TEMPLATE - The Seminar Scoop
Monday, July 18, 2022
We Made NSPRA History Together!
Welcome to the 68th Annual NSPRA National Seminar where we are welcoming more than 1,500 in-person and virtual attendees! This record number is more than 400 attendees beyond NSPRA's most successful conference held in 2019 in Washington, D.C. This event brings together school PR pros, superintendents and other administrators who will learn how to communicate strategically, build trust and foster positive relationships in support of their school communities. Our hats are off to YOU!
She's Molly McGowan Gorsuch, APR! At a pinning ceremony, Molly (center) is congratulated on earning her accreditation in public relations by President-Elect Cathy Kedjidjian, APR. Looking on is another of her mentors, Southeast Region Vice President Cindy Warner, APR.
Five New Improvements for 2022 Seminar Attendees
By Andrew Robinson
Whether this is your first NSPRA Seminar or your twentieth, there are several additions this year to enhance your experience. We asked NSPRA Executive Director Barbara Hunter, APR, to share her top five:
1. More variety in session content
There were a record-breaking 150 session proposals submitted for only 100 available spots, which means the content this year will be some of the best ever. Also, there will be two sessions of the incredibly popular Gold Mine Roundtables, which highlight award-winning programs and best practices. These mini-sessions are presented at tables for 8-10 people in a sequence of three 20-minute rounds. Check them out on Wednesday from 8 to 9 a.m. and again at 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. in Chicago 6-7.
2. An expanded marketplace
The expanded NSPRA Marketplace welcomes a record number of 34 exhibitors this year. Check out the new live product demos on Monday and Tuesday in the Marketplace from 9:05 to 9:25 a.m. as well as a lively closing reception on Tuesday from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m.
3. Networking lunches
New at the Seminar are networking lunches today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) from 11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. in the Marketplace. Attendees can pick up their pre-purchased boxed lunches in Marketplace and join a table that suits their interests. These luncheons will give PR professionals time to connect on both personal and professional interests pertaining to the work they do every day. Topics were chosen by attendees and will cover professional and demographic-related interests. (Forgot to buy a lunch? No worries. Pick up a lunch in the hotel and join us!)
4. Relaxation station
Wait, what? You can learn, network AND get a little down time at the Seminar? NSPRA knows how deserving attendees are of a little pampering so we have partnered with Smore to bring you a place to unwind with seated chair massages, foot massagers, aromatherapy and fruit-infused water.
5. Mentor match reception
Celebrating its new Mentor Match program, which brought together more than 60 mentor and mentees this year, NSPRA will host an evening reception where these special professionals can meet up in person.
Totally Unfair to Only Highlight Three Sessions But Here They Are
Response and Recovery: Managing a Racial Crisis
What to do when our country's ideological divides are reflected in our own communities? Rick Kaufman, APR, executive director of community relations and emergency management for Bloomington (Minn.) schools, will tackle this tough question. A recorded presentation airs at 7 p.m. CST Monday on the virtual platform and a live presentation takes place at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Chicago 7.
Walk the Line: Navigating the Tightrope Between the Board and Your Boss
Reel Potential! Learn How to Leverage Instagram Reels to Grow Your Audience
Learn how Melissa Reese, communications manager for Allentown (Pa.) schools fell in love with short-form videos as way to engage audiences. A recorded session airs for virtual attendees at noon CST Monday on the virtual platform and the in-person session will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Chicago 6.
Stay Updated on Session Locations and Status
Stay updated by referring to the Session List in the NSPRA Seminar mobile app for the latest room location and status of today's sessions. Any changes from the printed program book will be reflected in the mobile app.
NOTE: The NSPRA Seminar mobile app displays information specific to the in-person Seminar only. Click here to view the virtual event schedule. VIrtual sessions will be available on demand for 30 days after airing for both in-person and virtual attendees on this platform.
Who Traveled the Farthest to be Here? Meet Joe from Brazil
Joe Alessandro is a school public relations specialist serving 10 schools in Brazil. Unless we're mistaken, his flight from Rio de Janeiro was the longest travel to Chicago. (Let us know if your trip was longer!) We asked Joe what motivated him to make the long trek. His answer:
"There is no other place in the world where I can meet more than a thousand of school public relations specialists - people like me! I was in Washington for NSPRA's 2019 Seminar and I know this annual event is awesome! And this year is very special for me because I'm going to speak at a Gold Mine Session Roundtable. I've delivered the same information in Brazil hundreds of times, but this will be the first time making my speech (Three Big Facts about School Communication) in English! Hope to see everyone at my session at 9 a.m. on Wednesday!"
Loved Reading About Joe ... But What's the Wi-Fi Password?
Click on the Wi-Fi network called 2022 Seminar and enter the password NSPRA22. Once online, be sure to download the NSPRA app if you haven't already done so. Enabling push notifications will ensure your don't miss a beat and any important changes you need to know.
