Communicating Your Key Messages
by Gerry Ebbers • SCSBC Consultant for Stewardship and Development ◊
We need to constantly repeat our key messages for them to soak in to the hearts and minds of our school communities. What should your key messages be? Here are some important ones:
- This school is the great school it is because of your involvement. Public relations message to counter a “fee for service” mentality.
- This is a great school with excellent academics and all the variety of programs that students need. Retention message to counter the tendency to see greener grass at another school.
- You are the best advertisers for this school and we need your help. Recruitment message to engage parents and students in this essential work.
- Tuition and grants do not cover the full costs of running our school. Fundraising message to reinforce the importance of giving to the school.
You’ll want to repeat these messages in a variety of ways and settings as often as you can. Here’s an example of how you might do that at a school event, perhaps the annual Christmas concert that you probably held last December, or a spring Fine Arts program that may be coming up. I realize that these events are opportunities for students to show what they have learned, which illustrates your most important message – we are fulfilling our mission, but it is also possible to subtly communicate other key development messages to the audience. And how many times in the year do you get a captive audience? Here are some things you could do:
- Use a senior student as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Ensure that the student is well-prepared and has a script of what to say throughout the program.
Message: we have great student leaders.
- Have the board chair or superintendent thank the audience for their support as volunteers, committee members and donors.
Message: we need your support in many ways fill our mission.
- Have a recent student alumnus share a testimony about their current work or studies.
Message: our school prepares its students well for the future.
- Have music alumni join the choir or band on stage for a closing number.
Message: you might have graduated, but you are still part of our community and always will be.
- Have a student (not necessarily a music student) share something significant that has happened or will be happening at the school.
Message: this is a great school with a variety of programs and activities.
- Have a parent express their appreciation for the work of the teachers and staff in the academic and spiritual formation of their child.
Message: the school is fulfilling its mission and we can help by recruiting others.
In addition to these short messages during the program:
- Consider how to showcase other aspects of your school’s program through displays and demonstrations before or after the program.
- Have promotional material, DVD’s and recruitment brochures available for people to pick up.
- Ensure that all administrators and board members are wearing their name tags and know what their role and message is that evening.
- Provide refreshments after the program so that you can mingle with your community.
- Consider having a reception by invitation only for a select part of your supporting community before the program begins so that you can focus your message on that particular segment.
- Consider giving every audience member something to take home with them as a reminder of the school and its special place in their lives.
Hopefully these suggestions will get you thinking about the importance of your key messages and the variety of ways and opportunities you have for communicating them.