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Three Key Takeaways from the National School PR Presidents Summit

By February 17, 20235 min read

What do you get when you bring together chapter leaders from the longest-standing and most reputable school public relations and communications association in the country for two days in Chicago? Answer: A ton of professional development and growth. And, of course, some antics (read: memories). 

The annual NSPRA Presidents Summit kicked off February 1st in Chicago, where NSPRA chapter presidents, presidents-elect, and executive directors convened. Their aim? To foster connection, professional development, and thought leadership that helps build stronger chapters, better communications strategies, and more robust school communities. Together with FinalSite, Class Intercom was proud to sponsor and support this uniquely intimate event. Here we’ve recapped three key takeaways from our time with this incredibly dedicated and inspiring group of school PR and communications professionals. 

1. Engaged communications professionals are uniquely equipped to serve schools. 

It’s certainly the case that the communications challenges facing schools and districts are unique and often complex. From pressing in-the-moment needs to shaping bigger-picture sentiments within school communities–PR professionals must juggle a diverse mix of stakeholder perspectives. At the same time, they’re tasked with weaving together the moments and stories that bring school stories to life. It’s no easy feat, and school PR professionals must remain incredibly engaged in the best practices and happenings of their industry to do it. 

To that end, much of the discussion at this year’s summit centered on the ways in which NSPRA chapters provide value to their members. A healthy local chapter allows PR professionals access to a team of leaders facing similar challenges. Roundtable discussions allowed chapter leaders to share their unique insights and experiences bringing chapter members together. The summit also featured idea spark sessions, which aimed to surface new and innovative approaches to chapter engagement. 

2. Professional development is crucial; it’s also multifaceted. 

Professional development opportunities are an especially useful way for chapters to engage and serve members. This year’s summit approached the subject from a variety of angles. We heard from Artesha Moore, president and CEO of the Association Forum–a 4,000-member association representing more than 44,000 association professionals and some 27 million individual members. The conversation provided a starting point for discussions about professional development opportunities beyond the annual chapter conference.

A chapter leader panel devoted to professional development included key NSPRA voices from the Arizona, Kansas, Illinois, and North Carolina chapters. Sessions followed, with insights on managing chapter growth, coordination of officer transitions and onboarding, evaluating the effectiveness of board members and board collaboration, and taking a hard look at regions within chapters. 

“School PR professionals have very unique roles and, within those roles, challenging and high-stakes responsibilities,” explains Class Intercom President Jill Johnson, a leading voice at the intersection of school communications, storytelling, and technology. “The opportunity to engage so closely with many of our friends and colleagues leading SPRA chapters in this environment allows us to learn about the challenges they face,” she adds, noting her appreciation for their work. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to support these talented and dedicated people through our software and beyond.” 

Also crucial to the discussion was the role of technology in helping school PR professionals manage the distribution of information across channels. This extends all the way from district websites to social media posts and from formal policies to classroom procedure and authority. Part of NSPRA’s role in supporting chapter leaders is to expose them to reputable resources built to meet the needs of schools.

3. We’re all better together. 

From learning new approaches and technology  to simply meeting like-minded professionals, the summit reminds us that an opportunity to convene and discuss the issues facing one of us is an opportunity to discuss the issues facing all of us. Whether convening on newsletter strategies, district outreach, or structuring an online presence, collaboration is incredibly powerful. The next step is to bring those strategies back to the chapter level, where their impact creates a compounding effect. 

“The Presidents Summit delivers a powerful learning and networking experience where NSPRA chapter leaders come together, learn about best practices, and share their challenges in operating their chapters,” explained NSPRA Executive Director Barbara Hunter. “The result is exponential with multiple benefits not online to their own local chapter growth, but to those local members they serve who work in schools.” 

What’s Ahead

A special thanks to NSPRA President Cathy Kedjidjian, APR, for leading us at another incredible event. We’re looking forward to seeing many of our friends and partners in the months ahead at chapter events, including TSPRA, ArkanSPRA, CalSPRA, NJSPRA, PennSPRA, and WaSPRA. We’ll see you out there!

Did you miss us at the Summit or want to chat more about how we work with NSPRA chapters and chapter members across the country to help them better serve schools? 

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Jess Doerr

Jess Doerr is the communications manager for Social Assurance and Class Intercom where she writes, develops, and oversees content. If she's not at the office, she's probably on her boat, on her bike, or in her garden.