2017 National Seminar — Pre-Seminar Workshops

Pre-Seminar Workshops offer extended learning opportunities. Come early and learn more at these in-depth, information-packed workshops! Click the workshop titles for full descriptions.

Cancellation Policy: 25% of workshop fee nonrefundable for cancellations we receive by May 19. 50% of workshop fee nonrefundable for cancellations we receive from May 19 - June 9. After June 9, no refund.

Full-Day Workshops

Half-Day Workshops

Two-Day Workshops

Saturday, July 8, 2017
Full-Day Pre-Seminar Workshops

Leading Through Crisis: Plan, Prepare and Practice

Saturday, 9 AM - 4 PM
Fee: $299.00

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School safety is a top of mind concern for parents, staff and educational leaders. With few exceptions, our schools and communities are faced with the dilemma of how to protect the integrity of the environment where learning takes place amidst a world of increasing violence. The concerns for school safety are not new. The challenges are real. In this Pre-Seminar Workshop, participants will explore a range of communication strategies and tools, and apply them to real-life scenarios in interactive table-top exercises.

Facilitated by one of the foremost authorities on crisis management and principal author of NSPRA’s all new 4th Edition of The Complete Crisis Communication Management Manual for Schools.

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.

Rick J. Kaufman, APR
Executive Director of Community Relations and Emergency Management
Bloomington (Minn.) Public Schools

About Rick Kaufman, APR: Rick is a nationally respected crisis management consultant, trainer and author. For the past 17 years he has trained thousands of educators, law enforcement personnel and emergency management coordinators on effective crisis management, communication and response. He led the Crisis Response Team to the Columbine High School tragedy in April 1999, and served as the Field Coordinator for the FEMA Public Information Officers as part of the National Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Rick is the author of the Complete Crisis Communication Management Manual for Schools (NSPRA, 2016).

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Crafting Visual Stories that Guide the Heart to Move the Mind (This session is at capacity.)

Saturday, 9 AM - 4 PM
Fee: $299.00

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Effective videos are more than a bunch of clips thrown together.  People don’t connect with data, facts or institutions.  People connect with people.

Learn how to use video as a way to craft stories that move people emotionally and lead them to your key messages. Before you hit the record button, we will guide you through a process that will help bring focus to your purpose. You’ll learn about the four pillars to developing a story that is engaging, memorable and compels action.

A portion of the day will be hands-on as we teach you how to shoot and conduct interviews and get the right visuals to make the most impact. Attendees should bring a phone, tablet or camera that records video. We will also help you create a storyboard as you begin thinking about a story in your district that needs to be told.

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.

Jake Sturgis, APR
Chief Storyteller
Capture Video
Eden Prairie, Minn.

About Jake Sturgis, APR: Working in television news is what Jake Sturgis dreamed of doing following college. After working as a producer at a small-market NBC affiliate, he realized working in TV news was not quite as glamorous as it looked. In 2002, Jake left TV news and spent several years working as a Communications Coordinator for the Minnetonka (Minn.) Public Schools, where he utilized his videography skills. Jake is an award-winning videographer and has presented video workshops for audiences at NSPRA, MinnSPRA and the Minnesota School Boards Association. As founder and president of Capture Video he works with schools, non-profits and small businesses to create short videos as a way to tell stories and build brands.

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Up Your #SchoolPR Social Media Game
Build transparency and trust through online engagement

Saturday, 9 AM - 4 PM
Fee: $299.00

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By now, most school public relations professionals appreciate and understand the value of a strong social media presence. But, if we want to build and maintain positive relationships, our digital presence must be intentional, focused and measured. In this advanced social media workshop, participants will learn how to:

  • identify content audiences value most
  • align social media goals with overall communications goals
  • transform likes and followers into powerful advocates for your districts
  • move media relations into the social space
  • develop a plan to centralize content production
  • turn negative posts into opportunities
  • create mobile-friendly, snack-sized content
  • design digital advertising that audiences don’t ignore

Participants will walk away with a number of social media strategies they can use in their districts to build and maintain transparency, trust and engagement. Although the focus of the session will be on next-level social media use, conversations will be grounded in the use of social as just one aspect of an overall communications plan. A number of hands-on activities are planned to allow for discussion, dialogue and disruption so that everyone leaves feeling confident that their social media game is strong.

