35 Under 35 Class of 2020-21: Kate Brown

Kate Brown
Kate Brown
Waterford Union High School, Waterford, Wis.
@dabnkat  @WaterfordUnion



What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership involves the process of inspiring people to work together, motivate one another and pursue a common goal. A leader not only wants to facilitate the growth of their team, but is responsible for providing the tools and opportunities for people to be successful. Great leadership requires transparent communication, a goal that I actively pursue in my own work. Transparent communication is vital to creating organizations that function off of a shared vision and mutual goals, which in turn creates trust and accountability.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
Overall, the work that I get to do at Waterford including the sharing of the amazing stories of our students, staff and community provides me with great professional fulfillment. If I had to choose one moment that stands out,  it would have to be the chance to speak at a recent WSPRA state conference.  Although I may be quite an extrovert, for some reason the act of standing up and presenting scares me to death! However, I truly believe that schools are missing out on the power of social media and if I want to see change, I have to start the conversation. My presentation was titled “How an Anthropologie Sweater Changed my Career in Social Media.” I tied in my personal experiences from the business sector and how I was able to build our district page to a monetization level. Starting the conversation about the power of social media at this conference and beyond is a fulfilling endeavor.

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding parts about working in school PR?
The most challenging part about school PR is that you are trying to please the masses of people with limited money and resources. In the business sector, you typically have a target market and can design all your strategies accordingly. We do not have that luxury, and instead are aiming to please every stakeholder in our community, which can be challenging but is truly vital for schools.  My favorite part of School PR is being able to wear so many different hats! Where else could I be a content creator, event coordinator, public relations specialist, crisis communicator, social media expert, writer and all the other positions we get to do?

How have NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?

NSPRA and WSPRA  have been a huge part of my growth as I have been able to meet new people and continue my education. I was introduced to WSPRA when I was three months into my first job and I attended my first conference shortly after that. The education and professional development that I have been provided are unmatchable. After a state conference, a group of local school communication professionals started to meet so we could talk about our professions. If it were not for WSPRA, I would not have met these people and developed the friendships I have today.

What are your favorite work and personal apps?

My favorite work and  personal app right now is Linkedin. Personally, I enjoy being able to connect with other people in the marketing/communications/PR world from a variety of different sectors. I have made great friends and learn valuable insight from others on the platform. Professionally, this app allows organizations to find top talent, which ultimately is the main goal of any organization. Through this app I hope to create brand fans from the moment they start their employment with us and to continue their excitement for the years to come. 
Our Waterford Linkedin page allows us to see alumni so I am able to do feature stories on them. 
I am also a TikTok fan, I am trying to figure out how we could tie it in with the school district!

What book has inspired you professionally?
The book that really inspired me is “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. The overall theme of the book is that if you believe you will succeed, then you will. I have always been a big believer that the power of the mind and mental health in general are overlooked consistently in the workplace. If we focus on our mental well-being, the productivity, attitude and overall work enjoyment can only be increased. This book also challenged me to think outside the box and to believe that if I want to do something, the biggest challenge I face will be myself.

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?
I have really enjoyed watching McDonalds over this past year expand their influencer marketing through their different collaborations. The Travis Scott collaboration “Cactus Jack” I thought was genius and well executed. The campaign was simple, fun, and engaging for their audiences. When it was released, social media was blowing up and everyone wanted to try the meal. It was the first time in over 30 years that McDonalds did a celebrity collaboration; the last one they did was the McJordan with Michael Jordan. It shows that they are willing to adapt with the times and try something new. They just announced their next collaboration with J Balvin and it will supposedly include merchandise too.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited?
The shift to digital storytelling is an area I am excited to see schools expand upon. The need to increase communication, but through digital and creative forms is increasing, and schools understand that. People in our day and age do not read, they are scrolling constantly on a variety of platforms and we need to figure out a way to make them stop. We are fortunate that we have nothing but stories to feature and are able showcase the future leaders of our country. With digital storytelling comes social listening. People are more open to share their experience online: Facebook, Niche, Google, Rate My School, and many more. PR professionals have to listen so that we can control the narrative and set up our districts for future success.