Regional Chapter Reports: March/April 2021

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Southwest Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Joe Ferdani, APR, Southwest Region Vice President

 

Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA)

Richard Franco, President

Chapter well-being

The ASPRA Chapter is active and holding steady on membership.  Our most recent financial reports show steady growth and we are in a great financial position moving forward.  Our quarterly meetings and other professional development opportunities continue to be virtual and we anticipate them remaining this way through the end of this school year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

ASPRA is excited to announce a partnership with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) to provide letter templates and content for their members.  This partnership will allow ASBA to utilize templates curated and housed by ASPRA for their members.  In return, they will provide financial support to our chapter as well as advertising and credit on the page displayed for their members.  In addition, our Executive Board will soon begin conversations with the Arizona Insurance TRUST to identify avenues for partnerships with their organization that are mutually beneficial.

Professional development programs/activities

This year has provided many challenges to meeting and providing support for our members; however, we have done a great job providing support and opportunities virtually.  We recently announced that this year the ASPRA Summer Conference will take place virtually.  Although the spread of COVID-19 is rapidly declining, we want to ensure our members have access to a quality conference. For that reason, we decided a virtual experience would be the best way to meet the needs of our chapter while also ensuring that planning the conference is smooth for our Vice Presidents of Programming.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Like all chapters, ASPRA has struggled with connectedness during the pandemic.  Even as more in-person opportunities are presented, we find ourselves still unable to gather.  In some ways, our inability to connect in-person has created barriers for the Executive Board and our members but we are hopeful for a bright future as vaccines and community spread decrease.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

NSPRA has always been a supportive parent organization and we appreciate all opportunities to collaborate.  If NSPRA has any opportunities for our members outside of summer conference, please let us know and we will be happy to promote them.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Prop 208 in Arizona recently passed and will definitely be something to keep an eye on.  There are some concerns about the connection between 208 and local districts being able to pass override and bond elections.  Only time will tell if this is the case but it is definitely on our radar as a state. 

Prop 207 in Arizona also passed and will impact the way community colleges are funded.  This will have an indirect impact on our K-12 system but is still something that should be on the NSPRA radar.

Membership has also seen a growth in livestream of events this past year.  While a great engagement tool, the details of greater technology use and outdated public records laws are curbing our members ability to institute greater outreach on behalf of organizations.  Working with school law groups for common knowledge on these subjects would be helpful as our membership utilizes new efforts to connect with communities.

Additional items of note

No items to report at this time.

 

California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA)

Jennifer Dericco, APR, President

Chapter well-being

  • active or dormant: CalSPRA is active but restricted by the pandemic. The board held  virtual retreats in summer and fall 2020 to form a strategic plan for 2020-2021 focused on our professional development and networking plan. This spring, we’re working on our new 2021-2024 strategic plan and our call for nominations for the incoming executive board secretary position is open, with elections being held in April.
  • growing or declining membership: CalSPRA’s membership has been steadily climbing as we continue to follow and measure our strategic plan activities, including the 2020-2021 strategies put in place to support members during the pandemic.
  • regular meetings: CalSPRA’s leadership has regular meetings monthly and a minimum of two retreats per year, once at our annual conference and once in the summer.
  • fiscally thriving: CalSPRA’s financial reserves have been steadily climbing as we continue to follow and measure our strategic plan activities. Our board is launching our first executive search in March/April 2021.
  • what’s working, what isn’t:
    • A global pandemic and an all-volunteer board is not working but we are adjusting our plans. We are in the process of hiring a part-time executive director so that our organization, and our members, do not suffer a loss of high-quality service when our board is over-extended with duties to the districts and county offices where we work. This position will also support our new three-year strategic plan.
    • We have strong executive board cohesion and a thriving, diverse extended board which includes regional chairs, superintendent chairs, membership and communication chairs, and an APR chair.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Ongoing:

  • Partnerships with other professional associations in California such as CSBA and SSDA.

Completed:

  • 2020 annual awards program awards were distributed.
  • In-person education in California shut down while we were holding our 2020 annual conference and just after we signed a contract for our 2021 annual conference. We were able to terminate our 2021 in-person conference contract with the help of legal counsel.
  • We just held our 2021 annual conference virtually and were very successful in creatively honoring the hallmarks of our conference in an online format using a virtual event engagement platform and app called Whova. We mimicked our normal agenda by hosting live, concurrent learning sessions, two live keynotes, a live awards night, and “CalSPRA Night In” with a virtual game vendor called The Go Game (we always hold a “CalSPRA Night Out” networking event as part of our culture and member relations strategy). We also included sponsors and were creative in how we provided them opportunities to reach members live. We have been hearing rave reviews from attendees, presenters, and sponsors.