Session Breakdown


  • ACTIVITY: Welcome and participant introductions
  • Social Media Landscape: Current and Future Trends
  • Digital Presence: Intentional, focused and measured
  • ACTIVITY: Social Media Scavenger Hunt (Please bring smartphone or laptop)


  • VIDEO: The Power of Words: Change Your Words, Change Your World
  • Content is King
  • ACTIVITY: Disrupt. Innovate. Consume.
  • Digital Advertising
  • Time for Unanswered Questions and Unaddressed Topics

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.

Carla Pereira, APR
Manager, Communications
Peel District School Board
Mississauga, Ont.

About Carla Pereira: Carla is the manager of communications for the Peel District School Board. Prior to joining Canada’s second largest school board in 2003, she was a senior consultant at a public relations agency in Toronto, leading national accounts for consumer product, toy and pharma clients. In 2016, Carla received a National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Front-Runner Award for being an emerging leader in school PR. As an avid user of social media, both personally and professionally, Carla believes that public relations has increasingly become a two-way conversation due to the impact of social media. She believes that every communications challenge should be faced with positivity and hope, and that enthusiasm is contagious.

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Sunday July 9, 2017
Half-Day Pre-Seminar Workshops

Maximize Your PR Office

Sunday, 9 AM - Noon
Fee: $160.00

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If you’re a one person office or manage a small team and have wondered if there is a way to make your work more effective, this is the workshop for you.  Area by area, we will go through best practices and identify key systems and technology tools that have the potential to transform your team and ensure that you are free to spend more time on strategic issues and become the leadership counsel your district needs. We will review easy research and evaluation methods, measuring and reporting on your department’s impact, productivity hacks and ways to create a communicating culture throughout your district. This is a hands-on workshop in which we will spend time setting up the systems you choose, so please bring a laptop or tablet.


Research and Evaluation

  • Accessing existing data in your system
  • Adding on to surveys and polls
  • Tech tools

Communication Planning

  • Organizational and issue based
  • Plan template

Measuring and Reporting on Your Work

  • Systems for organizing and tracking
  • Tech tools and analytics
  • Importance of demonstrating value of the function

Productivity Hacks

  • Simple ideas that expand and reuse messaging
  • Not re-creating the wheel
  • Tech tools for managing projects, keeping on track

Creating a Communicating Culture

  • Systems for creating expectation of communication at district and site level
  • Empowering others to create communicators at all levels
  • Tech tools for increasing engagement and input

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.  

Trinette Marquis-Hobbs, MA, APR
Partner and Chief Communicator
School PR Pro
Sacramento, Calif.

About Trinette Marquis-Hobbs, APR: Growing up frustrated with the miscommunication plots of 70’s sitcom Three’s Company, Trinette was drawn to a field where she could ensure messages were clear and effective. Over the course of the next 20 years, she led communications departments for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and government agencies in the health care, technology and education fields. Trinette’s work has been recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators, Medical Marketing Association and the National School Public Relations Association. A past president of the California School Public Relations Association, she and her husband started their own communications and technology consulting firm in 2012 and work from their offices in Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala. Trinette provides public relations consulting to a variety of educational agencies, leads workshops on communication topics and writes regularly for California Schools Magazine.

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Don't Panic, You Can Bring Your Website into ADA Compliance

Sunday, 1 PM - 4 PM
Fee: $160.00 

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With an onslaught of Office of Civil Rights complaints aimed at districts across the country, ADA compliance of school websites is a hot topic. Districts and schools are required by law to make accessibility accommodations that provide equal access to all. This workshop will review the importance of providing equitable access to your digital resources, easy ways to improve the ADA accessibility of your site, helpful tools to test and improve accessibility and tips to maintain ongoing access when website editing is decentralized. You will leave this workshop with valuable information and training resources you can share with your district and school webmasters when you return.

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online 

Ken Hobbs
Partner and Chief Technologist
Sacramento, Calif.

About Ken Hobbs: Ken Hobbs is an internet veteran, having worked in the field for more than 20 years in a variety of capacities.  He began his career by founding Jel Productions, an award-winning internet firm in Sacramento, where he worked with clients like General Motors, Duraflame, Blue Diamond Almonds and the California Student Aid Commission. After selling the firm, he taught a high school California Partnership Academy in technology and design, where he also developed software to help his peers manage an after-school learning program. Ken returned to consulting in 2011. He is an expert-level technologist, specializing in digital media accessibility and making complex concepts understandable to non-techies.

