A common concern we’ve heard from webmasters is about finding content for posts. This list offers tips and suggestions for generating quality posts from information that, in many instances, is already available. While crafting a heartfelt student feature worthy of The New York Times would benefit any site, it can be just as impactful long term to make consistent use of content and information more readily available. To keep your home page looking updated, try setting a goal of one post a week. Some of these tips may not work in your situation or with the online direction you set with administration, and many of you may already use similar posts. We hope these 7 ideas help you discover new ways to promote your school family.
1. Student/Teacher/Staff Member of the Week/Month/Year
All you really need for this post is a photo of the honoree and a sentence or two about what makes this person unique (a quote from the honoree or someone close to them works well or you could give the honoree a short list of questions to answer). This is something we’ve been successful with at the district level. We sent emails to principals asking for a photo and a few sentences describing their student of the year. It gave us enough content to feature one student a day for nearly three months on the JPPSS Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. This concept could be used for school website posts. Your school might already name students and teachers of the month. Not only will friends and family of the honoree visit and share your post, but you’re also recognizing deserving individuals and introducing online visitors to the people who make your school special.
2. Repurpose information/content from school newsletters, announcements, yearbook, or student newspaper
At its core, your school website is another channel to share information with stakeholders. Your school likely shares information in one or all of the methods mentioned above. In addition to uploading and linking your monthly school newsletter, comb through it to see if any of its information can be used in a separate post. The same goes for school announcements shared over the intercom (you might even find a photo to use with the information on the JPPSS Flickr page by clicking here). Maybe it’s a change in the way parents pick their children up from school or a summary of what the 1st grade students will be learning in the month ahead. Many schools also have yearbook and student newspaper staffs. While those groups may rightfully save most content for their own publications, they might also be willing to let you post some stories and photographs (especially if you credit the writer/photographer and use the post to promote their upcoming edition).
3. Get more out of your calendar events
From school assemblies and parent meetings to fundraisers and extra-curricular activities, updating your calendar with school events is an easy way to make your home page appear up-to-date. You can also use those calendar events (school and district-wide) for various posts. Each time you add an event, make a post to your page announcing the event. Include important information and, if possible, a photo. As the event approaches, post a reminder the day before or of. Just make sure posts for the same event don’t stack on top of each other on the home page. If someone from the event takes photographs, you can also create a follow-up post. Don’t limit this method to just your school calendar. District-wide events important to your stakeholders (school holidays, testing, Pre-K registration) also make for useful school posts.
4. Test question of the day/week
People love a challenge, and posting a daily/weekly test question is a fun way to inform visitors about upcoming tests for your students. If you do this everyday, be sure to post other content as well to avoid your entire homepage timeline being questions of the day. Click here for sample PARCC questions and here for sample ACT test questions. You can find questions to many other tests with a simple Google search. In addition to test questions, you could also include important test information for parents and students in these posts.
5. Tell a story in pictures with a photo gallery
People also love to look at pictures. Photos are by far one of the most popular types of content. From a post to a page, they are the simplest way to liven up your website. WordPress’ photo gallery option allows you to tell an entire story with just pictures. Maybe it’s a collection of pictures (a few or 20 or 30) from an average day, students and teachers getting ready for a big lesson or event, a special class project, a school program you’d like to showcase, or funny homecoming or holiday attire. Take the pictures yourself or ask a coworker to help…and you don’t need an expensive DSLR camera. A better camera helps, but many phones can now shoot HD video and take quality pictures. Just remember to get close to the subject and make sure the shot is focused. For examples of photos or to download JPPSS pictures to use on your site, visit our Flickr page.
6. Celebrate Throwback Thursday or other themed days
If you have access to old photos, videos, or important dates in your school’s history, doing a weekly throwback or “look back in history” post is a fun way to recycle content in a way that can attract readers. This is especially effective if you use social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to promote these posts. You can also theme other days: Math Monday, Teacher Tips Tuesday, World History Wednesday, Foreign Language Friday (and feel free to skip the alliteration).
7. Share information about current programs offered by your school or the district
Every school offers a range of beneficial programs to its students and families. This could be an entire specialized academic program, a successful performing arts group, a popular extra-curricular activity, or just a core subject presented in a special way. If you already have a page dedicated to these programs, use a post to briefly highlight this unique offering and direct readers to the program’s page. There are also a number of department pages on the JPPSS site where your readers can find useful information. For example, we recently created a Translation Services Department page that includes important documents translated into multiple languages. The ELL community at your school might find a post on your site that links to this information extremely useful.