NSPRA National School Communication Awards

NOTE: The deadline to submit 2022 School Communication Award entries has now passed. Thank you to all who submitted entries! 

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), recognized as the Leader in School Communication, has honored the best work in school communication for more than 50 years. Earn national recognition for your district or organization’s school communications efforts by submitting your best work to any or all of the three award programs:

Program recognizes superior educational public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices.
Entry deadline: March 28, 2022
 
Program recognizes outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communications, marketing and engagement.
Entry deadline: March 28, 2022
 
Program recognizes outstanding work in educational communications, including print and digital publications, video, audio, websites, social media and more.
Entry deadline: April 4, 2022
 
 
Questions? Email sloughlin@nspra.org or call (301) 519-1221.

Awards Program and Entry Submission Overview

Entries for all award programs must be submitted through NSPRA's online awards submission system at www.nspra.org/award-apply. Videos on the login process and submission process are available to help you use this system.

Entries may be submitted in each program by public school systems, charter schools, private schools, community or vocational/technical colleges, state/national education groups, education service agencies (ESA), intermediate units (IU), boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES),  and any agency, consultant or business in partnership with any of the aforementioned education entities.

Awards Submission System Login Instructions

  • NSPRA Members: The username (i.e., your email address) and password you use to login to the NSPRA website can be used to login to the submission system. If you can't remember your password, reset your password here. 
  • Nonmembers: If you've submitted entries in the system before, reuse the username and password you used previously. If you haven't submitted an entry before, you will be able to create a new profile in the system.

Entry Upload and Submission Instructions

  • Upload entry submission files as PDFs. 
  • If the information for an entry is incomplete, you can save and return to the entry later.
  • If the information for an entry is complete, add it to your cart. When an entry is in your cart, you can still make changes to the entry or add additional entries up until you click Save and Finalize, and then checkout to submit your payment. After checkout, no more changes may be made to an entry.

Review award criteria, rules and deadlines for each program carefully below; download the awards contest brochure for an overview (PDF). FAQs can be found here.

NOTE: All entries become part of NSPRA’s resource files. All materials submitted may be reproduced, displayed, referenced or summarized in any NSPRA publication, website or other resource. 

 


Gold Medallion Awards

Entry deadline: March 28, 2022  Winners will be notified in May 2022.
Fee per entry: $175 for members, $235 for non-members
Submission portal: www.nspra.org/award-apply
 

NSPRA’s Gold Medallion Award is the top national competition in North America recognizing superior school public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices. As this is a highly competitive award, entrants are encouraged to watch NSPRA's webinar "How to Prepare a Gold Medallion Entry" and review past Gold Medallion winners for an overview of the award process and successful entries.

Winning entries will be recognized nationally and awarded Gold Medallions at the NSPRA 2022 National Seminar in Chicago.

What programs/projects/campaigns are eligible for entry?

Strategic programs, projects and campaigns submitted for Gold Medallion consideration must be entered in one of six categories, listed below. In each category, judges may select one winner, more than one winner or no winners. 

  • Bond/Finance Campaign

  • Comprehensive, Strategic, Year-Round Communication Program
  • Crisis Communication Campaign (all types of crises, including COVID-19)
  • Marketing Communication Campaign
  • Public Engagement/Parental Involvement Campaign
  • Special Communication Project/Campaign

Programs/projects/campaigns must have been underway or completed between March 2021 and the contest deadline of March 28, 2022. For Bond/Finance Campaign entries, all voting results need to be final by the contest deadline to be eligible for an award that calendar year.

How should entries be organized?

Gold Medallion entries must be submitted as a single PDF file in the online awards submission system. The total award entry, including entry form and all application materials, is limited to no more than 26 pages (packaged in a single PDF).

An entry must include:

  • Cover page with entry information (page max = 1) Include entrant's name and title, district/organization name, address, phone, email, title of entry, entry category, number of communication staff, size/type of district or organization. Do not exceed one page in length.
  • Synopsis of the program/project/campaign (word max = 350) Provides a clear, concise overview of the program/project/campaign. Do not exceed 350 words.
  • Summary of the program/project/campaign (page max = 6) Summarize the program/project/campaign by demonstrating how it followed the four-step strategic public relations planning process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE). Include hyperlinks to any key support materials (websites, videos, social media, PDFs, etc.). Do not exceed six pages.  

