35 Under 35 Class of 2020-21: Eric Hagemann

Eric Hagemann
Eric Hagemann  
Osseo Area Schools, Maple Grove, Minn.
@EricHagemann  @ISD279



What does leadership mean to you?

The best leaders show up for their team and organization every day, all while staying true to themselves. This focus on authenticity is a key tenet of successful leadership; when it is missing, leaders cannot foster strong relationships or establish trust with others. Authentic leaders are better equipped to lead with heart and passion–especially helpful during the stressful times school communicators encounter. In a mission-driven field such as school public relations, you can’t go wrong when leading with authenticity.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
When we decided to move forward with a new web presence for Osseo Area Schools in October 2019, it seemed like a great idea. Several months later, in the middle of a website redesign AND a global pandemic that changed every aspect of how our schools operate, it did not seem like such a great idea. Although it has not fully sunk in yet, our successful launch in October 2020 was the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work and many months of weekend and late-night troubleshooting. While certainly the most stressful professional experience of my career, taking the lead on the strategy, design and implementation of our beautiful, mobile-first new websites has also been the most fulfilling.

What are the most  rewarding parts about working in school PR?
The most rewarding part about working in school PR is knowing the positive impact that my work has on our students and families every day. Whether we’re creating mobile-first websites for better user experiences, helping coordinate translations for families who speak languages other than English, or posting social media highlights that share how students are achieving their dreams, our work is vital and impactful and necessary. I’ve learned that school PR is not for the faint of heart, but also that the challenging times can often be rewarding in the long run.

How have NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?
NSPRA and my state chapter, MinnSPRA, have been invaluable to me during my tenure in school PR. I attended my first NSPRA seminar after two weeks on the job and haven’t looked back since. I’m especially grateful to have such a strong state chapter that provides countless opportunities for professional development throughout the year. I would not be as confident in my abilities without the support of these two organizations or the folks I’ve met along the way. School PR professionals are some of the most talented and inspiring people I know, and several leaders have played a large role in my professional development: Barb Nicol, APR; Jake Sturgis, APR; Janet Swiecichowski, APR; Chelsea Janke; and my fearless supervisor, Barb Olson, APR.

What are your favorite work and personal apps?
I often use InDesign to create district collateral, but I’m falling in love with Canva, too! It’s super easy to use and provides endless options to create professional graphics for any use. I also love seeing creative storytelling on Instagram and often draw inspiration for my own communications. I believe there are huge opportunities for Instagram at the school/district level and I look forward to exploring this more in the future.

What book has inspired you professionally?
“The Leadership Challenge” opened my eyes to the qualities of effective leaders, and it’s a text I reference frequently to keep myself centered. In addition, “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” is a book I discovered through a MinnSPRA book club several years ago but has had a lasting impact on me. Osseo Area Schools is a racially diverse district and this book has been an integral part of my personal and professional racial equity journey.

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?
I am a huge Olympics fan. Earlier this fall, I was so impressed by the campaign for the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games. One key component of this campaign included tapping into a group of LA-based artists, icons and influencers to create their own LA28 logos. The idea is that Los Angeles is a place where millions of people speaking hundreds of languages come together and that the city defies a singular identity. This is pretty revolutionary for the Olympic organization, which typically enforces strict brand standards and requirements for host cities. By engaging numerous individuals in the creative process, the LA28 organizers are creating buzz and generating interest for the Games–eight years in advance. It’s pretty genius.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited?
I think there are exciting ways that Instagram can help schools and districts market themselves to prospective students and families. In this era of school choice, it’s critical that districts understand the things that differentiate them from their competitors. From Instagram stories that highlight opportunities and partnerships to multimedia “day in the life” type content, the marketing possibilities are endless. I’ve been really impressed with how several districts throughout the country have leveraged Instagram to boost their social presence, and I’m excited to explore this option further for my district.