage this change by asking for feedback and then adapting your PTO goals and plan to best meet the needs of your parents and school community.