NSPRA Front-Runner: Lesley Bruinton, APR

NSPRA Front-Runners are members identified by the NSPRA Executive Board as emerging leaders who are doing outstanding work for their schools, their chapters and for NSPRA. They have demonstrated professional leadership at the state and national level and/or have been recognized for innovation and excellence through NSPRA award programs or presentations. See all past Front-Runners.

Lesley Bruinton, APR
Lesley Bruinton, APR

Current title: Public Relations Coordinator, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) City Schools

Alma Mater: The University of Alabama

My PR motto: Crisis planning in the middle of a crisis is not a plan.

I am inspired by...the belief that public education serves the public good. As a part of the public sector, I firmly believe I have the responsibility and the privilege of helping my community understand our mission.

Favorite professional fantasy: In my dream world, people would have a clear goal and ask me to help them long before they needed the completed project. If I were really lucky, they’d have a budget to help me assist them.

Current communication tool I use the most is...Google Drive to collaborate with others in real time. It’s one thing to brainstorm in a meeting and then hope someone will take the time to transcribe the notes in a timely fashion; it’s another to see the notes written live. Using technology in this way motivates me to take the project from a vision to a reality even faster.

Communication tool I rarely use anymore is...how do you use a fax machine again?

Principals in the Public
Principals in the Public
The research is clear — public engagement is a must for all successful school leaders. Developed by NSPRA Executive Director Richard D. Bagin, APR, Principals in the Public is an easy-to-use guide that will enable principals to become skilled communicators as well as community leaders.

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Greatest PR success: Earning my Accreditation in Public Relations in 2013. For me, a former TV journalist, Accreditation validated that I had the knowledge, skills and abilities of a sound public relations practitioner. It has changed how I view my work.

Greatest communication challenge: Helping others understand that effective communication is a strategy that will help them reach their goals and not an assortment of requested tactics. Sometimes, the hardest question for them to hear me ask is, “Why do you think you need this?” The answers provide me guidance on how to better serve them.

A strong communication program supports student success by...building the case for public education. When your community can understand the district’s mission, it is easier to formulate partnerships which ultimately benefit students.

My favorite part of my job is...to review my planning notes after a project has been implemented and see how I was able to turn a plan into a reality.

I believe school PR/communications...should have a seat at the table and that the advice of the practitioner should be considered when formulating plans and a strategy to roll out an initiative.

Joining ALSPRA helped me...see how I can be a leader in our state. I believe that ALSPRA is uniquely positioned to assist school districts (without a professional public relations practitioner on staff) by providing meaningful and relevant professional development so they can better communicate with their stakeholders. Not all districts have a dedicated PR practitioner, but all districts have a need for strong and effective stakeholder engagement.

I’m an NSPRA member because...this organization “gets” me. It’s nice to belong to a public relations association where I don’t have to retrofit ideas from another industry into mine. Plus, there are things that only a school PR practitioner would understand!

My epitaph: Her ideas came as fast as her rapid-fire typing skills. (And she implemented them too!)