NSPRA National School Communication Awards

2020 NSPRA National School Communication AwardsNSPRA's 2021 National School Communication Awards contest is now open. Discover three outstanding ways to earn national recognition for your district and school communication efforts:

  • Gold Medallion Awards are for superior educational public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices.
  • Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards are for outstanding work in educational communications, including print and digital publications, video, audio, websites, social media and more.
  • Golden Achievement Awards are for outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communications, marketing and engagement.

Review award criteria, rules and deadlines or download the awards contest brochure (PDF).

Earn National Recognition for Your Outstanding Communication Programs

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. Add your name to the list of educators and public relations professionals who have earned recognition for their districts and schools by entering the 2021 NSPRA National School Communication Awards programs.

Consider entering your best work for any or all of the three award programs:

  • Gold Medallion Award — For superior school public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices.

  • Golden Achievement Award — For outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communications, marketing and engagement.

  • Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards — For outstanding work in school communications, including print and digital publications, video, audio, websites, social media, and more.

NSPRA Online Awards Submission System 

 All entries will be submitted digitally through our new online awards submission system. Submit your applications at the following website: www.nspra.org/award-apply.

Here are a few tips to help make this transition seamless

  1. As a member, you can use your username and password from the NSPRA website to login to the submission website. The username is your member email. In case you can’t remember it, you can reset your password hereNonmembers will have the option to create their own profile in the new online NSPRA awards system.
  2. Upload submissions as PDFs. 
  3. You can save your entries down at the bottom even if they’re in an incomplete state so you can return to them later. Once they’re finished, adding them to your cart puts them on your list of entries but doesn’t submit them. You can still make changes to that entry or add additional entries at that point. Once you click Save and Finalize, and then checkout to submit your payment, your entries are finalized, so be sure that everything you want is included in the cart. 

Videos on the log-in process and application submission process are available to help you use this system.

Those who do not have access to a  credit card, have the option to use a check. Please contact Senior Manager, Tommy Jones for more information at tjones@nspra.org or 301-519-1222.


Gold Medallion Award logoGold Medallion Award

NSPRA’s Gold Medallion Award is the top national competition recognizing superior education public relations programs and campaigns in North America. This award is highly competitive. Watch NSPRA's webinar "How to Prepare a Gold Medallion Entry" for an overview of the award entry process.

How the Submission Process Works 

  1. As an NSPRA member, you can use your username and password from the NSPRA website. The username is your member email. In case you can’t remember your password, you can reset it. Login at www.nspra.org/award-apply. Nonmembers will have the option to create their own profile.
  2.  Once logged in, fill out your profile. Under category, select Gold Medallion and then upload your application materials as a PDF. Once you click Save and Finalize, you’ll be able to check out and pay via credit card or PayPal.
  3. Once the entry is entered into the content database, you’ll receive a confirmation code after the checkout process is completed, which you can print or screenshot, as well as an email confirmation.

Winners will be notified by phone in May 2021.

Eligibility and Awards

Entries may be submitted by: public school systems; private/charter schools; community or vocational/technical colleges; state/national education groups; education service agencies/intermediate units/BOCES; and any agency, consultant or business in partnership with any of the above education entities.

One Gold Medallion will be given for each winning entry selected by competition judges (additional medallions may be purchased). Winners will be recognized nationally and presented with their Gold Medallions at the 2021 NSPRA National Seminar on July 11-14 in New Orleans, La.

Please Note: Entries that are not awarded the Gold Medallion may elect to be entered for Golden Achievement Award consideration at no additional entry fee in the new online NSPRA Awards system (www.nspra.org/award-apply). 

Categories

Gold Medallion entries will be considered based on the specific categories listed below:

  • Bond/Finance Campaign

  • Comprehensive, Strategic, Year-Round Communication Programs
  • COVID-19 Communication — NEW!
  • Crisis Communication
  • Marketing Communication
  •  Public Engagement/Parental Involvement
  • Special Communication Projects/Campaigns

 Judges may select more than one winner or no winners in a category.

Award Criteria

  • A planned presentation is necessary (see winning examples), submitted electronically, organized in the logical order of Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation (RPIE).

