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School PR & Communications Leaders Convene for Annual NSPRA Presidents Summit

By February 29, 20245 min read

School communications professionals struck thought leadership gold at the third-annual NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) Presidents Summit in Sacramento, California in mid-February. The event, which welcomed NSPRA leaders from more than 30 states, is uniquely intimate and collaborative. This year’s event was held in the hometown of current NSPRA President Trent Allen, APR. Over the course of three days, attendees participated in roundtables, panel discussions, and ideation sessions focused on developing leadership across the association. The Class Intercom team was thrilled to return as an event sponsor. Here’s a quick recap of our time with some of the sector’s leading voices in school PR and communications.

Connection & Community

Amid a four-year period of tremendous association-wide membership growth led by Executive Director Barbara Hunter, APR, NSPRA has been steadfast in maintaining focus on cultivating leadership at multiple levels. Indeed, the NSPRA Presidents Summit is a uniquely intentional effort focused on serving, activating, and empowering professional development. It’s also a ton of fun!

This year’s event kicked off with an icebreaker activity modeled after the television series, The Traitors, where participants flaunted their best acting skills, dramatically faking their own deaths after being compromised by winks from undercover “murderers.” Speaker Kevin Bracy (AKA “Coach Greatness”) then delivered such an energetic opening session about the importance of purpose that he ran out the door of the ballroom only to return seconds later.

Breakout sessions offered role-alike and chapter-alike leaders an opportunity to exchange knowledge gained from on-the-ground experience. These situational exercises help leaders channel their knowledge into building and sustaining high-functioning state-level chapters. Sessions covered everything from engagement and recruitment to preparing for events and conferences.

During one Idea Spark session led by NSPRA Northwest Region Vice President, Phillip Campbell and KanSPRA President Dr. Ben Boothe, participants brainstormed solutions for assembling and strengthening boards and committees. Other sessions discussed securing sponsors, distributing meaningful resources to chapter members, and other best practices. 

Friday commenced with Catapult’s ultra-competitive game of cornhole in a curious venue. Winners were crowned before the crew continued on to another location in Old Town Sacramento where they were met by a real-life mermaid. By Saturday, not even an epic rainstorm could stop the camaraderie. After another full-day of conferencing, the group enjoyed a windy dinner along the Sacramento River.

For an intimate group of professionals with deep connections, the time together is incredibly valuable. “The Presidents Summit is such a rare environment,” said Class Intercom President Dr. Jill Johnson, noting that it’s always great to see and spend time with partners, clients, and friends. “There is a strong foundation of friendship and professional connection, and it creates a really genuine and authentic environment for this incredibly knowledgeable and experienced group of school community leaders to connect and learn from each other.”

The Power of Strong School PR

Excellent school PR professionals and communications leaders have a keen sense of the impact and pickup a story will have on the community. They know and understand the distinct nuances surrounding an event, change, scandal, gaf, award, crisis, or policy, acting quickly to proactively and reactively manage next steps at all times. The impact of this work simply cannot be understated, but it often is.

Through NSPRA and events like the Presidents Summit, school communicators gain an invaluable network, but the summit also contributes to the profession in an even deeper, more meaningful way: by advancing it. Many discussions centered on helping PR and communications professionals establish the importance of and advocate for the unique value their skills and experience bring to school communities.

In her session, INSPRA’s Terri McHugh, APR, discussed the importance of connecting with associations in other areas of school leadership (including administration, principals, school boards, and superintendents) to better serve schools and districts overall. Other presentations centered on recognizing and elevating the profession as a whole through formal initiatives.

At the same time, NSPRA continues to advance efforts to recognize the powerful impact members have on the communities they serve. A panel discussion moderated by NSPRA Communications Manager Sarah Loughlin delved into promoting recognition programs, including the association’s Mark of Distinction Awards and the state- and national-level School Communicator of the Year Award (sponsored by our friends at Finalsite).  

In all, the event proved to be one school PR and communication leaders won’t soon forget. “Our objective with the NSPRA Presidents Summit is to provide resources, connection, and expertise to those in leadership roles at multiple levels across the association,” said NSPRA President Trent Allen, APR. “Doing so has compounding benefits that extend to our partners, state-level chapters, members, and certainly the schools and districts they serve.”

What’s Ahead

Next year’s summit is to be hosted by NSRPA President-Elect Heidi Vega, APR, of Arizona; notably, she will be the association’s first Latinx president. 

A special thanks to Trent and the incredible team at NSPRA for leading us at another high-impact summit. We’re looking forward to seeing many of our friends and partners in the months ahead at chapter events, including TSPRA, CalSPRA, NJSPRA, WaSPRA, and more. We’ll see you out there!

Bailey Herrera

Bailey Herrera runs point on social media for Class Intercom. When she’s not filming, editing, and sharing content, you can find her playing boardgames, doing puzzles, visiting her home state of Arizona, and getting unnecessarily fired up about Disney.