Professional development programs/activities

See above.

Major chapter issues or concerns

A global pandemic and an all-volunteer board are not working but we are adjusting our plans. We plan to hire our first executive director this spring.

We are researching and discussing our options for the 2022 annual conference. Ultimately, these will be addressed through our new strategic plan which is currently under development.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Updated, common communication toolkits such as all the similar communications that every school district across the nation is going to need for the pandemic.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • COVID-19
  • Race and Equity
  • Enrollment crisis
  • School resource officers on campuses; using them to create better relations
  • Digital divide, even in Silicon Valley!
  • We are a local control state, which creates its own unique challenges. Each district makes its own reopening decisions based on county and state recommendations.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Colorado School Public Relations Association (CoSPRA)

Abbe Smith, President

Chapter well-being

Overall, the chapter well being continues to be stable but with challenges around member engagement and participation. We have had some success since the start of the new year with bringing members together virtually to collaboratively problem solve common challenges. While these sessions have been well-attended and fostered good conversation, they have not garnered widespread participation from districts across the state.

We are also having conversations about how to celebrate the hard work of our members with an awards program, but also being careful not to overburden already overwhelmed members with process.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are collaborating with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to collect and share relevant template materials and important updates about changes to COVID-related guidance, although the sharing of resources has not been as consistent as originally hoped.

Professional development programs/activities

COSPRA is still hosting virtual sessions for members and has not transitioned back to In-Person gatherings, generally sticking to protocols still being followed by districts. The COSPRA chapter hosted two free sessions for members on Dec. 17, 2020 and Jan. 12, 2021 that featured speaker Mark Mohammadpour, a communications executive turned certified health coach and personal trainer. Mark led two free, interactive workshops to help members refocus and shift our mindsets around work-life balance and healthy choices. Our goal was to offer self-care-focused workshops and an opportunity to connect as districts completed the first semester of harrowing pandemic school communications. The sessions were well-attended – about 40 people at each session. Feedback after each session was positive, with members greatly appreciating the chance to get together virtually for the first time this school year with colleagues and focus on personal well-being.

In January, we launched our COSPRA Connect! monthly series, which was designed to be one-hour sessions where members can connect, share stories and collaboratively problem-solve challenges that districts are facing during this year of operating within and, hopefully, coming out of the pandemic. Each session is hosted by two COSPRA Executive Board members, who lead the group through an ice breaker, share-out session, and guided conversation about key pandemic communication-related topics. In March, the session hosts pivoted to have a discussion about crisis communications in the wake of the horrific shooting at the grocery story in Boulder. Each session has had from 15 to 30 attendees.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Chapter concerns include maintaining membership during a time when district communications offices are under pressure and are potentially suffering from decreased funding.

We are also struggling to maintain engagement and participation among members, as many colleagues are reporting that they feel overwhelmed with their workloads and over taxed with COVID-related communication.

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

COSPRA is very interested in learning from what other districts and other states are doing with communications, parent and community engagement, and staff celebration as we begin to plan for coming out of the pandemic.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Utah School Public Relations Association (USPRA)

Jer Bates, President

Chapter well-being

The Utah chapter (USPRA) is growing slightly by virtue of some individual departments expanding as well as new districts joining (ironically, the latter is thanks in part to the proliferation of virtual meetings thanks to COVID-19).

We have continued to meet monthly during the school year as per our pre-covid routine, with the difference of virtual meetings opposed to in-person meetings. The chapter is financially stable in that we have had very reasonable monthly dues and have had minimal expenditures. So much so that we suspended membership dues for the 2020-2021 school year. One potential area of discussion is how we might use our financial assets that have accumulated over many years.

USPRA seems to be operating status quo (or as close as can be reasonably expected during the pandemic). We have had ongoing frustrations with one specific local TV reporter with a vendetta against public schools and challenges responding to parents and employees on both sides of the covid precautions spectrum.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

USPRA has historically tried to identify topics that affect the majority of our LEAs and share thoughts, materials and solutions regarding those topics. Typically these are subjects dealing with stakeholder concerns, marketing and advertising, and responding to emergencies.