  • Read the rules carefully below. If you fail to follow the rules, the judges will subtract points in judging your entry.

  • Your entry will be judged on concept clarity, good writing and evidence of objective project/program evaluation as well as its grounding in strategic communication best practices (i.e., RPIE). Each entry is judged on the overall excellence of the entry as well as its quality compared to other entries in the category.

  • Judges are experienced, accredited public relations professionals.

Award Rules

  • All Gold Medallion Award entries must be submitted electronically via the online NSPRA awards system at www.nspra.org/award-apply. Compile all application materials into a single PDF document. Multiple support materials will not be accepted. Include specific entry form information, as indicated, on the cover page of the PDF document.

  • Programs/projects/campaigns must have been underway or completed between March 2020 and the contest deadline of March 22, 2021. Note: For submitted Bond/Finance Campaign entries, all election results need to be final by the deadline to be eligible for an award this calendar year.

Award Entry Guidelines

The total award entry, including entry form and all application materials, is limited to no more than 26 pages (packaged in a single PDF) and must include:

  • Cover page with entry form information - 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/org.
  • Synopsis of the program/project/campaign that provides a clear, concise overview (maximum 350 words).
  • Summary (not to exceed six pages) of the program/project/campaign - The summary should include links to any key support materials (document PDFs, websites, videos, social media, etc.).

Additional support material demonstrating the RPIE strategic planning process steps outlined below may be included, but may not exceed the 26 page total. Samples or brief synopses of support materials are sufficient (e.g., no need to include complete survey results or reports). Organize the summary carefully around the four-step PR planning process and clearly describe each component. 

The judges will evaluate on a point scale and are looking for strategic quality, not mass quantity of examples/materials.

  • Research — Provide a careful analysis of the need for the program or campaign. Include stated goals and measurable objectives.

  • Planning — Describe planning and development of the program or campaign, including how target audiences were identified, the specific roles of key leaders and their related responsibilities, and how communication vehicles were selected/created. Outline the specific budget and resources that were determined and set.

  • Implementation — Outline the specific timelines (start and end dates, key target dates, etc.); describe the strategies, tactics and activities carried out; provide examples of the quality of written and graphic materials; and demonstrate how key messaging supported goals.

  • Evaluation — Explain how the assessment component was included and implemented. Clearly state the indicators of success and include demonstrative evidence of effectiveness of strategies and messaging. Explain how improvements, changes, revisions, additions and next steps were identified and incorporated into future planning.

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. 

Watch NSPRA's webinar "How to Prepare a Gold Medallion Entry" for an overview of the award entry process.

Gold Medallion 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.

Payment Guidelines

Fee: $175 per entry for NSPRA members; $235 per entry for nonmembers. In the online NSPRA awards system, you can pay by credit card or by PayPal when you finalize and submit your entry. Payment must accompany all entries. Purchase orders or vouchers cannot be accepted.

Those who do not have access to a  credit card have the option to use a check. Please contact Senior Manager Tommy Jones for more information at tjones@nspra.org or 301-519-1222 for more information.

Deadline: Entries must be received by March 22, 2021

Winners will be notified by phone in May 2021.

View a list of past Gold Medallion winners.


Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards

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.

Eligibility and Awards

The contest is open to all public or private schools or districts, including special schools such as vocational-technical institutes, regional or county education service agencies, education agencies and private businesses serving as partners with those organizations.

Prizes are awarded according to publication type and type and size of organization. Your entries are judged only against those from similar organizations. 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. Award of Excellence winners receive a display plaque in August. Merit award recipients and Honorable Mentions receive certificates suitable for framing. All winners will receive a notification letter in late June. Publications Award of Excellence winners will be asked to provide a copy of their publication to be displayed at NSPRA's 2021 National Seminar in New Orleans, La. A winners list will be posted on the NSPRA website Awards page in late summer.

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

Category — Publications

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

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

  • Print Newsletter/Newspaper — External or internal, published periodically. Two different issues of a newsletter (i.e., two different months, quarters, etc.) must be submitted to qualify as one entry.

  • E-Newsletter — External or internal, published periodically. Two different issues must be submitted to qualify as one entry.

