Regional Chapter Reports: July 2021

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Southwest Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Joe Ferdani, APR, Southwest Region Vice President

 

Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA)

Richard Franco, President

Chapter well-being

The Arizona chapter is currently basking in the afterglow of an incredible summer conference. Unfortunately, we could not come together last summer due to COVID, but we more than made up for it. Our Vice Presidents of Programming, Dawn Antestenis (Gilbert Public Schools) and Matthew Stamp (Pima County Superintendent's Office), put together an excellent program for our members. It included sessions that covered a wide gamete of topics and included speakers from across the country. The virtual conference was highlighted by our NSPRA President, Ms. Lesley Bruinton, who delivered our closing keynote.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We continue to seek opportunities to connect with other professional organizations. Led by incoming President Stephanie Ingersoll, our chapter is working on a robust resource of letters and other crisis communication. This resource will be made available for our members next year. This tool has also been a topic of conversation with other organizations that would like to purchase access to the curated documents. More to come!

Professional development programs/activities

As I stated above, our summer conference was a hit. We had over 80 members register and attend. All of our resources from the conference and recordings of all sessions will be provided to our members who registered for the conference.

Major chapter issues or concerns

As we begin to prepare for the 2021-22 school year, we will continue to listen to the needs of our members. A theme that has remained at the forefront of our members has been mental and physical wellness. This will be with us for the foreseeable future, and we look forward to tackling it as an executive team.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

All states are currently grappling with Critical Race Theory. I believe this is something NSPRA should consider taking the lead on alongside our state chapters.

Additional items of note

Here is a list of our executive board for the 2021-22 school year:

• President - Stephanie Ingersoll, Queen Creek Unified School District

• President-Elect – Matthew Stamp, Pima County Superintendent's Office

• Website – Michelle Valenzuela, Amphitheater Public Schools

• Programs – Dawn Antestenis, Gilbert Public Schools and Erin Helm, Kyrene School District

• Membership - Erin Dunsey, Peoria Unified School District

• Past President – Richard Franco, Phoenix Union High School District

• Treasurer – Monica Allread, Deer Valley Unified School District

• Secretary - Rita Ezzai, Florence Unified School District

 

California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA)

Jennifer Dericco, APR, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Colorado School Public Relations Association (CoSPRA)

Abbe Smith, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Utah School Public Relations Association (USPRA)

Jer Bates, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 


South Central Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Melissa McConnell, South Central Regional Vice President

 

Arkansas School Public Relations Association (ArkaNSPRA)

Brian Bridges, President

Chapter well-being

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our ArkaNSPRA chapter remained extremely active. In fact, in April, we were able to meet for the first time ever in-person, socially distanced of course. It was great seeing everyone’s faces in the same room instead of on a zoom!

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Our goal is to continue spreading awareness about the benefits of ArkaNSPRA. Many of us are one-person departments so it’s nice to have colleagues who know exactly what you are going through. We collaborate often and constantly share ideas with one another.

Professional development programs/activities

Even though our chapter continues to grow, ArkaNSPRA is still relatively small in comparison to other chapters across the U.S. Still, any professional development programs or activities that our members have the opportunity to attend, they share what they have learned with our members. This is extremely beneficial to our group. In fact, we have several members attendings the NSPRA in New Orleans, in July and they will be bringing back what they learned to our chapter.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are still working to get our chapter reinstated as a 501 c3 non-profit. COVID-19 has delayed us working on this because we were extremely busy trying to navigate the school year through a pandemic. As I’ve mentioned before, as I was filing our forms with the IRS, I ultimately discovered we lost this designation several years ago before I was in office. We used to change officers every year and unfortunately, this issue was lost in the shuffle and never corrected. COVID-19 and us working harder than ever has left little time for us to delve into fixing this in a timely manner but it is important for us to resolve as soon as possible.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

While NSPRA has given us advice on our non-profit issue, I still wish NSPRA had a direct connection with a person at the IRS who could walk me through how to get our chapter reinstated. It would be extremely helpful and less stressful and frustrating than trying to figure out this situation myself.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA)

Jake Potter, APR, President

Chapter well-being

Our membership base is continuing to grow. We now have 95 members. Our membership chair has worked hard to identify communications departments in districts across the state and personally invite them to join KanSPRA. We had an entire 3-person department sign up from one of those districts.

The monthly Zoom PD meetings went over really well. We typically saw 15-30 attendees and each meeting was recorded and posted to the members-only section of our website for anyone who couldn’t join live but didn’t want to miss out on the information. We hosted representatives from NSPRA, state leaders who provided school-related pandemic updates, and a professional speaker who will also be our keynote for next year’s fall conference. These Zoom meetings also allowed us to feature member districts who shared how they were tackling the various communication challenges during the pandemic. These meetings served as a way to reconnect with colleagues across the state who understood exactly what PR professionals were going through and build camaraderie.

The South Central region, our largest, was able to host an in-person meeting last week. The one-hour meeting turned into 3 hours plus for many of the attendees as they soaked up the face-to-face interactions and reflected on the last year and a half.

We remain fiscally strong, with a healthy budget to carry us into next year. Our sponsorship income exceeded the few expenses we had this year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Earlier in the year, we helped CalSPRA judge their publications contest, then partnered with AlSPRA for reciprocal judging. Our publications contest entries are due at the end of June, and we’ll announce award recipients at our fall conference.

We completed our logo refresh and launched it with membership. Colors were brightened and the order of the colors on the petals was rearranged in addition to changing the font to a more universally available one.

The care packages we sent to members were well-received and many people reached out to thank our board. They included sunflower stress balls, KanSPRA bottle openers, an encouraging card from the KanSPRA board, a Starbucks gift card, as well as a digital care package that included resources and tips for self-care.

A project we were able to finalize so we can kick it off in the fall is our new Cultivate KanSPRA program. This will partner Explorers and Guides in a structured mentorship program, but will not be limited to new members. We are going to offer a fall and spring cohort and allow anyone to sign up. More seasoned members might benefit from the fresh perspective of a recent graduate. Those new to PR can benefit from the lessons learned from others who have been in the field for a while, and everyone can benefit from a little bit of networking, no matter how long they’ve been doing PR. The program will focus on helping members get the most out of their membership and foster collaboration and communication between individual members.

Professional development programs/activities

In addition to our monthly Zoom meetings, we encouraged members to sign up for NSPRA and the NSPRA Seminar. We offered a scholarship to three members who wanted to attend the Seminar, but could not afford to do so. At our last count, we have 14 members who are planning to attend the in-person Seminar in New Orleans next month.