USPRA has not historically engaged in many planned collaborations (such as a single, statewide campaign) but rather has shared information and materials among members to be customized for use separately by other LEAs as needed/wanted.

Professional development programs/activities

During the 2020-2021 school year, USPRA meeting agendas have included (or will include) guest experts to provide information and training regarding the following: Racial Equality and Social Unrest, News and Social Media Monitoring Services, Telling your story through photos, Legislative updates, Optimizing Facebook/Instagram effectiveness

Major chapter issues or concerns

The greatest challenges for USPRA (that are not directly related to covid) include similar historical challenges: Correcting misinformation among the public, persuading voters to support education spending (e.g. teacher pay, construction bonds) and (increasingly) addressing concerns related to the social divide between conservatism and progressivism.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

I can’t think of anyone who would not appreciate support with navigating the aforementioned challenge of supporting positive change while still preserving the sanctity of the classroom.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

The tide continues to turn from parents afraid to send their children back to school to parents demanding that we lift covid protections.

Additional items of note

N/A

 


South Central Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Melissa McConnell, South Central Regional Vice President

 

Arkansas School Public Relations Association (ArkaNSPRA)

Brian Bridges, President

No report submitted.

 

Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA)

Kimberly Koop, President

Chapter well-being

Our chapter is active and thriving. We are up to 90 members now, which is an increase from the beginning of the year. We have monthly board meetings and a monthly professional development Zoom for all of our members which includes a regional break-out for members to connect with the other PR professionals in their area. We’ve had about a quarter to half of our membership attend the live Zooms and we record them and post them to the members-only section of our website for those who are unable to attend live.

Financially, we are doing great. We’ve been able to secure a number of sponsorships for our monthly Zooms, which has made up for the loss of sponsorships of our in-person conference we were unable to have this year. We’ve had great feedback about our monthly Zooms from both members and sponsors.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We collaborated with USA-Kansas this year to provide some free COVID-19 resources for superintendents. We felt that this was both a service our organization can provide to support our public school leaders as well as serve as a recruiting piece, giving them a taste of what KanSPRA has to offer.

We also worked with CalSPRA to help judge their publications contest this year. We are working to get our own publications contest up and running again after some board/KASB changes and the pandemic caused us to drop the program this year. We’ve got a committee set up and are working with KASB to re-design the contest to better fit our members’ needs based upon survey feedback.

We are working on a logo refresh, and hope to have that finalized in the next month or so. It won’t be a new logo entirely, but will have updated font and a couple of minor tweaks to breathe new life into it.

Another project that we are excited about is a mentorship program. We’ve tried to set up a mentoring for new KanSPRA members in the past, but a lack of organization caused them to peter out. I’ve worked with our Member Support Chair who has created a more structured program that should capitalize on the expertise of our most seasoned members to support our newest ones. We are in the beginning steps of this, but hope to have it fully in place by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.

Our board has also put together care packages for our members that are being mailed out this month. They contain items to encourage personal care and professional resources. We wanted to give our members a pick-me-up because they are doing such great work during such a stressful time in public education.

Professional development programs/activities

Our monthly member Zooms are focused around professional development. Each month features a case study of a district who has done something extremely well, includes a vaccine update from a state official, and/or focuses on an area of professional development from a guest speaker.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Our biggest struggle right now is finding affordable professional development for our members. There have been a few NSPRA Power Hours that have looked interesting, but our members’ districts won’t pay for them and our members don’t want to pay the additional money after already paying for an NSPRA membership out-of-pocket. We are doing our best to provide great PD during our monthly Zooms, but would love to be able to do more for our members.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

It would be great if NSPRA could compile a list of free or very cheap professional development that we could share with our members. Our chapter board is all volunteer, we don’t have a full or even part-time paid position to help us with things like this.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Our state left it up to the individual counties on how to roll out vaccines. Some counties have done a phenomenal job, while others really dropped the ball. This has created some bad blood among school staff members as they hear about other schools who have already gotten all of their staff vaccinated while their situation feels more like a free-for-all where vaccines are given to those who get to the sign-up first.

Additional items of note

None at this time.

 

Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) 

Kelly Wachel, President
David Luther, Executive Director

No report submitted.

