Making sure parents and coaches are always up-to-date with the latest information at your sports organization is a challenge. Some parents prefer a message on their cell phone, while others prefer email communication only. Facebook may seem effective, but many parents are not even going to see your organization's posts in their feed. Also, keeping a list of reliable parent contact information is difficult as parents change email addresses or phone numbers, or give you inaccurate contact information.
With all of the different channels and preferences, keeping everyone "in the loop" while not driving yourself crazy can seem impossible.
Where should you start? Research shows that text message and email are the two quickest channels to reach large groups quickly, but when should each be used? Below we've put together a quick summary of when to send a text message, when to send an email, and when to not send a message to parents at all.
When to send a mass text message
Sending bulk text messages is becoming easier and easier, but generally accepted etiquitte is still up in the air. While a text message is certainly the quickest way to reach parents, it is only effective if parents pay attention to your messages and don't unsubscribe. If you begin to send parents messages several times a day, include unnecessary information, or send the same message more than once, parents will begin to ignore your messages or remove themselves from the list.
Before sending a mass text message to the parents at your organization, ask yourself this question - "Do these people need to get this Announcement within the next hour?". If the answer to that question is "No", "Maybe Not", or "They don't need it at all I just love sending messages", then don't click send. If it's not important enough to send via text message, it may still be worthy of an email message (see below).
A few good opportunities to send a text message update include:
- Games are cancelled today
- Practice times changed!
- Tryout Results
Remember that timing matters too. Unless it's extremely urgent, try to keep your text messages to parents sent between noon and 9PM. Early morning and late at night are too intrusive to be sending mass text messages on a regular basis.
Relevant, well-timed text messages to parents and coaches are mega effective.
When to send an email
Email is a tried and true communication channel to reach busy parents. But in order to make email effective and make sure your emails are read, you need to send the right messages at the right time.
A parent's email inbox is jammed with emails about work, book club, school reports, HBO Game of Thrones reminders, Kenny Chesney concert ticket promos, and who knows what else. To get their attention, make sure your emails are coming from your organization (not a person on the board that parents might not know), and include important, helpful information.
Here are a couple of instances that would be good for an email:
- Registration ends in one week!
- Weekly Scores and Recaps
- Schedules have been released!
- Volunteers needed for this weekend's games
- Updated Parent Code of Conduct
Keeping a healthy email list is critical, so make sure to be respectful of the parents' personal email inbox. When you can, send one message covering several topics instead of separate messages. For example, if you want to send Tournament Recaps from the weekend and Updated Practice Schedules for the coming week, consider just sending one message that covers both topics. And if a message isn't that critical, consider holding off and sending neither a text message or email...
When to send neither
Just because you can send a text message or email to parents, doesn't mean you should. Think twice before sending, or you'll wind up with annoyed parents, and people unsubscribing or asking to be removed from your list. "Crying wolf" by sending unneccessary messages might result in parents ignoring your most important messages at critical times.
Be aware of common scenarios to send neither a text message or email:
- Board Meeting Minutes - while important for the board, most parents and coaches don't need or care to know each month's meeting minutes.
- Multiple reminders about fundraising opportunties
- It's past 10PM - don't annoy parents or coaches late at night unless it's an absolute emergency
- THE SEVENTH TIME ASKING FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR AN EVENT! While a nudge asking for volunteers every so often can be effective, don't beg by the parents' cell phones asking them to volunteer. When people are able and willing to volunteer, they will.
To improve communication at your sports organization you should be regularly sending email and or text updates to parents. But, don't go overboard and be sure to be respectful of the parent's contact information.
Want to start sending more messages to members of your sports organization? Have other tips that have been helping you communicate with parents? Send us a message at email@example.com or leave a comment below.