Major chapter issues or concerns

One of the items we are focusing on for next year is polishing our member onboarding process. We’ve outlined board expectations around this, but there hasn’t been any continuity between years as board members change. This is an area we want to solidify and streamline to help welcome newcomers to our organization and make sure we are serving them to the best of our ability.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

The best thing NSPRA could do for our chapter is continue identifying professional development opportunities we can share with our members. We have added a Professional Development Chair position to our board for next year, and they will be looking for resources.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Right now, the buzz is about ESSER funds and publishing reopening plans to our websites by June 22. Since the CDC has not yet changed its recommendations, our school boards are trying to navigate the safety protocols and determine what measures to keep in place or which ones can be scaled back for the upcoming school year.

Additional items of note

We’ve made great strides as an organization in terms of finding ways to support and engage members this year and should be set up to have a strong year next year as well. We have an energetic leader stepping into the presidency and I’m excited to see where his leadership takes us.

 

Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) 

Kelly Wachel, APR, President
David Luther, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

MOSPRA continues to grow with a current membership of 235. We are financially very solid with holdings hovering around $102,000. We were able to hold regional meetings throughout the pandemic via the Zoom platform and actually open these meetings up statewide.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

MOSPRA was able to hold our annual jointly hosted Spring Conference with the Missouri Association of School Administrators (March 24-26) IN-PERSON. We are also hosting our annual “One-Person Office Strategic Planning Workshop on June 10). We collaborated with Wisconsin and Oklahoma on two conferences this past year (online).

Professional development programs/activities

See above.

Major chapter issues or concerns

None at the time.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Shared via our NSPRA Leadership Zooms.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Voucher Tax Credits finally manage to push through the door at the 2021 Legislative Session. We have concerns!

Additional items of note

None

 

Oklahoma School Public Relations Association (OKSPRA)

Amber Graham Fitzgerald, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)

Linsae Snider, Executive Director
Veronica Sopher, 2021-2022 President
Rebecca Villarreal, APR, 2021-2022 President
Veronica Castillon, APR, Immediate Past-President

Chapter well-being

TSPRA will celebrate 60 years in 2022. Membership is 1073 members (having received 14 new memberships in the last 30 days) as preparation begins for renewals in July. Executive Committee meeting took place in-person on June 9-10, 2021.

TSPRA will end FY 2020-2021 with $527,000 in savings, an operational budget of almost $667,000 and net profit for the year looks to be approximately $12,000. The TSPRA Executive Committee approved an $848,875 operating budget for FY 2021-2022. TSPRA dues will increase $50 for 2021-2022, after a decade of no dues increase. TSPRA Conference dues will increase $25 for #TSPRA22.

2021-2022 Opportunities for Participation will be developed in July and sponsorship solicitations will launch in August even though several have already been secured.

We continue to be satisfied with the current member management system, Member 365, and the awards system, Open Water, for entering and judging of Star Awards and for entering nominations for our professional awards and scholarships.

All nine regions conducted at least one virtual meeting during the school year reporting increased attendance while CASPRA, SASPRA, SPRINT and HASPRA hosted virtual monthly meetings throughout the year.

An external financial review is scheduled for August and the member audit review is scheduled for September 8.

A TSPRA Year in Review document was developed and distributed for the general membership meeting held during the annual conference in February. Copies will be available and shared at the NSPRA Leaders’ Meeting on July 11, 2021.

A “membership values” infographic has been created for use as dues renewals launch in July as well as a recruitment tool at the TASA TASB Convention and TASA Midwinter Conference. Copies will be available at the NSPRA Leaders’ Meeting.

A relocation of TSPRA state offices is under consideration with options being explored during 2021-2022.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Veronica Sopher, TSPRA President, continues to make committee appointments for the 2021-2022 school year.

Four issues of Communication Matters, the TSPRA digital magazine, were published during FY2020-2021. https://tspra.org/communication-matters/archived-magazines/

TSPRA continues to contribute a two-page spread in the quarterly publication of the TASA INSIGHT along with a third page ad.

The incoming TSPRA President is showcased with a two-page spread each January in the Texas School Business publication, now owned and managed by TASA.

We continue to provide training to first year superintendents through the TASA First Year Superintendent Academy.

TSPRA supports TASA with delivery of communications-related sessions during their summer leadership conference.

The TSPRA president continues to serve as one of ten judges for the selection of the Texas Teacher of the Year.

A TSPRA 2021-2022 strategic Initiative will be to launch resources towards the development of a diversity, equity, inclusion statement, purpose, policy and plan with the first effort directed towards the development of a belief statement.

Professional development programs/activities

The 2021 annual TSPRA Conference was held in-person with limited capacity on February 22-25, 2021, at the Denton Embassy Suites and Convention Center with 255 in attendance, 1406 Star Awards entries, 134 attendees at the Star Awards Banquet and 35 exhibitors (19 in person).

The popular Roundtables, a traditional component of the TSPRA conference, were delivered remotely and safely from hotel rooms through the subscription of a unique platform, Remo, that served as the delivery mechanism for several other online/virtual offerings.

2021 conference exhibitors were afforded a virtual exhibitor extravaganza on April 15, 2021, delivered on the Remo platform and attended by 131 members.

Three new APRs were pinned during the first general session of the 2021 TSPRA Conference – Janice Hernandez, APR, Southwest ISD, Melissa Martinez, APR, CPC, El Paso ISD, Valonia Walker, APR, Aldine ISD.

Fourteen TSPRA members will complete the two-year Texas Christian University Certified Public Communicator (TCU-CPC) program in July 2021 (after the program being Covid delayed during summer 2020), another seven will begin year one of the two-year program in July 2021.

Two Spoken Word Media sessions (media and crisis communications training) were delivered during this fiscal year training 107 individuals (one virtual and one in-person).

The TSPRA Online Learning Committee planned 29 online learning sessions requiring pre-registration, were delivered primarily through Zoom between September 2020-May 2021, and attended by 1001 TSPRA attendees.

Planning is underway for the 2022 annual conference. The theme is, “Learning in the WILD.” The conference logo appears at the bottom of this report. An invitation will be extended to Barbara Hunter, APR, Nicole Kirby, 2021-2022 NSPRA President and Melissa McConnell, South Central NSPRA Vice President, to attend, consider presenting and bring greetings.

Peer review panels continue to be scheduled for members seeking APR with Rebecca Villarreal, APR, overseeing the process for TSPRA members.