 

Oklahoma School Public Relations Association (OKSPRA)

Amber Graham Fitzgerald, President

No report submitted.

 

Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)

Linsae Snider, Executive Director
Veronica Castillon, APR, 2020-2021 President
Veronica Sopher, 2020-2021 TSPRA President-Elect, 2021-2022 TSPRA President
Rebecca Villarreal, APR, 2021-2022 TSPRA President- Elect

Chapter well-being

  • While the pandemic has hindered us in many ways, it has not impacted us to the extent many others are challenged.
  • TSPRA membership stands at 931 to include combined professional, institutional, affiliate, retired and honorary levels.
  • Financially, we have an operating budget of $666,450 with an additional  $625,248, in savings and investments.  We are expecting about $140,000 in #tspra21 conference expenses which will change some of that!
  • To date, a total of $92,632 in sponsorships/web advertising funding has been secured.
  • The 2020 external audit report found no discrepancies and made no recommendations. $15,000 has been transferred from operating funds to savings which marks a minimum investment per TSPRA budget and member audit committee recommendations.
  • TSPRA’s nine regions continue to meet virtually and most are meeting more frequently.
  • Veronica Sopher Fort Bend ISD, was installed as TSPRA President on February 25, 2021, and is currently in the process of appointing committees and making other necessary appointments.
  • 2021-2022 TSPRA Executive Committee was installed into office during the recent conference.  They assumed duties at the end of the conference.  A list of 2021-2022 officers has been submitted to the NSPRA office.
  • Three APR pinnings took place during the first general session of the conference:  Melissa Martinez, APR, CPC, El Paso ISD, Valonia Walker, APR,  Aldine ISD and Janice Hernandez, APR, Southwest ISD.
  • TSPRA APR’s conducted readiness review panels for one TSPRA member during the conference.  One other was scheduled to test the last week in February.
  • Texas Christian University offers a Certified Public Communicator credential involving a two-year cohort program.  The 2020 cohort is awaiting graduation due to completion of work hampered by the pandemic.  Those expected to earn CPC credentials at some point in 2021 include: Anne Marie Espinoza, Uvalde ISD, Matt Mitchell, Leander ISD, Dawn Parnell, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Corey Ryan, Leander ISD, Katelyn Tyler, Burleson ISD, Chelse Westbrook, Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD and Sylvia Wood, Spring ISD.  Seven additional members are enrolled in the 2020-2022 cohort, also derailed in progress due to the pandemic.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

  • TSPRA is one of the few, if only, Texas education associations to host an in-person only conference held February 22-25, 2021.
  • A total of 1407 (1606 in previous year) Star Awards entries were submitted.  The judges awarded one Platinum Award, four Platinum Certificates of Merit, eight Crystal Commendations, 32 Crystal Certificates of Merit, 125 Best of Categories, 823 Gold Stars, 393 Silver Stars and 92 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 due to the fact that members submit their best work.
  • TSPRA 2020-2021 Strategic Initiatives have resulted in the following:
    • Digital Magazine – Communications Matters- with three published issues (spring issue to be published April 15) resulting in 62 member contributors and $6700 in advertising revenue.
    • Online Learning Opportunities – resulting in 22 offerings attended by 758 attendees with $7900 in sponsorship/registration revenue and six additional sessions scheduled for March-May 2021.
    • Relocation of TSPRA Offices – resulting in transition and succession planning for the June 2022 retirement of the TSPRA executive director.
  • TSPRA has published 34 EduLeges, 18 newsletters and numerous eBlasts since October.
  • TSPRA continues to collaborate with TASA by providing 4 concurrent sessions at their virtual annual convention and the ED presented for the Title IX conference, TAPSA conference and TSAE.
  • TSPRA has secured writers for publications of the following state organizations:  TASA, TASB and Texas School Business and provided quotes for op-ed articles published in both print and online outlets.

