School PTAs are powerhouses that help fund amazing PTA events, provide teachers and staff with support, build school community, and foster bonding.
But as you are reading this article, we're sure you already know that.
The thing is, a lot of parents don’t know it. Hard to believe perhaps, but many parents are only vaguely aware of their PTA - people are assaulted with so much information these days that they often ignore some of the stuff that passes their way.
The thing is... PTAs need to plan properly to make parents aware of WHAT they do, WHY they do it and specifically HOW they can help.
You think parents already know about your PTA event, but...
Sadly we've occasionally seen PTAs canceling PTA events due to lack of ticket sales.
You go to so much trouble with hours of planning, sourcing, decorating, and prepping... and it was gonna be AMAZING! So it's such a shame when people don't show up.
So what went wrong?
Well consider this... even the likes of Coke and Pepsi spent around $5.5 million during the 2018 Super Bowl. That’s a hefty sum for less than a minute of capturing someone’s attention when most people have already heard of them.
Getting engagement for your PTA is rather like marketing a small business. You need to build a relationship with your potential volunteers and attendees. In fact, they say that it takes anything from 6 to 13 touch points to get a sale. OUCH! The point is, you may need to repeat yourself and try multiple ways to get the word out till they finally get the message.
When PTAs consistently publicize what they do and why they are doing it, parents eventually start to pay attention
Once your organization is on their radar, you have a much better chance of them appreciating what you do and joining, participating or volunteering.
Never assume that parents know what’s going on or know who the PTA is. There are always new students with parents who haven't necessarily had experience of PTAs before.
Even parents who have been around for a while may not be aware of exactly what the PTA does. They may have a change of circumstance that means they can now help.
So remember: promote your PTA in a clear and consistent manner in order to attract attention from parents, gain their trust and eventually their support.
Answer the Why Behind Your PTA Events and Ideas
It's important to try and answer the question WHY as often as possible. Why did you have a school carnival? Why are you holding a raffle?
Appeal to their emotions and motivate them to achieve your shared goals as parents in your school.
The size and location of the display will determine how much of the following information you display:
- What the event is about
- Date, time, location
- Average prices for the event - i.e. food plates range from about $4 - $10
- Where to buy tickets
- Where to park
- What the money earned is going towards
- What they can do to support the event and what action to take next
- Who to contact if they want to get involved or have questions
Now, for how to publicize it. Luckily, it’s easy to do!
Seven Easy Ways to Get Exposure for Your PTA
1 - Hall Displays
Most PTAs are provided with valuable hallway real estate so use it wisely. Create a large, attractive display at the beginning of the year.
For instance, you could cut out ginormous block letters to make the title YOUR PTA and decorate the letters with fun colors and scrapbook paper.
Underneath, leave room to display information about past events, a place to post large photos printed on printer paper, and a place to post information about your next event. A bit like this one:
Keep in mind that you want your display information to be large so that parents walking down the hall can start making out the information from a decent distance. This helps them process what the bulletin board is about and piques their curiosity.
2 - Event Display Signs
Have you ever noticed realtor signs from one person all over your neighborhood? So even if you aren’t selling or buying a house, you're aware of their brand.
These signs work if they are distinctive and used often enough. Consider getting signs made for your PTA and then use them every time you sponsor an event. Make sure you:
- Buy enough of them so that you can display several around a large area
- Design them well, ask for volunteers with graphic design experience for help
- Remember, like bulletin boards, people will see these signs from far away so you want the wording and colors to stand out and be large enough so people associate them with your PTA
Over time, by raising their awareness using these signs, people will come to know that the event only happened because the PTA made it happen!
3 - School Marquees
Many schools have outdoor signs or marquees like the one below. If allowed, use that space to advertise your PTA fundraiser or event, and if possible - why.
And... erm.. be sure to check for typos and stray letters!
For instance, if you are having a bake sale, advertise the date, location, and what the funds are going for:
- *PTA BAKE SALE THIS FRIDAY*
- SCHOOL YARD AFTER DISMISSAL
- FUNDS GO TOWARDS
- WINTER FUN DAY CELEBRATION
4 - Weekly Welcome Table
At elementary schools, where parents accompany their kids to school, consider hosting a Weekly Welcome Table. This can simply be a table with a sandwich board sign set up in front of the school each week. It can be run by two parents for about 30 minutes at drop-off time.
Having a set and designated place where parents know they can find PTA members and ask questions means that there is a weekly person-to-person opportunity for parents to learn about events and be exposed to the PTA.
Use this table wisely:
- Hand out flyers with more info to parents who want them
- Display a sandwich board sign with information about upcoming events
- Display a few spirit wear items that parents may want to see/try on before purchasing
- Gather email addresses of parents who want to hear from the PTA
5 - Website and Parent Communication Emails
This is one of the easiest ways to explain what the PTA has been doing and why. An attractive website that is clean, modern and welcoming will give off a good vibe about your PTA.
Build an email list so you can keep families informed of what coming up, ask for their support and remind them to buy tickets and then show up to have some fun. This is easy to do with the PlanSocial website builder and event organizer app.
Again, don't forget to include information about what the funds are going towards.
6 - Local Community Outreach
Is your event open to the general public? If so, contact your local community publication, find out how to get coverage for school events. This would be a good project for a PTA parent who is a writer (or just enjoys writing) so ask around and see if anyone fits that description.
Once the article is published, display it on your school bulletin board as well as link to it on your website. Doing this reminds parents that they have an active PTA. Always follow up a display like this with an invitation to be a part of the PTA.
7 - Shirts for PTA Volunteers
If your PTA has several events each year, consider PTA “staff” shirts. If the regular volunteers or officers wear them on a consistent basis, students and parents will:
- Start recognizing who the active PTA members are
- Know who to talk to if they have questions or want to help
- Become more aware of the PTA
Get the Word Out
Make your PTA event successful by ensuring that parents know about it! Don’t stress out about how to promote it - just provide parents with information about what and why the PTA is doing what it is doing. Eventually, people will start paying more attention and that exposure will pay off.
And hey, you didn’t have to pay $5.5 million for it!
We'd love to hear what you guys are doing to draw attention to your PTA events and meetings. Let us know how you've publicized a recent PTA event in the comments below.
PlanSocial's easy-to-use digital tools empower PTAs and PTOs to connect their school community safely in a private Community Hub, where they can efficiently plan events and radically increase volunteers and fundraising. Start a free Community Hub here in 2 minutes!