Approximately 61 TSPRA members are registered to attend NSPRA 21 in-person in New Orleans.

TSPRA will launch an online subscription service during FY 2021-2022 allowing members invest $250 to have access to a minimum of 16 online learning sessions to be offered throughout the school year.

TSPRA Executive Director and several leaders will be attending the NSPRA Insight webinar on June 25th addressing the effects of CRT on our schools.

Ian Halperin, Wylie ISD, will serve on the 2021-2022 NSPRA Teller Committee, Rebecca Villarreal, APR training at NSPRA 2022, Mesquite ISD received a 2021 Gold Medallion Award and 201 TSPRA members hold dual membership with NSPRA.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Not an issue or concern but pleased to share that the Covid situation has provided the necessary need for many of the state’s smaller school districts to create communications positions. TSPRA membership growth this past year has been from some of the state’s smallest school districts.

A very anti-public education Texas legislature did fund public schools at the level they promised last session, finally provided access to some of the federal Covid aid and also allowed for greater charter expansion, limitations on curriculum in the areas of critical race theory, denied the opportunity for school districts to deliver virtual instruction, voted to allow private and home-schooled students to participate in UIL activities and the chair of the Texas House Public Education Committee Chair was named the worst legislator of the 87th legislative session.

The effects of school budgets on in-person conference attendance are yet to be observed.

Texas is currently experiencing issues with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – our energy grid - which resulted in a statewide freeze and multi-million dollars in damage to facilities this past February and now a fear of what may happen during the extreme heat we experience in the summer and early fall as schools begin to reopen.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Most Texas public schools were fully open to in-person learning by early spring 2021.

There is a struggle with some members not wanting to return to work full-time and requesting modified in-person/WFH schedules. This is putting strain on some department leaders in hiring and retaining the best candidates.

The TSPRA Executive Director has announced a June 2022 retirement after a 12 -year tenure in the position. Preparation and search efforts will begin soon for hiring a new TSPRA Executive Director.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

We are watching closely for the number of approved applications granting on-line charter schools since public schools were denied the option this legislative session.

We continue to witness a trend of superintendents hiring non-communications professionals for heads of the department – giving the position to the next person in line “promised” a cabinet position.

Texas’s very conservative legislature and governor’s stance on LGBTQ issues and opportunities and matters of diversity, equity and inclusion and immigration that could affect public education.

Additional items of note

2022 TSPRA Conference Theme/Logo

 


Southeast Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Mychal Frost, Southeast Region Vice President

 

Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA)

Whit McGhee, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Florida School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA)

Shayla Cannady, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA)

Callen Moore, President

Chapter well-being

Despite the impact of COVID-19, the Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) finished a successful year where membership increased, the organization remained fiscally sound and members engaged in monthly professional development webinars. The 2021-22 GSPRA Officers have been elected and will hold their first meeting on June 24. The new Board is comprised of 12 returning officers and three new members.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

For the upcoming year, GSPRA plans to resume its annual in-person conference. The organization also plans to continue its long-standing partnership with NCSPRA by judging each other’s annual publications contests. Ideas for new projects will be discussed at the upcoming officer meeting.

Professional development programs/activities

GSPRA plans to resume monthly professional development webinars in August or September. The organization also plans to hold a conference in Spring 2022.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSPRA was unable to hold its annual conference in 2020 and 2021. The organization’s members have missed having an opportunity to meet in-person and hope to resume the annual meeting as soon as possible.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Two members of the GSPRA organization will be attending the NSPRA conference in July. In addition to personal professional development opportunities, they hope to connect with other NSPRA members and speakers to assist with furthering the local chapter’s professional development.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

The new officers are looking forward to building on the success of 2020-21 and furthering the reach of our organization. We are seeing more school districts in Georgia place higher value on communications and our organization continues to grow as a result. In the coming year, we hope to expand professional growth and leadership opportunities for our members.

 

Mississippi School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Heather Lenard, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA)

Ken Derksen, Presiden

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

South Carolina School Public Relations Association (SCSPRA)

Melissa Robinette, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted

 

Tennessee School Public Relations Association (TNSPRA)

Tyler Hill, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 


Mideast Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Patrick Gallaway, Mideast Region Vice President

Chesapeake School Public Relations Association (CHESPRA)

Ryan Edwards, President

Chapter well-being

Following three very successful fall virtual seminars, we held a very successful and well attended spring virtual seminar in April, which included Barbara Hunter, NSPRA Exec Director.

Because of my team and our offerings, our membership this year has been incredible. With NO in person events and the perks that come with that, our membership is over 145 individuals, and down by less than only 10 from a normal year.

We continue to focus our professional development offerings on the transition of many divisions to in-person learning.

Our financials continue to be strong, with our current holding in the neighborhood of $30,000.

Our board will now begin discussions on adding the state of Delaware to our already three-state association.

 

Indiana School Public Relations Association (INDSPRA)

Maria Bond, President
Donna Petraits, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

Our membership continues a steady increase with very few cancellations. We have also partnered with the Central Indiana Education Services Center (CIESC) which will be providing INDSPRA memberships to all its member districts. Of the current 29, 11 are not already INDSPRA members. That puts our membership well over 100, which is quite exciting! We are thriving and connecting.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We continue our “Wellness Check-IN” every two weeks. It’s been almost a year since we began these and they still are well-attended. All members and our education partners are invited to join this Zoom meeting with no set agenda. It’s intended to be an opportunity to vent, share, compare and be supportive to one another.

We continue to be a resource for our state education organizations and state media regarding schools and COVID-related issues, among others.

Professional development programs/activities

In May we offered a webinar on Equity and Inclusion with the wonderful Yolanda Stephen. It was well-attended by members and nonmembers alike. Another on building school advocacy will be offered in August (originally scheduled for June).

Our state-wide grassroots regional member groups are getting some traction and we included our regional directors in a significant portion of our board retreat earlier this month. Our retreat agenda is attached for your interest.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Racial equity and supporting those efforts across the state also remains a priority and has become controversial. Purple for Parents is gaining ground and showing up at school board meetings stirring confusion and dispensing misinformation.

The state legislature continues in its efforts to undermine our public schools and funding by pushing voucher expansion and now ESAs. There is a rising tide of school districts and community leaders joining in protest through declarations, proclamations, editorials and organized community advocacy. It’s heartening to see, but the super-majority doesn’t seem to waver and that continues to be incredibly discouraging.

