They’ve discovered that mass notifications are an efficient and effective way to communicate with campus stakeholders in a crisis, such as an active shooter scenario or a weather emergency.
However, campuses are missing out. Most can maximize their use of mass notification systems beyond crises and use notifications creatively for important, non-emergency communication as well. Let’s look at some ways in which every division of a campus can take better advantage of a mass notification system and bolster communication with stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff, families, media, alumni, governing board, community members and others.
When you’re considering how to better use a mass notification system, keep in mind that practically every aspect of campus life has gone digital, in whole or in part, with e-learning, websites, social media and mobile apps all part of everyday life for your campus community. Your stakeholders, for the most part, are comfortable with digital communications and expect it. Particularly for traditional students, phones are their lifeline to every kind of communication; 25 percent of millennials look at their mobile phone more than 100 times every day.[i] They expect mass notifications as part of the mix.
When you reach out to stakeholders on the channels they prefer to use, you are helping create the kind of campus that values communication – precisely is the kind of campus people with which people want to be associated. Communication is a dialogue that can engage stakeholders and contribute to the overall well-being of both an institution and the people who comprise it. Take some time to consider how using mass notifications can strengthen your campus communication overall. Don’t afraid to get creative – mass notifications are not exclusively the realm of emergency services.
As we’ve mentioned, many higher education institutions are adept at using mass notifications for issues related to safety. However, even in that vital area, usage can be expanded so that it extends beyond only emergency circumstances.
Recently, Campus Safety magazine noted that more than half of higher education institutions (57 percent) used their mass notification system fewer than five times annually, with 22 percent using it less than twice annually.
Those campuses that do use their mass notification system to something closer to its potential – which is to say more than twice or five times a year – use it to share information about various issues that are time sensitive. The most common mass notifications focus on severe weather communication (92 percent), active shooter scenarios (75 percent), class cancellations (59 percent) and Clery Act requirements (41 percent) which indicate an immediate, significant danger to the health or safety of campus.[ii] Such usage is good, and appropriate, but it truly can be just the start.
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