Professional development programs/activities

  • TSPRA’s annual conference was held in-person at Denton Embassy Suites and Convention Center  on February 22-25, 2021, with a limited attendance of 255 attendees (maximum 300 allowed).  There were six preconference sessions, 34 concurrent sessions, 27 roundtables, job-alike sessions, TSPRA Mix topic sessions, three corporate showcases, three “encore” sponsored sessions, one keynoter, 26 exhibitors, and official sponsored events.  A link to the conference program is available at https://tspra.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/TSPRA-2021-Program-1.pdf
  • Six professional awards were presented during the conference.
  • The sixth TSPRA 5K Run/Walk took place virtually with 30 members participating and contributing near $665 to the Texas Music Project, providing instruments and mentoring to underserved students. 
  • TSPRA has scheduled a five-series virtual  Spoken Word Media and Crisis Communication Training with sessions being held throughout the spring for about 50 registered attendees and to include preparing for a media interview, powerful messaging, press conferences, handling an angry public and presentation skills.
  • The TSPRA President and Executive Director are registered to attend the 2021 NSPRA Conference in person.

Major chapter issues or concerns

  • We are currently determining location for the 2023 TSPRA Conference.  Negotiating the contract amidst the pandemic has allowed us some terrific perks; however, predicting school budgets  and in-person attendance remains a mystery.
  • There is a possibility we will need to relocate our offices in the next 18 months due to the condition of an old building.
  • With increased services and programs being developed, 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.
  • We are observing NSPRA’s process for developing a transition plan for the upcoming exit of the executive director and determining the process for selecting the next one.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

  • We continue to promote NSPRA membership and appreciate the $50 incentive per new member program!
  • We are watchful of openings for communications positions going to the “next administrator in line” regardless of experience and expertise in communications.
  • We somewhat “copied” NSPRA’s annual report and created a “TSPRA in Review” that was distributed during the 2021 General Membership Meeting.
  • TSPRA is needing to develop a diversity-equity-inclusion policy and practices and would love to participate in some best practices training with other state affiliates to deliver a consistent process.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • The Texas legislature is in session and Texas continues with a governor and legislature not supportive of public education as evidenced by the house and senate education committee appointments who are pro-charter and pro-voucher supporters.
  • The Texas governor announced hold-harmless funding through the spring 2021 semester (with provisions) so that funding hurdle is put to bed; however, with decreased state funding, there is fear of what public ed funding might result in alongside the voucher bills that have been filed.
  • Safety is a primary concern for Texas schools.  The recent “no mask” requirement announced by our governor has increased the workload of our members – and at spring break time!
  • 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/April 2021

Mychal Frost, Southeast Region Vice President

 

Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Florida School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Mississippi School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

South Carolina School Public Relations Association (SCSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Tennessee School Public Relations Association (TNSPRA)

No report submitted.

 


Mideast Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Patrick Gallaway, Mideast Region Vice President

 

Chesapeake School Public Relations Association (CHESPRA)

Ryan Edwards, President

Chapter well-being

Following three very successful fall virtual seminars, we are preparing for a spring virtual seminar in April.

Because of my team and our offerings, are membership this year has been incredible. With NO in person events and the perks that come with that, our membership is over 135 individuals, and down by less than 20 from a normal year.

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

Our financials continue to be strong, with our current holding in the neighborhood of $20,000.

 

Indiana School Public Relations Association (INDSPRA)

Maria Bond, President
Donna Petraits, Executive Director

No report submitted.

 

Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA)

Morgan Watson, President

No report submitted.

 

Michigan School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Gerri Allen, executive director
Anne Cron, APR, president

No report submitted.

 

Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA)

Lou DeVincentis, President

No report submitted.

 


North Central Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Tracy Jentz, APR, North Central Region Vice President

 

Illinois School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) 

Kristine Liptrot, APR, President

No report submitted.

  • Regional VP noted: 
    • INSPRA has been holding monthly workshops (“Tips and Tactics”) for members. Their next session is on April 16th and will feature Shawn McKillop, APR and Kristin Magette, APR speaking on #K12PRWell. INSPRA’s Distinguished Service Awards will be announced mid-May.
    • INSPRA is preparing to host the 2022 NSPRA Seminar in Chicago, Ill.

 

Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA)

Laura Sprague, President

No report submitted.

 

Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA)

Tara Drey, President

No report submitted.

  • Regional VP noted: MinnSPRA will be holding its annual spring conference (“Lift Every Voice”) April 15th-16th. Registration is open to any NSPRA member. Speakers include NSPRA President Lesley Bruinton, APR and NSPRA Immediate Past Vice President at Large for Communication Technology and Innovation Cathy Kedjidjian, APR.