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Saturday and Sunday, July 8 and July 9, 2017
Two-Day Pre-Seminar Workshops

New Professionals Program (This session is currently at capacity.) 

Saturday, 9 AM - 4 PM & Sunday, 9 AM - Noon
Fee: $299.00

Register Now!  

If you have been in public relations for fewer than three years – or if you’re new to the field – this is the foundation you need for practicing all facets of school PR. You’ll work with seasoned school PR professionals on effective communications planning, applying the RACE (Research, Analysis/Planning, Communication/Implementation, and Evaluation) process, identifying target audiences, framing key messages, developing communication strategies, and a variety of other topics. You will also have the opportunity to work in teams to apply the concepts learned. The workshop is fun, fast-paced and filled with information that will help you create a solid foundation for a career in school public relations. And, you’ll also begin to build a valuable network of colleagues and connect with NSPRA veterans who can guide you and support your professional success.

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.

Chris Tennill, APR
Chris Tennill, APR
Chief Communications Officer 
School District of Clayton (Mo.)

Susan Brott, APR

Director of Communications and Community Engagement
Edina (Minn.) Public Schools









About the workshop leaders: These two veteran school PR pros have a wealth of experience in the field and have done it all — from newsletters, media relations, and strategic communication planning to crisis communication management, public engagement and providing strategic counsel to district leaders. They have served in leadership roles in their state chapters as well as NSPRA and have a special interest in supporting and mentoring colleagues new to the profession.

About Chris Tennill, APR: Chris Tennill, APR, serves as the Chief Communications Officer for the School District of Clayton (Mo.), where he has been leading the district’s communications efforts for the past 12 years. His commitment to supporting those new to the profession led him to develop an award-winning mentoring program in his home state of Missouri. He is a recognized leader in school communications, a past president of the Missouri School Public Relations Association and is currently the South Central Region Vice President for NSPRA.

About Susan Brott, APR: Susan Brott, APR, is the Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the Edina (Minn.) Public Schools. Susan has always had a passion for teaching and mentoring others, including working as an adjunct communications professor at the college level, presenting school communications topics to graduate students and education professionals, serving as a mentor with her chapter’s mentor program, and co-facilitating a year-long learning cohort for early career school PR professionals. She is a recognized leader in school communications and was a 2006 recipient of NSPRA’s Front-Runner Award. She is a MinnSPRA past president and has served on several NSPRA committees.

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APR Prep: Get Ready for Universal Accreditation

Saturday & Sunday, 9 AM - 4 PM
Fee: $299.00

Register Now!  

Ready to move ahead as a PR professional? Then it’s time to become Accredited in Public Relations (APR). This in-depth workshop helps you prepare for the Universal Accreditation examination by providing a solid grounding in the knowledge, skills, and abilities tested. Learn what topics are covered and how to plan and prepare for the various components required for completing the testing process. Make a commitment to yourself and begin your professional development journey toward becoming Accredited in Public Relations.    

To register, download and complete the registration form then mail or fax, or register online.  

Janet Swiecichowski, APR
Director of Public Relations
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.


Shawn McKillop, APR
Manager of Communications & Community Relations
Grand Erie District School Board
Brantford, Ont.








About Janet Swiecichowski, APR: Janet Swiecichowski, APR, is Director of Public Relations for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She is a passionate proponent of Accreditation and was instrumental in the development of NSPRA’s APR Prep workshop (now in its 14th year). She has led and coordinated this popular Pre-Seminar program since 2003. Janet has served as NSPRA’s liaison to the Universal Accreditation Board and is a past chair of NSPRA’s Accreditation Committee. She has been actively involved in the updating and revision of the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and has worked to ensure education communication issues are represented.

About Shawn McKillop, APR: Shawn McKillop, APR, has communications experience working in highly political environments such as Queen’s Park in Ontario, Canada. He supported communications that was directed by the Premier of Ontario while working with Members of Provincial Parliament and Cabinet Ministers including the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and the Minister of Education. It was in his role as communications advisor to the Minister of Education that he developed a passion for education. In 2007, he moved into school Public Relations as communications officer at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and became the Manager of Communications and Community Relations for the Grand Erie District School Board in 2010. Shawn earned his Accreditation in Public Relations in 2016.  

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