An entry may include:

  • Additional support material demonstrating the RPIE strategic planning process may be included but may not cause the entry to exceed the 26 page total. Samples, brief synopses or links to support materials are sufficient (e.g., no need to include complete survey results or reports).  

Entries typically are organized in the following manner:

  • Page 1: Cover page with entry information
  • Page 2: Synopsis of program/campaign
  • Pages 3-8: Summary of program campaign
  • Pages 9-26: Additional support material

Review entries from the most recent Gold Medallion Award winners before preparing your entry.

How are entries judged?

NSPRA uses as judges a variety of association members and public relations professionals who are experienced, award winning and accredited. Judges' identities are kept confidential. When reviewing entries, they judge each entry:

  • Individually based on grounding in strategic communication best practices, concept clarity, good writing, unique attributes and alignment with entry guidelines.
  • Compared to other entries within the same category based on level of superiority and ability to serve as a model for other school systems to replicate.

During the review of an individual entry, judges score the entry against the following criteria:

  • Research (15% of score) Is there evidence of sound research? Is the reason for the program/project/campaign explained? Was a research plan developed to guide planning? Were a variety of research strategies applied? Were research findings incorporated into planning? Are goals and measurable objectives clearly stated?
  • Planning (45% of score) Was the impact of the education, social and cultural environment analyzed? Were innovative and creative solutions proposed for identified issues, problems and needs? Were strategies determined for accomplishing measurable objectives and reaching identified target audiences? Were culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies and tactics included? Were key leaders and stakeholders involved in the planning? Were specific roles and responsibilities for key staff identified? Were key staff provided with relevant professional development/training? Were a variety of communication vehicles identified and selected? Were specific budget and resources identified?
  • Implementation (25% of score) Were specific timelines developed and dates met for all plan components? Were strategies, tactics and activities implemented as planned and as appropriate for each target audience? Were key messages used that supported the stated goals and measurable objectives? Was the graphic design and language of support materials and communications clear and visually attractive? Were responses to key messages, tactics and activities monitored in an ongoing manner to allow adjustments as needed?
  • Evaluation (15% of score) Were measurement indicators for the overall success of the program/project/campaign clearly stated and demonstrated? Was there evidence of the effectiveness of specific strategies, tactics and activities? Was there identification of potential revisions, additions or changes for future efforts? Were next steps identified and incorporated into future planning?

Entries may be scored higher for unique attributes such as being easily replicable as a best practice, supporting student achievement and clearly demonstrating communication accountability. 

Entries may be scored lower for missing required elements, for poor writing and for not being organized around the four-step strategic PR planning process. 

How should an entry be submitted?

Gold Medallion Award entries must be submitted ​at www.nspra.org/award-apply.

  • Entry: Compile all entry materials into a single PDF document. Multiple support materials will not be accepted. Include specific entry form information, as indicated in the entry requirements, on the cover page of the PDF document.
  • Fee: $175 per entry for NSPRA members, $235 per entry for non-members
  • Deadline: Entries must be received by March 28, 2022.

When filling out the entry information, be sure to indicate whether the entry should be automatically entered into the Golden Achievement Award contest (free of charge) if it is not selected for a Gold Medallion Award. 

What happens after entries are judged?

NSPRA staff will notify all Gold Medallion entrants as to the status of their entries via email in late May.  Winners also will be notified by phone. Entrants may request a summary of judges’ comments by emailing awards@nspra.org no later than July 30. Summaries will be provided in late August/September.

Those who win a Gold Medallion Award will be:

  • Invited to participate in the NSPRA President Installation and Gold Medallion Awards Ceremony Luncheon on the final day of the NSPRA National Seminar. Each winning entry qualifies to receive one Gold Medallion, but winners may purchase additional medallions.
  • Recognized in a digital display at the Member Center in the Marketplace of the NSPRA National Seminar.
  • Recognized on the NSPRA website and in future member e-newsletters.