Additionally, teacher pay, school funding and critical referendum management are always a concern.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Help chapters continue to support BLM and racial equity efforts and understanding. Increasing NSPRA membership among our INDSPRA members.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Besides the usual stuff the rest of the country is dealing with - underfunding and referenda, vouchers, gun violence, teacher pay, recruitment and retention, transgender rights, fake news. Our major concerns are learning loss and remediation, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion.

Additional items of note

We are VERY pleased to report INDSPRA has received its FIRST Mark of Distinction!

 

Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA)

Morgan Watson, President

Chapter well-being

KYSPRA is active with at least four board meetings per year. Membership is the highest it has been in years and continues to grow. We look forward to returning to in-person conferences starting later this year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are currently in the process of realigning our Executive Board and how our regions are aligned to increase leadership participation in an effort to reach the more rural districts in our state. We have also started collaborating with bordering state SPRAs in an effort to provide more opportunities for our members and increase funds for our organization by opening conferences to outside SPRAs.

Professional development programs/activities

Currently, KYSPRA offers fall and spring conferences, but we are continuing to look into developing workshops and regional events. KYSPRA recently hosted its 2021 Spring Virtual Conference on March 19, 2021. We have also instituted an APR advisor who is an active KYSPRA member who has earned her APR and will mentor other members who wish to obtain theirs. We look forward to hopefully hosting an in-person fall conference later this year.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are continuing to work on boosting membership, encouraging members to serve on the KYSPRA board and are currently in the process of revising our bylaws.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

No issues or concerns at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

A bill was filed to ban Critical Race Theory from education. We are monitoring the status of this bill.

Additional items of note

None

 

Michigan School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Anne Cron, APR, President
Gerri Allen, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

This quarter, MSPRA was excited to celebrate a milestone - we passed the 200 member mark, benefiting school PR practices across our state. While the MSPRA Board works diligently to engage our members with exceptional resources and professional development, our membership numbers were also increased in part due to changes to our membership options, which included an Institutional Membership. The Institutional Membership allows an organization to have three staff members join MSPRA for the price of two. At our retreat in August, we will look closer at this change and determine how to best leverage our new members. MSPRA Board members also spent time in December emailing and calling members who had not yet renewed to remind them of chapter benefits and encourage renewal. These efforts resulted in several renewals.

Our three new committee chairs have jumped into action, with our Awards hair, Andrew Munson, seeing more award submissions than in past years. We are excited to review the submissions in the coming month and honor our colleagues on their hard work in the realm of school public relations. Kyle Gilbert and Rebecca Fannon from our Marketing Committee have been wonderful additions, offering support to our professional development team and seeking ways to begin welcoming new members with more enthusiasm and access to information. We anticipate goals and initiatives to come from the Marketing Committee following the Annual MSPRA Retreat in August.

Finally, we remain committed to our three goals, established at our retreat last August:

• Tangibles - Our MSPRA Minute has served to inform and keep our members “in the know” with items they can share and implement each week. We began sharing the Governor’s Press Conference details with members this winter and retooled a previous support guide around school walk-outs to support our members in the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict.

• Relationships - Having met with our state educational partners in October in a virtual format, the MSPRA Board continued to foster and strengthen our partnership with a partner meeting in June. Additionally, Executive Director Gerri Allen, President Anne Cron and President-Elect Holly McCaw met with leaders of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators to further solidify our partnership during our annual contract review. This was a wonderful opportunity to share our experiences with one another and recommit to our partnership in a relaxed environment, as our contract was not up for renewal this year.

• Values - MSPRA issued statements in response to Asian American persecution and continued racial tensions across our nation. Additionally, providing resources and support to our members to address concerns through a retooled guide has provided actionable steps our members can take to further their own DEI initiatives.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Relationship Building - As referenced above, MSPRA is committed to strengthening our partnerships. Our fellow educational and state communication colleagues joined our MSPRA Board members twice this year for discussions related to our common job responsibilities and challenges. The meetings provide us with time to share discoveries with one another and plan to provide a brighter future for all.

Toolkits and Resources - MSPRA had great success with our Return to School Toolkits (3 parts) over the summer and into the fall. Plus, we retooled a guide this winter following the Derek Chauvin verdict, providing our members with pertinent resources and information to handle potential protests or concerns within their school communities. In addition, resources through our electronic newsletter, The MSPRA Minute, support the work of our school PR professionals. It’s shared weekly with our members, plus updates and links to the governor’s statewide news conferences are sent throughout the week (as they are announced), since those events can change the course of our work within minutes.

Professional development programs/activities

MSPRA just wrapped up our no-cost June Idea Hour on Tuesday, June 22. The session was entitled “Expanding your Communication Team: Students, Interns, and More!” Four panelists shared their stories around partnering with their students and staff to build their PR efforts during the hour-long session, which included time for participants to ask questions. The session had 27 registrants and an evaluation was sent following the event. Initial responses are very positive. The next no-cost Idea Hour will take place in August.

Major chapter issues or concerns

As we move on from the hectic pandemic life, there remains unrest and division in our communities. Trust has been strained in many schools across our state, despite strong communication efforts. The good news is our schools have an opportunity to leverage their communities in healing efforts. Public Relations professionals will be called upon to help lead community, staff and school partnerships in this work and we are sure our members will answer the call.

We also continue to see burnout and loss of experienced school PR professionals and Superintendents/leadership across our state. While we have offered sessions on mental health and wellness, it is clear that this pandemic has taken a toll on our members and we need to keep an eye on its impact on them and the profession.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Recruitment and retention of skilled school PR professionals across our state and nation is of extreme importance if we are to support our students and staff members appropriately. While chapters like MSPRA can certainly work to provide resources and PD specific to our areas and fields, we need support from a national level to keep PR professionals in the spotlight as valued members of educational organizations.

Additionally, we have seen the following areas emerge or be amplified this year:

• Critical Race Theory: What it is and isn’t; Why it’s under attack; Tips for how we can successfully navigate discussions around this minefield of a wedge issue.

• Removing politics from our schools following the divisive pandemic.

• Healing communities after trauma.

• Communicating around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and managing those community conversations.

• Communicating about flexible learning plans now (and in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence).

• Marketing for students amidst competition from other local school districts, private schools, and the virtual education industry.

• Explaining complex funding/budget issues--School districts are facing layoffs to balance budgets while at the same time being forced to pay for PPE/disinfecting/health monitoring requirements and/or receiving earmarked federal/state funds.

• Addressing the COVID-19-induced learning gap and possible testing to measure it.

• Leveraging the positive shift in public perception - Public schools do so much more than just educate students (child care, food resources, mental health, social services etc.).