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • Branding/Image Package — Logos, banners, stationery and other graphic treatments for a package of materials. These will be judged for creativity, consistency, unity, graphic design, clarity and overall image and brand. Submissions must include three or more separate pieces. Upload only printed pieces or photos of other collateral material.

  • Marketing Publication — Brochures, flyers, newsletters, promotional packages, ads, etc., designed to market an individual school or the district to potential families or recruit students, staff and business partners. Submit no more than three items.

  • Excellence in Writing — One article from a newsletter, newspaper op-ed piece, editorial or speech; 500 to 5,000 words; judged for clear, concise and vibrant writing. Submit only the relevant article, not an entire publication.

Category — Electronic Media Communication

  • Video — Programs designed for websites, video newscasts, special events, mobile apps, etc.; judged for professional quality, sound, color, motion and content. Videos can be submitted as a MP4 file. If the file size is larger than 25MB, please provide a link to the video from a hosting service such as Vimeo or YouTube. 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, outcomes achieved and the URL for Internet access if video is located on YouTube or a website. Limit each entry to a single program, presentation or episode.

  • Internet/Intranet Website — Entries are judged on content clarity, appropriateness and freshness, graphic design, usability, functionality and overall depth of information. Special purpose or short-term project websites also are accepted. Intranet entries must include password or other log-in information so judges can access the site. Limit to one website per entry.

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

  • Marketing Materials — Videos, CD/DVDs, movie/TV/radio ads, mobile apps, etc., designed to market an individual school or the district to potential families or recruit staff and business partners. Include no more than three examples of materials either in print format or on a single CD/DVD or flash/jump drive and/or provide a URL for Internet access.

  • Social Media — Communication efforts or campaigns using Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets. Include a one-page explanation of how and why the social media is being used and the outcomes achieved. Include print copies of three relevant postings and provide a URL for Internet access.

  • Blog — General or special focus blog posted regularly (at least monthly) that supports district/school communication efforts. Submit print copies of three consecutive postings and include URL for Internet access.

  • Podcasting/Audio — Message board information, news releases/bulletins, promotional announcements, public service announcements; judged for professional quality, sound, content. Include a one-page explanation of how and why the podcast/audio is being used and the outcomes achieved. Submit on a single CD/DVD or flash/jump drive and/or provide a URL for Internet access. Limit each entry to a single recording, program or project.

Award Criteria

  • Publication entries, including e-newsletters, will be judged on content, quality of writing, effective audience targeting, graphic layout and overall design (exception: Excellence in Writing entries).

  • Digital media entries will be judged for content, professional quality, effective audience targeting and use of accessibility best practices. Programs for radio and television must be broadcast quality. 

  • Read the Award Rules carefully. If you fail to follow the rules and guidelines, points will be subtracted during judging or your entry may be disqualified. Submit entries per category instructions.

Award Rules

  • Upload summary sheets for the blog, video, audio podcast and social media categories for the Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards. The other categories do not need a summary sheet.
  • Publication and digital media entries compete against others in the same category and organizational classification.
  • Submit as many entries in as many categories as you wish. Video productions and radio entries must be provided as links (YouTube, Vimeo, Google drive, etc.) One linked video may be submitted per entry fee paid.
  • Newsletter/newspaper/electronic newsletter entries must include two different issues (two different months, quarters, etc.) to qualify as an entry. Blogs require a minimum of three different samples.
  • Branding/image packages must include three or more separate printed pieces, which can be uploaded as a PDF, to qualify as an entry. 
  • Student-written and/or -produced publications and digital media are not eligible.
  • Enter only materials produced since March 2020. Previous entries may not be re-entered.
  • Enter an item only in one category (exception: Excellence in Writing entries).
  • All material submitted becomes NSPRA’s property and may be reproduced, displayed, referenced or summarized in NSPRA publications or resources.
  • Any entry submission shall constitute entrant’s representation that all material is original and/or free from unauthorized use of copy, design, art and/or photographs from other sources.
  • Fee per entry: $85 for members, $125 for non-members. In the online NSPRA awards system, you can pay by credit card or by PayPal when you finalize and submit your entry. Payment must accompany all entries. Purchase orders or vouchers cannot be accepted. Those who do not have access to a  credit card, have the option to use a check. Please contact Senior Manager, Tommy Jones for more information at tjones@nspra.org or 301-519-1222.
  • Submit your application at www.nspra.org/award-apply by April 5, 2021.
  • Entrants will be notified of the outcome via a letter by June 30, 2021. 

