Making Your Internet Safety 101 Training a Success
As a community or school leader responsible for marketing an Internet Safety 101 training event the work can seem overwhelming and leave you uncertain about who will attend. The best-attended and most successful events, however, all share certain characteristics. Effective marketing about the program will also provide an additional benefit—you have an opportunity to get plugged into your children’s school or your community more deeply and build stronger relationships with school administrators and other community leaders.
Last fall, Trinity Christian School of Fairfax, Virginia, held a very successful training program that attracted more than 150 parents. For a school with a Middle and Upper school student population of approximately 400, and an entirely voluntary event, this represents a sizeable portion of the parent community. Inquiries and follow-up conversations among parents since the program occurred indicate that parents who were not able to attend are attempting to get the program and conversations about the topic are happening within the parent community. The goal of increasing parental attention on the issue of Internet Safety has been achieved.
There are only two simple keys to unlocking a great event: engaging the school or organization’s leadership and using their communications tools to announce and market the training event; and, building a team that will promote the event through individual invitation and word of mouth marketing.
Engaging the school or organization’s leadership
- Start talking with your school’s principal or headmaster early and educate them on the risks to students of inappropriate Internet and social networking. Purchase and provide them with a copy of the Internet Safety 101 (IS101) materials so that they can review them.
- Raise the issue as both a community need and a risk management issue. Principals, community leaders, and organization officials all understand the need to protect the children in their care and their school or organization from lawsuits, negative publicity, and damage to their reputation. Newspaper and media reports of Internet bullying, improper social networking between students and teachers, and sexual exploitation by predators appear regularly and preventive training can help schools and organizations manage these risks and better protect their children.
- Inquire of the organization or school leadership whether their insurance carrier will provide better coverage or lower rates as a result of such training. The material in the IS101 curriculum can serve as part of an effort to address sexual harassment training needs. In some cases, insurance carriers will provide only limited coverage until proof that staff or faculty have been trained on sexual harassment and proper use of electronic communications technology.
- Work with the school or organization’s leadership to schedule a training event in the same manner as any other major parent event. There should be no other competing activity on the organization or school calendar and sufficient time should be allotted for substantial training at the event. A two-hour program communicates the seriousness of the issue and makes it possible for those attending to get a substantial amount of information.
- In the event at the Fairfax school, the event was posted on the School’s activity calendar. The School also emailed all middle and upper school parents and posted information about the event shortly after it was scheduled.
- Make live appeals at school or organization sponsored events. The lead parent responsible for overseeing the event appeared at two back to school nights and made a presentation to all of the middle and upper school parents, setting out the date and speaking briefly about the need for such training. In addition, the School’s Headmaster also spoke to affirm the School’s view that the opportunity was a key to protecting the entire student body.
- The School sent a final email the day before the event reminding all parents about the training opportunity.
Build word of mouth marketing.
- One week prior to the parent training, an in-service training program on Internet safety was given to all faculty and staff at the school. As several faculty members are also parents of students at the school, additional word of mouth advertising from those faculty members was generated. The same result may be achieved by providing each faculty member with a “Rules and Tools” Booklet, which is part of the IS101 curriculum for their review a week or more prior to the parent training.
- The lead parent wrote a personal letter two days before the event and emailed it to all families in those grades where they had students.
- As you can see, capturing the attention of parents on such a important issue is possible once the leadership of the entity has been fully engaged. Likewise, as with most events, personal recommendations or encouragement work to communicate the importance of the event in ways that even official communications will not. By investing time to reach all of the parents whose children attend the school, Trinity Christian School was able to energize and equip a sizable portion of the school community and lay the groundwork for a continued focus on Internet safety.
Editor’s note: Please check out our “How to Use the Internet Safety 101 Program Guide” with more information to help you or contact us if you would like to become an Internet Safety 101 Program facilitator.
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