• Clarifying the impact of Federal special education laws - Services that are mandated at a federal level may require schools to restructure services offered through other school programs to ensure that students receive Free Appropriate Public Education.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

MSPRA believes the following should be noted as potential long-term issues to watch:

• Protecting students online

• Healing after COVID - mentally and physically

• School communicator self care to avoid burnout

• Returning to normal doesn’t have to mean returning to the same old ways

Additional items of note

Board elections were held in May. Members selected Holly McCaw, APR as president; Anne Cron, APR as president-elect; and Ashley Kryscynski as secretary. Anne currently serves as MSPRA president and this cadence will allow MSPRA to remain consistent in leadership and allow committees to grow and flourish.

Congratulations to incoming MSPRA President Holly McCaw, APR. She recently received the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential.

 

Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA)

Lou DeVincentis, President

Chapter well-being

Membership - OHSPRA membership as of June 21, 2021 stands at 161 for the 2020-21 membership cycle. This is a 22% increase in membership compared to June 21, 2021. Our membership year is September 1, 2020 - August 31, 2021

Due to our chapter’s strong financial standing, we offered an “early bird” incentive for renewing members that we announced last summer. The incentive, if paid prior to the beginning of the membership year (Sept. 1, 2020) was 15% off the cost. We will be offering an “early bird” incentive again this coming year 2021-2022.

• $90 after Sept. 1

• $200 Institutional (3 members, $55 each additional)

Budget/Finances - The chapter continues to be fiscally viable and responsible. -As of June 1, 2021

• Checking $25,235.81

• Savings $25,666.78

• Total $50,902.59

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

OHSPRA continues to develop relationships with a variety of sponsors to support our programming and member opportunities throughout the year. Our director of partnerships/sponsorships, Crystal Davis has added several new and returning sponsors over the last quarter and has implemented several new revenue opportunities for OHSPRA.

• Our current sponsors include ParentSquare, Intrado, Apptegy, K12 Insight, eSV/LINQ, Finalsite

• In discussion with Gabbart Communications, Boxcast, The Impact Group and several others

Consultation sponsorships: 75-minute consultation with our OHSPRA leadership team (board members only) for a product demo. In the first 60 minutes, the sponsor would walk us through the high-level details of their product(s), and then receive our feedback on how the product(s) could be marketed/approached in Ohio in the last 15 minutes. First one was with K12 Insight.

Endorsed/PReferred PRovider sponsorship: Opportunity to become a recommended OHSPRA vendor (after a vetting process performed by an OHSPRA committee). We currently have three sponsors interested.

Virtual Event Co-Host Sponsorship offer: Sponsor pays $500 and co-host a virtual event with our members on a highly relevant research topic. This virtual event would be for all members.

In-Person Conference Opportunities: Different levels are available to sponsors for our fall in-person conference. We would also solicit these sponsors for next year’s two-day OHSPRA Spring Conference.

Professional development programs/activities

Lunch and Learn – Virtual Events: After a successful OHSPRA members-only digital workshop in the fall featuring Josh Eck, Communication Director for Ohio Lt. Governor John Husted, our monthly online Lunch and Learn virtual series was developed covering topics suggested by members in our recent survey and provided to them at no additional cost.

Fall 2021 Conference: In addition, a one-day Fall Conference is being planned for members.

Ohio School Board Association’s 2021 Capitol Conference presentation: The OHSPRA Board’s session for the OSBA state conference in November 2021 named, “Video Storytelling: The Why and The How” has been accepted! We will present to an audience consisting of administrators, board members, and communicators from public school district across the state of Ohio.

Major chapter issues or concerns

COVID-19: Coming out of a pandemic is as stressful as going in to one.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

I think we are good at the moment.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

COVID-19 has dominated the time of school communicators for more than a year now. It is stressful. It weighs heavy on the health, academics, and politics of our schools and the situation is ever-fluid.

Additional items of note

Website Updates: Members-only side of website is continually updated with new resources. Navigation improvements made by our Director of Communications

2021 Achievement Award Distribution update: We will celebrate our 2021 Award winners throughout the summer and fall. We also will use this as an opportunity to promote the 2022 Achievement Award entry opportunities.

COMMUNICATION TO MEMBERS

Newsletters: The Amplify quarterly members newsletter is now monthly! 

OHSPRA Members Survey: Survey of members is being planned. More details will be available following our Board retreat later this month.

OHSPRA Board of Directors: Three positions on the OHSPRA Board of Directors were at the end of their terms this year. Members voted on:

• Director of Memberships

• Director of Sponsorships/Partnerships

• Secretary

Social media: We continue to grow our social media presence. Several board members have the ability to post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also have our chapter manager scheduling regular posts throughout the week.

Twitter - 1528 followers

Facebook - 561 likes, 660 followers

Instagram – 150 followers

We have added an incentive performance bonus for our chapter manager to assist our director of communications with growing our social media presence among members and non-members and to utilize it as a recruiting tool.

OHSPRA Board 2020-21:

• President — Lou DeVincentis, director of communications, Orange City Schools

• Past President — Patrick Gallaway, director of communications, New Albany-Plain Local Schools

• President-Elect — Alicia Mowry, Public Relations Supervisor, Delaware Area Career Center • Treasurer — Patti Koslo, K Communications

• Secretary — Audrey Holtzman, director of communications, Parma City Schools

• Director of Membership — Olivia Bronczek, communications director, Massillon City Schools

• Director of Communications – Melinda Briggs, Little Miami Public Schools City Schools

• Director of Professional Development- Kari Basson, community relations coordinator, Kettering City Schools

• Director of Contests and Awards — Candice Harrison, communications director, Toledo Public Schools

• Director of Partnerships — Crystal Davis, public relations coordinator, Pickerington Local Schools

Mary Beddell, public relations director, Plain Local School District, serves as chapter manager (not a Board position).

GOALS

Goals Accomplished for 2020-21:

• Expand virtual professional development opportunities

• Develop sponsorship opportunities

• Continue to enhance partnership opportunities with other educational associations in the state (Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association for School Administrators, Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators and more.)

• Continue to publish Amplify Your Story newsletter

• Improve the website’s online resources area

• Increase social media exposure

 


North Central Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Tracy Jentz, APR, North Central Region Vice President

 

Illinois School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) 

Alex Mayster, APR, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA)

Amanda Lewis, President

Chapter well-being

The Iowa School Public Relations Association has had an extraordinary year. Together, we united to share resources, support, and advice as we navigated the most challenging year that any of us can recall. Our chapter is extremely active and growing and enjoys a strong and positive reputation in the state.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

This past year, we collaborated to create a Return to Learn communication plan and held a number of networking Zoom meetings to collaboratively brainstorm and share ideas throughout the pandemic.