 

Nebraska School Public Relation Association (NebSPRA) 

Jeremy Maskel, President

Chapter well-being

NebSPRA continues to host virtual monthly meetings; given that change, we have seen an increase in attendance from members who have had paid dues in the past, but have regularly been unable to attend or participate in meetings.

Our chapter membership drive began in January and so far we have received 25 memberships.  We anticipate an additional 14memberships to come in before the end of the drive.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

NebSPRA is currently working on adjusting membership levels to better accommodate our plans for growth.  Currently, we have one regular membership for anyone interested in joining, and the Executive Committee recently presented a proposal to create three separate levels.  The Professional Membership will be for those in School PR/Comms, the Associate Membership will be for school administrators that are not professional communicators, and the Affiliate Membership will be for for-profit organizations and vendors that want access to our group members.

Professional development programs/activities

The March NebSPRA lunch and learn will feature Apptegy and focus on recruiting millennial teachers.  Our April PD event will feature a “Wellness in the Workplace” presenter focusing on work/life balance for our members who are reaching burn out levels.

Major chapter issues or concerns

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

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

As was discussed on a recent NSPRA Leaders Zoom call, we’d love to see a speakers bureau created for chapters to utilize.  Being able to quickly tap into resources on specific topics would be incredibly helpful as we aim to provide more meaningful PD to our members.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Christina Brey, President

No report submitted.

 


Northeast Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Angela Marshall, Northeast Region Vice President

 

Connecticut School Public Relations Association (ConnSPRA)

ConnSPRA is currently suspended.

 

New Jersey School Public Relations Association (NJSPRA) 

Lori Perlow, President

Chapter well-being

Our chapter continues to grow and become more diverse with various school employees joining. We currently have 62 registered members. We typically pick up a few new members in the spring and in advance of our school communication awards program.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

ParentSquare has graciously agreed to sponsor of our virtual workshops.

Professional development programs/activities

This week, we had approximately 30 attendees for our virtual workshop.  

March 23, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.

Communicating and Leading for Equity

Susan Enfield, Ed.D, is superintendent of Highline Public Schools in Burien, Washington, a culturally diverse urban district in the Seattle metropolitan area, serving nearly 20,000 students and their families, including a large immigrant population representing close to 100 languages. A former high school teacher, Dr. Enfield served as chief academic officer and then interim superintendent for Seattle Public Schools before joining Highline in 2012. She is also a vice president-at-large on the executive board of the National School Public Relations Association.

Presenter: Dr. Susan Enfield, Superintendent of Highline School District

Our final virtual workshop of the year will be held on April 21. We’re excited to welcome NSPRA President Lesley Bruinton, APR

Communicating with Different Audiences

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

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are in the midst of executive leadership changes. We drafted updated by laws to align with current operations.

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. While we have experienced a reduction in income over the last year due to a slight drop in membership and a drop in participation in our annual awards contest, we have also experienced a drop in expenses. As a result, our budget projections remain stable.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Because of the pandemic, we replaced our annual 2-day, in-person conference with a series of virtual webinars spread out between January and June. The 2021 NYSPRA Speaker Series includes the following sessions:

  • How Communicators are Leading the Way in the COVID Pandemic
  • Nobody Knows My Name: Making Visible All Members of School Communities
  • Supporting LGBTQ Students & Families Through School Communications
  • APR Prep Workshop
  • Consumer Branding: What School Districts Can Learn from Corporate Giants

We also continue to hold free, members-only professional development and networking events on a regular basis.

NYSPRA is also in the process of holding its annual election, with new board members slated to take over on May 1.

Professional development programs/activities

In addition to what is listed above, we also continue to maintain an active Facebook group for members. Regular communication from the chapter/chapter president also occurs to members through email.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Offering value in these unusual times, especially given how spread thin everyone is. We are also considering adding additional board positions, such as an APR chair and representation from the various regions of the state. Research and planning for this is currently underway.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

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

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A

Additional items of note

N/A

Pennsylvania

Angela Linch, president

Chapter Well-Being

Despite COVID,  PenSPRA managed to have a good year.  Plans were modified to accommodate the pandemic.  PenSPRA provided tools to assist the communication efforts of our members. PensPRA had a successful membership retaining its members. In addition, we had a successful communication contest and increased participation. This will be the third year in a row that the communication contest saw an increase in entries.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Last year we added the Outreach Chair to the PenSPRA Executive Board in order to foster stronger relationships with Pennsylvania associations, and SPRAs. This year, PenSPRA members have assisted in the communication contests of NYSPRA, NJSPRA, and CalSPRA.  In addition, PenSPRA president Christine Liberaski is serving on the NSPRA’s Communication Equity and Diversity Task Force, and two PenSPRA members Kristin Edwards Boyd and Andrew Robinson are serving on NSPRA’s Communication Technology and Innovation Project Team (Special Committee).

