Coley Fehringer - 35 Under 35

35 Under 35 Class of 2018-19
Coley is one of 35 professionals, age 35 and under, who make up the Class of 2018-19. These 35 individuals are emerging leaders who are making a difference in school public relations.

Coley Fehringer
Spring Lake Park (Minn.) Schools


What does leadership mean to you? 
I’m a strong believer in leading from where you are. There are only a few cabinet members in a school district, but it takes leaders throughout the organization to move it forward toward a shared vision. Leadership is creating a vision and then thinking innovatively and empowering the people around you to accomplish that vision. Good leaders have a clear set of values that guide their decisions, are empathetic to the needs and values of others, and are willing to show vulnerability, which is a strength. Some of the best leaders I’ve worked with acknowledge when they’re not an expert in a topic and put their full confidence and trust in the skills of those around them.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced? 
Launching 12 district and school websites with over 1,600 pages on a new CMS in just over seven months has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve tackled. The scale of the project was daunting, but the process and final product were very fulfilling. Thousands of tasks from the creative redesign, meeting with departments and schools to rethink the structure of content, coming up with innovative ways to share our Spring Lake Park brand, training staff how to use the new websites and every other little task throughout the process helped shape the final product. There is still so much to be done, but it’s amazing to watch such a large project come to life and be proud of the finished project. 

What is the most challenging and/or rewarding part about working in school PR? 
The world of school PR can be draining – we are asked to do so much with limited resources. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had an empty inbox or completed to-do list since the day I started. There is always a story to be written, video to be created, post to be shared on social media or a fire to put out and that feeling can be overwhelming. Whenever I’m feeling drained or frustrated, I like to spend time in our schools. The energy students radiate when they learn something new is contagious and helping share the amazing stories happening in our schools each day is what it’s all about.

What’s your favorite work app and personal app?
At work I live in Asana, a task management system, which allows us to easily plan projects down to every detail, create timelines and deadlines, and assign tasks to people. My favorite features of using Asana are when I get to assign my awesome boss tasks and when unicorns and narwhals shoot across my screen after I complete a task. I’ve been taking photos since my aunt gave me my first digital camera in fifth grade, so personally I love using Instagram. My favorite model is my handsome 100 lb. chocolate lab, Avery. 

What book has inspired you professionally?
Yes, And, by The Second City executives Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton, speaks to my creative side and being collaborative, and anything by the mastermind Brené Brown!  

How has NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?
The opportunities NSPRA and MinnSPRA have offered the past few years have been invaluable learning opportunities – both in the events I’ve attended and the people I’ve met. Getting involved with my MinnSPRA chapter, first volunteering to help plan conferences and now serving on the board, allowed me to make new connections and friendships. I am constantly learning from my fellow school PR pros and it’s comforting to know I have a number of colleagues to turn to who understand the crazy world we live in. 

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?
As a self-proclaimed branding geek, anything with a strong, consistent and sharp brand makes my heart sing. Last summer I came across Samford Sports’ rebranding campaign #AllForSAMford. Every detail of their contemporary, clean new logo and visual identity was thoughtful and drew inspiration from the classic and traditional buildings and themes at Samford. I’ve loved watching their brand come to life on their Twitter page ever since! And to my fellow branding geeks – you seriously need to watch their rebranding video.   

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited? 
We live in a world of ever-changing and evolving communication channels. I’m excited at the possibilities these offer us to improve the way we connect with our diverse audiences and personalize communication for our families. I also love that all of our staff can have a voice and help share our brand. These changing communication channels will continue to help schools leverage the voices of our teachers and staff to show our communities what a classroom in 2019 looks like.