Communicating with your students’ parents is a vital part of any youth ministry. We know this.
And so, here are five suggestions for being awesome at communication.
I say use MailChimp because I think it is hands down the best email client out there. I also love their corporate culture. (But you could certainly use Constant Contact or ay of the other email campaign providers.) It will take a little playing around with to get used to, but it’s actually very easy to figure out. And the benefits are tremendous. Not only do they offer some really cool template building tools that will save you time (once you get your template “set”) and add an air of professionalism to your communication, but MailChimp will allow you to track exactly who is opening your emails and who isn’t. Which is huge.
You need good habits in your communication. Send an email twice a month (or weekly if you’re feeling super awesome) no matter what. This creates a habit of expectation in your students’ parents. They will begin to look for (even subconsciously) your timely updates in their Inboxes. You’ll be surprised how consistency leads to higher open rates.
Information Versus Inspiration
If you know me, you know that I harp on this quite a bit. One of the things I see youth workers do too often is only communicate when they have information to pass along (“The All Weekend Long Lock In begins at 5:00 on Friday. Any survivors can be picked up Sunday at noon.”). Or, all of their communication consists of mostly information. Information is important. But it should only be a relatively small percentage of your communication.
Spend most of your communication capital encouraging your students’ parents. Provide links to relevant articles on discipleship or parenting. Include cool quotes or verses. Have a short message from you encouraging them, telling them how awesome they are, lifting their spirits. Give them a goal to shoot for. Make them feel like they are part of a movement. Parenting is hard. (Seriously.) Inspire them.
Embrace Multiple Avenues of Communication
People prefer having information or inspiration relayed to them through different means. Email may be the easiest for you, but if that’s your only strategy, you’ll miss some of your students’ parents. So, email should only be one part of your communication strategy. Make use of group texting apps. Shoot short desktop videos (don’t worry one bit about production value), upload to YouTube, and post the video to your Facebook page or church website. Record a podcast. (WAY easier than you think.) Schedule a Google Hangout. Pick up the phone. (Crazy, right?)
Slow Down to Improve Accuracy
Listen, typos happppen. But they are almost always a result of moving too fast. Before you hit send, stop and double check everything, especially your subject line. Better yet, ask a friend to skim an email for you to see if he or she catches anything you might miss. A typo every once in a while is no big deal. But a consistent habit of mistakes takes away from your credibility in some people’s eyes.