Back in pre-internet day, newsletters, in the traditional sense, were one page or multiple pages filled with stuff you needed to know. In the digital or social age newsletters can now be shorter. A newsletter can be post or a series of tweets, pictures, or videos. Let me perfectly honest, when I would create these epic, colorful, and artful newsletters, parents did not read over 20% of them. Parents reading a newsletter are like people who used to read a thing called a newspaper. Some turn to the comics, some to sports, and some to obituaries. Something is bound to be over looked or missed. That is why I have created shorter but more frequent portions of content to send to parents.
I had an e-mail strategy which was once a week. I sent semi-long e-mails will multiple links, announcements, etc. Today, I communicate with parents in a Facebook group. Whether you use social media, texting, or e-mail you still have to decide what goes into that “newsletter”. Facebook allows me to post one thing every day or a few things every day depending on what’s going on in the ministry or life of the church.
I quit using e-mail because an e-mail list is something you have to manage, parents change their e-mails, their work will not allow group e-mails to go through etc. and tell me if you’ve heard this one before, a parents says, “Oh, I didn’t get that.” Social means the content is there, it stays there unless I delete it, and it is seen by everyone at the same time.
Many newsletters have the. “throw spaghetti at the wall” approach and see what sticks with very little intentionality. We can do better. If we think in terms of months, quarters, and the needs of our parents etc. we can create a schedule of content we want to send to parents and that parents would want to read. Posting a singular piece of content (an event, etc.) means there is no confusion in what you are trying to say or how you want parents to respond.
Here ten things you can use to create a content schedule for your parents.
This is the biggie right? Parents want to know who, what, where, what time and how much. These are necessary to be given in advance otheriwise parents get cranky, confused and frustrated. Post one event with all the pertinent info a week to two week before the event and then the day before and the day of. Retreats or anything that requires deposits should be done months ahead of time instead of weeks with the occasional reminder.
I love posting articles. I can look back and see all the articles I’ve posted and can see what was/is trending and the articles remain there if parents want to go back and read them. Posting on current events or trends keeps parents in the know and you look like a genius.
Sometimes I post a quote about parenting, teenagers, about teenagers, or quotes from teens in the news. This is to provoke or evoke feedback. Parents can like it, comment on it, share it, etc.
Another thing my Facebook group has is polls. This gives me a way to ask questions ad get feedback in real time. I my want to ask if they agree or disagree or which color t-shirt they like best.
There are days where I write about where I think God is taking us as a youth ministry. I share my heart and my dreams for their kids and ask for their prayers and their involvement. Example: Months before I advertise about the missions trip I may post some quotes, verses, articles or short devotions about missions to whet the appetite of those who have never been on a missions trip.
Simple: How can I pray for you and your family today?
Sometimes I post fun stuff like this music video by Bekah Shae. It’s meant to get parents up and moving and have a little fun or maybe you want post penguins escaping from a zoo and tag it #teenstryingtoescapehomework or something funnier than that (which shouldn’t be hard).
Picture and Videos
I always post pics or video after and event. Parents get to see their kids doing something silly or something profound. It shows that we had a good time, there was a lot of energy, etc.
Parents, like all believers, need encouragement. Why not plan a series of posts that have scriptures about parenting, communication, listening, discipline and other necessary parental skills.
Files and Forms
One more great thing about Facebook, I can store files there and they are accessible at any time. If I am not at my computer to shoot an e-mail to a parent who deleted the other e-mail I sent, before downloading the form I can re-direct them back to the FB Group.
How are you currently communicating with your parents? How is the response?
Do you have a content schedule or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?
List 3 things your parents need or you want them to know about, using the 10 items above, create a schedule of when you will send it or post it to your parents.