Three memorable takeaways from NSPRA 2015

They’re do-able and won’t break your budget.

Ron KoehlerLet’s go!

When SCN asked me for a few beneficial takeaways from NSPRA 2015 in Nashville, I jumped at the chance. As a former past president of both NSPRA and MSPRA, my heart is with you and every in-the-trenches school communicator. I appreciate the positive contribution you make in your school district.

The first two are from the presentation made by Brian Woodland of the Peel District Board of Education in Mississauga, Ontario.

#1 — your logo conveys more than your district brand

It conveys emotion, or lack thereof.

The Peel Board of Education serves more than 100,000 students in a wide swath of bedroom communities outside of Toronto.  They compete with publicly funded private schools and charter schools.  And their target is students and the young adults who are their parents.

What does their logo convey? In a word – FUN!

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 6.45.33 PMThey want families to feel as this is a place where learning is enjoyable.  So they change their logo with the seasons, even put a pirate hat on their logo for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I realize that there’s not much I can do with this immediately except to remember that we don’t need to be so doggone stuffy about everything.

Public schools are already perceived as a huge bureaucracy and we shouldn’t reinforce that with an image that says “we’re ancient, we’ve been here since the beginning of time and we’ll be here long after you’re gone. If you come here you’ll do it our way or not at all.”

#2 Another takeaway from Brian

I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but it’s still essential.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 6.43.51 PMPR professionals need to be intentional about reinforcing their professionalism and experience in conversations and planning with others in their organization.

All opinions are not equal.  Nobody in the curriculum department would accept our opinions on how to teach math and we shouldn’t blindly accept their opinion on communications and marketing.

Brian also reminded us the public relations professional is the keeper of the vision with the Superintendent and should use district communication strategies to reinforce district goals – sometimes as a reminder to other professionals within their own district.

#3 From keynote speaker and author of “Influencer”

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 6.37.53 PMFinally, the keynote speaker Joseph Grenny, author of “Influencer,” reminded us that communications professionals are expected to do more than sway public opinion – we change behavior.

Do you like bacon and eggs for breakfast?  So do millions of Americans.  But these weren’t even breakfast favorites until Edward Bernays took on the pork producers association as a major client.

Before that, pork products were not a staple at the breakfast table. That’s behavioral change, and it’s an outcome of excellent public relations.

Bernays, known as the father of public relations, died 20 years ago in Cambridge, Mass. He began his career as a press agent but distinguished himself from others in the profession by using sociology and the skills of his uncle, psychologist Sigmond Freud, to create behavioral change on behalf of his clients.

So, there are my takeaways.

Hope you found them helpful!

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