 


Golden Achievement Award

Entry deadline: March 28, 2022  Winners will be notified in June 2022.
Fee per entry: $85 for members, $125 for non-members
Submission portal: www.nspra.org/award-apply
 

NSPRA’s Golden Achievement Award recognizes outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing and engagement. View a list of past Golden Achievement winners.

Winners will be recognized nationally at the NSPRA 2022 National Seminar in Chicago and receive an award certificate by mail.


What types of work are eligible for entry?

There are no specific categories for entries in the Golden Achievement Award contest, but following are examples of programs, projects, campaigns and activities to consider entering:

  • Community outreach and public engagement initiatives
  • Parent involvement campaigns/programs
  • Marketing/branding campaigns 
  • Bond/finance election campaigns
  • Internal communication programs
  • Staff and student recognition programs
  • School safety and wellness programs
  • Crisis communication and response
  • Customer service programs
  • Education advocacy programs/coalitions

Programs/projects/campaigns must have been underway or completed between March 2021 and the contest deadline of March 28, 2022. 

How should entries be organized?

Golden Achievement Award entries must be organized into a single PDF file. The entry is limited to no more than six pages in total (packaged in a single PDF).

An entry must include:

  • Summary of the program/project/campaign (page max = 1) Summarize the program/project/campaign by demonstrating how it followed the four-step strategic public relations planning process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE). Do not exceed one page.  

An entry may include:

  • Additional support materials demonstrating outstanding, strategic work as part of the program/project/campaign. Samples, brief synopses or hyperlinks to materials (websites, videos, social media, etc.) are sufficient.  Do not exceed five pages. 

Review entries from the most recent Golden Achievement Award winners before preparing your entry.

How are entries judged?

NSPRA uses as judges a variety of association members and public relations professionals who are experienced, award winning and accredited. Judges' identities are kept confidential.

When reviewing Golden Achievement Award entries, they judge each entry individually based on strategic communication best practices, good writing and alignment with entry guidelines. Judges score the entry against the following criteria:

  • Research  (25% of score) What evidence is there of careful analysis of the need for the program/project/campaign? Is there any primary or secondary research? Are there stated goals and measurable objectives?
  • Planning  (25% of score) What evidence is there of thoughtful planning to address the need for the program/project/campaign? Are strategies, tactics, target audiences, budgets, resources and staff responsibilities identified?  
  • Implementation  (25% of score) What evidence is there that strategies, tactics and activities were carried out as planned? 
  • Evaluation  (25% of score) What evidence is there that evaluation components were included in plan development and carried out to measure success in achieving desired outcomes? Are there any recommendations for future improvements or next steps? 

Each entry will be judged individually against the contest criteria—not against other entries. Judges will select as many winners as meet the criteria. 

How should an entry be submitted?

Golden Achievement Award entries must be submitted ​at www.nspra.org/award-apply.

  • Entry: Compile all entry materials into a single PDF document that is no more than six pages in total. Multiple support materials will not be accepted.
  • Fee: $85 per entry for members, $125 per entry for non-members
  • Deadline: Entries must be received by March 28, 2022.

What happens after entries are judged?

NSPRA staff will notify all Golden Achievement Award entrants as to the status of their entries via mail in June. 

Each winning entry will receive a certificate suitable for framing. Winners also will be:

View a list of past Golden Achievement Award winners.


Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards

Entry deadline: April 4, 2022  Winners will be notified in June 2022.
Fee per entry: $85 for members, $125 for non-members
Submission portal:  www.nspra.org/award-apply 

NSPRA’s Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards recognize outstanding education publications, e-newsletters, digital media programs, radio/TV/video programs, social media, infographics, blogs and websites. View a list of past Publications and Digital Media Excellence Award winners.

Winners will be recognized nationally at the NSPRA 2022 National Seminar in Chicago and receive an award certificate by mail.

What programs/projects/campaigns are eligible for entry?

Following are the categories for submissions in the Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards program.

