Creating a School Newsletter—Concrete Steps To Take
Image source: Markus Winkler
A school newsletter is a beautiful instrument of communication between schools and parents and the whole community. It helps the school stand out from the rest by emphasizing the vision, activities, achievements, and overall successes of its students. A school newsletter reflects everything a school does and stands for, and mirrors the school culture and climate.
If you are looking to modernize your existing school newsletter or start one from scratch, we are happy to share some ideas on what steps you should take to jazz it up.
Why Do We Need To Create a School Newsletter?
Before getting started with planning and creating your school newsletter, you should remind yourself of what its purpose is. Whether you print your school newsletter or send it via email, having an end goal in mind will keep you on track at all times.
The aim of school newsletters is to:
- Inform—newsletters should be the source of information related to opening new locations, changed policies, student achievements, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming projects or field trips. They should be accompanied by dates so that everyone knows how to plan for them accordingly
- Remind—as the dates draw nearer, the newsletter will remind students, parents, and other stakeholders of the upcoming events
- Connect—a school newsletter should bring the school to the home as parents should know what is happening in their child’s classroom. Parents also appreciate giving feedback about the school’s activities and programs, which further facilitates trust and parental involvement
How To Start a School Newsletter
Image source: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production
To launch a newsletter in your school, you have to make a solid plan as to how you will do it, what tools you will use, and who will be in charge. Planning is a serious point to consider and requires a serious approach.
Your planning should focus on answering the following questions:
- What is the foundation of the school newsletter?
- Who is your audience?
- How do you ensure the necessary funding?
- How often to publish and how many issues?
The questions listed above are interrelated, and the answer to one will affect that of another.
What Is the Foundation of the School Newsletter?
The first step in your planning is laying the foundation of the newsletter. The better base your newsletter has, the more likely it is to be a success. The foundation of your newsletter is set by selecting:
- The newsletter team—students, teachers, or other office staff could work as writers, photographers, and designers of the newsletter
- The focus of the newsletter—be it events, policies, or both
- The volume of the newsletter—the number of pages of the printed version
- The name of the newsletter—in line with the school’s brand
Having laid the foundation, you can now turn your attention to the audience.
Who Is Your Audience?
Knowing your target group is instrumental in creating a school newsletter.
The purpose of your school newsletter is to get the message across. If you know who you are writing for, you will know what content to tailor for them.
Your prospective readers are:
- School staff
- Other stakeholders
Who your audience will be depends on many factors, like the size of the school, community, or budget. Always remember to present only the content the readers have asked for or have expressed interest in—as well as in the format of their choosing.
How Do You Ensure the Necessary Funding?
One of the most critical aspects of planning a newsletter for your school’s stakeholders is securing the funding that will cover the cost of designing it. Think in terms of equipment, materials, publication, and distribution costs of the printed newsletter or the price of the design and content management software you would need for your email newsletter.
Even though schools do get the funds from the government and parent sponsors, that is rarely enough for the school to cover the cost of all the resources they need for their projects. Your newsletter is unlikely to cost a fortune, but take all other expenses your school has into the equation and you might find it challenging to keep afloat.
There’s no room for despair, though—there are a few ways to secure the necessary funds, such as:
- School fundraising events can be an excellent way to raise money and have fun while doing it. They can take a bit of time and manpower to pull off, but they draw a lot of people who may be generous
- Advertising is another option for those who want to avoid the intricacies of organizing large events. You can consider contacting your district’s businesses and offer to place their ads in your newsletter if you guarantee to distribute it to the school’s stakeholders
- Donations can also be secured by resorting to local businesses. You can contact them on behalf of the school and ask for a donation. You can also contact the local newspapers and ask them to publish an ad that your school is seeking donations for a newsletter
How Often To Publish and How Many Issues?
Knowing how often to publish or send the newsletter and in what quantity will save you the stress of trying to meet the deadlines, searching for materials, and shaping the content in the future. Consider making a publication schedule so you and your team will know precisely when to do what.
