First and foremost, communication must be credible. And the first rule of credibility is consistency. Determine what regular messages are desired for your situation: newsletters to parents, achievement reports to administration, safety bulletins to drivers. Next, determine the needed frequency — monthly, quarterly, bimonthly. Remember that all good advertising — all good communication — is based on repetition. Everyone knows McDonald’s sells hamburgers but the last time we checked, they were still advertising that fact.
Your first task is to decide what your key messages will be, the ones you want to deliver over and over, such as your department’s high safety record, the success of your cost-containment efforts or an ongoing behavior problem among students that has become a threat to efficiency and/or safety.
Next, think about tone. Is your message relaying good news or bad news? Sharing both is important, but each has its own proper tone and style of delivery. Tailor the style and tone of your message to the specific audience you’re trying to reach. Transportation employees and administrators will understand technical terms that parents, students and even school board members may not. For example, safety messages for elementary grades need to be delivered in different ways from those for high school students, even though the essential information is the same. Safety messages delivered to drivers should sound different from safety messages to parents, even though the basic facts are identical.
Source: Jim Parris, TransPar Group, www.transpar.com.
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