Publications

  • Annual Report — Published yearly to summarize goals, activities and achievements.

  • Calendar — General information and specific dates for school/district activities and events.

  • Excellence in Writing — One article from a newsletter, newspaper op-ed piece, editorial or speech. Length of 500 to 5,000 words. Submit only the relevant article, not an entire publication.

  • Finance Publication — Information about tax levies, bond issues, budgets and other financial topics. Single or series of publications accepted.

  • Handbook — General information about policies and regulations, issued to students, parents and staff.

  • Infographic — Visual representation of important content designed in a quick, impactful way.

  • Magazine — News and feature articles, issued periodically. Submit one issue per entry.

  • Marketing/branding:

    • Branding/Image Package — Logos, banners, stationery and other graphic treatments for a package of branded materials. Submissions must include three or more separate branding/image pieces in one package for entry.

    • Marketing Materials (Printed Publications) — Brochures, flyers, newsletters, promotional packages, ads, etc., designed to market a program, school or the district to potential families, students, staff or business partners. 

  • Newsletters:
    • E-Newsletter — External or internal, published periodically. Two different issues of the e-newsletter must be submitted to qualify as one entry.

    • Print Newsletter/Newspaper — External or internal, published periodically. Two different issues of a newsletter must be submitted to qualify as one entry.

  • Special Purpose Publication — External or internal booklet, brochure, poster or material not included in other categories. One item per entry.

Digital Media

  • Blog — General or special-focus blog posted regularly (at least monthly) that supports district/school communication efforts. Include a one-page explanation of how and why the blog is being used and the outcomes achieved. Submit at least three consecutive postings. Provide a URL for Internet access.

  • Infographic — Visual representation of information or data designed in an impactful way.

  • Internet/Intranet Website —Existing internet website if not previously entered in awards program, website redesign project and special purpose or short-term project website. Intranet website entries must include password or other login information so judges can access the site. Provide a URL  for internet access. Limit to one website per entry.
  • Marketing Materials (Digital Media) — Digital media designed to market a program, school or the district to potential families, students, staff or business partners (e.g., videos, CD/DVDs, movie/TV/radio ads, mobile apps). 

  • Podcast/Audio — Podcast or audio such as a public service announcement. Include a one-page explanation of how and why the podcast/audio is being used and the outcomes achieved. Provide a URL for internet access. Limit each entry to a single episode/program/presentation.

  • Social Media — Communication campaign using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or other social media outlets. Include a one-page explanation of how and why the social media is being used and the outcomes achieved as well as at least three relevant postings. Provide a URL for internet access.

  • Video —A video recording or live broadcast designed for a website, video channel, special event, etc. Videos can be submitted as a MP4 file, but if the file size is larger than 25MB, provide a link to the video from a website, YouTube, Vimeo, Google drive, etc. Include a one-page explanation of the video’s purpose, where and when it is being used, the target audience, how it is supporting effective communication, and outcomes achieved. Provide a URL for internet access. One linked video may be submitted per entry fee paid.

Student-written and/or produced newsletters or other publications and audio/visual media are not eligible to enter.

How should entries be organized?

Follow the category-specific entry guidance above and also:

  • Enter only materials produced since March 2021. Previous entries may not be re-entered.
  • Enter an item only in one category (exception: Excellence in Writing entries).
  • Upload summary sheets for blog, video, podcast/audio and social media entries. Entries in the other categories do not need a summary sheet.
  • Provide a URL for internet access for blog, internet/intranet website, podcast/audio, social media and video entries. 
  • Include two different issues to qualify as an entry in the e-newsletter and print newsletter/newspaper categories.
  • Include three different posts/pieces to qualify as an entry in the blog and branding/image package categories. 

How are entries judged?

Entries are judged within an entry category only against those from organizations of a similar type and size. Each entry is judged on the overall excellence of the entry as well as its quality compared to other entries in the category. The top award in each category is the Award of Excellence. Awards of Merit and Honorable Mentions are also given in each category.

