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NSPRA Academy

NSPRA Academy logo.UPDATE: Registration for the fall 2022 NSPRA Academy has closed. Registration for the next Academy class will be announced as information becomes available.

The National School Public Relations Association Academy is uniquely designed to deliver targeted learning in specialized areas of school public relations practice to a cohort of peers who will regularly meet over time, resulting in a powerful network and professional growth.

Launching in September 2022 is the Academy’s new Mid-Career Track for practitioners to gain additional training and knowledge in strategic planning for public relations programs and campaigns. 

Mid-Career Track – New!

Are you ready to learn how to achieve your communication goals more effectively? Have you been putting off developing a strategic communication plan for your school district or agency? Have you been working in school communications for 4 - 14 years?  

If any of your answers are “yes,” then the new NSPRA Academy is for you!

Over the course of eight months, up to 40 participants will learn about seven areas of strategic importance. Leading NSPRA’s new program is Kenon Brown, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Alabama. In addition to Dr. Brown, an expert guest speaker will lead a portion of each cohort meeting that is focused on a special communications topic.

Participants also will complete a capstone projecting, working with Dr. Brown to build a research-driven strategic communication plan for their school, school district or educational service agency. 

To minimize disruptions and distractions from the workday, classes will be held virtually once a month on Saturday for three hours. 

Program Learning Objectives

At the end of the NSPRA Academy’s Mid-Career Track program, participants will be able to: 

  • Determine the best available strategies for conducting secondary and primary research effectively to assess and understand their organization’s situation.
  • Identify metrics that will help set measurable, realistic objectives for their strategic communication plans.
  • Understand the complexities of the current communication landscape to determine the best media strategies and tactics for their strategic communication plans. 
  • Create budgets and timetables for strategic communication plans that will help better communicate the need for and importance of programs to decision-makers.
  • Connect with a cohort of practitioners to gain expertise and advice that will polish their skills as public relations professionals. 

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, associate 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.

Kenon A. Brown is an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations (A+PR) at the University of Alabama. As the programming director for the Alabama Program in Sports Communication, he is responsible for stakeholder communication and events for the program. He is also the graduate coordinator for A+PR, specifically in charge of its master's program. Kenon joined the department in August 2012 after completing his doctorate at Alabama. Prior to his academic appointment, he worked for eight years in restaurant management and marketing. His research interests include image and reputation management, particularly in sports, and minority recruitment in mass communication. Kenon has worked closely with several sport and entertainment organizations, including the International Olympic Committee, FOX Sports, Twitch, NASCAR and the Country Music Association. Keeping with his practitioner roots, he also consults with several regional and national clients, specifically assisting with market research and strategic planning.

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 (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) 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 (e.g., 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.

Join your cohort peers to be recognized and celebrated for your dedication and commitment to advancing your professional development at the NSPRA 2023 National Seminar in St. Louis, July 16-19. 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 by becoming part of the 2022-23 Academy cohort for mid-career professionals! First class begins on Saturday, Sept. 17, so you are encouraged to enroll by Wednesday, Aug. 31. All assigned reading materials and access to the Blackboard learning management system are included in the program’s cost. 

NSPRA Member ……………………. $1,000

Non-Member ……….................……. $1,500

UPDATE: NSPRA Academy enrollment is now full, and registration has closed. Registration for the next NSPRA Academy class will be announced as information becomes available.

Hear from NSPRA Academy Instructor Kenon Brown, Ph.D., on the top four reasons school public relations professionals should enroll in NSPRA Academy.