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The #1 communication method for engaging parents

image via hajiu
Are you ready for this? I'm about to give you the greatest piece of parent communication advice ever. Make sure you're someplace quiet where you can have your mind blown. If you have kids, maybe try the bathroom. Okay, here it is... If it's 1864 and you want to get a message to Abraham Lincoln, send it by carrier pigeon. Gosh...now that I read that, it seems more confusing than mind blowing. My bad. Let me back up.
I imagine Abraham Lincoln got a lot of letters. Letters from friends, family, congressmen, stovepipe hat dealers, theater ticket salesmen, and a whole bunch of other people. I imagine it was hard keeping up with all of those letters. Maybe even impossible. But I guarantee you this: if Honest Abe ever got a message via carrier pigeon, he would have read it in a split second! Why? Because it's different. Because it sets the message apart. Because carrier pigeons were like the text messaging of the 1800's. So what does this have to do with KidMin leaders? If you're a KidMin leader, being heard by parents is one of the greatest challenges you'll face. Parents receive an overwhelming amount of information from school, sports and activities. So when you send parents that email or hand them that piece of paper, there's a good chance it will get lost in the sea of voices that are all shouting for their attention. So here's what you do:When everyone zigs, you zag.
In other words, figure out how everyone else is trying to communicate with the parents in your church, then do something different. For example, instead of sending emails (zig,) send text messages (zag.) Did you know that only about 20% of emails get opened and read? True story. Here's some better news, though. A whopping 98% of texts get opened and read. In fact, 90% of people will read a text within 3 minutes of receiving it. That's incredible! Can you imagine 98% of parents reading the stuff you send them. (If you feel faint, please sit down.) Does that mean you should completely scrap emails? Nope. Emails are good for longer, more content heavy communication. But texts are clearly the winner when it comes to engagement level. And now it's getting really easy to send texts to a large distribution list. There are literally dozens of software companies with mass texting software. (You can see a list here.) One of the more popular and easy to use options is Textedly. Of course, you need to keep some things in mind when communicating to parents via text. First, you need to get people's permission to send them texts. There should be a way that parents can opt-in to your texts, otherwise it's just spam. And nobody likes spam. Second, there needs to be a way to opt-out once you start receiving the texts. Good texting software should make that easy.Third, your texts need to be short. Maybe it's something like this: "This past weekend in Kids Town we learned that God loves a cheerful giver. Ask your child if they can think of someone in need. Plan a way as a family that you can give to that person."
Fourth, text like you're an adult. The parents in your church aren't 13, so they probably don't want to hear that "chrch was gr8 2day!"
Lastly, don't send too many texts. One time a week plus occasional "special" messages is enough. If you send more than that, you'll probably get a lot of opt-outs. So is text messaging the magic bullet of parent communication. No! There's no such thing. No single method will reach everyone. So the best approach to parent communication uses a diversity of methods, but you might be missing an opportunity if texting isn't a part of your communication plan. Texting is just one way to zig, though. In my next blog, I'll talk about another way that's totally old school, but totally effective, too. In the meantime, think about how you can use text messaging to reach your parents. Or maybe try carrier pigeons. I'll bet that would work too!

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