Regional Chapter Reports: March 2020

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Southwest Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Joe Ferdani, APR, Southwest Region Vice President

 

Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA)

Zachery Fountain, President

Chapter well-being

The Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA) membership continues to grow with additional memberships extending beyond county and state educational entities interested in learning more about school communication practices. Between 2017 and 2018 an additional ten memberships joined the ASPRA ranks. For 2019, membership is currently at 139 paying members and 12-lifetime memberships with additional plans to attract small district superintendents who do not currently school communications and public relations professionals.  ASPRA still has membership requests from vendors, private/public competitors, and contract public relations professionals. Efforts have been made to ensure such groups are in the membership category, but may not have a professional membership that allows for voting in ASPRA related votes.

Additionally, new leadership is beginning to take route throughout the executive team with growing requests to be part of the elected positions in the coming years - an issue that had been difficult in prior years. This may be in part to growing geographic participation throughout the state with representation on the board from three counties outside of Maricopa County in addition to new school PR professionals joining the ranks statewide.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

ASPRA*tions Annual Award Luncheon - The premier recognition of school PR materials and activities in Arizona was held on October 31st at the Madison Performing Arts Center - a new location in central Phoenix.  Costs to ASPRA have remained stable through the years with greater participation allowing for expanded services at the event.

ASBA Conference Support - ASPRA staffed the Arizona School Boards Association Annual Conference.  A partnership of 20+ years, ASPRA supports ASBA through social media coverage and photography support throughout the event.  This year, ASPRA had a table at the event and were able to talk with superintendents and board members regarding ASPRA and NSPRA at the three-day event and highlight the work of school PR professionals across the state.

Professional development programs/activities

September 6 - Quarterly ASPRA Meeting in Queen Creek

  • Topics: What I Wish I’d Known Before I Took a Job in #SchoolPR, NSPRA Seminar Recap, Election Info

October 31 - ASPRA*tion Awards at Madison Performing Arts Center

  • Topic:​ K12 PR Wellness, Mindfulness and Meditation, Census, and Cybersecurity Recap

November 6 - Quarterly ASPRA Meeting in Tolleson

  • Topics: Flagstaff Unified School District Cyber Attack Debrief
  • Topics: Wellbeing Strategies
  • Topics: New School Tours and Communications Process - Tolleson High School District.

November 17, 18, & 19 - ASBA Annual Convention Coverage and Support

February 7 - Quarterly ASPRA Meeting in Tucson

  • Topic - Preschool Marketing
  • Topic - Storytelling Practices

April 3 - Quarterly ASPRA Meeting

  • Topics - TBD

June 8 & 9 - ASPRA Conference in Flagstaff

  • Topics - TBD
  • Keynote - NSPRA President

Major chapter issues or concerns

While ASPRA is in a really good spot financially and with membership, the Executive Board is focused on upgrading practices for the organization including the ability of members to access content on the go.  The team has purchased live streaming equipment and is still navigating processes and procedures for standing up systems at multiple facilities and networks in controlled K-12 environments.

Additionally, with more connections to other ‘SPRA’s, ASPRA has identified opportunities with vendors to expand offerings and is currently benchmarking against other practices.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

OCR Website Reviews:  The Office of Civil Rights is now targeting third-party vendors who provide support to districts in the way of policy bridge tools and now putting districts under-tightening review for private companies’ non-compliance.

YouTube and COPA:  Arizona districts had their YouTube channels and content revoked without notice leaving some districts unable to access their created content.  While also a national issue, some districts had this issue dovetail with website accessibility practices and no practical tactics to address the issue.

Branding Resources:  Districts continue to navigate long range branding issues in relations to copyright standards.  Payson High School, Arizona, was recently hit with a copyright claim over the use of the longhorn graphic and had to promptly pull back its use of the logo after the University of Texas challenged the use.  Resources pertaining to the graphic design standards and copyright practices will be beneficial for members.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

NSPRA should keep an eye on the competitive nature of education in Arizona and assist state organizations and members with resources to justify public relations and communications budgets.  Any assistance in providing benchmarked data on budgets of public versus private providers would be invaluable to members as they seek to justify their value to their organizations and communities.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA)

Kindra Britt, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Colorado School Public Relations Association (CoSPRA)

Abbe Smith, chapter co-president

Chapter well-being

Overall, the chapter continues to be stable and in good health. We are focusing on creating high-quality professional development opportunities and networking events for members. Currently, we are in the process of planning our Spring 2020 conference and awards program. The awards program is designed to celebrate the achievements of members who are breaking ground with innovative and engagement strategies and ideas. The awards program and conference also serves as a vehicle to highlight this work and provide members best practices and innovative ideas to emulate.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

The Chapter is focused this year on implementing an online tool for managing our awards program. We are investing in a platform called Reviewr, which in comparison with other similar platforms stood out to the Chapter in terms of ease of use, functionality and cost. This tool also is used and recommended by several NSPRA state chapters for their awards program. We look forward to testing the platform this spring. COSPRA wants to continue to look at its relationship with CASE, the Colorado Association of School Executives, in order to raise awareness and the standing of school PR professionals in the state.

Professional development programs/activities

COSPRA is excited for its annual Spring Conference and Excellence Awards Ceremony on May 1 at the Wellshire Event Center in Denver. A Save the Date email was sent out to all members on Jan. 27. The morning session will feature a keynote presentation on vulnerability in storytelling by Adam Harris, Communications Coordinator with Arlington Heights, IL, Schools District 25. Additionally, we are working with the Colorado Department of Education to include a presentation at the conference about new graduation requirements in the state and strategies for communicating to parents about the changes. The awards program is also officially under way. An email announcing the contest and including details for submissions went out to members on Monday, Feb. 17. We look forward to working with our presenters and Chapter sponsors to make this a successful event.

Major chapter issues or concerns

There are no major chapter concerns at this time.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We are always interested in learning from our NSPRA partners about innovative best practices and ideas for speakers or professional development.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Several districts and from across the state have joined to start changing the way public education is discussed and viewed in Colorado. This communication effort is called Our Schools, Our Community and prominently, graphically features the Colorado “C” from the state flag. The goal of the effort is to help show that good schools and good students are part of and contribute to great communities across Colorado. COSPRA is supportive of this effort and has a shared interest in elevating the narrative around the success stories of public education.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

 

Utah School Public Relations Association (USPRA)

Steven Powell, President

Chapter well-being

The Utah Schools Public Relations Association is an active organization with a focus on professional development, collaboration and colleague support. Our chapter hosts regular monthly meetings at sites throughout Utah, covering a variety of topics. Our budget remains healthy, to the point that this year we were able to forgo chapter dues for existing USPRA members. Our membership has grown the past year as several districts have added new communications professionals. On average we have approximately 20-25 individuals attend our monthly meetings.

Because we are a small chapter we benefit from regular collaboration outside of meetings. In situations where one district is facing a challenge or receives a curveball from the media, it’s very easy for our members to ask questions, gather feedback, and strategize with the whole USPRA membership - without the inbox becoming inundated with replies.

Since the primary metropolitan area of Utah is contained within a 100-mile stretch of the I-15 freeway most of our members are able to attend regular meetings without burdensome travel. However, I do wish we could solve this issue with our handful of colleagues who live outside this area. Additionally, I hope we can someday provide easy access to communications resources for Utah’s rural and smaller school districts that do not have a full-time communications officer.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

For the past few years our chapter has brainstormed on a campaign that brings attention to public schools in Utah through videos and feature stories of prominent Utahns detailing their experiences in school. At the moment the project has been tabled, but I anticipate its revival in the coming year. This year we are also brining back chapter awards to highlight great communicators.

Professional development programs/activities

The primary source of professional development occurs in our regular USPRA meetings. Topics this year have included: How to respond to media and the community in the event of a student suicide, mindfulness and healthy workplace practices, how to combat misinformation on social media, and a review of USPRA member presentations from the most recent NSPRA seminar.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Getting our ‘far out’ districts involved in our professional development opportunities is a main concern. I’d also like to see more direct support in helping our members attend the NSPRA seminar.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None that come to mind.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Tax reform efforts at the Utah Legislature that could impact education funding; aging school buildings and rising construction costs; proficiency-based learning; belligerent media seeking sensational education stories using unethical or unprofessional practices.

Additional items of note

N/A

 


South Central Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Tony Heaberlin, APR, South Central Regional Vice President

 

Arkansas School Public Relations Association (ArkaNSPRA)

Brian Bridges, President
Liz Massey, Secretary/Treasurer

Chapter well-being

The ArkaNSPRA chapter continues to thrive and is still receiving new members this year. We’ve even had superintendents and assistant superintendents join our chapter. Our meetings are bigger than ever with members traveling from across the state to attend.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Our goal has always been to spread awareness about ArkaNSPRA and the benefits of membership and that’s what we are continuing to do. We also support one another with ideas and rally around each other during times of crisis.

