Thursday Breakout Sessions

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.


From Tactician to Strategist – Earn the Communications Role a Spot at the Leadership Table

Kelly Avants, APR, NSPRA and Clovis USD

Often, public relations professionals find themselves in constant reactive, rather than proactive, mode battling blazes that could have been avoided. Reputation management, crisis response, employee relations, and other critical decisions all benefit from early communication planning; planning that starts at the highest level of organizational leadership. Positioning the role of communications at the leadership table is a critical characteristic of successful organizations, yet many school public relations professionals don’t have a seat at the table. In this session, NSPRA President Kelly Avants, APR, delivers proven leadership principles and actions that can transform organizational understanding of the strategic value of public relations and communications.

Video Lab: One-Minute Videos

Christine Paik, Poway USD; Nichole Pichardo, Brea-Olinda USD; Matthew Jennings, Oceanside USD

Looking for a quick and creative way to tell your school or district's story? We know our stakeholders are looking for easy-to-access, "snackable" video content on social media. At Poway, Brea-Olinda, and Oceanside we produce weekly "News Minute" videos to highlight news, events, and student and staff achievements throughout our school districts. They are like 60-second mini newscasts and are very well-received by our students, staff, and the community. All you need is a smartphone, microphone, and editing app! At this session, we will show you examples, and walk you through step by step on how to create one yourself!


3:45 - 4:45 p.m.


Loud to Crowd: Effective Crowd Leadership in a Loud-Dominated Society

Alan Milijkovic and Heidi Baker, Thoughtexchange; Daniel Thigpen, Folsom-Cordova USD; Christine Paik, Poway USD; Francinni Zabata, Beaumont USD

What if our digital platforms could bring people together to solve problems, rather than empower the overly negative to create problems? In this session, you’ll experience how to leverage technology to make this quintessential shift. Bear in mind, however, technology (like money) only magnifies what is at the core. Effective educational leaders commit to being the best version of themselves and they leverage technology to inspire others to do the same - that is effective crowd leadership!


A Community Approach To Crisis Communication

Matthew Jennings, Oceanside USD; Annette Franco, Newport-Mesa USD

How two school districts managed culturally insensitive and anti-Semitic student actions that impacted schools and the local community, mitigating the potentially long-lasting negative effects. Student related incidents can take place on campus and be directly related to school or they can take place off-campus. Either way, they have a strong possibility of impacting schools, communities, and damaging your brand. Many school PR professionals have holding statements, media training, and communications tools at their disposal. However, successful communication during a crisis relies on our role in supporting district leadership in making good decisions and communicating with the community quickly and effectively. You will leave with proven strategies and tactics that will help you guide your community through crisis.


County Office of Education Convening

Michelle Smith McDonald, Alameda; Terry Koehne, Contra Costa; Dina Gentry, APR, El Dorado; Seana Wagner, Napa; Tim Herrera, Sacramento; Jamie Hansen, APR, Sonoma

County Office of Education communication directors will facilitate a discussion examining internal communication and morale, crisis management (including PG&E PSPS events) and communication department structure and district support. COEs play a pivotal role in California’s education system, and each office has a different methodology to accomplish their strategic goals. This exchange will harness those differences and learning lessons to empower one another. You will have the opportunity to be added to the CalSPRA COE email listserv and cultivate relationships with other county offices, so you may take advantage of this supportive network. Although this session is tailored to COEs, everyone is welcome!

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