Professional development programs/activities

In addition to what was shared above, we also held both fall and spring virtual conferences in collaboration with RethinkEDU. Each conference offered a variety of presenters covering topics ranging from personal wellness as a PR professional to marketing your school. Both conferences were

Major chapter issues or concerns

N/A

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

N/A

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA)

Tami DeLand, President

Chapter well-being

Despite a school year in Minnesota where districts transitioned from distance to hybrid to in-person learning models and back again, and where school communication professionals found themselves in an even more rapidly changing (and potentially dangerous) environment than usual, the Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA) navigated the year successfully supporting, connecting, and educating its members.

• Chapter Membership - membership remained steady this year at 171, despite COVID challenges.

• Finances – MinnSPRA remains in good financial health, again, in spite of this year’s challenges. (Planned in-person conferences that had to be postponed, for example.) The organization reports $54,584.58 total assets (with $17,000 of those funds held in reserve per by-laws.)

• Connections - MinnSPRA members stayed connected throughout the year with facilitated Coffee Chats, NSPRA Power Hours, and the members-only Facebook page.

Professional development programs/activities

When planning at the Summer 2020 retreat, MinnSPRA board members saw opportunity within the challenges that COVID presented for members. One goal became to create ongoing and robust professional development to be delivered virtually. A second goal was to adopt a single online platform that could house resources as well as serve membership interactively. A third goal was to re-focus and enhance our racial equity goal from the previous year to provide anti-racist action steps.

In all these areas, MinnSPRA met and exceeded its goals. The traditional fall conference became an ongoing Fall Learning Series of virtual experiences, including Election 2020, What Happened and What Does It Mean? moderated by Bob Noyed, and featuring Bill Morris and Peter Leatherman of the marketing and research firm, Morris-Leatherman Company, sharing insights on the 2020 Presidential Election as well as on statewide races and school district levies and referenda; a Lunch and Learn with Nicole Kirby, upcoming NSPRA President, on How to Get Through the Pandemic in School PR; Adobe skills-building workshops with Keith Gilbert; and the creation of Good Trouble PR, a group of committed school PR professionals who, in the model of Good Trouble Principals, leads us to challenge our systemic beliefs about race in order to use the power of our positions to effect real and meaningful change for our schools, students and communities. Transformative is the word used most often to describe this ongoing professional development, and we look forward to hearing more from Good Trouble PR next year.

Projects/Events • MinnSPRA approved and launched (in time for spring conference) ReThink.edu as a digital platform to host virtual PD and conferences and to house resources for membership. • MinnSPRA held its first-ever spring conference, Lift Every Voice, in April with engaging speakers and experiences. NSPRA President Lesley Bruinton was the keynote speaker; joined by Cathy Kedjidian, #K12PR wunderkind; Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; and MinnSPRA’s own Good Trouble PR group. Participants also took away valuable lessons from MinnSPRA Gold Mine sessions and a high school student panel.

An eagerly awaited in-person social was sponsored by MinnSPRA on June 3rd – sunshine and smiles all around!

Professional Development continued in June with two more Keith Gilbert Adobe skills sessions offered to membership.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Strategies on declining enrollment and other post-pandemic related issues, including funding once CARES money goes away. Strategies on confronting systemic racism in our schools

Additional items of note

At the virtual spring conference, MinnSPRA proudly celebrated several award recipients of distinguished merit:

• Barb Olson, APR, Osseo Public School District, Dawn K. McDowell Award

• Dr. Theresa Battle, Superintendent of District 191, Burnsville/Eagan/Savage, District Leadership in Communications Award

• John Casper, Communications Coordinator, Winona Public Schools, and Jennifer Bock, Communications Director for Southwest Metro Intermediate District #288, New Professionals Award

• Susan Brott, APR, CESO Communications, 2021 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award (NSPRA)

• Bob Noyed, APR, CESO Communications, 2021 NSPRA Presidents Award Winner

 

Nebraska School Public Relation Association (NebSPRA) 

Jack Sheard, President

Chapter well-being

We held our annual membership drive during the spring and are currently at 46 active members. This is on par for previous years. We hope to grow our membership in the coming year to include more NE districts who do not have a dedicated communications professional on staff.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Over the summer, the incoming NebSPRA Exec Committee is holding 2 planning meetings to brainstorm ideas to bring more professional development opportunities to our chapter members. Currently, the majority of our meetings are round-table discussions, and for the coming year our members asked that we collaborate with outside vendors/presenters/members of other SPRA’s to provide further opportunities for growth.

Professional development programs/activities

See response to #2.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are currently working to grow our membership and become a more well-known resource for other districts in our state. Our focus as we close out the current year and begin to plan for the next year is to target school districts that do not have an identified school communications professional on staff, and to increase awareness of our resources for those districts.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Tracy Habisch-Ahlin, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 


Northeast Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Angela Marshall, Northeast Region Vice President

 

Connecticut School Public Relations Association (ConnSPRA)

ConnSPRA is currently suspended.

 

New Jersey School Public Relations Association (NJSPRA) 

Lori Perlow, President

Chapter well-being

Our chapter continues to grow and become more diverse with various school employees joining. We currently have 65 registered members which is a slight decline from the 73 we ended with last year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

ParentSquare has graciously sponsored of our virtual workshops.

• Chapter President Lori Perlow and Secretary Mary Ann McGann were invited to present at the NJ School Boards Association PR Forum in early June.

• Chapter President Lori Perlow was invited to present at the New Superintendents Training program offered by the NJ Association of Superintendents and Administrators in May 2021.

Professional development programs/activities

?

Major chapter issues or concerns

We averaged approximately 30 participants at each of the virtual workshops we held this year. The last event is described below. We have a July planning meeting scheduled for the board and advisory committee where we will focus on programming for the upcoming year.

Our final virtual workshop of the year was held on April 21. We welcomed NSPRA President Lesley Bruinton, APR.

Communicating with Different Audiences: Educators know the importance of differentiating instruction for children, but districts must also tailor communications to meet the unique needs and interests of internal and external audiences. Through a choose-your-own-adventure learning experience, discover best practices for communicating with different audiences.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Our chapter has identified chapter growth as a goal for the upcoming year. After two years of stagnant membership numbers, it’s time to focus on a new strategy to increase our membership.

