The Seminar Scoop
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Keynote Speaker Duncan Wardle: Do It Like Disney!
By Kate Crowder
Nobody innovates quite like Disney. Monday's keynote speaker Duncan Wardle, who was head of innovation and creativity for Disney, took NSPRA attendees on a journey to show them how to tap into their inner child, disrupt norms and make space for innovation.
“I’ve heard that the keynote speakers were amazing at this conference, but I wasn’t expecting Disney,” said first-time attendee Tyler Nutt, a digital media specialist from Germantown Municipal School District in Tennessee.
Here are three takeaways to consider implementing in your district's brainstorming sessions:
Let your inner child shine
Did you know that most adults are only using 13 percent of their brains? Noting the key differences between children and adults, he suggests asking, "Why?" five times, like a child would. When you get to the fifth “why” in a series of questions, you are getting to the heart of someone.
"Yes, and …"
The next time your superintendent asks for, say, an unusual idea, try responding with “yes, and …” instead of "no, because ... . " The former approach open doors for collaboration and positive options to materialize as opposed to the latter approach, which tends to lead to dead ends.
Invite someone unexpected
When your leadership team is throwing ideas around, invite someone who would be considered a "naive" expert. A student, perhaps? Their contributions can make a difference and get everyone in the room to challenge their own "river of thinking," which is a more traditional way to classify people and behaviors.
What Belongs on Your Calendar?
Marketplace Product Demos
Stop by to see how these products can help your district achieve its goals.
9:05 to 9:25 a.m. in Riverwalk AB
An Ethics Framework for Communicators
In this interactive session, reputation management expert Michael Meath will get you thinking about some tough questions and offer some ways to make good decisions. In person session is on Tuesday, at 1:15 - 2:45 p.m., Chicago 7.
Perform Your Best With Healthy Boundaries
Congratulations to NSPRA's Newly Elected Officers
NSPRA is governed by an Executive Board composed of 12 officers. These four newly elected officers will begin their terms on October 1. From left are Northeast Region Vice President Lori Perlow; President-Elect Trent Allen, APR; and Mideast Region Vice President Karen Heath. Pictured at left is new Southwest Region Vice President Jennifer Dericco, APR.
Connections and Colleagues
Hitting the 'Sweet Spot' of Being a Mid-Career Professional
By Kate Crowder
In a presentation on "Hitting Your School PR Sweet Spot," Ashley-Michelle Thublin, APR, revealed that she has been rebranded as "Sprinklelicious." Maybe that has something to do with her recent visit to Chicago's Ice Cream Museum?
Over handfuls of candy, the audience heard enough sweet tips to fill three sessions. Here is a low-cal summary of strategies described by three presenters:
1. Be proactive, proactive, proactive
Thublin, who is director of strategic and crisis communication for Dublin City Schools in Georgia, shared her passion and diligence in updating the school safety communication plans twice each year. She described how her district increased open enrollment numbers and outlined her 2022 NSPRA Gold Medallion Award-winning campaign to change the name of a local elementary school.
2. Put systems into place and have those crucial conversations
Good teachers excel at planning, as so should PR professionals, said Melissa Robinette, director of public relations for the Spartanburg District Five Schools in South Carolina. She provided tips on creating checklists and checkpoints for school-based webmasters.
3. Take the temperature of communications at each school location
Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, APR, director of communications in Oconee County Schools in Georgia, shared her three-phase system for auditing school campus communications and her plan to visit with principals throughout the year.
Like a visit to a candy store, most attendees left with more than could be digested in one sitting. For material on topics including crisis communications, enrollment campaigns, superintendent searches and more, head to bit.ly/PRsweetspot.
Want to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations? Find Tips Online
Some sessions are virtual only, such as "Advanced PowerPoint" with Richard Goring of Bright Carbon in Cambridge, Mass. All attendees, in-person and virtual, have 30 days to watch this presentation (and all other recorded session presentations). Below is a before and after to show how to improve a slide. To watch the presentation, visit the virtual platform.
What School PR Pros can Learn From TikTok
By Andrew Robinson
With a voice that commanded the attention of coffee-sipping school PR professionals at an 8 a.m. session on Tuesday, an energetic Jason Wheeler, CPC, demanded change. “We have to pivot," said the director of communications for the Garland Independent School System in Texas. "We have to adjust what we are doing. We can’t be old school anymore. We have to be 'new school.'”
The reason is that public schools are increasingly finding themselves competing with private schools and charter schools for students. Homeschooling is another reason that public schools must improve in marketing their advantages, Wheeler said.
While many school administrators might balk at the thought of having a teacher become a viral TikTok influencer, Wheeler said that is precisely the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that will raise a district's visibility. Jason offered several other tips and tactics on using new platforms such as TikTok and Discord to reach intended audiences. By creating a parent blog, a district can disseminate quality content that parents can trust ... and collect email addresses for later outreach.
Another tactic is marketing to young people; studies have found that children influence where their parents choose to buy a house and what color car they buy, Wheeler said. It stands to reason that children will influence school choices.
Want to learn more? Watch a recorded version of Jason’s session on NSPRA's virtual platform.
Snaps from Sunday's Welcome Reception at Marshall's Landing
Trauma-Informed Lessons Learned During the Pandemic
When the Glens Falls City School District in upstate New York held a socially distanced graduation ceremony, Communications Director Skye Heritage lined up a series of iPads to live stream the event and capture every graduate. But one of the iPads stopped working in the heat, and a few graduates went unrecorded as they obtained their diplomas.
A parent emailed, “Is this the best you can do?”
It’s an example of the stresses nearly every school PR person has felt during the pandemic as they strived to create normalcy during an abnormal time period.
Heritage presented in a session called “I’m Fine? Taking the Trauma-Informed Pathway Back to Your Best Leader-Self” on Monday, July 18. To explain coping strategies, Heritage introduced her co-presenter (and BFF since age two), Sarah Byrne-Martelli, a board-certified palliative care chaplain.
Solutions include finding meaning in one’s work, accepting change and thinking of feelings as “tunnels” one goes through, Sarah said.
And of course, supporting each other when either is having a bad day or bad moment. Find someone “you can be a hot mess with,” Sarah advised.
Who's Playing the #K12prSockGame?
A Personal Perspective: Julie Thannum and the 2022 President's Award
By Josh Sauer, APR
Congratulations to my friend and mentor Julie Thannum, APR, for being named the 2022 President's Award recipient. The quality work she has done for the field of public school communications over the years is truly remarkable! I can say with certainty that if she hadn’t embraced me years ago and introduced me to others, I would not be where I am today.
Julie is one of those people who brings out the best in others. But, she also has no qualms challenging decisions and thought processes, including ones made by those she loves and respects. And she does it with civility and compassion.
Julie chose to amplify the voices of underdogs in her previous community and came under intense scrutiny for doing it. She embodies what it means to do what’s suitable for ALL kids. Congratulations on the impact you’ve made on so many people.