Professional development programs/activities

Even though our chapter continues to grow and is at its highest membership enrollment to date, we are still a relatively small chapter compared to other states. So during our meetings, we take advantage of sharing ideas, especially if we have members who are able to take part in other NSPRA conferences. At our last meeting, one of our ArkaNSPRA members shared an exercise she was able to learn at the MOSPRA Fall Conference and it was extremely beneficial to all our members.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We will soon be working on getting our chapter reinstated as a 501 c3 non-profit. This is my first year as secretary/treasurer and when I was filing our forms with the IRS, I ultimately discovered we lost this designation several years ago before I was in office. In the past, we used to change officers every year and now it’s every two years. Unfortunately, this issue got lost in the shuffle and was never corrected.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Mr. Jones at NSPRA has been super kind in trying to help me rectify our issue, even putting me in contact with another chapter who had to go through this same problem. However, I sincerely wish NSPRA had a contact with the IRS, a physical person we could call that would help us with specific issues. I called the regular IRS number and that employee didn’t want to listen to our unique situation and didn’t want to help at all. I even resorted going to our local IRS office and they couldn’t help either. I would love it if there was someone whether it was with the IRS or an NSPRA connected tax accountant, who could walk me through the paperwork of trying to get reinstated, instead of me trying to find my own person. The other chapter who had gone through this didn’t quite remember everything they did to get reinstated since some time had passed.

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)

Michele Jones, APR, President

Chapter well-being

KanSPRA is a growing chapter. We currently have 90 paid members. We typically have 5 – 6 board meetings a year and our regions tend to meet about monthly for a working lunch or experience tour.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

KanSPRA is doing a big push to get our members to the national seminar since St. Louis is fairly close.
Our Board gave approval for a new website and member management system. We will be transitioning to Wild Apricot in the next few months. We are really excited about this new system and what we will be able to do with it. This has been something we have needed for a long time – moving forward!

The Board is also looking at creating a new region within the state. We currently have 4 regions and each region has a VP. We are thinking about splitting up our south central region and creating a south east region. KanSPRA membership in that part of the state is growing and it’s time to rethink our regions (regions have been the same since 2006). We will discuss again at our April Board meeting.

Professional development programs/activities

We had a successful fall conference in Topeka, Kansas in late October. We are relying on our regional vice presidents to provide programming/meeting times for their regions once a month.

We have found that our closed Facebook group is a wonderful way for our members to communicate with each other.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are currently evaluating our website and the process for membership. What we currently have is out of date and hard to navigate. We have a board sub-committee that is looking into options and will have a recommendation for the board at our meeting in late February.

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

None at this time.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) 

Kelly Wachel, President
David Luther, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

MOSPRA financials are in excellent shape and our membership hit a new high recently at 228 active practitioner members and another eight business members. Our annual growth rate over the past six years is 9.5%. Several factors for our growth include continual outreach to school districts across the state, holding our Spring Conference in coordination with the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA is the superintendents association), and hiring an executive director to oversee day-to-day operations and assist in the implementation of professional development opportunities and membership growth processes.

MOSPRA has four regions - the Eastern and Western regions hold monthly meetings that are very well attended, the Ozark Region meets at least six times a year with a group of approximately 15, and the Mid-State region gathers quarterly.

On Feb. 6-7, 2020, the MOSPRA current board, the 2020-2021 board, and several committee chairs met for our annual Winter Retreat. This retreat is vital for many reasons, chiefly to allow chapter leaders to review our strategic plan, to evaluate membership and financials, and to determine current and future professional development. The retreat is also helpful to prepare our boards for transition in July.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

MOSPRA continues to provide multiple professional development opportunities for members. Besides our regular regional meetings, we have three active sub-regional gatherings. We call these our “Rogue” groups and are proud to have received the 2019 NSPRA Mark of Distinction for these outreach/professional development opportunities for those who cannot make it to the regional meetings.

MOSPRA also hosts a summer “One-Person Office” strategic planning session that is set for June 18, 2020, in Jefferson City.

We hold an annual Fall Conference in early November. For 2019, our topic was “Brand Reputation Management” and our primary presenter was Linda Locke, past senior vice president and group head of Reputation and Issues Management for MasterCard Worldwide. Jim Dunn, APR, also presented on “Brand Management through Storytelling.” MOSPRA also offers an ongoing APR Preparatory Cohort. (The APR Cohort will be our NSPRA Mark of Distinction submission for 2020.)

Professional development programs/activities

See those areas noted above. MOSPRA is in the planning stages for the 2020 Fall Conference to be held in Kansas City in November.

Major chapter issues or concerns

As noted in our last quarterly report, we have launched a new membership/event software called Memberclicks (Oasis). The software has helped us better track membership and finances, but we are still learning how to most effectively use all parts of the product.

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

Charter School Expansion and school vouchers are an ongoing issue in Missouri. Currently there are several bills either in committee or on the floor at the state capitol building. There are also several tax reduction bills being discussed that would negatively impact funding for public schools.

Additional items of note

MOSPRA is working to promote the 2020 NSPRA National Seminar to be held in St. Louis this coming July. We promoted the seminar during the 2019 Seminar in Anaheim and have many fun activities planned leading up to this year’s event. We’re excited to be the host chapter for this incredible annual event!

 

Oklahoma School Public Relations Association (OKSPRA)

Cara Adney, President

Chapter well-being

OKSPRA membership is just over 100 members. We have had a growth in K12 members since several Oklahoma City area public schools have recently added communications personnel.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We have partnered with FinalSite, Blackboard, Eskimo Joes Promotional Products and TTCU for sponsorship opportunities this year. We are still working to gain more support for OKSPRA but will need to rework our sponsorship packages for next year. We realize that we likely haven’t asked for enough financial support from our vendors. A vendor actually brought this to our attention so it’s a must change for next year. 

Professional development programs/activities

OKSPRA has three quarterly meetings, monthly virtual meetings and a two-day spring conference each year.

Our spring conference will take place April 1-3 in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City. We have an exciting agenda that includes a media panel of OKC TV journalists, Cathy Kedjidjian, Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Glenview School District, Glenview, Ill. NSPRA Vice President at Large -- Communications Technology and Innovation; Tracy Jentz, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator at Grand Fork Public Schools, Grand Fork North Dakota; Nicole Kirby, Director of Communication Services, Park Hill School District, Kansas City, Mo.; and Erica Chandler, Director of Communication, Affton Public Schools, Affton, Mo.

We are modifying our awards programs to recognize the contributions of our members and school communicators across the state. During our Spring Conference will focus on individual awards (Superintendent of the Year, New Comer of the Year and PR Pro of the Year). We will also award two scholarships for the upcoming NSPRA seminar. The recipients are new to the profession and would not be able to attend without the scholarships. We are excited for them to experience the conference this summer!

A new officer slate will be inducted at our Spring Conference in April. We have several new K12 members who will accept leadership positions within the organization.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Sponsorships, sponsorships, sponsorships!

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

 

Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)

Linsae Snider, Executive Director
Monica Faulkenbery, APR, 2019-2020 President
Veronica Castillon APR, 2019-2020 President-Elect
Kristin Zastoupil, 2019-2020 Immediate Past-President

Chapter well-being

  • TSPRA membership stands at 998 to include combined professional, institutional, affiliate, retired and honorary levels.
  • Financially, we have an operating budget exceeding $681,000 with an additional $682,242, in savings and investments.  We are expecting about a $250,000 expenses which will change some of that!
  • To date, a total of $112,505 in sponsorships/web advertising funding has been secured.
  • Six recommendations resulting from the Member Review of Financial Records and Procedures (audit) Committee based upon findings of the 2019 external audit review are in progress and include the purchase of new office furnishings, adding board officers as account signatures where TSPRA has banking interests, continue to build savings to amount to three-year average of operating expenses and allowing the member audit committee to make recommendations for long-term investments.
  • Of TSPRA’s nine regions, eight have conducted at least one regional meeting since October.  North Central (Dallas/Fort Worth), San Antonio, Houston/Beaumont and Central (Austin) regions continue to schedule monthly meetings.
  • Veronica Castillon, APR, Laredo ISD, was installed as TSPRA President on February 26, 2020, and is currently in the process of appointing committee chairs and making other necessary appointments.
  • 2020-2021 TSPRA Executive Committee was installed into office during the conference.  They assumed duties at the end of the conference.  A list of 2020-2021 officers will be submitted to the NSPRA office.
  • Four APR pinnings took place during the first general session of the conference:  Tami Sophia, APR, Brazosport ISD, Megan Overman, APR, CPC, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Leanne Libby, APR, Corpus Christi ISD, and Jeff Meador, APR, Granbury ISD
  • TSPRA APR’s conducted readiness review panels for one TSPRA members and one OKSPRA member who are in the process of completing requirements for earning APR credentials.
  • Texas Christian University offers a Certified Public Communicator credential involving a two-year cohort program.  The four recent graduates of the program were recognized during the President’s Luncheon at conference and ten more will complete the second year of the program in July 2020, bringing the total of TSPRA CPC’s to 39.  Those recognized were Jerry Cantu, CPC, Northwest ISD, Yvonne Harris, CPC, Humble ISD, Erin McCann, CPC, Crandall ISD and Jake Kurz, CPC, Uplift Academy.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

  • A total of 1606 Star Awards entries were submitted.  The judges awarded one Platinum Award, four Platinum Certificates of Merit, ten Crystal Commendations, 30 Crystal Certificates of Merit, 128 Best of Categories, 870 Gold Stars, 456 Silver Stars and 155 Bronze Stars. Since TSPRA members enter only their best work, it is not uncommon for there to be very few entries that do not earn any type of award.
  • TSPRA 2018-2020 Organization Goals were reviewed during the February meeting of the Executive Committee and a motion was passed to change the process to maximum of three strategic initiatives for 2020-2021 with at-large vice presidents overseeing the progress.
  • TSPRA has published 26 EduLeges, 20 newsletters and blasted 22 eBlasts since October.
  • TSPRA continues to collaborate with TASA by providing 8 concurrent sessions at their annual convention and hosts a Resource Center. 
  • TSPRA has secured writers for publications of the following state organizations:  TASA, TASB and Texas School Business.
  • A TSPRA ad hoc committee will be collaborating with the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education to create talking points and a social media plan related to recent situations resulting from the state agency.
  • TSPRA will collaborate with an Austin based architecture firm to deliver a one day training on bond development to include on-site construction visits.

