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More than 100 examples of award-winning #SchoolPR publications

If you’re looking for great examples of school district publications and electronic communications, look no further than the top winners of NSPRA’s Publications and Electronic Media Awards contest. Below are links (as many as I could find) to the 2015 Award of Excellence winners. Hope you’re inspired!


Annual Report

Branding/Image Package


E-Newsletter (External Audience)

E-Newsletter (Internal Audience)

Excellence in Writing

  • Broadalbin-Perth Central Schools, Broadalbin, NY
    B-P Students, Teachers Adjusting Well to Common Core
  • District School Board of Niagara, St. Catharines, ON
    Director’s Welcome Back Speech to School Administrators
  • Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, NC
    Fighting Back
  • Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, VA
    Compass Keepers Club: Debbie Cathey

Finance Publication


Internet/Intranet Website


Marketing Materials (Electronic)

Marketing Publication

Print Newsletter (External Audience)

Print Newsletter (Internal Audience)

Social Media

Special Purpose Publication

Video (produced in-house)

Video (produced with outside contract)

Keep your social media feeds fresh with crowdsourced content and Buffer

As school PR pros, we understand we can’t cover every good story going on in our districts. The beauty of social media, however, is that everyone is now empowered as a broadcaster, and there are scores of school and district brand ambassadors out there sharing the good stories to their own followers. By tapping into the crowdsourced content created by teachers, PTAs, parents, student groups and alumni, we share their good news to a larger crowd and keep our social media feeds fresh.

Read the rest of this post, which is published on the NSPRA Social School Public Relations blog.

Ditch Your Phone’s Camera: Quickly Share DSLR Photos on Twitter

There’s something extra engaging about sharing photos of an event live on your Twitter feed. However, the tool you use to send those tweets — your phone — doesn’t have the best possible camera or lens, especially if you’re taking photos of quickly moving children in bad lighting.

See how I was able to connect my DSLR camera to my phone for instant sharing on Twitter. Read the rest of this post, which is published on the NSPRA Social School Public Relations blog.

Don’t Get Cut Off: Create Perfect Social Media Graphics With This Template

Have you ever been browsing your Twitter or Facebook feed and come across a post with its image cut off?

Twitter and Facebook on a smartphone

If you’re creating graphics like this in order to attract people to your posts, (which is a good idea according to experts) it would be a shame and a waste of your time for part of your message to be cropped off, not to mention how unprofessional and careless it looks. Plus, to create separate images to fit each platform would take a lot of time.

Find out how to make sure you design your graphics so they fit for both Facebook and Twitter. Read the rest of this post, which is published on the NSPRA Social School Public Relations blog.

Tips for Fine-tuning Your School and District Google Alerts

School PR pro Tom Page at School Communicators Network recently wrote a blog post describing frustrations with and alternatives to Google Alerts. His post has inspired me to write a blog post I’ve been considering for a few years (yes, really). While Google Alerts has definitely gone down on the company’s priority list and it does have its limitations, there are some ways to get more targeted results.

Tip 1: Be sure to use the special search operators when doing any Google search, including Google Alerts.

For example, quotation marks will search for an exact phrase instead of just the words individually:

“Fair City Public Schools”

The minus sign will exclude a word. For example, if there is a district or school with the same name as yours but in a different state:

“Fair City Public Schools” -Illinois

Combine quotation marks and the minus sign for ultimate Google search power:

“T.C. Williams High School” -“Remember the Titans”

(The search above will show results for the phrase “T.C. Williams High School” but exclude any results that have the phrase “Remember the Titans”)

See a list of even more Google Search Operators.

Tip 2: Test and refine

Your results won’t be perfect from the start. When I first began using Google Alerts, I noticed a lot of results for new home listings, which are irrelevant to me. So I edited my searches to exclude popular home listings and realtors. Further, for some of our schools with popular names, I added the name of our city.

“George Washington Middle School” Alexandria -trulia -zillow

You’ll also want to consider mentions that don’t use the exact full name of your district or schools:

“T.C. Williams” -trulia -zillow

Again, none of these will be perfect the first time around. Test and refine.

Tip 3: Consider the alternatives

As Tom Page wrote, he’s also trying out I use this specifically because in the past, Google didn’t appear to be the best at finding mentions on social media. It seems to be getting better. But if you’d like a second option, definitely give Mention a try, using the same types of search operators. *Note: You may have to pay a subscription fee to set up multiple search alerts on Mention.

Do you have other tips or websites you use to catch mentions of your schools and districts?

A New Year’s Resolution for My School PR Colleagues

“Make a phone call or email a colleague and you help one person. Post on an online discussion board or on social media and you help hundreds of colleagues.”

A major pet peeve of mine is the thought that many of us in school communications are reinventing the wheel in our efforts. That’s why I love social media so much. It allows us to collaborate without the geography, cost and time constraints of in-person conferences. (Not that I dislike in-person conferences. I’m lucky to have been to many NSPRA seminars in my short career.) Plus, social media leaves a digital, written trail for others to keep learning long after the conversation has “ended.”

This year I personally suggest the following resolution for all of us in school communications: let’s stop reinventing the wheel so much and learn from and share our knowledge with one another on a national scale. The summer NSPRA seminar and local chapter conferences are perfect opportunities for this, and we’re all very good at those. But let’s up our participation in the digital world. Don’t let the school PR community lose out on the opportunities in between in-person conferences.

