Become a Member
In addition to the popular Mid-Career track, a New Professionals track has been added to the 2023-24 NSPRA Academy program! Enrollment is now open for both:
Designed for school public relations practitioners who identify as newer to the field (generally, zero to three years’ experience), participants in the eight-month program will work with the course facilitator and guest speakers to understand the role of communications in a school district, including education-specific learning, building a library of resources, best practices for daily communications as well as in crisis, and a contingency plan for others in their absence. In addition, participants will be able to select some learning modules that match their job descriptions and hear from guest speakers in a variety of areas to learn more about the issues and trends that school public relations practitioners face.
At the end of the NSPRA Academy New Professionals track, participants will be able to:
Each of the eight modules will take place on Fridays for two hours, beginning on September 8.
Each live, virtual module will be two hours in length, beginning at 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT, 12 p.m. MT, 11 a.m. PT). Modules will be delivered via a Zoom meeting facilitated by NSPRA Manager of Professional Development and Member Engagement Melissa McConnell and led by NSPRA members with expertise and experience in each module's focus area.
New school PR professionals will hear from superintendents on what they expect from school communicators. Topics will include identifying what superintendents need and want, having crucial conversations, landing a seat at the leadership table and understanding the role of communication in a district’s overall strategic plan.
This module will introduce new professionals to the world of education and school communications. Emphasis will also be placed on building a strong foundation of knowledge from which the participants can shape their career and school communications experiences. The facilitator will also begin an initial discussion about the participants’ capstone project.
This module will be devoted to becoming strategic in school communications, the foundation of a strong program. Participants will learn the importance of using the district’s strategic plan as a guide when developing a comprehensive communications plan. The facilitator will introduce the RPIE process and guide participants as they put their learning into action by drafting plans.
This module will emphasize the need for a robust library of campaign, crisis and event processes, plans and scripts. Being prepared to communicate with minor edits and knowing the best platforms to share key information help communication professionals to be seen as the trusted source for school district information. Staying digitally organized will assist participants in their efficiency and building capacity with district and building-level administrators.
+ Special Topic on Designing High Quality Professional Development
This module will focus on internal communications, which is a key piece of a successful communications strategy. The facilitator will discuss best practices for developing staff into ambassadors for your district, as well as providing them with quality professional development as it relates to communications. Self-care practices to guard against high levels of stress and burnout will also be shared.
Branding and Marketing
+ Special Topic on Logos
This module will assist participants in understanding the difference between brands, logos, mission statements and other assets that identify their districts. Marketing is now a critical piece of any district’s strategic plan, but many professionals are unsure what that looks like for their district. Participants will learn skills and strategies to confidently assist district leaders in branding and marketing their district.
Navigating the political realities of school boards and the communities a school district serves are critical to the success of a school communications program. Participants will identify key communicators in their communities, including other government officials, citizen advocates, as well as business leaders, associations and agencies who can become partners in district efforts.
Participants will participate in a speed learning breakout room experience, rotating into each room to learn and share. School PR pros who are specialists in these areas will lead the conversation: photography, videography, social media, AP style, accessibility, webmaster, graphic design, working with the media and more.
Participants will work with the course facilitator on completing their capstone project, a research-driven strategic communication plan for their school, school district or educational service agency.
Join your cohort peers to be recognized and celebrated for your dedication and commitment to advancing your professional development at the NSPRA 2024 National Seminar in Seattle, July 14-17. There will be an opportunity for selected capstone projects to be presented to Seminar attendees and shared with NSPRA members.
Invest in your professional growth and enroll today! Cost for NSPRA members is $1,500. Cost for non-members is $2,000.
Designed for school public relations practitioners with four to 14 years of experience in the field, participants in the program will work with the course facilitator to build a research-driven strategic communication plan for their school or school district; participants will have opportunities to meet one-on-one with both the course facilitator and an NSPRA peer reviewer who can offer feedback and input during the process.