Professional development programs/activities

  • TSPRA’s annual conference was held Austin Omni Barton Creek Resort on February 24-27, 2020, with a record attendance exceeding 825 attendees.  There were five preconference sessions, 40 concurrent sessions, 45 roundtables, ten counselor-on call sessions, ten job-alike sessions, four corporate showcases, eight “19th hole” sponsored sessions, one keynoter, 53 exhibitors, and 28 official sponsored events.  A link to the conference program is available at http://tspra.org/images/pdf/2020TSPRAProgramONLINE.pdf
  • Six professional awards were presented during the conference as well as a President’s Award to longtime TSPRA Star Awards Emcee, Tim Carroll, APR.
  • The fifth TSPRA 5K Run/Walk took place with 50+ members participating and contributing near $1200 to the J.J. Watts Foundation, providing afterschool programs.  
  • TSPRA has scheduled five Spoken Word Media and Crisis Communication Trainings throughout the state this school year with an attendance of approximately 225 individuals.
  • The TSPRA President and Executive Director are already registered to attend the 2020 NSPRA Conference in St. Louis.

Major chapter issues or concerns

  • We are currently determining location for the 2023 TSPRA Conference.  Texas is proud of its conference venues and hotels so securing affordable rates is a challenge.
  • Our best data assures us that TSPRA has about 98% of the eligible memberships in our state – that is of positions with the title of Communications/PR/Community Relations, etc.  Membership growth exists among education foundation directors.
  • There is a possibility we will need to relocate our offices in the next 6-8 months.
  • As the conference has significantly grown and Star Awards entries continue to increase, consideration for additional staff or contract labor is going to have to be considered at a time when we are strategically working to establish staff salaries at the industry standard.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

  • We continue to promote NSPRA membership.
  • We are watchful of openings for communications positions going to the “next administrator in line” regardless of experience and expertise in communications.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • Safety is a primary concern for Texas schools. 
  • Coronavirus has schools on edge and parents and communities hysterical and is affecting decisions related to spring break field trips, UIL competitions, etc. as spring break approaches.
  • Texas has invested very little in terms of resources to promote the upcoming census, leaving local communities to provide the necessary resources to support it.
  • It is election season! 
  • It is a broken record…
    • We continue to have conflicting views about charter school memberships
    • Our public schools continue to lose students to charter schools
    • Too many high-ranking Texas officials are not supporting Texas public schools

Additional items of note

N/A

 


Southeast Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Mychal Frost, Southeast Region Vice President

 

Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA)

Jason Gaston, APR, President

Chapter well-being

The Alabama School Public Relations Association is an active group with approximately 75 full-time active members.  A handful of districts around the state have created new PR positions or added to PR staff in the past six months.  Our executive board, comprised of members clustered in the BHM metro region, is a great group which communicates often and looks forward to crafting engaging meetings.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are working to better partner with organizations around Alabama with education slants, notably ALET (Alabama Leaders in Education Technology) and AASB (Alabama Association of School Boards).  We increasingly see crossover between and among all of our professional organizations and would like ALSPRA to become the go-to resource for all-things-communication among education entities in our state.

Professional development programs/activities

After a successful PLU (Professional Learning Unit) effort a few years back, our executive board stands ready to once again venture into that realm.  We netted approximately ten new members through the PLU offering and in turn, elevated the ALSPRA brand statewide.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Hyper-local issue, but I need something to type here: As with all chapters, we struggle with finding a great, central meeting location.  There will always be members displaced by distance.  Otherwise, we find the chapter health relatively strong.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None known at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

As this is being typed, Alabama voters are at the polls deciding on Amendment One, which if voted in, would dissolve the current State Board of Education/State Superintendent of Education setup and create a new methodology for deciding who runs education for Alabama’s 800,000 K-12 students.  If approved, voters would no longer decide the positions.  Instead, the new setup would give power to the Governor for appointing a new Secretary of Education and appointing new members to each of Alabama’s eight school board districts. 

Additional items of note

None at this time.

 

Florida School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA)

Shayla Cannady, President

Chapter well-being

SUNSPRA remains active and is engaging members in new ways than ever before. In June 2019, we hired a new executive director to help with day-to-day administration. Since the passing of our long-time executive director in July 2018, we had some difficulty with some of our goals, but we are now back on track and going strong. The first exercise conducted by the new executive director was a membership survey to determine what was needed most by our members. Many didn’t know what SUNSPRA did for them other than provide an award platform, and many suggestions came to us for professional development and more.

Our new board was officially approved in September breathing new life into our association, and we have had a very eventful fall/winter season. We added eight new members since December bringing our overall member total to 44 representing 32 school districts in Florida. We have a goal of increasing our membership with at least one person representing each of Florida’s 67 districts. We started communication efforts to representatives across the state, and plan to have a strong membership renewal/recruitment plan in late summer.

Fiscally, we continue to have a healthy treasury with $17,088.69 in the bank. We plan to seek sponsorships in the coming months and have already begun conversations with a few prospects.

SUNSPRA on the horizon logo with beach scene

In December, we started re-branding SUNSPRA to the new logo shown. With that rebrand, we started a new monthly newsletter, On the Horizon, to members and prospects using Constant Contact. We are working to have our website updated with the new brand as well, and one of the sponsor prospects may help us with those efforts. We also plan to work more on our social media efforts. Many things are in the works for SUNSPRA as this remains a bit of a rebuilding year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

During the FSBA Joint Conference in Tampa on December 5, 2019, SUNSPRA held our first ever membership meeting with more than 20 individuals present for a full day of professional development. We started our morning at 10:30 a.m. with our general meeting of the membership followed by a packed luncheon of nearly 500 school board members, education leaders, superintendents, guests and others where we recognized Medallion Award winners as well as the Outstanding Superintendent Communicator of the Year. We then had two SUNSPRA sponsored breakout sessions for attendees of FSBA that included “Social Media for Educational Advocacy” by SUNSPRA member, Charmaine Campo from Duval County, and “New Champions = New Ideas” from the Orange County Public Schools Foundation.

During the luncheon, we presented nine Medallion Awards and Best of Show went to Lake County Schools for “School Safety Tax Referendum” for Crisis Communications/ School Safety.

Outstanding Superintendent Communicator of the Year went to Addison Davis of Clay County District. 

Professional development programs/activities

SUNSPRA is most proud of our brand-new professional development efforts that just launched in February 2020. Once per month we plan to offer FREE online webinar professional development with an in-kind sponsorship from long-time SUNSPRA member David Voss for use of his GoToMeeting platform. Our first session held on February 21 at 12:30 EST had 31 participants hearing from Charmaine Campo of Do Good Communications on “Social Media Tactics to Combat False Information.” Please use this Dropbox link to view the webinar in its entirety.

Our next professional development session as well as each subsequent session will be held the first Friday of every month. Promotion has begun for the next installment featuring Nora Carr, Ed.D., APR, Fellow PRSA.

We are currently scheduled through August for these professional development sessions with the schedule posted below.

  • April 3 - Visual Communication on a Budget
    Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC, Cox Communications
  • May 1 - Crisis Communication: Planning Ahead for the Unthinkable
    Nora Carr Guilford County Public Schools
  • June 5 - Summer School’s in Session for You
    Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, Marion County Public Schools
  • Aug. 7 - Speechwriting: Putting Words in Your Superintendent’s Mouth
    Justin Grayson, Riverside Unified School District

Major chapter issues or concerns

Many of the concerns shared one year ago have dissipated with new leadership at the helm as well as work to increase SUNSPRA’s abilities to “get together” at the FSBA Joint Conference as well as a potential face-to-face professional development summit in the summer of 2020 – TBD.

Membership continues to be a challenge. However, we are hopeful as we begin to provide more value to our membership, others will follow us and become a part as well.

Our leadership stream is in a good place with a strong president in Shayla Cannady and strong president-elect in Nicole Young. Having an executive director back in place has also been a benefit to the association.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

As we continue to enhance our professional development opportunities for members, we welcome assistance and support from NSPRA for speakers and topic ideas.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

School security and safety issues including many unfunded mandates at the state level.

In Florida, specific statute requirements for schools including mandatory mental health trainings for students, mandatory human trafficking training and others. We welcome suggestions how to best administer these trainings as well as communication efforts to ensure parents of students understand the value of the trainings. In some communities using half-days for the trainings, attendance levels are significantly lower than other school days.