Professional development programs/activities

Due to COVID-19, many of our school districts in Pennsylvania are starting the school year online; therefore, PenSPRA developed and hosted a series of webinars, online training programs, virtual social opportunities for our members, and continues to do so in the spring.

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 46th 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.  

In the midst of the pandemic, we struggle with the issues of equity.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Providing a strong voice for public education at the national level. Providing materials, guides and templates regarding COVID-19 for our members.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • A lack of cohesive guidance on a national or state level for schools to provide instructional models for the 20-21 school year.  Using public schools as the scapegoat for not getting the economy up and running in the midst of the pandemic. As a result, the next crisis our public schools will face is a reputation crisis. 
  • Racial equity and justice:  How to engage all school communities in authentic conversations regarding racial inequities and social injustice that is meaningful and transforming.
  • Maintaining connections and avoiding burnout when the crisis is unending.  Most school communications staff have been in crisis communication mode since March 2020.  And, we are moving from one crisis to the next closing, moving to online, virtual graduations, hybrid learning models, starting school year online, social distancing, and wearing masks.  School staff including school communication professionals are unable to take a breath and stop and plan before the next issue hits. 

Additional items of note

N/A

 


Northwest Region Chapters Report - March/April 2021

Curtis Campbell, Northwest Region Vice President

 

Idaho School Public Relations Association (IDSPRA)

Kathleen Tuck, President

No report submitted.

 

Oregon School Public Relations Association (OSPRA)

Laura Conroy, President

Chapter well-being

The chapter has hosted two of three winter professional development events. Each event had a follow-up “deep dive” session to allow participants to reflect on the substantive session and then ask follow-up questions and discuss with their peers. Both events had at least 35 attendees. The first session focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The second event focused on Professional Growth. The third event is scheduled for April 18 th and follow-up “debrief events.” The chapter has started a book club which supports members in reading and discussing resource materials offered during these events. The first book club discussion was held last Friday, April 2 nd and the book was “Birds of All Feathers” by Michael Bach which was recommended by the presenter in the first winter PD series. The chapter has provided members with free copies of recommended reading, swag (sweatshirts), and GrubHub treats as a way to keep engagement and morale up during these physically-distanced time. Fiscal – year over year the chapter’s membership has increased, revenues have increased, and costs have declined due to lack of physical conference costs.

The chapter has also hosted “Hot Topic” sessions for newly released guidance from health and education authorities. The chapter mentorship program is ongoing though the future is a bit uncertain as the person facilitating that program was on maternity leave and now that she has returned, may be preparing to take on treasurer duties for FY 2021-22. The chapter has discussed additional scholarships to allow members to attend NSPRA. The chapter has also discussed forming an emeritus group to assist the chapter in crafting and publishing statements on current events. The chapter has had a hiatus on awards and will be re-starting awards in FY 2021-22.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

See above.

Professional development programs/activities

See above.

Major chapter issues or concerns

The chapter struggles to fill the Treasurer position often.  This is due to a general dislike of accounting functions by comms professionals.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

The chapter continues to note that the demographic of the membership does not represent the demographic of the students we serve. This can be an area that NSPRA assists with.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

The education system will need to have an answer for the learning gaps that widened during the pandemic. NSPRA could assist with talking points/toolkit to support this issue.

Additional items of note

N/A

 

Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Tove Tupper, President

Chapter well-being

Despite the many challenges COVID has brought, WSPRA is thriving. Here is a short highlight list:

  • We have grown our membership to more than 200 active members.
  • We have raised more than $20,000 in sponsorships this year.
  • We launched a successful monthly professional development series free of charge for members.

As one WSPRA member and former president recently shared, “In a lot of ways WSPRA has been more supportive and present than it ever has. That’s leadership—figuring it out when things are not as planned.”

The WSPRA board is extremely proud of the work accomplished and support provided to members during this unexpected and challenging year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

WSPRA has undertaken three major projects this year:

  • Developing a virtual professional development program.
  • Revamping the awards program.
  • Building a new regional networking program.

