this is the one
Thursday, July 21, 2022
NSPRA Leadership Celebration and Transition
At Wednesday's President Installation and Gold Medallion Awards Celebration Luncheon, President-elect Cathy Kedjidjian, APR, (left) shared her vision for her upcoming 2022-23 presidency, while 2021-22 President Nicole Kirby, APR, (right) reflected on her past year as president. NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR, led the celebration of honors. NSPRA's leadership transition occurs annually on October 1.
NSPRA Members Express Heartfelt Appreciation for Each Other
"There is tremendous power in being surrounded by colleagues from across the nation who share the common bond of #schoolpr while bringing such breadth and depth of experiences," according to Mike Cyze, chief communication officer for the Dubuque Community School District in Iowa.
He posted his sentiments on Twitter with the hashtag #NSPRA2022. Others tweeted their reflections and sentiments, which ranged from expressing amazement over the quality of presentations to heartfelt gratitude for the authentic fellowship and companionship.
A presentation about the role of vulnerability in effective communications by Adam Harris prompted gushing praise online. "This was an AMAZING session that challenged me to reflect on and change the core of how I live and do my job," tweeted Jason Laz, communications specialist for the Troy City School District in New York. "THIS is what I am at #NSPRA2022 for."
"AMAZING session on vulnerability and storytelling with @aharrisSD25! What a genius!" tweeted Hillary C. Wright-Kaufman, coordinator of communications and public relations for Washington County Schools in Kentucky. Equally impressed was NSPRA Past President Julie Thannum, APR: "He has a packed room watching and listening to his advice and tips about finding 'easeful' ways to share your district’s story," she tweeted.
So, who is Adam Harris? An NSPRA 35 Under 35 award winner, Harris is head of communications and storytelling for the Arlington Heights School District 25, located just 24 miles from the Sheraton Grand Chicago. In his official district photo, he wears a baseball hat, backwards. A former NBC sports journalist who worked across the street from the Sheraton, his credo is, "There is a story in every classroom. And I plan to tell them." The Scoop will be following you on Twitter, Adam!
The #WeMetAtNSPRA tag was another vehicle for NSPRA Seminar attendees to express appreciation for each other. "Making meaningful connections and living the #schoolPR dream with my new PR bestie, @christy_mcgee at #NSPRA2022," wrote Skye Heritage, director of communications for the Glens Falls City Schools in New York. "We’re now co-presidents of the mutual admiration society for each other’s seminar presentations."
"I never take these moments for granted," wrote Steve King, president of NYSPRA and manager of public relations and digital communications for Capital Region BOCES in Albany, N.Y. "To be given a chance to talk about something I care a great deal about with a group of people who are equally passionate and curious never gets old."
Five Gold Mine Sessions Summarized in Four Words Each
By Kate Crowder
In another lifetime, I was a musician and was lucky enough to be part of the SXSW musical showcase in Austin, Texas. The scene is something I recall each time I step into an NSPRA Gold Mine session. Both are full of hyper-talented people with genius ideas, all doing their thing at the same time in the same place.
When I was asked to cover the Gold Mine sessions for the Scoop, I thought of how The New York Times covers SXSW. There is so much going on, they just give pithy four-word reviews.
(If you are wondering, here is how the Times covered my band: “Two-Way Radio: Homely, cute. Metal disrupts.”)
So, here is a list of five outstanding Gold Mine speakers, their topics and my four-word summaries. Where available, I provided a link for more information.
- Karen Geddes, APR, director of communications at Leyden High School District 212, Illinois. "Leyden’s One Amazing Story": Heartfelt. Less is More.
- Jose Oliveira, president, Regional Council of Public Relations Professionals, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "The 3 Big Facts of School Communication": Vivacious speaker, good reminders.
- Michael Petitti, director of communications at Radnor Township School District, Pa. Say Hello to the New RTSD.org: RPIE dictates website redesign.
- Kelly Avants, APR, chief communications officer at Clovis Unified School District, Calif. "Employee State of the District–Spring Update": Leafy green messages, mid-year.
- Raquel Tarin Williams, culture and engagement manager, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Colo. "Leaders of Color": Pronounced rrah-Kehl; value people!
So Many Sessions, So Little Time
More than 80 of the sessions presented in Chicago were pre-recorded for our virtual Seminar platform. All attendees (both in-person and virtual) have access to these recordings on the virtual event platform through August 17. If you have any questions or require assistance with the virtual event platform, please email email@example.com.