If you are starting from scratch and do not have much experience, it would probably be better to start sending out your school’s newsletter monthly and see where it takes you. The size of your school and the volume of its activities determine how frequently to produce new material.
In case you decide to offer printed versions, know what budget you have and how many people want to get the newsletter in that form. You do not want to have a surplus of newsletter copies. It would be a waste of time, money, and materials—think sustainability.
Your audience might prefer receiving email newsletters—if so, all the better for you as publishing your newsletter in the digital format will cut your expenses drastically. All you need to do is compile a rich email list and update it regularly to ensure your newsletter reaches all stakeholders every time.
Concrete Steps for Creating a School Newsletter
We have reached the main stage—doing the actual work.
When creating a school newsletter, it is important to follow a few crucial steps:
- Obtain a publishing software
- Design or find a template
- Customize your newsletter
- Create content
Get the Publishing Software
The right publishing software is one of the building blocks of a successful school newsletter.
You want your newsletter to have a polished structure. To make it possible, you should get one of the publishing software. It will save you the headache of spending hours reformatting all the material because writers will be submitting their articles in the same format.
You can find some of the best-rated publishing software in the table below.
|Publishing Software||Publishing Software Short Overview|
InDesign is a tool that can produce a variety of documents that can be printed, turned to PDF, or exported in a range of other electronic formats, allowing you to customize your newsletter.
A user-friendly and entry-level desktop publishing software, Microsoft Publisher is a great tool for smaller businesses, which makes it convenient for school newsletters.
Its emphasis is not much on composition and proofreading as it is on design and page layout.
A tool with a user-friendly interface, Lucidpress is excellent for designing newsletters, newspapers, yearbooks, and more. Multiple people can design the same document and track the changes others are making in real-time, which is a huge plus for your newsletter project team.
An alternative to Adobe Acrobat, PDFelement is a great tool to create, edit, and convert documents in. The editor operates in a drag-and-drop manner, making it easy for users to organize pages whichever way they like. Your newsletter designers will appreciate the ease with which they can arrange the content.
In addition to publishing software, you can also help yourself to one of those useful writing browser extensions, like ProWritingAid and Grammarly. They are valuable tools for checking the grammar, spelling, and style of your newsletter, and not only that, but they also integrate well with many websites.
One more assistive tool you can make use of is a speech-to-text program. Wherever they are, writers can use their voice to make notes or produce full-scale texts.
These software tools make the writing process much more efficient and take at least part of the burden from editors and proofreaders.
Design or Find School Newsletter Templates
A high-quality school newsletter has a solid and cohesive layout.
Your newsletter should be easy to navigate through. Its layout has to demonstrate consistency in terms of standard fonts, reader-friendly style and language, and the place where certain types of information are to be found, such as important dates, policy updates, alumni news, and many others.
Now is the time for the publishing software we talked about in the previous section to come in handy. These programs enable users to create different newsletter layouts, but they also come with templates of their own. They enable you to add new information or update the old one. If you are not sure how to make a newsletter template on your own effectively, feel free to borrow a ready-made one. It will gear you up for the next stage.
Customize the School Newsletter
Template layout—checked! Now to make it more authentic.
What you want to do now is customize the newsletter and make it original. Customization allows for certain elements to continue across all editions to come. You want your newsletter to stand out and be aesthetically pleasing to your readers and easy to handle for your team.
Some of the things you should consider doing to make your and your team’s work of building a school newsletter easier are:
- Placing the school name and logo on the front page or the email header
- Adding a footer with the school’s contact and newsletter edition information
- Having a layout for articles and images that will be published
- Leaving predefined spaces for the title, the headings, and the main body of the text
- Introducing dedicated pages for specific content, like staff information on the last page, or linking to that page of your school’s website
- Including clip art to make the newsletter more interesting
- Making week/month/season-themed template designs
Now that you have finished the technical work, you are set and ready to move on to the main stage—creating the content.