In addition, participants will hear from guest speakers in a variety of areas to learn more about the issues and trends that school public relations practitioners face, including topics related to ethics, law, behavioral communication and business literacy.
At the end of the NSPRA Academy Mid-Career Professionals track, participants will be able to:
Each of the seven modules will take place on Saturdays for three hours, beginning on September 30.
Each live, virtual module will be three hours in length, running from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. ET (9 a.m. - noon CT, 8 - 11 a.m. MT, 7 - 10 a.m. PT). Modules will be delivered via a Zoom meeting by Dr. Kenon A. Brown, professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He is also the graduate coordinator for A+PR, specifically in charge of its master's program.
Overview of the Strategic Communication Planning Process
+Special Topic Area on Ethical Communication in a Dynamic World
This module will focus on revisiting (or introducing for some) the four-step strategic planning process in public relations (research, planning, implementation, evaluation). Rather than just a review of the strategic communication planning process, emphasis will also be placed on how the evolving communication landscape has complicated—and in some cases, improved—the process and its application. The facilitator will also begin an initial discussion about the capstone project with the members.
Assessing Your Communication Opportunity: The Importance of Research
+ Special Topic Area on Community Engagement
This module will be devoted to the most important—yet the most tedious—step in the process: developing and executing a research plan. The focus will be on understanding how to conduct research effectively and efficiently to better understand your situation, your school district and your stakeholders. The facilitator will discuss the vast array of secondary research that is at your fingertips. The facilitator will also discuss tools that are available that can help practitioners conduct simple primary research. The discussion will culminate with a workshop on creating better SWOT analyses and stakeholder profiles.
How Do I Measure That? Setting Realistic Benchmarks
+ Special Topic on Public Relations Law
The foundation of the strategic communication plan is the end game – your goals and objectives. This module will emphasize the need for ambitious, yet realistic benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your plan. A discussion about understanding your limitations and knowing the difference between operational and communication issues will lead into a workshop on forward-thinking goals and developing solid, measurable objectives based on those goals.
Building Better Communication Strategies
+ Special Topic on Behavioral Communication
This module will focus on the other part of the planning process: determining how to meet your goals and objectives. The facilitator will discuss the variety of options that you can use to build your strategies while also providing insight into choosing the right (not the easiest) approach to achieving your goals. Messaging will be a focal point of this discussion, with emphasis on creating a message strategy that will resonate with all stakeholders.
Choosing the Right Communication Channels
+ Special Topic on Social Media Crises
It’s no secret that the communication landscape now is vastly different than it was 15, 10 or even five years ago. Should you use a flier to get the word out to your students, or would a Tik Tok video get the job done better? Does the standard email communication always work for parents? This module will discuss the communication evolution. The facilitator will lead a discussion on the fragmentation of media channels (how did we go from four major TV stations to having to purchase eight streaming services) and why understanding this is important to choosing the right channels to communicate your message based on your stakeholders.
Time and Money: The Important Resources
+ Special Topic on Financial Literacy
The first half of this module will focus on two components of the strategic communication plan that are usually overlooked: the budget and the timetable. The facilitator will discuss how to build development, execution and evaluation into a comprehensive timetable. The elements of a communication budget will be covered in this module as well. The discussion will end with tips for how to discuss the costs for effective communication with school boards, taxpayers and other funding gatekeepers and how sound communication can affect the bottom line.
The Measure of Success: Evaluation
+ Special Topic on Lessons in Effective Leadership
The final module will focus on the last step of the four-step process: evaluation. How do you make sure you measure your success correctly? Tying closely to Module 3, the facilitator will spend the first half of this module discussing easy ways to get the comprehensive data you need to make sure your strategic communication plans are effective. Using your objectives as a guide, this discussion will discuss the formal and informal ways to measure your success, as well as how to present the findings to your supervisors and managers to justify the next project.
Participants will work with Dr. Brown on completing their capstone project, a research-driven strategic communication plan for their school, school district or educational service agency.