Mallory McGowin -35 Under 35

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

Mallory McGowin
Jefferson City (Mo.) Public Schools

What does leadership mean to you? 
In a world of hashtags and buzzwords, to me, leadership is about actions – not what you say, but what you do. Maybe it’s a product of being born and bred in the Show-Me State, but I want to see leaders leading by example and embodying the idea that actions speak louder than any of the well-crafted words we might help create.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
 In April 2017, Jefferson City Public Schools passed historic bond and levy measures to build a second high school in our district – something that had been talked about for over 30 years. Canvassing in the snow, spending countless evenings away from our families, and answering lots of heated questions was all worth it – to provide more space and better opportunities for Jefferson City students.

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding parts about working in school PR?
It doesn’t take much to recall the rewarding parts of this job – being a part of a noble cause like public education, working with selfless educators who give so much of themselves to their jobs, and capturing the stories of those awesome colleagues and the talented, inspiring students they serve. The challenges (which are also not hard to think of): a constantly changing landscape of different communication avenues and tools, being a front line to field questions and frustrations from parents and patrons, and, likely the biggest of them all, how to juggle and balance the urgency of our job with our own personal time.

What’s your favorite work app and personal app? 
I’m a self-proclaimed Canva junkie. Not being a graphic designer by trade, Canva makes graphics, newsletters, and a gazillion other things so easy for me – and it looks like I just might actually BE a pro designer! On a personal level, as a busy, Type-A, list-loving mom, I honestly might not survive without the iPhone Reminders app. That’s not a very trendy answer, but in all reality, my kid would never have lunch money, have a doctor’s appointment or turn in a library book without it!

What book has inspired you professionally?  
I love the message in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. As a woman and mother, her encouragement to continue pushing forward in my career despite having kids – and the importance of helping other women do the same – was really powerful. 
How has NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way? 

Our jobs as school communicators are so different – different from other roles in our district, and different from other PR gigs. So having my MOSPRA friends and NSPRA colleagues that “get” the challenges and struggles is really comforting. And knowing that those friends will be there to lend a hand when – not if – the day comes that our district faces a challenge we haven’t faced before – that gives me great peace of mind. 

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally? 
For the last two years, we’ve set up a photo shoot during “New Teacher Training Week” to capture a great photo of our new certified staff members when they join our team. We then post the photos on our district Facebook page with the staff members’ building assignment. Watching the swell of engagement happen each year – parents, fellow staff members, retired educators, community partners, etc. taking time to welcome these folks – is such a great way to start the school year, and these teachers’ careers with our district. Selfishly, I love being behind the camera for this! Getting to meet nearly 100 newbies right out of the gate – and try to remember their name – is a great relationship-building tool for our Communications Team.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited? 
I love the way our district leaders and classroom teachers are becoming more “real” and approachable for our families through their social media presence. From an informal Facebook Live video that showcases a principal’s personality when she takes her building page’s followers “behind the scenes”, to Tweets that show a teacher who’s not afraid to be in costume for a silly dress up day – these communication tools help build relationships and demonstrate the caring nature of our staff members in a whole new way.