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Internal Communication Lessons from San Juan Unified

Good, bad and ugly of Internal Comms

Often in the world of K12 email newsletters, we get focused on parents and our broader community as the primary target for our information at the detriment of perhaps our most important audience – our staff.

 

I see and hear comments like “love it or hate it” or “necessary evil” when it comes to staff newsletters and how getting internal content is like “pulling teeth”.  Your staff newsletter is a functional tool for keeping them in the loop with basic things like dates and deadlines, but can also prove to be a useful resource for strengthening district unity, building support around a consistent message and creating strong district advocates from among your staff.

 

The main challenge certainly lies in the most basic of concepts – getting them to pay attention/care at all about what you’re sending out.  MarketVolt client San Juan Unified School District (CA), were up against this challenge a few years back.  In lieu of a newsletter, they were using a WordPress site that housed all their internal information for staff to dig through at their own peril.

 

SJUSD:  Switches It Up

When they partnered with MarketVolt in 2017, WordPress gave way to an HTML newsletter that the Comms staff pulled together and sent to all employees.  That early newsletter was a mirror of the community news with some staff-specific content sprinkled in (but mostly stories about student successes, school-level updates, etc).

 

San Juan Old verus New Internal Newsletter

Feeling that the much of the information was being lost (or ignored) by the staff, the SJUSD Comms Team gathering feedback from their building leadership and found that many staff members were already receiving most of the information in the staff newsletter through the community e-news.  So when the staff news came out there was a game of hide-and-seek going on to track down the important, relevant staff pieces that were new.

 

SJUSD made the decision to cut out all the community news pieces from the internal newsletter and focus on the important (and relevant) dates, deadlines and details that staff needed to know….and saw their open rates climb 11% as a result.  Check out the reconfigured Behind the Scenes here.

 

While they were at it…

As part of their updated newsletter, SJUSD also implemented a new Internal Communications Protocol that instructed how emails to groups of staff should be handled moving forward.  SJUSD had a goal of reducing the number of superfluous emails crowding the inbox of staff members that were ultimately being missed or ignored.  The new policy reduced the number of DAILY emails that were being sent by the staff by more than 4,600 (a 16% reduction), but the number of read emails INCREASED over that same time period by 30%!!

 

A nice secondary outcome to the nixing of many of the outside emails is that it routed that information into their newsletter pipeline to be shared with staff – increasing the amount of content that was available for the newsletter by nearly five new submissions per e-news issue (and reducing the amount of hunting needed for content from SJUSD Comms staff!)

 

(Concerned that you don’t’ have enough content to pull off a regular staff e-news?  Take a page from Grain Valley School District in Western Missouri – their 5 Things staff newsletters does exactly that…hits on five need-to-know items each week without feeling like War and Peace has to be created each issue.)

 

To learn how MarketVolt’s platform and team can help with your internal (and external) communication challenges, check out our 15 Minute Webinar where we’ll highlight a few of the ways that we’re helping K12 REIMAGINE the email newsletter.

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