 

New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA)

Stephen King, President

Chapter well-being

The New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA) is an active chapter but has experienced a decline in membership from a year ago. We hold regular meetings as per by-laws. Our finances are strong, despite not holding a formal conference this year. We developed a number of virtual networking and professional development sessions to help connect our members and engage them in our profession.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

See below.

Professional development programs/activities

NYSPRA Virtual Panel Discussions

In an effort to connect members at a time when isolation was commonplace and increase the number of professional development opportunities available to members, NYSPRA launched a series of virtual panel discussions in 2020-21 encompassing a number of timely and relevant subject areas.

The panels included:

• Opportunities & Challenges Brought on by COVID-19 School Closures (58 registrants)

• Planning for Re-opening: The Role of School PR (67 registrants)

• Lift the Curtain: A Look at Retirement Planning for School PR Professionals (34 registrants)

Based on additional positive feedback from attendees and the regional networking opportunities that these sessions allowed for, this is a venture NYSPRA would like to do again in the future.

NYSPRA Speaker Series

The 2021 NYSPRA Conference would have been held in March 2021 in Syracuse, NY. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, the NYSPRA Executive Board decided to cancel the conference and pivoted to a virtual speaker series that was spread throughout the winter and spring of 2021. The NYSPRA Speaker Series featured an all-star presenter lineup and a variety of topics that reflected the current nature work School PR professionals are undertaking in districts. In total 84 individuals registered for the NYSPRA Speaker series.

The topics included: • How Communicators are Leading the Way in the COVID Pandemic (Presenter: Rick J. Kaufman, APR)

• Nobody Knows My Name: Making Visible All Members of School Communities (Presenter: Shawn Joseph and Lisa Grillo)

• Supporting LGBTQ Students & Families Through School Communications (Presenter: Lyndon Cudlitz)

• Consumer Branding: What School Districts Can Learn from Corporate Giants (Presenter: Melissa Smith)

Additionally, in April, NYSPRA also offered an APR Prep Workshop for those who were interested in pursuing their Accreditation in Public Relations. Ten members registered for the workshop. Former NYSPRA president and current Past President, Adrienne Leon, APR, and a panel of APR colleagues reviewed the APR process, answered questions and helped to conduct mock panel presentations, test-taking strategies and more.

Annual Communications Contest

Our annual Communications Contest offers members an opportunity to submit their best work from the previous year. Work can be submitted in 14 different categories, ranging from annual reports and writing to strategic campaigns and websites. The award-winning work is showcased on NYSPRA’s website and in NYSSBA’s On Board publication (which is printed and mailed to all school districts in the state). This year, we hosted a virtual awards ceremony on Facebook to honor our winners. Showcasing this work allows NYSPRA to not only strengthen its brand, but also allows our school P.R. professionals to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their abilities and how they support schools across the state. Members are able to see a variety of best practices exhibited in the winning materials, and school board members always appreciate the recognition of having their district’s work displayed on a statewide level. The 2020 NYSPRA Communications Contest ran from July to October 2020. The 340 entries were judged by 41 communications professionals from across the country. Of those entries, 106 entries (31.3 percent) entries received awards. The contest is organized by NYSPRA’s paid contest coordinator.

Major chapter issues or concerns

The board is currently focusing on two areas of oversight: relationship building/connection between members and membership growth. We will be sending out a survey within the next few weeks designed to get a better understanding of the makeup of our membership. We’re also interested in members’ PD needs, and designing opportunities that meet their desires.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Critical Race Theory: We are seeing districts around the state examine the impact of systemic racism in society and how policies and practices in K-12 education contribute to persistent racial inequalities in education. A number of our districts are seeing community opposition to this effort. NYSPRA is planning to hold a summer session around DEI and how to approach communicating about issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. We are obviously not experts in this area, but we can help strengthen our members’ roles as it pertains to communication responsibilities.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Not to be redundant, but Critical Race Theory.

Additionally, our state is bracing for re-opening in the fall and what it will look like. With mask mandates going away for the majority of people, there is still the challenge that students will likely be wearing masks in the fall with vaccines for students under 12 not likely being available. We anticipate parent pushback if kids under 12 are still expected to wear masks when school begins in the fall.

 

Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association (PenSPRA)

Christine Liberaski, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 


Northwest Region Chapters Report - November 2021

Curtis Campbell, Northwest Region Vice President

 

Idaho School Public Relations Association (IDSPRA)

Kathleen Tuck, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Oregon School Public Relations Association (OSPRA)

Laura Conroy, President

Chapter well-being

We’ve grown from 60 to 98 members in 2020-21. We’ve created an annual overview for SY 2020-21 to capture benefits delivered to our members.

We’ve held elections and transitioned board officers successfully in June. We’ve provided “board member” orientation materials for new and returning board members to ensure chapter compliance with regulations and governance best practices. The OSPRA Board continued to meet twice monthly and continued the board committee structure for professional development, membership and finance - a successful distributive leadership model - to support succession and a wide offering of high-quality events and programming for members.

Our finances continue to be stable with a reserve that is double our annual operating budget and we considered ways to leverage our financial resources to serve our members. We decided to offer 5 NSPRA related scholarships to members this Q2.

We hosted our 3rd event in the Winter Professional Development series and a special Wellness seminar with Mark Mohammadpour who is presenting at NSPRA seminar this summer. In 2021 Q2 we added a virtual book club and hosted an author. Participants have enjoyed the discussions and topics. Chapter online presence and communication is supported with a publicly facing website, Twitter account and Facebook page. Internal chapter communication is supported with online member forums, google drives, an active members-only facebook page and monthly member email updates.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In addition to a wide array of virtual professional development offerings described below, OSPRA hosts monthly virtual socials to support professional morale which has been especially critical for practitioners in rural districts. Additionally, OSPRA leadership and members collaborated and provided crisis support to districts and communities devastated by wildfire emergencies including evacuations and school district closures in Newport, Phoenix-Talent and Estacada in September of this year.

Professional development programs/activities

Members are supported with a mentor/mentee program, a three-part professional development series, which occurred in November, February and April 2021 with guest speakers and on-demand virtual “Hot Topic” practitioner events to support shared knowledge and understanding of emerging issues. The OSPRA Facebook page is highly active with daily posts and responses as practitioners seek advice and provide exemplars in the spirit of cooperation.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Chapter membership demographics continue to vary wildly from the student populations we serve. Members are predominantly female, white, college-educated. We continue to seek ways to support diversity in our profession to better represent and engage with the ethnically and linguistically diverse communities we serve.