New Mentor Match Program Changes Lives
Tina Smith (left) and Tracy Jentz, APR, participate in NSPRA's Mentor Match program
What’s a Reverse Mentor? Another Great Peer Relationship
By Andrew Robinson
Tracy Jentz, APR, of Grand Fork Public Schools in North Dakota mentors Tina Smith of North Platt Public Schools in Nebraska. But Tracy says the learning goes both ways.
“We are reverse mentors,” Tracy said. “I learn just as much from my mentees and I am inspired by them. It’s always wonderful to give back to the school PR community.”
“Tracy changed my entire perspective on what obtaining an APR is like,” Tina said. “Her mentorship is a friendship and the friendship we’ve garnered has inspired me to be better and continue my APR journey.”
Tina and Tracy were brought together through NSPRA’s new Mentor Match program. The program reflects the organization’s commitment to professional development and ensures that all school PR professionals have the opportunity to learn from some of the best seasoned practitioners in the business.
On Tuesday evening, mentors and mentees gathered for the very first Mentor Match Networking Reception. Over a dozen mentors and their mentees met for the networking event, some meeting in person for the very first time. (Most mentoring conversations take place online, participants said.)
Among attendees were Mickie Plummer-Shepheard of Belton School District #124 in Missouri and her mentor, Catherine Carbone-Rogers, APR, of Highline Public Schools in Washington state.
“Catherine has shown me the foundations and building blocks of school communications,” Mickie said. “I don’t always know the 'why' behind things and she can explain that 'why' to me.”
The Seminar Experience through the Eyes of Three Spouses
By Kate Crowder
In 2021, NSPRA Past President Julie Thannum, APR, coined the term "SpouseSPRA" in a Scoop article. Turns out it's a thing! During our time in Chicago, we caught up with a few spouses and asked what their Seminar experience was like. We talked with:
- Justin Davis, a nurse in a mental health wing of a hospital, who is married to Hannah Davis, communications director for Putnam County Schools in Tennessee.
- Clifford Kaufman, a mechanic, who is married to Hillary Wright-Kaufman, coordinator of Communications and Public Relations in Washington County Schools in Kentucky.
- Claire Huddleston, morning news anchor for WBR Fox-6 in Birmingham, who is married to John Huddleston, communications supervisor in Jefferson County Schools, Alabama.
“This is my first NSPRA and I told my wife that this is the friendliest conference she’s ever brought me to, everyone is so down to Earth," said Justin. "NSPRA takes networking and open sharing very seriously!”
Clifford, who explored museums while his wife was in sessions, said being a spouse requires understanding of the demands of school PR work. “Offer that support and understanding when your partner has to work late or can’t get dinner on the table,” he said.
Claire, who works in media herself, loved hearing the perspective of people on the other side of the microphone. “I’ve really enjoyed hearing about all of the sessions that cover how to deal with the media,” she said.
“All I know is that none of you [k12 PR folks] get paid nearly enough,” said Justin.
Build Your Own Social Media Network
By Andrew Robinson
Finding the best ways to tell your school division’s story is at the heart of what many of us do in our school PR roles. We rely on staff to pass along positive stories with us that we can share with the broader community. When staff are given the keys in telling their own stories, these stories are amplified and engagement across social media increases. But coordination is essential.
That is what Cailtin Wiedenheft of Linn-Mar Community School District in Marion, Iowa, shared in a session called “Build Your Own Social Media Network.”
When Caitlin started her job, she immediately noticed that each school was creating and posting its own weather delay and cancelation announcements. Some would even go as far as taking a screenshot of a text message and posting it to the school social page.
Following a comprehensive social media audit, Caitlin now ensures that each school is equipped with consistent, branded graphics. She also uses a spreadsheet to collect account information and sends messages to her school's social media network through a group email address.
“We grew our audience by posting less but more meaningful content which parents are interacting with,” Caitlin said.
As you move your social media strategy forward, Caitlin advises harnessing the power of the unique personalities in your schools to help your brand and show students and staff shining in a new and more positive light.
Memories of the 2022 Seminar
NSPRA Depends on Your Feedback
We know school PR pros love to share their thoughts ... and we want YOURS on the Seminar so we can continue to provide a stellar experience! Please complete the NSPRA 2022 Seminar evaluation survey by Friday, August 19. The feedback you provide about your experience – whether you attended in person or virtually – will help shape future Seminars.