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Communication Support Homepage

Communications Practices, Planning, and Tools

AWSA, along with the Donovan Group, can help develop or improve your communications practices. On this page, we will provide you with information about how to improve your communications efforts, consider current communications practices, and select the tools needed to help make the effort easier.  

This page was created to help get you started. If you have questions, you are welcome to contact AWSA’s retained communications counsel, the Donovan Group. Joe Donovan, Donovan Group’s president, can be reached at 414-409-7225, ext. 2, or via email at [email protected].

School Communications Process 

Getting your arms wrapped around your school or district’s communications efforts can be very difficult, and improving these efforts is even more so. To help you get started, we would like to provide you with a process to help you size up your communications efforts and get started. This process can be used to communicate at any level, whether it’s a small project at a school or a district-wide initiative. 

The process involves breaking communications down into a series of five steps:                                                                                                                               

1) What does success look like for your communications?

Often, the most difficult question related to communication involves determining what success is. As you get started with your communications efforts, consider first how you will know whether your efforts have been successful. Put another way, if you do a really good job of communicating, what evidence will you have of your success? 

2) Who are your stakeholders? 

After determining what success is for your communications efforts, determine whose world you need to enter to accomplish your goals. Be specific. For example, keep in mind that parents of elementary school children have different needs than parents of high school students.

3) What are your messages?

Now that you have determined what success looks like for your communications efforts and whose world you need to enter -- i.e., your stakeholders -- let’s think about messaging.    

Simply put, what messages do you need to convey to your stakeholders?

Imagine that you could sit down individually with every single member of your stakeholder audience. What three or four things would you want to make sure they understood? These are your messages. 

4) Select Your Communications Tools

Now that you have determined what your goals are and what messages need to be communicated to which stakeholders, we should think about which tools to use. 

Often, consideration of tools comes up too early and without first thinking about goals, stakeholders, and messages. This results in using tools indiscriminately.

The following article outlines some of the communications tools we use and endorse. 

Here are some other articles for your consideration. Keep in mind that working with the media can be considered a “tool.”

5) Measuring Your Communications Success

Now that you have established goals, stakeholders, messages, and tools, it is important to consider how you will measure your success. Select your methods of measurement carefully and understand that there is always room for improvement. Make sure your measures of success are aligned with your goals and allow for continuous improvement.