I’ve got two children in high school, a freshman and a sophomore. The kids’ school, like many others across the country, has the Connect-ED® notification service, where administrators can contact thousands of parents simultaneously without tying up school resources to get the message out. In this scenario, they use it to call our land line to tell us some news from school. The Homecoming dance is coming up, so I wasn’t too surprised to see the school phone number show on my caller ID at dinnertime this evening. That’s a great use of technology to automate a formerly resource-intensive task, right?
Not quite. It wasn’t a message about Homecoming (which would have been of interest to all of the students), but instead the phone call that we received was about an upcoming college night for high school juniors. Did I mention that I have a freshman and a sophomore? Not a junior = not relevant = phone spam. Now, I know spam is technically unsolicited commercial emails, but the same principle applies to keep people from complaining. You need to provide the Right Message, to the Right Person, at the Right Time in order for your information to be seen as relevant.
The Right Message
I gave the kids’ school my contact information and I expect them to contact me with messages about upcoming events or other things that they think I should know. However, I also expect them to send me the Right Message. I would be happy to receive messages about Homecoming activities, the end of the grading period, or even the high rate of absenteeism due to the H1N1 (Swine) Flu and what I can do to keep my children from catching it.
The Right Person
Since I don’t have a high school junior, I don’t expect the school to contact me about events that are targeted specifically to juniors. I expect the message for juniors to be sent to the Right Person – parents of high school juniors. I would be the Right Person for messages directed to parents of high school freshmen and sophomores.
The Right Time
In 2007, 78.3% of children had at least one parent working full time according to the NIH. Assuming that these working parents get off work at 5PM, and have to fix dinner or pick it up which takes more time, this might indicate that 6-6:30PM might be an inconvenient time to call. I think the Right Time to call might be a bit later, after dinner is over. Or don’t call at all, send an email — but only to the parents of juniors who have opted-in to receive your emails! What do you think?