How you can contribute to and take advantage of the online school PR community:

1. Subscribe to and comment on the following school PR blogs via email or RSS:

2. Participate in the school PR community on Twitter

3. Ask and answer questions on NSPRA’s LinkedIn discussion board

The discussions are getting more and more frequent. Chime in on the NSPRA LinkedIn group (for NSPRA members only).

4. Participate in School PR conversations on Facebook

Follow the NSPRA Facebook page and pages for local NSPRA chapters.

5. …and anything else I’ve missed

I am partially embarrassed to say I’m not active on Google+, but I know that some school communicators are, including Tom Jackson and Kristin Magette, who hosted a School Communicators’ Chat on Google Hangouts.

What other opportunities am I missing in the list above? What other venues should there be for NSPRA members and school communicators to share their knowledge on an online, many-to-many basis? I welcome your thoughts.

Let’s work to truly build up the online school PR community in 2015.

Target Potential New Twitter Followers With This Trick

Do any of your schools run their own separate, but official Twitter accounts? What about PTAs and student groups? It’s likely that the people who are interested in the schools and therefore follow those accounts would also be interested in information from the district level. But perhaps they don’t know your account exists.

Read the rest of my post, which is published on the NSPRA Social School Public Relations blog.

5 Tips for “Designing” Perfect Social Media Posts

I’m a graphic designer, and the main goal of that job is designing information in a way that it is most easily understood, attracts attention and makes audience members do something. In the case of social media, the “design” of your content includes the words you use, number of words, punctuation, emojis, images, links and layout on a viewer’s screen.

Have you ever considered that the “design” of your social media posts affects whether or not they will be seen, understood and acted upon?

Read the rest of my post, which is published on the NSPRA Social School Public Relations blog.

Facebook Page basics for beginners and non-communication staff

Recently a rural Virginia school district school board clerk reached out to other school board clerks about setting up a Facebook Page for their district, a goal that the superintendent had in mind. My district’s board clerk asked if I could answer her questions, which I did, because I love helping out with web tools and social media.

Because it was a lot of good information, I thought I’d share it with others who are new to Facebook Pages.

Do you have a facebook page for the division?

Yes. See

If so, who is responsible for the upkeep (pictures, news, etc.)

In many school districts you’ll find that the communications department handles all social media, including Facebook. In general, it should be handled by anyone who is skilled in customer service and communication. (NOT the technology department!) As the Public Relations Specialist, I oversee the Alexandria City Public Schools Facebook page, and collaborate with my director and department administrative assistant to contribute to our Twitter account.

Are comments welcomed, and how does one filter inappropriate comments?

Comments cannot be turned off, so there is no choice but for them to be “welcomed.” Being that it is “social” media, it is expected that it is a two-way dialogue, not just one-way broadcasting of division information. Also be aware that the number of comments you receive affects the likelihood of your posts being seen. Comments are seen as “engagement”, and on Facebook, higher engagement equals more promotion of your posts in your followers’ news feeds.

Also be aware that although you cannot turn off people from commenting on your posts, you CAN turn off the setting that allows people to post directly to your page’s timeline. In the Facebook Settings area this is called “Posting Ability”.

PostingAbility PostVisibility

In Facebook Settings you can also have any comments with profanity automatically hidden from public view. In the “Page Moderation” setting you can type in a list of specific words and/or set the profanity filter to “Strong”, “Medium” or “Off”. This works wonders!


Beyond profanity, I personally do not delete any comment unless it goes against our guidelines (threatening, privacy violation). We’ve posted our guidelines in the “About Us: Description” area of our Facebook page:

Please give any positives or negatives that you have experienced.


When people see the amazing photos from the classroom and events, and share and tag and comment on them.

The fact that the info about the division is coming to them, in a format they already view every day. (They aren’t going to your website just to browse.)


Dealing with complaints (especially regarding school closures). However, it is no different from dealing with complaints on another medium (ie telephone).

Is there anything you would have done differently or suggestions on how to proceed?

Social media is an ongoing project, not something that you do and then finish. So there’s always opportunity to do things differently as you go along. A few thoughts:

  • Be patient. You will not get a lot of followers immediately. Keep publishing content, despite the fact that for the first year or two you may not get a ton of followers or interaction.
  • Follow and “Like” other local pages, ie the police, city/town govm’t, education organizations, and DEFINITELY PTAs. Share their content and you will make allies who will share your content, too.
  • Post at least once every day or two, but no more than three times a day. Unlike Twitter, if you bombard your followers’ Facebook news feeds too much, they will stop following you or hide your content from their news feed.
  • Any person who manages a Facebook page for their business or organization should also be a user of Facebook in their personal life. Otherwise you won’t understand it from a user’s perspective.
  • Don’t use your personal Facebook account as the admin for the Facebook page. Instead, create a new account that you use solely for that purpose. Otherwise, you may accidentally post something to the Facebook page that you meant to post on your personal account. Keep them entirely separate.
  • Make sure you promote your Facebook page with all other contact info on other publications (email signature, email and print newsletters, fliers, website, event programs).
  • Learn how to use the post scheduling feature. When you have a chunk of time once a month, schedule a bunch of posts about upcoming events, info on the website, or parent tips.
  • As much as possible, post photos along with your links and text posts. These get the most interaction.
  • Be prepared for Facebook to change things around at least once a year. Don’t be discouraged, it’s just how it works.
  • You’ll get your biggest jump in followers during emergency closures, but only if people know you have a Facebook page. Make sure your emergency notification info promotes the page.

This is already a lot of information for someone entirely new to Facebook Pages. However, I always encourage people to learn by doing, not just by reading.

Are there any newbie tips you would add to the list?