Sometimes we forget how important those seemingly little things are. Simple, effective communications with parents are one of those things for PTOs and PTAs.

My school’s parent group recently completed a fairly extensive survey of all the parents. In the previous few years, we had made lots of changes and held tons of great family events, both old and new. We established new committees, brought in new volunteers, and got more organized in general.

After all that, the survey told us that the most appreciated change we made was the easiest—we started sending a once-per-week email to parents with updates and reminders. That’s it.

It’s the difference between “like” and “need,” really. While parents like the holiday shop and the mother-son and father-daughter events and they’re glad we’ve become more open and creative, they use the emails as a lifeline in the craziness of a typical week.

We remind about dates; we attach documents that need to be returned (doesn’t cost us more to attach it multiple times); we include pictures and thank-yous from recent events. Parents love it. There would be an uproar if we stopped doing it. And it’s about the easiest thing we do.

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The most amazing thing for me is just how easy that kind of communication has become in recent years. These new technologies provide an opportunity for you to serve parents well and very publicly (remember those survey results) without a huge increase in effort. Better yet, here’s a win you can achieve rather easily while also increasing the connection you have with parents for your larger events and efforts (like your big family fiesta or fundraiser).

The fundamental technologies that I see here are email and Facebook. If your parent group isn’t using both in some capacity, then you’re missing out on a simple chance to serve and connect. I think both are far more important than even a PTO website. Both email and Facebook allow your messages to get “pushed” out to your supporters rather than counting on those supporters to remember to visit your site.

It’s well past time to collect email addresses from your parents. Sure, remind parents that you won’t sell their addresses and won’t spam their inboxes, but in my experience you’ll get strong support if you tell people that you’d like to keep them up to date on scheduled events and reminders and opportunities. And make sure that you do use the emails to serve rather than always asking for more help or more money.

What’s the best technology for sending out PTO or PTA emails? I’m biased, but our recently relaunched Parent Express Email is perfect for this. It’s really simple and allows you to send nice-looking emails—even messages with pictures and attachments—to your whole group of parents or to a subset that you choose (like “all 3rd grade parents” or “all board members”).

Facebook, too, can be a powerful PTO tool. Did you know that adults between the ages of 35 and 54 are the fastest-growing population on the social networking site? Take an informal survey of parents at your school and ask how many have a Facebook account. If it’s higher than 50 percent, then your PTO should have an account, too. It’s a great place to post quick updates, schedule changes, even pictures of your latest events (feel free to leave out pictures of the kids). All the parents who “like” your group will get those updates immediately.

I check email all the time. I check my Facebook account at least once per day. The updates I get from school on both of those fronts get to me every time. I also try to find the parent messages in my kids’ backpack, but as the kids get older, fewer and fewer of those find their way to my wife and me. I can’t even remember the address of the PTO website.

A simple way to keep parents informed and happy and a first step to building even deeper connections with parents—that’s the power of these new technologies for your PTO or PTA. If you haven’t yet made this leap, the time is now.