Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'The Mom Next Door' and School PR

A recent study found that more moms make in-person recommendations (83%) than recommendations via social media (53%) which should cause school PR people to pause a moment and think about your school district's in-person contact with parents, especially moms.

The recently released study entitled The Mom Next Door: Why and How Moms Make Recommendations by 360PR and Mom It Forward provides interesting data on how moms make recommendations in-person and online. I can see it being useful for brands to dig into for thoughts on trustworthiness.

Among the Mom Next Door survey findings:
  • 71% of moms make recommendations about brands, products and services to other moms at least monthly; 
  • 50% of moms making recommendations about brands daily; 
  • 93% of moms are influenced to some extent by other moms’ recommendations.

The parts of the survey I found most relevant for school PR pros relate to trutworthiness and where moms meet-up. According to the survey, the majority of moms rate in-person recommendations as more trustworthy than recommendations via social media.
  • 59% of moms give in-person recommendations the highest possible rating for trustworthiness; and
  • only 14% of moms rated recommendations via social media as “most trustworthy.”
Moms interact with other moms most often at their child’s daycare or school (58%), at a friend’s house (54%) or another off-line get-together (48%) – meeting for coffee, shopping, working out, etc.

Why this is important for school PR
The data on in-person recommendations and locations of interactions with other moms at daycare or school should perk up the interest of school communicators. That 58% of moms interacting with other moms at their daycare or school is a useful data point because it points to an easily ignored truth when it comes to communication: moms come to the schools. 

We spend so much time thinking about how to leverage the digital communication channels through online outreach, social media tools, e-newsletters, etc. which is all well and good since we can be highly efficient with our efforts by using these channels. We should definitely keep using online tools to hopefully provide that 35% of moms meeting-up online with timely, honest, accurate, relevant information. But, we must be mindful of our in-person communication touch-points with moms (parents) so that the larger percentage get the information they need as well. Think of it this way with a few types of campus-parent interaction opportunities for communication success or failure: 
  • campus/district special events, activities, or sports; 
  • before/after school drop-off and pick-up;
  • anytime volunteers are on campus; 
  • PTA/PTO meetings;
How a campus appears, how its staff interacts with parents and the available messaging and signage locations are all three things never to be overlooked. I'd argue that many problems or misunderstandings could be mitigated with some consideration to communication. Sometimes we get caught up in the luster of the shiny objects and forget a simple explanatory handout would suffice. 

If we hope to be included among the (hopefully) positive in-person interactions and recommendations between moms, we'd better not forget when, where, and how we'll get those chances.