Charter schools continue to be funded at higher rates than public schools in our state. Testing and school grades tied to testing.

Additional items of note

None at this time.

 

Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA)

Yolanda Stephen, APR, President

Chapter well-being

GSPRA has a total of 117 members that consist of public relations professionals and assistant superintendents. We have been working to update and increase our membership outreach. We have added eight new members since our fall conference. (the number of members reflects the additional eight members).

Financial: As of March 8, 2020: $25,960.09

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Georgia Census: Every. One. Counts. These group of resources was completed by Voices for Georgia's Children. There are a collection of videos, social media postings, and other resources that contain trusted voices in the community. These materials can be localized to any community with names/titles/subjects while maintaining the integrity of the message. 

Professional development programs/activities

March 20, 2020 - Tools for Your PR Toolbox: GSPRA Spring Conference. Agenda items include Census 2020, Legal Issues, Emergency Risk Communication, Self Care.

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

 

Mississippi School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Geri Hill, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA)

Todd Hagans, President
Chris Fuller, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.​

 

South Carolina School Public Relations Association (SCSPRA)

Melissa Robinette, President
Judy LeGrand, Manager

Chapter well-being

SC/NSPRA is a growing, viable chapter in a very good position as we approach the end of March 2020.  Currently, we have 160 members:  61 active, 5 affiliate, 83 institutional, and 11 retired.  Financially, we are in good shape, with over $25,000 currently in the bank to support programs and scholarships for members this year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In November, SC/NSPRA held its joint fall conference with NCSPRA in Wilmington, N.C.   This is an annual collaboration effort, and while North Carolina “hosted” the conference this year, several SC members contributed presentations.  See more information below under professional development.

In December, we announced our annual “Communicator of the Year” and “Administrator of the Year” awards and opened up the process for applications.  We have judges currently reviewing those applications to assist in the selection of those honorees.

We also put out the application for our annual scholarship in December, to assist one SC/NSPRA member in attending the NSPRA seminar in July 2020.  We were excited to receive six applications for that scholarship, and are currently reviewing those applications to select a recipient.

Professional development programs/activities

Approximately 30 SC/NSPRA members attended the joint fall conference with NCSPRA on November 6-8, 2019.  SC/NSPRA contributed in multiple ways, including providing presentations from several members.  It was a successful conference, although attendance from SC members was not as high as we hoped.

In February, SC/NSPRA had planned its annual “drive in” day conference in Camden, S.C.  Unfortunately, the chapter had to make the unprecedented move of cancelling the workshop due to bad weather across our state that forced multiple districts to close down for the day.  The event has been rescheduled for March 26, 2020, and we are looking forward to a productive day of professional development.  We are anxiously watching the situation with the coronavirus, and hoping that this event does not have to be cancelled again.

Finally, we are actively planning our “Rewards for Excellence” event for May 15 in Columbia.  This event honors outstanding professionals and school districts across our state for their work throughout the year.

Major chapter issues or concerns

None to note.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We are constantly seeking ideas for chapter professional development meetings, in terms of session topics and current tools/trends to keep offer to our members.  On the same note, we are always interested in NSPRA members from other state chapters who are willing to offer such sessions either in person, or virtually.

We are in the early stages of planning our fall conference (in partnership with NCSPRA) for October 21-23, 2020 in Charleston, S.C.  We have a hotel contract signed, and are eagerly seeking sponsorship opportunities.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

None to note.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Tennessee School Public Relations Association (TNSPRA)

Tyler Hill, President

Chapter well-being

The TNSPRA Chapter has about 40 members, representing more than 20 school districts. Districts across the state are continuing to add communication departments, so we’re actively recruiting them into TNSPRA as those positions are hired.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

N/A

Professional development programs/activities

Our annual conference will be held on Friday, April 24th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Williamson County Schools in Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 35 minutes outside of Nashville. This is our one event per year, besides meeting as a chapter at the NSPRA Conference. We’d love to have you visit to speak to our group and give regional/NSRPA updates. If you can attend, I’ll forward you the details.

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

As far as state and local issues, vouchers are still a hot topic in Tennessee. Last year, the legislature passed a voucher bill that targets the two largest districts in our state (Shelby County Schools [Memphis] and Metro-Nashville Schools), but the effects would trickle down to surrounding districts as well. Though it faces at least two lawsuits, the state is pushing forward, so that’s something many of us are watching.

Surprisingly, the TN DOE has only filed one piece of legislation so far this session, which is way below the standard amount they typically lobby for. But, if passed, it will have an enormous impact on districts and communication departments. It deals with K-2 Literacy and the “science behind teaching literacy.” Superintendents mostly agree the legislation has good intentions and will be an asset to curriculum, however, the state is attempting to push it through rather quickly (i.e. July 2020). This will undoubtedly require districts and comms departments to 1) calm internal worries about the quick turnaround and 2) keep families informed of the changes…because it’s already making headlines.

Additional items of note

N/A

 


Mideast Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Patrick Gallaway, Mideast Region Vice President

 

Chesapeake School Public Relations Association (CHESPRA)

Kenita Bowers, APR, President

Chapter well-being

CHESPRA continues to hold steady with 150 members. We are currently developing strategies to deploy a new membership drive.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

CHESPRA is continuing to update content on the new website and revising sponsorship levels.

Professional development programs/activities

CHESPRA is preparing to host its annual spring conference in April. The chapter will vote on a 2020-21 slate of officers at the conference and will introduce two new positions: VP of Awards & Recognition and APR Chair.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are still putting forth more efforts to increase the number of Maryland school districts to join CHESPRA.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We are currently exploring options and open to suggestions on added benefits for members to help increase membership. We would like to offer our members other incentives, opportunities, and resources to add value to being part of CHESPRA.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Eliminating teacher shortages, improving literacy, and leading the conversation on equitable educational opportunities for students all continue to be issues that impact our school communities.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Indiana School Public Relations Association (INDSPRA)

Maria Bond, President
Donna Petraits, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

INDSPRA membership growth chartMembership is growing and we have been able to maintain our membership to a higher degree than in past years by being consistent in our contact and outreach. Recognizing the need to expand present leadership and develop new leaders, we have set a goal in our strategic plan to expand our board with committee chairs and maximize our video meeting capability. We have the healthiest budget and highest membership in the 10 years since we re-chartered!

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are expanding our outreach and being more of a resource for our state education organizations. These groups are increasingly pushing out our information to their memberships. INDSPRA now has board member representation with the “Lunch Bunch”, a large group of public school organizations and advocacy groups (state school board, principal, superintendent, teachers’ unions, education department, business officials, urban schools, rural schools, etc.). This group meets weekly during legislative sessions and coordinates issues and advocacy with lobbyists from each key organization. From that the group creates talking points and explanations on legislation at various stages that positively or negatively impacts public schools.

In addition, the executive director was invited to join the Every Hoosier Child Counts Committee, the local US Census initiative to assure schools and students are included in the crucial 2020 Census, and their PR subcommittee to create collateral, advocacy, and cooperation among all public school entities to encourage census completion.

Professional development programs/activities

We purchase all PR Power Hours and encourage our membership to host one in various locations around the state. We are creating a grassroots program to support informal networking gatherings for regional member groups. Northwest Indiana has had their first, Hendricks Co. and Hamilton Co. have also been active. The upcoming state conference will create opportunities for “region meetings” that encourage other areas to engage. We are also scheduling member webinars for spring.

Because of our healthy budget, we opted to spend more of it on our spring conference and move it to a hotel conference facility. Since it’s a two-day conference, we reserved a block of rooms to encourage our members to stay and take the opportunity to network. We may have been a bit ambitious in anticipating room reservations, but we’re excited about the new venue.

Major chapter issues or concerns

In Indiana, vouchers, teacher pay, school funding and critical referendum management are always a concern. The Republican supermajority in the statehouse has done very little to improve education or its funding. We are already keeping a close eye on what the new session issues will be and are working with the Lunch Bunch (see #7) to stay on top of it.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Help chapters nationally to interpret how the negative effects of the present national Department of Education policies will impact public schools and especially all children, long term!

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

We continue to deal with the same things the rest of the country is: underfunding and referenda, vouchers, gun violence, teacher pay, recruitment and retention, transgender rights, fake news . . . 

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA)

Morgan Watson, President

Chapter well-being

It has been a year of transition, as we experienced the retirement of our immediate past president, Jill McKenzie, and our business manager, Linda Salyer. Both Jill and Linda dedicated countless hours to serving our organization and its members, and they were instrumental in establishing the strong foundation on which we will continue to build. This past year we also experienced a tremendous loss with the passing of past-president Cindy Williams, who had been elected secretary during the 2019-20 year. In addition, several of our regional chairs have stepped down from their positions to focus on their own districts and the increasing demands we all experience as public relations specialists. The combination of these changes has placed our Executive Board members in a unique position as we navigate new territory and build upon the strong foundation left behind.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We have been in communication with NSPRA throughout this restructuring process to ensure we are working within the bylaws of our organization. We are already planning the 2020 Fall Conference and will have some information available soon about our next Professional Learning Day and networking opportunity on April 29, 2020.