Deadline: Entries must be received by April 5, 2021.

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


Golden Achievement Awards

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

Eligibility and Awards

All public and private schools and education organizations are eligible to enter. Each entry will be judged individually against the contest criteria — not against other entries. Judges will select as many winners as meet the criteria. Each winning entry will receive a certificate suitable for framing, a letter of commendation and recognition on NSPRA’s website.

Category Examples

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

  • Community outreach and public engagement initiatives
  • Parent involvement campaigns/programs
  • Education TV/video/podcasting programs
  • Social media campaigns
  • Marketing/branding campaigns 
  • Finance election campaigns
  • Internal communication programs
  • Staff and student recognition programs
  • School safety/violence and bullying prevention programs
  • Crisis communication and response
  • Anniversary/special event celebrations
  • Customer service programs
  • Business-school partnerships
  • Education advocacy programs/coalitions

Award Criteria

  • Each entry must be summarized on one page and be based on the RPIE strategic planning process steps. There must be clear evidence of each step: 
  • Research — Evidence of careful analysis of the need for the program/campaign/activity, stated goals and measurable objectives.
  • Planning — Evidence of thoughtful planning to address the need for the program/campaign/activity, including target audience identification, budget/resource allocation and staff responsibilities.
  • Implementation — Evidence that activities, including communication, were carried out as planned (e.g., timelines, strategies/activities, communication components, quality of support materials).
  • Evaluation — Evidence that an evaluation component was included in plan development and carried out. Evaluation must include ways to measure success in achieving desired outcomes and show evidence of objective evaluation in communication techniques used. The evaluation should include a recommendation for future improvements or next steps.
  • Do not submit more than five pages of supplemental material for your entry.
  • Read the Award Rules carefully. If you fail to follow the rules and guidelines, points will be subtracted during judging or your entry may be disqualified.

Award Rules

  • Entries must have been underway or completed between April 2020 and entry deadline of April 19, 2021.
  • Fee per entry: $85 for members, $125 for non-members. In the online NSPRA awards system, you can pay by credit card or by PayPal when you finalize and submit your entry. Payment must accompany all entries. Purchase orders or vouchers cannot be accepted. Those who do not have access to a  credit card, have the option to use a check. Please contact Senior Manager, Tommy Jones for more information at tjones@nspra.org or 301-519-1222.
  • Submit a separate application for each entry on the online NSPRA Awards system at www.nspra.org/award-apply
  • Each entry will be judged against contest criteria – not against other entries. Judges will select as many winners as meet contest criteria.
  • Previous winning entries may not be entered.
  • Please do not submit more than 5 pages of supplemental material for your entry.
  • Winners will be notified by June 2021. 

Deadline: Entries must be received by April 19, 2021.

View the list of past Golden Achievement winners.


Judging Award Entries 

  • NSPRA uses independent, experienced public relations professionals to evaluate entries in the Gold Medallion, Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards, and Golden Achievement Awards competitions.
  • 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 for the Publications and Digital Media Excellence  Awards and the Golden Achievement Awards are confidential and will not be released.
  • Gold Medallion 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.

NSPRA Online Awards Submission System 

 All entries will be submitted digitally through our new online awards submission system. Submit your applications at the following website: www.nspra.org/award-apply.

Here are a few tips to help make this transition seamless:

  1. As a member, you can use your username and password from the NSPRA website to login to the submission website. The username is your member email. In case you can’t remember it, you can reset your password here. Nonmembers will have the option to create their own profile in the new online NSPRA awards system.
  2. Upload submissions as PDFs. 
  3. You can save your entries down at the bottom even if they’re in an incomplete state so you can return to them later. Once they’re finished, adding them to your cart puts them on your list of entries but doesn’t submit them. You can still make changes to that entry or add additional entries at that point. Once you click Save and Finalize, and then checkout to submit your payment, your entries are finalized, so be sure that everything you want is included in the cart.