Virtual Professional Development--This year, WSPRA transformed its professional development program. In place of hosting in-person workshops this fall and winter, WSPRA offered monthly virtual events to members. In April, WSPRA will host its annual conference virtually. Please read more information about our virtual professional development in the next question.

Awards Program--WSPRA has spent a lot of time and effort in improving its award program by re-working the judging rubric. Previously, the rubric required judges to score on ten questions that were general across all categories. There was also no systematic way for judges to calibrate between each other. Now, judges score using five questions that are specific to each category. Each question also has detailed rankings that create a calibration for judges. This not only streamlines the process for judges, but also ensures a more accurate and transparent judging process, and ensures members receive better feedback on their entries.

Each year, WSPRA trades judging responsibilities with another state chapter on a rotation. WSPRA members judged award submissions from the Arizona School Public Relations Association last fall. Currently, members in the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association are judging WSPRA award entries. Early feedback from judges shows the new rubric is extremely helpful. We hope to see similar feedback from our members when they receive their scores back later this spring.

Regional Networking Program--WSPRA is excited to launch a new regional networking program. The WSPRA Regional Lunch Network provides an opportunity for members to meet with their local school PR colleagues to discuss challenges and opportunities in a casual setting. WSPRA is currently recruiting nine WSPRA members to volunteer to lead each network, one for each ESD region. The Regional Network Coordinators will be supported by the WSPRA VP of Membership & Marketing. Each leader will coordinate four lunchtime meet-ups per school year for local school PR professionals. After recruitment this spring, WSPRA aims to launch the program at the start of the next school year.

Professional development programs/activities

WSPRA hosted eight virtual professional development sessions between August 2020-March 2021. These professional development sessions were free for WSPRA members. Here is an overview of events:

  • August: The Therapist and the Publicist: Self-Care in Our Crazy School PR World
  • September: Creative Connections with School PR Peers
  • October: Curating Content in a Virtual Environment
  • November: Tools & Tactics You Can Use
  • December: Holiday Communications & Cocktails
  • January: Cultural Awareness Through Communication
  • February: Supporting Employees with Family Communications
  • March: What Districts Miss in Attracting Talent

More than 65 percent of members registered for these monthly events--more than any in-person professional development event WSPRA has ever hosted. The feedback from members has been outstanding. When asked to rate the quality of the monthly events, 96.2 percent responded excellent or good. The board has also heard repeatedly from members to maintain a virtual professional development program even after the pandemic ends.

In April, WSPRA will host its annual conference virtually. Thanks to sponsors and careful budgeting early in the year, the cost for members to attend dropped significantly from $225 to $50. The first 150 attendees to register will receive an interactive conference box in the mail prior to the conference. Boxes will include premium WSPRA swag, Hoppy Hour sensory kits, sponsor goodies, snacks and other materials to enhance the virtual experience.

WSPRA is still finalizing conference speakers and sessions. Here is a list of sessions already booked for the conference:

  • A Complaint-Free World
  • The COVID Pandemic: How Communicators are Leading the Way
  • Keys to Amplifying Your System's Story
  • Facebook Live
  • Using ESSR funds for Comms Related Projects
  • Targeted Tips & Tactics to Increase Community Engagement, Student Retention
  • Tips & Tricks for Low Budget Video Production

Major chapter issues or concerns

In the last Chapter Report, WSPRA expressed concern about board recruitment. Next month, WSPRA will launch elections for the 2021-22 WSPRA Board. WSPRA is ecstatic to report that at least one candidate is running for each open position--with one position having four candidates running. Candidates say they are extremely interested in giving back to an organization that has given them so much.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

In the last Chapter Report, WSPRA requested a listserv to allow SPRA members to quickly and easily connect and share resources. Thank you for listening to this request and creating a section on NSPRA Connects for SPRA leaders to collaborate.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

COVID remains the primary focus and concern for our members. Many of our district have transitioned to hybrid learning while others are just starting that transition this spring. Districts are also working extremely hard to help staff receive vaccines.

Additional items of note

WSPRA aims to create a subcommittee to begin planning and preparation for the NSPRA Seminar in the Seattle region. If NSPRA has a list of expectations for host chapters for a seminar, WSPRA would appreciate the support.