It seems likely that most NSPRA members have experienced some sort of weather-related closings during this wacky winter. For some, record-setting snowfalls have made it perfectly obvious that schools will be closed. For others, iffy forecasts make the decision to close school a crystal-ball exercise, often rewarded by criticism and complaints.
Thankfully, once a decision is made, using social media to announce closings gives us more flexibility and efficiency in communicating the news. To make the best use of these tools and ensure clearer communication, here are some helpful guidelines:
- Date-stamp and time-stamp your messages – Beginning a message with “EFFECTIVE March 5 at 1:30 PM” makes it very clear which message is the latest and currently significant.
- Use very clear language (to the point of being redundant) – Don’t leave anything to interpretation. A message that states “Classes for Thursday, March 5, have been canceled” gives two points of reference.
- Make sure your day and date are in sync with each other – There’s nothing more frustrating than sending a message to thousands of viewers only to have to send a revision 30 seconds later.
- Use all the channels you have at your disposal – Go ahead and post on each platform you regularly use, but be sure to have a consistent message.
- Share the chore – While you may restrict who can alter your website (which might also take more tech skills to change), pull together a team that can divide and conquer the work needed to update all the other channels you use. Just make sure all the team members have the needed access rights and the same message to deliver.
- Don’t forget Plan B – Have a backup person at-the-ready in case you lose your power or technology.
- Finally, when the storm has passed, be sure to take your website and voicemail auto-attendant messages back to normal.