Professional development programs/activities

Spring Professional Learning Day

Fall 2020 Conference Planning

Use of Listserve for communication and support as needed

Major chapter issues or concerns

KYSPRA is in a season of transition, but the Executive Board has worked extensively to collaborate and keep the organization moving forward. A recent survey of members indicated an increase in interest for serving on the Board.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

NSPRA has been extremely supportive in providing insight as we navigate new waters.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

New administration is supportive of education. Reforms should be positive for the first time in many years.New administration is supportive of education. Reforms should be positive for the first time in many years.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Michigan School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Karen Heath, President
Gerri Allen, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

  • Read by Grade Three Guide - In December, MSPRA was engaged by the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Districts (MAISA) and State Superintendent Dr. Rice (Michigan Department of Education - MDE) to develop a guide to support schools in their effort to communicate about Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law. The result of our collective effort is the Read by Grade Three Communication Guide for School Leaders. The document was released on February 19 by MSPRA, MAISA and MDE and is also being disseminated by numerous education groups throughout the state. As part of the work, we connected with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s communication team, made them aware of the guide, and added their suggested link to the guide’s additional resources page. 
  • Annual Conference - The 2020 MSPRA Annual Conference will be held March 12 and 13 at the H Hotel in Midland Michigan. Team members from Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) will provide the keynote address, sharing key points from “The Happiness Advantage.” The conference will also feature breakout and skill sessions geared for both the new School PR Professional as well as the seasoned School PR Pro. 
  • Succession Plan - After our fall membership drive, MSPRA Board members realized that our chapter includes a number of new school communication professionals. This realization led to a conversation about committee work assignments and succession planning. As a result, the Board developed a formal succession plan that is now used to recruit new committee members and to clearly define commitment expectations.
  • MSPRA Minute - Every week, the MSPRA Board issues an e-newsletter called the MSPRA Minute. The Minute is a long-standing member benefit and is highly regarded as the “go-to” communication for hot topics and resources.  Recent issues highlighted the COVID-19 virus, Kindergarten Round Up tips, drug-free resources and ideas to celebrate National Public Schools Week.
  • Social Media Guidance - MSPRA was happy to share with our members an updated social media guidance document provided to us by Thurn Law Firm, P.C. The guidance includes information related to social media access, content, comments and community posts, and record retention. The document also provides sample scenarios. MSPRA contracted with Thrun to create this document for the benefit of our members following a member request. It is, in part, an update of the information shared on Social Media Archiving at an MSPRA conference session held in 2018.
  • Updated Bylaws - With the support of the NSPRA Board, MSPRA successfully voted to update our bylaws. The update redefines membership categories to better meet the needs of current and prospective members. Additionally, our chapter added a district membership option to support school districts that would find value in multiple memberships at a reduced cost.
  • Template Materials - MSPRA is working with a graphic designer to develop a style-guide and templates for committee members to use when advertising events, sharing chapter information or purchasing branded materials. We are hopeful to have materials ready to use this spring.
  • Member Benefits - MSPRA is excited to partner with NSPRA to provide special membership opportunities to our shared members.  Currently, we are promoting NSPRA memberships as part of the NSPRA Incentive Program. Next year, we look forward to encouraging discounted dual memberships.
  • Regional Development - MSPRA recently formed a special subcommittee to learn if members were interested in regionalized networking and professional development opportunities. After issuing a short survey, it was overwhelmingly evident that members would like to get together more often to learn from and build relationships with one another. The subcommittee will be meeting over the coming weeks to begin planning regional mixers. Board members will travel to the events in/near their region so that members can meet their representatives in-person as well as to help identify and recruit potential future MSPRA leaders. Although still loosely defined, there are 4-5 regions in Michigan.
  • Supporting Sister Chapters - MSPRA Board President Karen Heath will serve as a presenter at the upcoming Indiana School Public Relations Association Annual Conference (March 4 and 5). A request was shared by Executive Director Donna Petraits asking our chapter for session presenters and/or topic ideas. Being so geographically close to Indiana, our Board was excited to answer the call.  Karen will discuss student inclusion through community outreach.
  • Eagerly Awaiting NSPRA Seminar Presentation Notifications - Many of our members have already registered for the National Seminar in Missouri in July. A few members have also submitted presentation applications. We understand that NSPRA is currently reviewing those applications-and we are eagerly awaiting to learn if members will be invited to share their expertise!

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

MSPRA, in collaboration with MDE and the MAISA Public Relations Network, worked together to develop a parent, staff and media communication resource called the Read by Grade Three Communication Guide for School Leaders. The guide contains proven communication strategies and actual communication samples that will help schools:

  • Provide accurate, consistent information and messages based on the Read by Grade Three Law and MDE resources.
  • Preview the spring Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) retention letter with parents to minimize surprises.
  • Emphasize that schools are working for their child’s life-long success.
  • Tell about Good Cause Exemptions and the deadline by which to contact the school, if interested.
  • Reinforce that schools are working every day, using a variety of strategies and resources, to support literacy for all children.

MSPRA took great pride in being asked to undertake this project. The confidence bestowed upon us to jointly provide such an important publication is a shining example of the positive relationships we have built among our state education department and with our fellow education associations. The Guide is one of five, statewide publications MSPRA has collaboratively developed over the past two years.

Professional development programs/activities

Annual Conference

The 2020 MSPRA Annual Conference is set for March 12 and 13 at the H Hotel in Midland Michigan. Team members from Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) will provide our keynote address, sharing key points from “The Happiness Advantage.”  Based on research by Harvard positive psychology expert and New York Times bestselling author, Shawn Achor, “The Happiness Advantage” shows how being positive results in more resilient, adaptable, and successful people and organizations. Plus, the conference will feature breakout and skill sessions geared for both the new School PR Professional as well as the seasoned School PR Pro.

New this year, MSPRA will be offering extended skill sessions. In response to feedback on conference evaluations, we have created three longer sessions on Friday morning for a deep dive into topics that our members want to explore. During these 90-minute sessions, members will sharpen their skills and add new tactics to their school communication toolbox. Skill sessions include:

  • Creating Better Videos: Get tips and ideas on how to shoot and edit great videos, must-have equipment, and what makes a great video.
  • Run an Effective One-Person Communication Shop: Learn tips and ideas to run an effective one-person communication shop.
  • Work Smarter Not Harder: Hear some of the best social media tips, tech tips and work hacks from the Oakland County School Public Relations Association (OCSPRA).

Breakout sessions include:

  • Take the Next Step in Your Career - Earn Your APR: An MSPRA member who has completed the APR process will share about the process of earning the Accreditation in Public Relations credential.
  • I Took a Job In School PR...Now What: Working in the world of school communication can be overwhelming. How do you earn a seat in your cabinet? How do you demonstrate your expertise? Learn how to create a solid foundation that will support your school communication success.
  • Community Engagement - Alumni and Senior Citizens: School communication is more than just reaching parents. It is about keeping all stakeholders involved. This session will cover how two districts have increased their outreach and engagement with senior citizens and alumni.
  • Athletic Play Book: Discover the art of sports writing from two former veteran sports reporters.
  • Getting Your New Superintendent On-board: Learn successful tactics to help on-board a new superintendent and introduce them to district stakeholders.
  • How to Pass Your Next Bond: Learn the latest tips, tactics, and strategies to successfully communicate and pass your district’s bond from both an intermediate and local school district perspective.

NSPRA Seminar partial scholarship drawing - In honor of MSPRA’s Mark of Distinction Award in 2019, MSPRA awarded a partial scholarship of $200 to one of our members to attend the 2020 NSPRA National Seminar in St. Louis.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Currently there are no major chapter issues or concerns.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Helping school board members understand the value of school communicators. In recent months, we have witnessed some school board members pressuring school leaders to cut school communicators from budgets because they view it as a cost-savings for the district. In what ways can school communicators be better advocates for themselves specifically to board members? How can school communicators support their superintendents in educating their board members about the importance of the communication role?

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • Teacher/sub shortage
  • Student behavior issues (early elementary level)
  • School funding
  • Supporting the Whole Child-providing services beyond education (family advocacy services, counseling, social services, etc.)
    • Trauma-informed education
    • Social-emotional support
  • COVID-19

Additional items of note

  • Developed a new report, Services for Superintendents/School Leaders, that outlines all the work MSPRA members do to support superintendents and other school leaders across the state. The report will be provided to the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA), and any other associations noted in the report, every 6 months.
  • MSPRA members have been invited to serve as regular speakers for the MASA Horizon Leadership Academy to discuss school communication topics. The academy is designed to support aspiring education leaders and future superintendents.
  • Celebrated the retirement of former NSPRA and MSPRA President Ron Koehler.
  • Continued to update the Resource section of the MSPRA website so that materials cover numerous topics and offer complete sets of materials under each issue.

 

Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA)

Lou DeVincentis​, President

Chapter well-being

Membership

OHSPRA membership as of February 24, 2020, stands at 132 for the 2019-20 membership cycle.

Our membership year is September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2020. Our director of membership is closely tracking non-renewals and trying to recruit more of them to convert. We think they may renew based on the discounted registration rate for members at the Spring Conference. 

