NSPRA Front-Runners

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. The annual distinction is awarded to four association members each year, representing the seven NSPRA regions on a rotating basis. Each Front-Runner receives recognition in an issue of The NSPRA Network, NSPRA's monthly members-only e-newsletter, and a commemorative plaque during the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement that kicks off the NSPRA National Seminar each summer.

2020-21 NSPRA Front-Runners

Phil CampbellPhil Campbell 
Director of Public Relations
Bonneville Joint School District 93
Idaho Falls, ID
NSPRA Northwest Region 


Jessica HullJessica Hull 
Communications and Public Relations Officer
Monterey County Office of Education
Salinas, Calif.
NSPRA Southwest Region


Brian NicolBrian Nicol 
Director of Communications
Howard-Suamico School District
Green Bay, Wisc. 
NSPRA North Central Region 


Kelly Wachel, APRKelly Wachel, APR
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Kansas City Public School
NSPRA South Central Region


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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.

Phil Campbell
Phil Campbell

Phil Campbell
Director of Public Relations
Bonneville Joint School District 93
Idaho Falls, Idaho

My alma mater is...  Idaho State University

My personal public relations motto is… “Have I done any good in the world today?” With tears running down her cheeks, our beloved 91-years-young lunch lady muttered this as she hung up her hairnet for the last time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day I look for opportunities to “do good” as my way of honoring our good friend, Edna Gerard.

I believe school PR/communications is... Critical to the success of a school district. It has never been easier to lose your community. These are trying times, and a good communications strategy can keep patrons engaged.

A strong school PR/communication program supports student success by… Creating a culture that celebrates student achievement. Our students know that their success in the classroom, on the playing field or in the auditorium and all points in-between will be celebrated as a district with our patrons and beyond.

My greatest school PR success was... My state requires a supermajority of the vote to pass bonds. Six months before taking this job, my district had run a bond for a new high school that failed to reach a majority of the vote and came nowhere near the supermajority threshold that it needed to pass. Six months after joining the district, we came within one percentage point of passing the bond. Six months later, we eventually passed two bonds, one for a desperately needed new high school and the other for a performing arts center and stadium.

My greatest school PR challenge is... Balancing work life with family life.  My wife and two dogs are so supportive, and I couldn’t do any of this job without that support. They all get excited when it’s time for me to come home, whether that’s at 11:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. I have strategically placed a picture of them in my office so that I see it every time I get ready to head out to an event. This helps remind me that while building a community is great, nothing is as important as maintaining relationships with our loved ones.

I am inspired by... There are way too many friends and mentors for me to even begin to fully answer this question. I am beyond blessed to have so many great people in my life. At the end of the day, I’m inspired by the youth of my district. It’s an honor to help tell their stories. I’ll often think back to my public school experience and ask myself what I would want from the Public Relations Department. It does make me smile when I see their retweets or likes on Instagram.

My favorite part of my job is… I love it when we go into schools and the kids are excited because they want to be part of the story we are filming. We love to see the kids’ smiles and their enthusiasm when it comes to showcasing the great things that are happening in their school. Even at a young age, they are building pride for their school and the district.

The communication tool I use the most is… Without question, my iPhone. I can’t imagine doing this job without it. We use it for Facebook Live videos and to gather news stories for a weekly newscast. Much of the editing is also done on the iPhone. iMovie and the ability to Airdrop.

The communication tool I rarely use anymore is… Press releases. This might sound blasphemous to some, but we focus almost exclusively on relationship-driven earned media. This very well could be a luxury of living in a smaller television market, but we make it a point to get to know new reporters when they come in. We’ll send a text to a trusted news reporter when we want coverage. 

Here’s a tip from a former news reporter turned school PR professional:  Find out when their morning news meeting is, and send your text to the trusted reporter about 15 minutes before the meeting is set to begin. They’ll appreciate having a news story idea to bring to the meeting and they’ll fight for it, especially if you make it easy for them.

My favorite professional fantasy is... I’d love to have a dedicated television studio with all the bells and whistles, maybe even a production crew. While we are at it, our own broadcasting booth in our stadiums would be really nice too.

Membership in my state chapter SPRA helps me... Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who totally understands the struggle. That’s what membership in IDSPRA means to me. I’ve leaned on them a lot throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work that is being done by the small but mighty chapter in Idaho.

Membership in NSPRA helps me... I was incredibly fortunate to find a friend and mentor early on in my school PR career at NSPRA. His name was Joe Krumm, and he was a mountain of a man. He taught me to take in every second of the annual NSPRA Seminar. I’d be lost without NSPRA. I was bummed when we had to cancel in St. Louis, Mo. Fortunately, NSPRA has plenty of tools to help keep its members engaged beyond the annual Seminar that we all love so much.

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NSPRA Front-Runners Archive

View a list of past Front-Runners and their eNetwork profiles.