For schools, the ability to communicate with families is crucial during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. With the temporary closure of many K-12 schools, getting messages out in a timely manner to current families and being able to maintain a conversation with prospective parents will have an impact on the perception of how well your organization is handling this crisis. Here are three crucial steps you can take to pave the way for smooth communication:
1. Add an Alerts Feature to Your Website
If you do not already have a notification or alert feature on your website, this feature can be added in order to help display pertinent announcements related to closings and information regarding COVID-19 in a prominent manner.
There are two notification plugin tools that North Star Marketing recommends for WordPress websites. Both of these are easy to implement and customize:
A recent article in WP Explorer also lists some alternatives that include pop ups and overlay notices.
If you are a current North Star client and find a plugin from WordPress.org that you would like to add to your website, please, submit a support ticket and we can install the plugin of your choosing. Please provide the following information in your support ticket request:
- The notification message.
- If you’ve created a custom page to show more information for the message, please provide the page link (URL) to the page so we can link to it.
For many sites, this process will be straightforward, meaning you may install a notice plugin of your choice, enter in the desired message, and enable the display of the notice. For other sites with unique custom themes, some CSS adjustments may be required. Some additional time from our help desk may be required to format the alert feature on our website.
If you do not have a WordPress site, contact your website provider to see if they have resources to create an alerts feature on your website.
2. Add a Chat Feature to Your Website
A live chat feature can help you answer parents’ questions at a time when the school office is closed. North Star Marketing recommends Olark for chat features; however, if you are looking for a free resource, WP-Live Chat by 3CX is one tool that works well with WordPress sites. The plugin allows you to create a custom message when you are offline and sends you a desktop notification when a new chat comes in.
If you do not have a WordPress site, contact your site provider to see if they can recommend a chat feature that will work with your website.
3. Switch to Virtual Tours
While your school campus is closed, it’s time to retool your Schedule A Tour page and CTAs to link parents to a Virtual Tour opportunity. Create a landing page or website page that is dedicated to showing photos or videos of key places on your campus, highlighting key messaging points of your value propositions for each grade level, and guiding prospective families through a potential upcoming enrollment process. Encourage these virtual tour participants to complete a form so you can contact them to answer any follow-up questions they may have.
Remember to think beyond your website for communication during this time. Be sure to update your Google My Business listing for those potential parents who are seeing your school on their search engine results page. Learn more about how to update your listing.
How to Get Marketing Support from North Star During COVID-19
If you are a current North Star Client who needs help beyond contacting the support desk for help with alert or chat plugins, contact your marketing manager or project manager.
If you are not a current client of North Star but are interested in additional support during the COVID-19 challenges, contact Micah Fox, Solutions Advisor, at email@example.com.