Today’s parents are hyper-connected to the internet, so online newsletters are nice to link in an email or on your website. However, the printed versions of these tried-and-true staples of parent communication have earned a prominent spot on the front of the refrigerator for decades, so let’s make sure yours gets its due attention.
- Use brightly colored paper. By brightly colored, we don’t mean neon. Neon is fun and it stands out, for sure, but it is also hard on the eyes when it comes to reading text on it. When selecting the paper color, consider seasonal choices, and keep the rest of the paperwork a neutral color. This helps parents spot it quickly and reinforces that it is an important piece of communication they should review right away.
- Keep consistent with timing and design. If it comes home on the first day or first Friday of one month, keep them coming home at that same clip every month so parents know what to expect. Be sure that the sections of your newsletter are in the same places each month so parents can easily scan the page and find what interests them most.
- Stay on-brand with your business. Whatever your school’s logo, color scheme, and mission are, reinforce them in all of your publications. From emails to letters to your monthly newsletter, that consistency shows parents that you are consistently professional in all of your communications.
- Keep it short. Just like a professional resume, your newsletter shouldn’t exceed one page (but front and back are okay). This does not mean you should reduce the font size to cram everything into one sheet. It does mean that you’ll have to make some tough decisions about cutting out content that is “nice to have” but not a necessity.
- Make it something that lasts until the next one. To help parents stay organized, use the back of your newsletter as a calendar or include it as a supplementary sheet. This way, it can easily be hung up on the fridge at home.
- Include images that reinforce your messaging. Big blocks of never-ending text can make reading your newsletter feel like a chore they don’t have time to do. People want to scan for information quickly to locate the relevant information they need, and images that relate to your content help them do that.
- Use bullets for points of emphasis. Bullets and numbering make the most important text on the page easier to find, and those points will stand out and be easier to read.
- Use “The Rule of Three.” It’s not just for interior designers on HGTV anymore. Using three font sizes or weights (levels of boldness) on a page helps define hierarchy so it’s easier to parse, and it makes for a more visually interesting experience. Make section headlines one size, weight and color, subheaders a bit smaller or lighter, and the body content of your articles just a standard font in a “normal” text style. This makes it easy for parents to scan the headlines first to locate the information they need most, then read through the rest later when they have more time.
- Your font can be fun, but keep it professional. What may be a nice font to you could be too hard to read for others (I’m looking at you, Comic Sans). The best spot for a “fun” font might be a special headline, but fonts with a lot going on can make the body of your newsletter really tough to digest.
- Whenever possible, use portrait orientation. Studies show the eye tires during reading when it has to travel long distances from left to right. If you do choose landscape, try formatting your text into columns or sections like a newspaper.
- Use color purposefully. Newsletters, as with any well-designed piece, should have a primary color (or two), a first accent color, a “call to action” color, and an “important” or “warning” color. Using too many colors on a page can become distracting, so incorporate color thoughtfully where you want to accent the content.
- Organize content in the order your audience reads. Let the eye move through the page in a logical way by organizing content in the order you want parents to read it. Think about where your eye goes naturally when you read – from left to right, or from top to bottom. That’s why, when you read a newspaper, the big stories are located at the top, above the fold, and generally start at the left margin. Don’t put essential information at the end for dramatic effect, because it will just end up buried on the page, and most people won’t get to it.
- Keep your design simple and clean. Remember that many of your parents are millennials who enjoy modern technology and design. Save the elaborate borders and cartoon clip-art for your bulletin boards, and present your business in the most professional light when it comes to your parent communications.
Today’s hyper-connected parents need to hear from you. They crave information about what happened, what’s happening now, and what’s happening next. And to get their attention in an increasingly digital world, you have to be able to deliver valuable information in a visually appealing way that they will want to digest.
Newsletters are a tried and true method for delivering information, reminders, event recaps and feel-good stories that make parents and families feel connected and involved in their childrens’ care and educational experience.
Start putting your best foot forward when creating your next school newsletter, and become the stellar communicator parents need.
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