Sock It To Us
By Kate Crowder
The last time NSPRA was in Chicago back in 2016, Shawn McKillop, APR, got some mischief started with some other men at a general session. “We began showing off our socks waiting for the keynote speaker," recalled McKillop, manager of communications and community engagement for the Hamilton Wentworth schools in Hamilton, Ontario. "Then I started posting [my socks] to Twitter," he said.
This has evolved into the 2022 hashtag #k12prsockgame. One challenger this year is Matt Stamp, communications director for Pima County schools in Arizona. He has brought some socks featuring dueling narwhals and unicorns.
McKillop is prepared for the challenge. “I’ve packed ten pairs of socks this year, so you’ll have to follow along on Twitter for the daily reveal,” he said. Okay, but it's only a four-day conference, Shawn!
Share your best socks on Twitter under the hashtag #k12prsockgame.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Chicago Seminar Experience
By Andrew Robinson
Shall we start with a recommendation for Chicago-style deep dish pizza? Try Lou Malnati's Pizzeria at 410 N. Michigan Ave. (about a seven-minute walk from the Sheraton). Add a stop at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (646 Michigan Ave.) for a Starbucks experience unlike any you’ve had before. According to Starbucks: "Our roasteries are theatrical, experiential shrines to coffee passion. Here, master roasters, mixologists and baristas ply their craft to coax perfectly flavorful, often unexpectedly artful expressions from our rare, single-origin coffees."
Inside the Sheraton Grand Chicago, be sure to do the following:
#1: Make connections!
Whether informally while waiting for the elevator or at one of the new networking lunches, take time to meet as many new school PR colleagues as you can. You never know when you’ll meet someone new who could become a lifetime friend or a mentor. Bonus tip: Be sure to save contact information from fellow attendees and follow them on Twitter. Join in the #K12PR conversation! Also, follow along and meet new friends using #NSPRA2022 and #WeMetatNSPRA.
#2: Choose your sessions carefully
Perusing the list of sessions can certainly feel overwhelming, especially when you see two sessions relevant to your challenges during the same timeframe. Divide and conquer by asking a colleague or someone you met at the seminar to split the sessions and compare notes. Don’t hesitate to leave a session if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. You're sure to find another with tools and tips to enhance your practice. Bonus tip: You can watch Skill Session recordings on the online event platform, so you can attend one in person and catch the other one later through the on-demand feature for up to 30 days after the seminar is over.
#3: Build in time for breaks
Even for extroverts, being at NSPRA can be overwhelming. The adage goes, “Work Hard. Play Hard. Sleep When You Get Home.” But you should spend time at NSPRA’s Relaxation Station and find other ways to recharge when you need a break. Bonus tip: Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated!
One last tip: Make lists of your take-aways. What can you do right now to improve your practice? What can you do within the next year to improve your practice? What would you like to keep on the back burner but not forget? Organizing your notes in this fashion will help you be more productive in the year ahead, as well as provide a quick way to answer questions from school leaders back home about what you got out of attending the Seminar.
Sold-Out Pre-Seminar Examines "The Communicating Principal"
By Kate Crowder
Having superintendents at NSPRA's annual Seminar is nothing new. But school principals have been harder to find ... until this year.
On Saturday, a sold-out pre-seminar entitled, The Communicating Principal, was held for 32 attendees. All participants received a new book with the same name from presenters and PR gurus Trinette Marquis, APR, and Natalie Nash.
"Very enlightening!" was the reaction of Teresha Jones, a high school principal from Tuscaloosa, Ala. "It was good to hear from another perspective and be given practical tips for how we are communicating."
Marquis and Nash took a train-the-trainer approach. They provided tools including customizable slide decks, calendars for content and checklist templates. They also provided inspirational video clips and suggested icebreakers.
"I left here with a good idea about how I want to change and plan communication for my school -- for everyone from the custodian to the secretary to the other administrators,” Jones said.
What Do Virtual Attendees Want to Talk About?
Among this year's 1,500 attendees, about 120 are virtual. They gathered online Sunday for as session called Virtual Regional Colleague Connections. "It was great to see such a committed group of colleagues connecting on a Sunday from locations across the nation," said the moderator, Josh Sauer, APR, who is NSPRA's vice president of communication technology and innovation. "There was thoughtful discussion around overcoming employee burnout, strategic planning, perseverance and more."
How Much is NSPRA Growing?
At the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement on Sunday, NSPRA President Nicole Kirby, APR, announced there are now 2,432 NSPRA members. That is a ____ percent increase over last year.
A. 5 percent
B. 9 percent
C. 11 percent
D. 17 percent
Hint: It's a big number -- even more than inflation! The answer is C. Our association hasn't had so many members in 30 years!
Images from the Weekend
Above, CalSPRA President Jessica Hull, chief communications officer of the Carmel Unified School District, leads a session for NSPRA chapter leaders. Below, these school PR pros gathered to run a 5K fun run along Lake Michigan on Sunday morning.