132 of members

  • 58 of last year’s members who have not yet renewed
    • Down from 65
  • 62 lapsed members (those who have not been members since the 18/19 SY or before)
    • Down from 70

Budget/Finances

The chapter continues to be fiscally viable and responsible.
-As of Feb. 20, 2020

  • Checking $22,706.49
  • Savings $25,659.51
  • Total $48,366.00

OHSPRA 2019 Sponsorship Opportunities flyerPartnerships & Sponsorship

OHSPRA continues to develop relationships with a variety of sponsors to support our programming and member opportunities throughout the year. It is early in the season for us to secure seeing that most benefits for sponsorship are tied to spring conference; April 30 - May 1. We will definitely have more to share in the next chapter report.

Feb. 7, 2020 we secured $8,000 in sponsorship for the following:

  • SchoolMessenger  |  Blue  |  $1,000
  • SchoolMessenger  |  Food  |  valued at $1,000
  • Ten10 Design  |  Blue + Umbrellas  |  valued at $2,500
  • ParentSquare  |  Blue + SWAG  |  $1,000 + SWAG value
  • Roetzel Consulting Solutions  |  Beverages  |  valued at $1,500
  • PeachJar  |  Blue  |  $1,000

We are just waiting on checks, agreements were sent and signed this week. We had budgeted $20,000 in sponsorships. If this is the total for sponsorships we may only be able to offer 1 sponsorship. The 15th of April is the deadline for sponsorships to be in the program.

Expressed an interest and waiting to hear from:

  • MyVRSpot
  • Linq
  • Rhodes Branding

Professional development programs/activities

OHSPRA Spring Conference 

Our Spring Conference is planned for April 30 & May 1, 2020, Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris Hotel, 409 Altair Parkway, Westerville, Ohio 43082. The program is just about complete and will offer a variety of sessions with content that will be relevant and timely for our members.

OHSPRA Achievement Awards update
Number of Entries - 107 as of 2/7/2020. This is an increase from 96 in 2019. The judging took place on Feb. 8, 2020. Winners will be announced and honored at the Awards luncheon at the Spring Conference on April 30.

Major chapter issues or concerns

  • Website - will launch very soon
  • Working to bring in additional sponsorship, thinking that the issue is the spring conference is later than usual and some sponsors have been slower to commit.

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

  • The debate over EdChoice scholarships continues to be a hot topic. The debate at the moment is if vouchers should become income-based rather than available to communities with failing schools. The current legislation provides funding for a student to go to a non-public, it is contingent on the state report card ranking of the public district/school.  
  • Coronavirus and other health related communications, issues to stay on top of around the state.
  • Vaping continues to be an issue around Ohio as the nation I am sure. Some districts in Ohio have begun to invest in detectors for restrooms. Media have been covering it extensively.
  • Overall well-being initiatives for students & schools (Suicide clusters, ideation, etc.)

Additional items of note

COMMUNICATION TO MEMBERS

Newsletters

It has been published over the last quarter according to the following schedule:

Amplify Newsletter Archive for 2018-19

Social media

We have been trying to ramp up our social media presence. Several board members have the ability to post to Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram which we launched this summer. We also have our chapter manager scheduling posts throughout the week to help us gain more followers.

  • Twitter - We have added 16 followers for a total of 1,502 (between October and February). 
  • Facebook - We have gone from 295 to 445 likes, with 543 following (between October and February). 
  • Instagram - We have 102 followers & are following 128

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 2019-20

  • President — Patrick Gallaway, director of communications, New Albany-Plain Local Schools
  • Past President — Crystal Davis, public relations coordinator, Pickerington Local Schools 
  • President-Elect — Lou DeVincentis, director of communications, Orange City Schools
  • Treasurer — Patti Koslo, K Communications & eSchoolView
  • Secretary — Audrey Holtzman, Enrollment & Recruitment Administrative Specialist, Parma City Schools
  • Director of Membership — Alicia Mowry, Public Relations Supervisor, Delaware Area Career Center
  • Director of Communications – Kurt Moore, director of communications, Marion City Schools
  • Director of Professional Development- Kari Basson, community relations coordinator, Kettering City Schools
  • Director of Contests and Awards — Olivia Bronczek, communications director, Massillon City Schools
  • Director of Partnerships — Erin Graham, communications consultant, multiple districts northeast Ohio

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

GOALS

Focus for 2019-20

  • Revamp website and make it more useful for members - entered into a sponsorship contract with eSchoolview to complete this work and look for a spring launch for a new site. 
  • Meet or exceed the goal of $20,000 in sponsorships
  • Continue to enhance partnership opportunities with other educational associations in the state (presenting at Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association for School Administrators, Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators and more. ) 
  • Overhaul awards presentation and process for Spring Conference
  • Continue to publish quarterly Amplify Your Story newsletter
  • Improve the website’s online resources area
  • Provide regular social media updates

 


North Central Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Peg Mannion, APR, North Central Region Vice President

 

Illinois School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) 

Kristine Liptrot, APR, President

Chapter well-being

The chapter is in good standing—financially, organizationally, and in regards to membership.

Financially, INSPRA has a healthy savings account and the board is looking at ways to reinvest some of the interest from its investment funds to benefit INSPRA membership.

Organizationally, bylaw revisions to separate the board positions of secretary and treasurer were approved by membership on Dec. 17. In addition, updated board member responsibilities and an updated strategic plan were approved by the INSPRA Board in January. This is also a transition year for the organization as INSPRA works to better align its fiscal, membership, election, and sponsorship years to a school calendar year, to more accurately reflect the chapter’s standing.

The INSPRA Board hired a Chapter Administrator in January who has been working on transitioning the organization from the association management company that INSPRA employed for almost 25 years. The transition includes the purchase of a new association management system (MemberClicks), which will better serve INSPRA membership through advanced data management capabilities, a new website, and easier payment processing. Boxes of old records/items are being reviewed and important records will be transferred into an electronic format for easier historical record keeping.

INSPRA membership remains strong with 177 current members.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Projects:

  • INSPRA’s annual Distinguished Service Awards has kicked off. Nominations are due Feb. 28 and the awards luncheon is in May. The DSA committee has made positive changes to the event so that for the first time, the event will be financially solvent.

Collaboration efforts:

  • Reaching out to Ohio SPRA for guidance with INSPRA’s new treasurer board position
  • Working with SPRAs throughout the country to request judges and offer to serve as judges for various contests.
  • Identifying other SPRAs (including MOSPRA, NCSPRA) who use the MemberClicks association management system to serve as resources as INSPRA works through the onboarding process with the company.

Professional development programs/activities

Member Professional Development (Dec-June):

  • December        Annual Idea Exchange
  • January            Building an Engaged Social Media Culture Through Innovative Strategies
                            Legal Issues for Communications Professionals
  • February          Working Smarter Not Harder: Tips for Success for Small PR Departments
  • March              Gaining a Seat at the Leadership Table
                           Negotiating Your Next Employment Contract-What Can/Should You Ask For?        
  • April                Inside Scoop on Media Relations

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are working to create a smooth transition from INSPRA’s association management company to onboarding a new Chapter Administrator. We are discovering a number of the files/data/processes have not been updated, so a great deal of data cleansing needs to be done to get us back on track. For example, our membership database is not useful to us in its current form so we cannot determine our number of members, complete an analysis of our member retention, reach out to non-members, or provide our board’s District Directors with accurate information so they can meet their strategic plan goals.

We are also transitioning to a new association management system (MemberClicks), which is taking a great deal of time and effort on behalf of our executive board and new Chapter Administrator. However, when fully implemented, it should resolve a number of the database issues mentioned above.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

INSPRA’s new Chapter Administrator Alicia Lingane (admin@inspra.org) will need support and assistance from NSPRA staff to learn about NSPRA’s reporting expectations for its chapters.

INSPRA may need to request an additional bylaw revision to change the length of terms for the board secretary and treasurer positions to two-year alternating terms (from one-year terms) to offer greater consistency on the executive board.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Legalization of marijuana in the state, sale of CBD products in schools, increase of vaping issues among students, intruder drills (are they worthwhile for students).

Additional items of note

This has been a year of incredible organizational changes for INSPRA, and I believe we are headed in a positive direction. Next year we should be able to concentrate more on our services to individual members through our District Directors, and focus on meeting the goals in our strategic plan to grow the chapter and its services to members. In addition, INSPRA should be able to concentrate more on participating in various NSPRA initiatives (Mark of Distinction, Award Nominations, etc.).

 

Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA)

Beth Strike, APR, President

Chapter well-being

The Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA) continues to enjoy a positive year. Membership has remained steady and officers are meeting on a monthly basis to plan professional learning, manage chapter business and network.

A challenge continues to be engaging rural school district administrators in the chapter. This audience has a great deal to gain from the resources and professional learning offerings provided.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

No new collaborations to report.

Professional development programs/activities

We have also hosted three Lunch and Learns on topics such as news media relations, board member relations and social media use.

A spring banquet and daylong conference are being planned now. Topics will include personal wellness, understanding the Freedom of Information Act, and Freedom of Speech related to social media use. We are grateful to work with area attorneys who provide professional learning for our chapter without fees.

