35 Under 35 Class of 2020-21: Cody Kennedy

Cody KennedyCody Kennedy

Communications and Media Manager
Olathe (Kan.) Public Schools

Twitter: @iamcodykennedy @olatheschools

What does leadership mean to you?
For me, leadership and humility go hand in hand. Recognizing where you or your organization has room for growth and listening is a necessary step in moving forward. It’s imperative to keep learning and adapting, so that you continue growing. A true pillar of leadership is leading by example, only asking others to do things if you would do them yourself. No task is ever too small; it takes everyone in order to move forward.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
Our communications team has had a great deal of success in recent years with landing national pitches and earning awards at the regional, national and international level, but honestly, it’s fulfilling to thoroughly enjoy your job day in and day out and be surrounded by a team with a common goal and passion.

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding parts about working in school PR?
One of the most challenging aspects of being in school PR is that crises often happen outside of the normal workday. The time required to ensure transparency and accuracy is vital, but public relations is a field where time is a luxury and often you are forced to pivot in a moment’s notice. The biggest reward without a doubt is being a servant for my community. Making a difference by providing information, providing help and resolve in a challenging moment, or highlighting the amazing work of students and staff members is a responsibility and role that I don’t take for granted.

How have NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?
It was inspiring to attend my first KanSPRA conference and to meet other school PR professionals in Kansas who wanted to help you achieve your personal best. After attending my first NSPRA Seminar, my passion for school PR exploded. The friendships, resources and ideas I’ve gained from both the Kansas chapter and NSPRA are invaluable. The connections I’ve made and the resources shared have directly impacted our district’s communication and messaging. Collaborating with others who share a similar role is a motivating and exciting experience.

What are your favorite work and personal apps?
Apps like Canva, Color Splash, Over, Cannon Camera Connect and Photoshop enable me to work across multiple devices to create content on the go or at my desk.

What book has inspired you professionally?
Grit to Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?
I started out in sports marketing,  so stylistically I’m most inspired by how sports teams communicate on social media, specifically the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Kansas City Chiefs. They seem to have an incredible feel of the pulse of their followers and feel of the community in order to appeal and connect. The visual components coupled with succinct messaging is true artwork.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited?
It will be interesting to see where school PR goes beyond 2020. This year has been challenging in every way and has placed a spotlight on how vital it is to have effective and clear communication. As trends come and go, being transparent, speaking your truth and remaining calm, steady and graceful will always be the priority.