Criteria for All Entries

Following are elements that judges look for in all entered publications and digital media:

  • Target audience is defined or clearly implied.
  • Key messages related to the district/school/organization are included.
  • Content clearly expresses and executes the product’s purpose.
  • The presented information is clear and easy to understand, and overall, it evokes a positive response.
  • The district/organization brand identity is portrayed clearly and reinforced consistently.
  • Language is free of grammatical, spelling, punctuation and usage errors.

Excellence in Writing Criteria

Following are additional elements that judges look for in Excellence in Writing entries:

  • Language and writing style are appropriate for the context and audience.
  • The content is well-organized.

Publications Criteria

Following are additional elements that judges look for in publication entries:

  • Language and writing style are appropriate for the context and audience.
  • The content is well-organized.
  • All type is easily readable, and the design is aesthetically appealing.
  • Graphic elements enhance layout.
  • Publication length/size is appropriate for purpose and target audience.
  • Cover/front attracts the reader’s attention.

Social Media Criteria

Following are additional elements that judges look for in social media entries:

  • In the one-page summary, it is clear how and why the social media is being used as well as that desired outcomes were achieved.
  • Profile options are filled out and informative.
  • There is a posted policy for how the district will handle inappropriate comments by followers.
  • The district uses a platform-appropriate voice in its social posts on different platforms.
  • Posts include a photo, graphic or video.
  • Photos are high quality and convey the school/ district in a positive way.
  • Post content is accessible to all audiences.
  • The amount and frequency of posts, including pre-scheduled vs. in-the-moment/live posts, reflects today’s best practices.
  • Posts promote target audience engagement/participation, and the level of audience engagement with posts is reasonable based on industry averages.

Video Criteria

Following are additional elements that judges look for in video entries:

  • The purpose of the video is clear, and that purpose is achieved.
  • The video tells a story that engages the viewer.
  • Video transitions are smooth, and editing complements the flow of the content.
  • The video in its entirety was in focus.
  • The audio used in the video is clear and at a consistent volume. Music doesn’t overshadow when people are talking in the video.
  • Lighting applied in the video (manmade or natural) is used to enhance the visuals.
  • Graphic elements enhance the story told in the video.
  • The video includes closed captioning.

Website Criteria

Following are additional elements that judges look for in internet/intranet website entries:

  • The overall website design is aesthetically appealing and enhances readability.
  • Navigation throughout the site is easy and intuitive.
  • The website uses effective, appropriate and welcoming images that reflect a variety of grade levels and the district’s diverse demographics.
  • The website is mobile responsive.
  • The website is accessible. It uses alt tags for photos and graphics, screen tips for hyperlinks and closed captioning for embedded videos. It doesn't use inaccessible documents.
  • Content is engaging for readers and an appropriate length to reduce excessive scrolling.
  • Content is up to date and seems to be updated on a regular basis. 

How should an entry be submitted?

Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards must be submitted ​at www.nspra.org/award-apply

  • Fee: $85 per entry for members, $125 per entry for non-members
  • Deadline: Entries must be received by April 4, 2022.

What happens after entries are judged?

NSPRA staff will notify Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards entrants as to the status of their entries via mail in June. 

Each winning entry will receive a certificate suitable for framing. Winners also will be:

  • Invited to attend the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement held on Sunday afternoon during the NSPRA National Seminar. 
  • Recognized in a digital display at the Member Center in the Marketplace of the NSPRA National Seminar.
  • Recognized on the NSPRA website.

View a list of past Publication and Digital Media Award winners.


Judging Award Entries 

  • NSPRA uses experienced, award-winning professionals to evaluate entries in the Gold Medallion, Golden Achievement Awards and Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards programs. Additionally, judges for the Gold Medallion and Golden Achievement Awards must hold accreditation in public relations (APR).
  • Judges have no pre-set limit on the number or types of award that may be given in each category. They may also opt to issue no awards in a category if no entries are deemed worthy of recognition.
  • Individual judging assessments/scores for the Gold Medallion, Golden Achievement Awards and Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards programs are confidential and will not be released.
  • Gold Medallion entrants only may request a summary of judges’ comments by emailing awards@nspra.org no later than July 30. Comment summaries will be provided in late August/September.