Major chapter issues or concerns

No concerns at this time.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Increasing membership.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

It’s actually been a fairly quiet year for major issues and communication-related concerns. We are grateful to have this reprieve following a couple years of severe winters and cold, near continuous social media threats, and political unrest. While these issues still exist, the vast majority of membership has not been impacted as severely as in previous years.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA)

Tara Drey, President

Chapter well-being

The Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA) is thriving. We currently have 170 members, which is up 10 members from the fall. The bulk of our membership lives in the Twin Cities metro area and so we’re able to plan monthly in-person networking and learning opportunities. Our board meets monthly, mostly in-person. We have a Zoom subscription that allows us to meet virtually if weather prevents us from meeting in-person. We also plan virtual/digital learning opportunities for our members in greater Minnesota.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are continuing our partnership with Minnesota State University – Mankato. Our board secretary, Coley Fehringer, is working with two MinnSPRA members, Susan Brott and Bob Noyed, to finalize the partnership and courses, which we hope to have running yet this spring.

Professional development programs/activities

Coffee CHATs (40-minute video chats on a specific topic), after-hours Think & Drink sessions (face to face conversations on a specific topic), Power Hours, fall conference and spring one-day workshop.

Our spring conference has shifted to a spring “seminar” this year, as the day will focus on one topic. We received feedback from members after last year’s spring conference, which was also focused one topic. Many members felt “conference” was misleading, as it didn’t contain multiple topics and breakout sessions. The spring seminar will be on Friday, April 3 at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minn. Our keynote speakers, Kristin Magette, APR, and Shawn McKillop, APR, will explore the known factors that increase and decrease our risk for occupational overload and burnout--from daily demands to the devastating high-stakes crisis. This is an ongoing topic of interest for our members and many of us were left wanting more of this content after the 2019 NSPRA Seminar. We are excited to be able to bring this to our members and hopeful that NSPRA sees the interest in this important learning taking place in state chapters around the country.

After every conference/seminar, we send out a survey to membership about what topics they are interested in learning more about. We received a lot of interest in “digital skills.” This was too vague for the board to take action on so we conducted an informal poll in our MinnSPRA Facebook group asking members what kind of digital skills training they need. As a result, we found that many members are responsible for graphic design but have no real training to use the Adobe creative suite or other similar programs. We are currently working with an Adobe trainer to host two courses this spring or summer, one for beginners and one for intermediate users to learn how to use Adobe InDesign. As a board, we try to be responsive and timely to member needs. We are excited to try a new format of learning that is responding to our members’ requests for learning.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are currently retooling our sponsor packages, as we’ve received feedback from members and sponsors that this needs tweaking.

One other area we continue to struggle with is being able to recruit people of color in our profession and to serve in leadership roles in the chapter. We would be curious to learn if other state chapters have any strategies for diversifying our profession and our board.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

As previously stated, I believe NSPRA can increase its commitment to helping alleviate burnout amongst members. We’ve lost a few really talented MinnSPRAns to corporate and nonprofit professions because the work/life balance is much more manageable, especially for members raising young families.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Cruz-Guzman vs State of Minnesota lawsuit continues to be an issue that local school districts monitor. The lawsuit alleges that state laws (particularly around school choice) have led to racial segregation, and that the resulting segregated schools are failing to provide an adequate education to children of color.

Another issue school districts are facing is the racial disparities in discipline in school. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights notified 43 districts in 2017 that they were under investigation for allegedly violating the state Human Rights Act. Districts entered into agreements with DHR to address the disparities and make systemic changes.

Additionally, a vast majority of Minnesota school districts are faced with budget reductions for the upcoming school year. A new survey of 41 school districts that are members of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD represents school districts in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area) projects combined budget shortfalls of more than $93 million for the 2020-21 school year. AMSD is calling on state policymakers to stabilize the education funding system during the 2020 legislative session by linking the funding formula to inflation, addressing the shortfalls in the special education and English learner programs and providing school safety and mental health funding. While Minnesota has a very pro-education governor with a pro-education platform, we are still not seeing the commitment needed to fully fund these important programs in our schools. These types of budget reductions can devastate communication departments, with reduction in staff, decreased budget for professional learning and decreased budget for special projects.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Nebraska School Public Relation Association (NebSPRA) 

Jeremy Maskel, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

 

Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Christina Brey, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.​

 


Northeast Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Angela Marshall, Northeast Region Vice President

 

Connecticut School Public Relations Association (ConnSPRA)

President position vacated August 2019
Brenda Wilcox Williams, Vice President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

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. As of February 21st, we have 73 registered members, which is just two more than last year’s final count. We typically pick up a few new members in the spring and in advance of our school communication awards program.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We continue to partner with NJASA (superintendents association) to provide training to incoming superintendents. Lori Perlow, NJSPRA president will present to two cohorts of new and incoming superintendents next week. In addition, NJSPRA is invited to lead a stand-alone workshop in the spring for NJASA members.

Professional development programs/activities

We have three full-day workshops scheduled this year. Some details are still being confirmed.

November 19, 2019

  • Communications Planning Bootcamp: Effective public relations are driven by articulated communications plans. Unfortunately, PR practitioners often overlook this essential component. Immerse yourself in this hands-on “boot camp” style workshop to develop a communications action plan for your district. From research to writing, execution and evaluation, attendees will leave with a useful template and helpful tips from experienced school PR pros to successfully execute a communications action plan.
  • Toolbox Tips for the One-Person School PR Department: School communication professionals have many responsibilities. On any given day, you can find yourself developing a campaign for a new initiative, working on updates to your district website, or responding to the media about a recent crisis. As a department of one, it's important to stay up-to-date on various tools and tricks that can save you time and money. This workshop will focus on ways that technology can help you create the most impactful communications for your district. During the workshop, attendees will rotate from table to table to hear a 20-minute mini-presentation on the topics of choice.

January 16, 2020

  • Crisis communications and Media Relations - A crisis can occur at any time and how your district responds can be worse than the crisis itself. Experience is a remarkable teacher. Hear from four different New Jersey school districts as they unpack unthinkable events that rocked their school communities. Learn how they managed media attention, how they kept constituents informed, and what they’d do differently next time.
    • Morning Session:
      • Principal passes away after donating bone marrow to child he didn’t know: Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan and Coordinator of School/Community Relations Mary Ann McGann, Westfield Public Schools
      • Hate/Bias Incidents: Superintendent Dr. P. Erik Gundersen and Director of Technology & Communication Paul Zeller, Pascack Valley Regional High School District
      • Shooting at Pleasantville High School vs. Camden High School Football Game: Superintendent Katrina McCombs and Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs Alisha Brown, Camden City Schools
    • Afternoon Session:
      • Behind the Scenes of the Cherry Hill School Lunch Policy Story: Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche and Public Information Officer Barbara Wilson, Cherry Hill Public Schools
      • Tabletop Scenarios: Participants will review various crisis scenarios and prepare appropriate responses for each.

March 17, 2020

  • Equity in communications and internal communications - NJSPRA is thrilled to close out our 2019-20 workshop series with two national leaders in school communications presenting on two vitally important topics: Equity and Internal Communications. First, hear from the current National School Public Relations Association’s current Vice President for Diversity Engagement on how you can ensure your communications resonate with the people you serve. Then, a past NSPRA president and veteran school PR practitioner uncovers the exponential power of internal communications and ways to make sure yours are working for you and not against you. NJSPRA invites our members and guests to bring your district human resource leader to this workshop.
  • Equity: Are You Communicating a Reflection of Reality? This presentation reflects on practices and strategies that communication professionals can use to be intentional when it comes to celebrating and engaging communities. Understand how to redefine equity within your own school community and the importance of your school and community demographics. Think about the type of images you are using to promote your schools. Can the community see itself in your district’s work? Do you identify opportunities for improvement using data and what are the types of content you are using on visual platforms? Do you offer various types of professional development to help staff and teachers understand the cultures and experiences of students they teach? What about stakeholder input and voice of students? This presentation will help provide strategies we can use to ensure our communities can see themselves in the work we do in public schools. 
    • Heidi Otero, Director of Communications, Arizona School Boards Association, NSPRA Vice President for Diversity Engagement
  • Priority One: Internal Communications - Every school district has a powerful, and often underutilized, resource in their communications toolkit: faculty and staff ambassadors. By virtue of the simple fact that they receive a paycheck from us, each one of our employees are viewed as experts regarding the school district in the eyes of their family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. At the same time, one of the major evolutions in the workplace over the past decade has been extending the prior concept of “employee satisfaction” to the more current “employee engagement.” Defined as ensuring alignment between the organization’s purpose with that of the individual staff member, employee engagement cannot take place without effective internal communications. Despite these high stakes, large gaps still exist in most school internal communications programs. Learn how to deploy effective internal communications strategies to support both your district operations and your communications efforts.
    • Sandy Cokeley, APR,​ SCoPE School Surveys and Cokeley Communications, Past NSPRA President

March 10, 2020 – New Special Event

With hate/bias incidents on the rise in our country, and particularly in New Jersey, school districts are desperately in need of more resources regarding such events. In this full-day event, school leaders will learn the latest trends in hate group recruitment/behaviors, how to improve the climate and culture in schools, and effective communications with stakeholders before, during or after an event takes place. This event is FREE to attend. RSVP is required. Space is limited. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required, including for existing NJSPRA members.

