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Social Media as Part of Your Severe Weather Communications Plan

Social Media as Part of Your Severe Weather Communications Plan

While we have no control over when and where severe weather strikes, we do have control over our preparedness levels. Does your severe weather communications plan include social media? We talk a lot about what a powerful tool social media can be for engaging parents and your school communities at large throughout the year, but it’s important to remember that social media is also a powerful tool in your toolbox when thinking through your school closure communications strategy. 

Social media is a great way to get important information out quickly and to ensure that as many of your stakeholders see it as possible. In addition to alerting news channels and posting on your website about weather-related school closings, post a notice to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to quickly notify families. Because so many of us are active on social media, these alerts often reach people faster than other methods. 

And as many of us learned in October, social media alerts can be especially vital during severe weather. Because of widespread power outages caused by our recent winter storms, many families weren’t able to simply turn on the television in the morning for news about school closures. But even when the lights are off and the internet is down, most people still have access to their cell phone data and will be checking social media for updates. In times of severe weather, it might be the only place they can get them. 

Below are a few tips to consider as you draft your social media updates.

  • Be clear and direct. Communicate your plans and any subsequent changes clearly and consistently as soon as possible to eliminate confusion. Reliable information directly from the district is the best way to combat stakeholder frustration.
  • Provide as much information as possible. Be sure to clearly communicate how families and employees will be affected. Are students still expected to participate in a virtual learning day? Is school considered closed entirely? Anticipate concerns before they arise and proactively address any questions you think stakeholders may have.
  • Have a point person. Identify in advance the people on your team who will post updates. Have regular check-ins with your staff to make sure everyone understands your district communications strategy so that roles are clear before you’re in crisis mode.
  • Monitor the situation. Social media is a two-way street. Check back on your post and make sure that you respond to stakeholders who have time sensitive questions. 

Severe weather closure notifications are just another one of many instances where social media can be an invaluable tool for engaging with your school community. Please reach out to our team if you need coaching on using social media effectively and efficiently. We’re here to help!

McKalyn Danner

Associate Director, Communications

McKalyn serves as OPSRC's Associate Director of Communications. In this role, she implements the organization's communications and development strategies to convey OPSRC's mission, promote its products and programs and strengthen its brand identity across stakeholder audiences, primarily in the digital space.

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