Lights On Afterschool is one of the best and brightest moments in the afterschool year, which makes it the perfect time to share the amazing work you’re doing in your program every day! As you plan your Lights On event, it’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to share the news of the event before, during, and after the celebration. Taking the time to figure out how you want to use your event to tell the story of afterschool involves finding your narrative and connecting to your audience — and we have some tips to help.
What does it mean to tell the story of afterschool? For the Afterschool Alliance, it means that we work every day to:
- share the message that “Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families,” and
- expand those opportunities to more kids across the nation.
With that as our cornerstone, we can begin to develop stories, share images, and produce videos that prove the positive impact that afterschool programs have on our kids — and make the case for more investment in the programs and practitioners that provide these benefits.
Think about the story that you want to tell during this Lights On Afterschool. Pick something specific to your program that you can highlight in your messaging and find ways to showcase it in your event!
For most programs, sharing stories about their kids and the activities they offer is the number-one way to show the impact of their program. Talking about how a sixth grader learned leadership skills through participating in an afterschool activity, highlighting a young child’s growing artistic ability, or sharing good news about a student’s academic improvements are engaging and exciting ways to tell your story.
Once you’ve got your cornerstone established, head to social media to tell your story. Here’s a quick checklist of strategies to employ as you share your message.
- Encourage parents to follow and retweet or share your updates, and to post about afterschool themselves. Parents can be powerful allies in getting the word out about your program and reaching out to policymakers!
- Follow other afterschool programs and national afterschool organizations to stay in touch with other practitioners in the field and share information and resources.
- Use our social media handle lookup tool to connect with your policymakers and keep your conversations with them going through Lights On Afterschool and beyond!
- Tag your posts with #AfterschoolWorks and #LightsOnAfterschool so you can connect with people who follow those tags.
- Not sure what to say? Check out our social media page and read through the social media guide to find sample posts and tweets that you can use to spread the word about your event.
Most social media platforms are visual mediums, so photos and videos are essential to good conversations and chances of being retweeted. Make the most of your event and your program’s every day work by taking good pictures!
- First things first: be sure to ask parents to give permission to have their children photographed and videotaped! You can use our photo release document if needed.
- People are much more likely to share and retweet a post that has images — be strategic about getting good pictures so you have plenty of images to choose from.
- For social media, bigger is better: the higher the resolution on your images, the better the quality of the picture and the more likely it is that people will share, retweet, and respond to it!
Of course, storytelling doesn’t happen online alone. Here are some offline tips to get your message out to the community.
- You get ten free posters when you register for Lights On: use them! Reserve some posters to use in your event venue and post the others on public bulletin boards and community gathering places.
- Reach out to local media, including newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations and invite them to cover your event or a typical day in your program.
- Invite your representatives to a site visit to show them what afterschool is all about (and of course, post on social media thanking them afterwards!).
- Get in touch with local businesses and organizations. Community partners like libraries and law enforcement often have shared goals with afterschool programs.
Finally, join us on September 27 for a special day of action dedicated to sharing the stories of afterschool programs from across the country. Tweet and post your images, videos, and messages about afterschool to your policymakers show them firsthand how afterschool works in your community!