Location: The College of New Jersey, School of Education, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ 08628

Agenda

9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Breakfast and registration

9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Opening Remarks

  • Dean Suzanne McCotter, The College of New Jersey, School of Education
  • Lori Perlow, New Jersey School Public Relations Association President
  • Dr. Lamont Repollet, New Jersey Department of Education, Commissioner of Education
  • Panel Presentation - Facilitated by Alicia D'Anella, Comegno Law Group
  • Rachel Wainer Apter, Office of the Attorney General, Director of the Division on Civil Rights
  • Alex Rosemberg, Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey, Director of Community Affairs
  • Dr. Erik Gundersen, Pascack Valley Regional High School District, Superintendent
  • Jeff Gale, New Jersey Department of Education, Office of School Safety and Preparedness

11:40 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch

12:40 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions (Details to follow.)

1:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions (Details to follow.)

Major chapter issues or concerns

Since September 2019, several member districts have experienced acts of hate/bias in their schools or at school events. Acts of hate are on the rise in the US and we’re seeing a direct increase in our schools. These situations are sensitive and often challenging to communicate about. NJSPRA hopes to ease the burden of such situations by offering the special events detailed above on March 10th. We’re thrilled to have the support of the NJ DOE and the ADL.

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

 

New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA)

Adrienne Leon, APR, President

Chapter well-being

NYSPRA continues to have an active membership and is thriving fiscally.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

The NYSPRA annual conference is slated for March 15-17 in Syracuse, NY. New this year, there will be a pre-conference APR boot camp, which has 12 people already registered to attend (as of 2/13/20). NSPRA President Kelly Avants is slated to present at the conference and the keynote speaker is Lyndon Cudlitz, who will present on “Understanding & Communicating in LGBTQ Topics.” Conference registration is on track to meet or exceed that of last year. The complete lineup of workshops is available here: https://www.nyspra.org/2020-Schedule-of-Presentations. Planning is also underway for the NYSPRA presence at the New York School Board Association’s conference in New York City this coming October.

Professional development programs/activities

In addition to the conferences listed above, our chapter does an annual awards contest, an annual communicator of the year award, and maintains an active Facebook group for members. Regular communication from the chapter/chapter president also occurs to members through email.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Ways for the chapters to support members in obtaining their APR, including mentoring and connecting NSPRA chapters with PRSA chapters for greater collaboration.

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

 

Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association (PenSPRA)

Christine Liberaski, President

Chapter well-being

PenSPRA is pleased to announce that its membership is growing! PenSPRA added 55 new members; and welcomed back 100 members during its 2019-2020 membership drive. The Executive Board met in mid-November to discuss strategic and financial planning. We are in good stead to increase revenues by 10 percent this year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

This year, PenSPRA was proud to partner with NYSPRA, NJSPRA and ConnSPRA to conduct the first Northeast Regional Communications Summit. We look forward to collaborating again in the future! We have also added the position of Outreach Chair to the PenSPRA Executive Board in order to foster stronger relationships with Pennsylvania associations and SPRAs.

Professional development programs/activities

Plans are well underway for the 2020 PenSPRA Symposium. The theme of this year’s symposium is trauma informed communication. We have expanded the symposium from one to two days, and will feature two keynote addresses and breakout sessions featuring member presentations. We are on track to increase attendance by 20 percent, and have doubled the sponsorship level from the 2019 symposium.

In addition, PenSPRA held two regional workshops focusing on engaging support in the larger school community for health and wellness initiatives, and moving from technician to expert status in the fall. Both regional workshops were very well attended. We have two regional workshops scheduled for the spring as well, one on March 3 in western Pennsylvania; and one on April 27 in eastern/central Pennsylvania.

We have also collaborated with Chester County Intermediate Unit to conduct a school branding workshop on Thursday, April 16, which has sold out!

Major chapter issues or concerns

As with many in school communications, we continue to struggle with building support for public education on the state level. Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the country in the state’s share of funding for public education. Only 38 percent of the costs of public education is covered by the state, the remainder of funding is made up primarily of from local school property taxes.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Providing a strong voice for public education at the national level.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

HR 1878 would require the Federal Government to fund special education at the promised 40 percent level – a promise made in 1975 and never fulfilled. In Pennsylvania, federal funding accounts for only 13% of the total funding received for special education. We need to advocate for the passage of HR 1878.

Additional items of note

N/A

 


Northwest Region Chapters Report - March 2020

Curtis Campbell, Northwest Region Vice President

 

Idaho School Public Relations Association (IDSPRA)

Allison Westfall, President

Chapter well-being

No report submitted.

 

Oregon School Public Relations Association (OSPRA)

Kara Yunck, President

Chapter well-being

Our OSPRA chapter is thriving this year. We have 75 members. Our board meets via video conference weekly. We have had our nonprofit status reinstated and have set up systems with our new treasurer to ensure continuity in accounting.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We recently had a very successful co-hosted conference with WSPRA. Both boards have said we would like to collaborate on a more regular basis. We have implemented the Wild Apricot member management system, which has taken some of the administrative tasks that were previously completed manually off of the shoulders of board members.

Professional development programs/activities

We have set up three subcommittees, one of which is centered around DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). We are working with the University of Oregon to plan a panel event to discuss barriers for students of color who are interested in school public relations and public relations. We have been offering regular video chats centered around areas of professional development for members.

We have already identified dates and locations for our 2020-21 conferences.

Major chapter issues or concerns

I would like to see more people interested in serving on the board. We also made an effort to recruit more superintendent and equity administrators to our membership this year and have not been successful.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Tools to encourage districts to hire diverse communications professionals.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Social-emotional learning and resources for helping staff to support students who are struggling with regulation issues.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Jessica Morgan, President

Chapter well-being

At this time we are at 186 active members, with 30 renewals that are overdue. Our board has split those overdue renewals and is making contact individually. We have 25 that have lapse, who have also been contacted individually, with most responding that they are the memberships of people who are no longer in the school district, or they have reduced the number of memberships within the department as a cost-savings strategy as they know those former members will not be attending conferences due to travel/professional development budget reductions. We are also excited that since January we are up five new members, some who are new to the position, or are filling a newly created communications position within a school district.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are proud to say that our just completed Storytelling Summit, a joint, two-day workshop, done in collaboration with Oregon School Public Relations Association was a huge success. This is the second time in ten years that the two SPRAs partnered to create an opportunity for networking and skill-building. WSPRA had a total of 93 registered attendees, which is the highest number we have ever had for a winter workshop. Planning for this began at the NSPRA Seminar in Washington D.C., with Kindra Hall’s keynote speech serving as inspiration for our theme of storytelling. Nationally recognized storytelling coach, Ann Wylie, led our Thursday afternoon session, followed by a social hour and dinner, with Kent School District Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts sharing his own story in education. The second day included NSPRA Publication Award-winning team Kathryn McCarthy and Casey Madison sharing their skills in serializing storytelling content across multiple platforms, a session by Pat McCreery with Beaverton School District, which focused on questioning whether the student stories we are telling are empowering and uplifting our students or exploiting their experiences and the sometimes blurred lines that lead to both answers. Strategies 360 professional data storytellers Amy Ruiz and Lesley Rogers shared how to use numbers, and research in creative ways that resonate with audiences. Finally, the Summit ended with Census 2020: Stories Behind the Numbers with Judy Dunne, our regions US Census Bureau specialist.

As a board we are exploring options for social and networking opportunities for members that include our annual Mariners baseball game, and a possible summer camp for our members and their families as a way to reconnect and recharge.

Professional development programs/activities

Our final professional development opportunity is our Annual Conference, April 29-May 1 in Leavenworth, WA. Planning for this is currently underway, with a record amount of sponsor support leading into the conference. We have for several years touched on the topics of equity, inclusion, and diversity presentations, but this year have taken a bold approach to focus the whole theme of the conference on these areas. Because our members come from different stages in this specific journey, and this learning will be uncomfortable and hopefully help people see areas where they can grow not only professionally but personally as well, we are working hard to set clear expectations of dialogue and respect, and have presentations from our members who people are familiar with and can more easily relate to with a greater sense of empathy. We also plan to have speakers who are nationally recognized within NSPRA as leaders in in their districts for communicating through a lens of equity.

Major chapter issues or concerns

As I stated above we are looking at more options for engaging with our members outside of our traditional three conferences, as a way to connect and build lasting relationships. While we haven’t had nearly the impact of losing members as we feared from many schools facing budget issues due to our state’s education funding circus, we want to keep WSPRA growing as more than just an association members pay dues to each year, but a resource superintendents and finance directors recognize as a necessity for all communications people.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

There continues to be a very strong desire and passionate energy for the Seminar to return to the Northwest for the first time since 1995. We hope that the commitments we made in our July memo are helpful in making this a viable option to increase NSPRA’s reach and influence in our state and region.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Washington state schools still continues to struggle from the fallout of the state legislature’s “solution” to the McCleary decision as far at school funding. This has led to confusion and anger from communities in regards to levies and school-related taxes. While our most recent round of levy elections saw a 90% overall approval, we noticed that the overall approval percentages were down, and the 10% that failed their levies had not had a levy fail in decades.

Additional items of note

N/A