Recruit and enroll
Now you know what you want to say and who your audience is, it's time to recruit and enroll students! It's a good idea to have a specified time period during which to recruit and enroll.
Think about where you want to recruit students for the program. There are many options: at the front desk in the school-based health center, with a trusted service provider, at a table at lunch, on the form to sign up for health center services, at a school-wide event, etc.
Think about incentives. Do you want to provide extra credit or another incentive for participating in the program?
You'll need posters, fliers, and enrollment forms for recruitment. Also, make sure to provide one-pagers about the program to all relevant staff at your school so that they can recruit and help students enroll. (See resources for samples.)
How you enroll students into your program will depend on your text-messaging application. Some allow you to text contacts that you have entered into the system manually. This information would come from enrollment forms.
Other applications require students to text a keyword to the application's short code from their phones to enroll. If students don't do that, you can't send them messages.
- Enrollment forms will provide you with information that you need, such as names and numbers, which you can then enter into the "Contacts" section in your text-messaging application.
- What's a keyword and short code? A short code is a 5- to 6-digit code provided by your text-messaging application, for example, 24646. A keyword is a word associated with your specific program, for example, "healthy." In order to enroll in the program, students would text the word "healthy" to the number 24646. If your application requires this, make sure that it is clear on all your outreach materials.
Enrollment forms can be used in concert with the keyword approach because they allow you to collect information. When students sign up via keyword, the number is anonymous. If you have enrollment forms, you can match up numbers to names. For certain programs, that may be a need.
Your enrollment form and marketing materials should include disclaimers so that students know what to expect. It is an industry standard that the first message that people receive after enrolling tells them that standard text messaging rates apply and how to unsubscribe. Unsubscribing is usually done by texting "STOP" to the short code.
Lessons from Ballard
At Ballard, we recruited in the school-based health center and health classes. Students were offered extra credit in health class to complete the program.
Call 'Em All requires that enrollees text a keyword to a short code before you can send them text messages. At the school-based health center, students were told about the program and encouraged to text "Ballard" to 292929 on the spot.
In the health classes, we handed out enrollment forms to students. However, students still had to text "Ballard" to 292929 to officially enroll. The enrollment forms provided us with names and numbers that we could enter as contacts into our text-messaging application. We were then able to track who had officially enrolled and who had not. This information was provided to health teachers so they could give extra credit.
Unfortunately, not all students who handed in enrollment forms in health class officially enrolled using the short code. We recommend asking interested students to use their phones to sign up on the spot to avoid this!