NSPRA guidance and leadership would be helpful - perhaps offering equity amendments for chapter bylaws, committee charter for equity committees, equity lens template for communicators, a consultant to work with chapter leadership on leading for equity, awards for recognizing work in equitable communications and engagement etc.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

As we move back to “normal” the community seeks “hybrid” options for public meetings and instruction. This presents a new challenge as the blend of these meeting styles is clunky for facilitators that aren’t experienced in supporting hybrid virtual/in-person meetings and instruction yet the equity and participation gains of a hybrid approach cannot be ignored. Our members seek models and guidance about how to accomplish this successfully.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

COVID-19 is defining much of our work. Continued support for districts that are trying to find ways to support student learning from a distance, professional development for tools that support connection, and professional wellness supports continue to be in demand. Likewise, the continued impacts of systemic racism on our schools and communities is a topic that deserves tremendous support.

Additional items of note

Leadership development courses and mentors for aspiring executive level/cabinet practitioners.

 

Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Tove Tupper, President

Chapter well-being

Due to COVID-19, WSPRA transformed its professional development program this school year. Rather than hosting three in-person conferences, WSPRA offered monthly virtual professional development events, culminating in a day-long virtual annual conference at the end of April. An average of 64% of WSPRA members registered for the PD events and $21,500 was secured in sponsorships.

The board is currently in transition and welcoming its newly elected officers. The incoming board is meeting in-person for a two-day planning retreat in Bellevue, WA. It will be the first time the board is together in-person in nearly 18 months. We are excited and eager to welcome our new board members who will officially begin their new term on July 1.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In May, WSPRA hosted its annual awards events on Zoom. This year, we received a total of 240 submissions across 12 categories. We were very lucky to have a dedicated team of 18 judges from the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association take on this massive judging effort. The previous year, 110 WSPRA members judged our awards. Having less than 20 people judge this year’s entries was a huge undertaking and we are very grateful for the partnership and support from OKSPRA.

We have been recruiting members to lead our new networking program. The WSPRA Regional Lunch Network provides an opportunity for members to meet with their local school PR colleagues to discuss challenges and opportunities in a casual setting. Each leader will coordinate informal meet-ups per school year for local school PR professionals. Our goal is to launch the program at the start of the next school year.

Professional development programs/activities

In April, WSPRA hosted its annual conference virtually. The annual conference is typically held in Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed town located in central Washington. The town is known for its German beer, brats and pretzels, architecture and music. To bring Leavenworth to our members, the board laced themes of Leavenworth throughout the conference.

We kicked off the conference with a networking event on the evening of Wednesday, April 28, followed by a day-long virtual event on Thursday, April 29. Thanks to sponsors and careful budgeting early in the year, the cost for members to participate in the annual conference dropped significantly, from $225 to $50.

The evening virtual networking event was called Hoppy Hour (a nod to Leavenworth’s beloved outdoor beer gardens). Yakima Chief Hops, a local hops distributor, walked members through an interactive hop and beer sensory experience. Learn more about the event by reading the event flyer.

To open up the day of learning, the board worked with the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce to develop trivia questions. The Chamber recorded the trivia answers on video, which we played for members.

WSPRA broke the day of learning into two parts. The morning was spent learning together as an entire group. The afternoon was spent in choice break-out sessions. Below is a list of sessions offered at the annual conference, along with links to view the slide deck and/or video recording from each presentation. View the entire agenda for the day.

• A Complaint-Free World

• The COVID Pandemic: How Communicators are Leading the Way

• Keys to Amplifying Your System's Story • Go Live: Tips & Tricks for Facebook Live and Reaching a Larger Audience

• What Everyone Gets Wrong About Creating Advocates

• Pandemic Funding Panel: Explaining the Roller Coaster

• 35 Tips & Tricks for Low-Budget Video Production

• Increase Stakeholder Engagement & Student Enrollment

To avoid Zoom fatigue, WSPRA built longer-than-normal breaks into the conference agenda to allow attendees to stretch their legs, grab a snack and use the restroom. During the breaks, members were also encouraged to visit break-out rooms for a few minutes, hosted by our sponsors. Typically, members spent in-person breaks visiting sponsor booths. The break-out rooms were WSPRA’s solution to create the sponsor booths in a virtual setting and provide valuable opportunities for members to connect with sponsors.

Attendees also received an interactive conference box in the mail prior to the conference. Boxes included premium WSPRA swag, Hoppy Hour sensory kits, sponsor goodies, snacks and other materials to enhance the virtual experience. Every detail, from the design of the box and tissue paper, to how the boxes were organized inside, was mapped out.

Conference boxes also included raffle tickets. Throughout the conference, WSPRA drew raffle prizes to ensure engagement and participation throughout the day.

A total of 139 people registered for WSPRA’s virtual annual conference—that’s nearly 66% of members. A total of 88% of conference attendees surveyed rated the Hoppy Hour a 4 or 5 (out of 5). The PD sessions received a 4 or 5 (out of 5) on average 72% of the time. Here is a sampling of what some of our members shared:

• “You all had a big mountain to climb. Enjoyed it greatly and so proud to be a part of WSPRA. Thank you! I always take a couple great "I can use this now" ideas back. And reminds me I am not alone.”

• “Wow I am SO IMPRESSED with the welcome boxes! They were AMAZING. Congratulations to this year's board. The boxes were very well thought out and I appreciated every single detail. I am proud to be a WSPRA member!!”

• “I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn without leaving my office. And the presentations were all really great.”

• “The diversity of speakers and topics helped my team and I to reflect on our current practices and develop new and improved strategies for 2021. Thanks, WSPRA!”

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are starting to see a need for more communication support to address misinformation about Critical Race Theory.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

It would be extremely helpful if NSPRA could partner and support state chapters on their awards programs. It is difficult to find reliable judges. It would be great if NSPRA could help think through some sort of partnership between SPRAs to share the judging responsibilities.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

We anticipate a communication challenge around school funding. With a large amount of ESSER funds coming to school districts, it could give the illusion that schools are well funded. These funds are designed for specific items and are a one-time payment. Districts in our state still require approval of an operations levy to fund schools.

Additional items of note

On a personal note, it has been an honor to serve as president of WSPRA this school year. This year turned out very different from what I first envisioned when I signed up to serve. While it was an extremely challenging year for WSPRA and its members, serving on the board has been extremely rewarding. This year’s WSPRA board did an outstanding job supporting our members. They deserve all the credit for this year’s work and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.