Happy New Year!
The Christmas break is a good time to unwind – but it’s also an opportunity to catch up with the latest ideas and check out what the New Year might bring.
Among the ways I did this were to attend a great free Google Digital Garage session on social media (check them out here if you’re in Manchester), helped judge the 2017 InspiredSM Brilliance Awards, which gave me a great insight into some excellent US schools, and read as many ‘what’s big in 2018’ articles as I could find. I also reflected on many of the fantastic conversations I had last year with a whole range of school leaders and experts.
And here are my top 8 ideas. Please disagree or add your own!
1. Recommendations will be essential. You can call them Influencers, Champions or Reviewers, but thanks to social media and sites like Revoo and Trustpilot people are looking to others to help them make decisions. Schools need to look for people who like them and help them to share what they say. Quotes, video clips, testimonials and guest articles from parents on websites are good things to aim for.
2. New data protection laws are an opportunity. This year will see the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) introduced. I’d encourage schools to use them to develop relationships – to work out what information and content parents, prospective parents and other stakeholders want from you and get their permission to engage them with it.
3. People will welcome things at fixed times. With the loss of scheduled TV (vs Netflix box sets) and regular hours of work (vs always-on working), schools provide the only fixed times for many parents. So why not broadcast your weekly assembly or produce a new podcast that comes out on YouTube or Vimeo every Thursday at 4.30pm?
4. Creating coherent experiences will help you manage digital overload. How can you help people remember their visit or interaction with you? I spent some time last term working with schools to ensure that their key messages were continuously reflected in newsletters, tours and displays - hopefully saving time in the process by providing focus!
5. Think how design can encompass the whole school. I really enjoyed a number of conversations last year with designers and architects because they’re always thinking about wider uses of design. Think about how your school’s colour scheme, decorations or publications can show how you are different.
6. Careers are changing again, so show how you will help your students cope. 2017 was a year where technology seemed to take a major leap forward in many areas from real driverless cars to DNA manipulation. There’s always a debate about how many jobs really appear or disappear but communicating how your school is equipping students to cope with this can only be a good idea.
7. Staff shortages in schools are going to get worse. The year started with bad news from England and Scotland. While some schools are developing recruitment portals and others are improving adverts (and some are offering cheap housing in London!), there’s a tremendous need for schools and teaching as a profession to really understand that talent management is a priority - and that means focusing communications on why your school is a great place to work!
8. Getting communications right will matter even more. Your reputation isn’t just influenced by what you say externally in the present – with social media driving the news agenda it’s about remembering what you’ve said in the past and living up to it, being very careful what you share in your school (don’t expect it to remain inside the walls) and planning carefully for both crises and things you are planning to change. So many schools and people fell foul of these issues in 2017 that it’s probably not necessary to name any!
If you need help with any of these issues, please get in touch!