Create the Content for the School Newsletter
What you need to keep in mind at all times is your goal. Think about your readers and what it is they want to read about. Is it student accomplishments? School policy updates? Or maybe the upcoming field trip? You should also keep the content user-friendly, not just the template. You can conduct a survey to see what content the stakeholders are interested in. That will help you decide what content to focus on.
Make sure that your school newsletter features regular information. To spice things up a bit, you can keep the issues fresh by including miscellaneous topics. They add to the dynamics of the content.
To get started, you can take a look at the table below for ideas. Keep in mind that the topics suggested here are not restricted to the ones provided.
|Regular Information Topics||Miscellanea|
Now that you have selected the topics and the team to do the job, get to work. There are a few simple steps to follow on your way to making a fabulous school newsletter:
- Assign tasks to your writers, photographers, and graphic designers
- Point out what the deadlines for rough drafts and final versions are
- Give your writers a word count limit
- Craft compelling subject lines
- Have the articles proofread
- Paste the approved material into the newsletter design
- Submit the final version of the newsletter to the editor for approval
School Newsletter Media and Delivery Channels
Image source: Mathyas Kurmann
You have completed all the work pertinent to the creation of the school newsletter. Now you want to share it with your readers or subscribers. Depending on the size of the reader circle, the team headcount, and the school budget, you can decide what medium you will use—print, electronic, or both—and through what delivery channels.
Bear in mind that some of your readers might not be able to access the electronic version of the newsletter or that others cannot read the printed one as they are frequently absent from home or live far away.
If you opt for a print medium, make sure to compile a list of your subscribers’ addresses. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can make the school newsletter issues available to your readers:
- Having them delivered by a courier or post office to their designated addresses
- Giving students a copy each to take home
- Displaying them at the school front desk
- Displaying them at the entrance of the school, library, or local businesses
In case you decide to go for the digital medium, here are a few options to consider:
- Sending the issues via mass email
- Posting them on the school’s blog
- Making them available on social media
- Having a school newsletter app
The optimal solution would be to expand your reach to the readers across diverse media, but if your resources are limited, pick a few you believe will be the most effective.
Extra Tips and Tricks
(Re)launching a school newsletter can be overwhelming, but it is better to start it right so that things go smoothly in the future. We have illustrated the steps for you to take to make it, but there are a few more things you should do to make it impeccable:
- Get permissions to showcase personal stories, interviews, or student photos as you will be held accountable for any wrongdoing
- Engage students or staff to contribute articles on topics relevant to the readers or offer multiple perspectives on those topics
- Encourage feedback as the parents and other stakeholders will appreciate the fact that you want to improve the newsletter and keep it fresh based on their opinions and suggestions
- Speak the language of your audience—know what walks of life your readers come from so you can keep the language, vocabulary, and tone of the newsletter digestible
- Incite anticipation in your readers and keep your audience curious by leaving them teasers for the next issue—think in terms of a question, a puzzle, or an upcoming event
- Track the school newsletter performance—if you have opted for an e-newsletter, you can track its open and the click-through rates, and you will be able to see whether they are dropping or rising; you can recalibrate the newsletter content based on how many people open, read, or go through the links provided in your email newsletter
- Make the design responsive to all screen sizes—it will be much more pleasing to read and scroll through
- Facilitate social sharing with strategically placed share buttons to broaden the circle of your audience
(Re)Thinking School Newsletter?
A school’s newsletter is its ambassador in the community. It can be the school’s green card to the broader community circle, or it can shut the school out. Making one is an elaborate process, but the rewards you gain make up for it.
Do you have any tips on how to make an effective school newsletter or suggestions about refreshing the content? Perhaps you came up with inspirational and innovative ideas about how to raise funds for your school’s newsletter?
In case the answer to any of these questions is yes, feel free to reach us. Share your ideas, and we will publish them on our blog.
Let’s rethink high schools together! Give your contribution now.