Monthly Archives: October 2020

Congratulations to NSPRA’s Fifth 35 Under 35 Class!

Earlier today, NSPRA announced the fifth 35 Under 35 Class!

Congratulations to the following individuals:

  1. Elizabeth Beadle Middletown (Ohio) City School District (@Eliz_Beadle @MiddletownOH)
  2. Ashton Brellenthin , Danville (Ind.) Community School Corporation (@SeeAshtonWrite @DCSCWarriors)
  3. Kate Brown, Waterford Union High School, Waterford, Wis. (@WaterfordUnion)
  4. Eva Craner Twin Falls (Idaho) School District #411 (@evacraner @tfsd411)
  5. Stevie Crovetto St. Charles Parish Public Schools, Luling, La. (@steviecro @scpps)
  6. Rachel Frost, Region 10 Education Service Center, Richardson, Texas (@RE_Frost44 @Region10ESC)
  7. Eric Hagemann,Osseo Area Schools, Maple Grove, Minn. (@EricHagemann @ISD279)
  8. Tyler Hill, Arlington (Tenn.) Community Schools (@THillMedia @ACS_System)
  9. Audrey Holtzman, Parma (Ohio) City School District (@audrey_holtzman @ParmaSchools)
  10. Jada Jonas, Iredell-Statesville Schools Statesville, N.C. (@jadajonas @isschools)
  11. Cody Kennedy, Olathe (Kan.) Public Schools (@iamcodykennedy @olatheschools)
  12. Ashley Kryscynski, Washtenaw Intermediate School District Ann Arbor, Mich. (@a2kryscynski  @WashISD) 
  13. Conor Laffey, Oak Harbor (Wash.) Public Schools (@OakHarborPS)
  14. Claudia Lemus-Campos, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Pharr, Texas (@claudiavlemus @psjaisd )
  15. Cristen Maddux, School District of Indian, River County, Vero Beach, Fla. (@CristenM_PIO @IRCSchools)
  16. Jeremy Maskel, Omaha (Neb.) Public Schools (@JerMaskel @OmahaPubSchool)
  17. Mandy Mayberry, Autry Technology Center, Enid, Okla. (@MandyMayberry @AutryTechnology)
  18. Lenora McEntire Doss, Floyd County Schools, Rome, Ga. (@LenoraLibby @FloydCoSchools)
  19. Callen Moore, Walton County School District Monroe, Ga. (@CWMOORE15 @WCSD_GA)
  20. Andrew Munson, Lenawee Intermediate School District, Adrian, Mich. (@LenaweeISD)
  21. David Nielsen, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Bedford , Texas (@hebisd)
  22. Tarah O’Connell, Northbrook (Ill,) School District 27 (@d27schools)
  23. David Olson, Sycamore (Ill.) Community, School District #427 (@David_____0, @SYC427) 
  24. Alissa Ouderkirk, Capital Region BOCES, Albany, N.Y. (@alissaetc @CapRegionBOCES)
  25. Melissa Reese, Allentown (Pa.) School District (@Melissa_ashleyy, @AllentownSD)
  26. Jared Revlett, Owensboro (Ky.) Public Schools (@OPS_PIO  @OboroSchools)
  27. Olivia Rice, Terrell (Texas) ISD (@oliviajrice @TerrellISD)
  28. Andrew Robinson, Gettysburg (Pa.) Area School District (@RobinsonReports @GASD_PA)
  29. Celina Rodriguez, Mount Vernon (Wash.)School District( @CelinaInPR @MVSchools)
  30. Corey Ryan, Leander (Texas) ISD (@CoreyLISD @LeanderISD)
  31. Jahantab Siddiqui, Howard County Public School System Ellicott City, Md. (@jahantab  @HCPSS)
  32. Kimberly Uelmen , Howard-Suamico School District Green Bay, Wis. (@kuelmen_PR @HSSD)
  33. Bryan Winfrey, Valley Christian Schools, Chandler, Ariz. (@bwwinfrey @vcschoolsaz)
  34. Erica Yelland, DoDEA, Alexandria, Va. (@ericayelland  @dodea)
  35. Nicole Young, Clay County District Schools (@MrsNicoleYoung @OneClaySchools)

The School of Swag Launches Inaugural #SchoolPR Secret Santa gift exchange!

Introducing the inaugural School PR Secret Santa, powered by! This December you can exchange gifts with school PR & communications pros from around the United States and Canada!

  • Step 1: Sign up using the link by Friday, October 23.
  • Step 2: We’ll assign you a partner by Friday, October 30, via email.
  • Step 3: Please have a gift ($25 or less) delivered to your partner’s mailing address by Tuesday, December 1, or before.
  • Step 4: Save the Date / Gift Opening Day: Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, from 2 – 3 p.m. ET — All school PR participants will open gifts and celebrate during a virtual School PR holiday party!
  • Step 5: Invite all of your school PR friends to sign up at!

School of Swag Donates 10% of Proceeds from July-Sept. Sales to Jumpstart

The School of Swag (SOS) has donated 10% of July, August, and September swag shop proceeds to Jumpstart  — a national early education organization working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. 

Each quarter, SOS chooses a new educational-related organization to serve as a beneficiary. SOS swag sales from October – December will benefit the International Dyslexia Association.

Thank you for your support, communicators!

Joshua Sauer, APR

6 Website Redesign Tips for School Districts

For many school PR and communication teams, the thought of tackling a district website redesign project seems like a significant commitment. Well, I have news for you: It is.

As an experienced school district web developer and consultant, I’ve jotted down some tips to consider before beginning your journey:

1) Understand your needs.

You know your district and community better than anyone. You have the power. Think about what your organization needs from a website. Why do you need a new website? Does it need a simple facelift or will it require a complete overhaul? What specific features will it need to include? 

Identify your needs and search for a vendor who can meet them. 

2) Use data to guide your decision making.

After understanding your needs, you now need research to guide your project. Research is an essential phase of any school communications project. Consider the following research methods before writing your request for proposal (RFP):

  1. Focus groups. What does your community like and dislike about your current website? What information can they find quickly/not quickly? What areas of your website are pain points? What “competitor” websites do they like, and why?

    I suggest conducting focus groups with two internal audiences (students and staff) and one external audience.
  2. Analytics. Analyzing data seems daunting to some, but it’s easier than it sounds with tools like Google Analytics. Be sure to explore at least 1-2 school years of analytics from your current website. This data allows you to evaluate the most accessed pages and content and learn more about your audience and their behaviors.

    If you need help with analytics, I am happy to help you for free.
  3. Market research. Find the districts serving students and families well and use their work to inspire your new website. Imitation is the most effective form of flattery, and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. 

3) Understand time frames and commitment.

Projecting a time frame for a new website is difficult. It depends on several factors such as: Will you be working yourself or hiring a consultant? How busy is your schedule? How big is your team? Do you have an intern or a special assistant? How many sites do you need? 

Also, consider the time needed for vendor research, request proposals (RFPs), and contract approval. This phase alone could be a one or two-month process or more for some districts.

Email me if you want to learn more about redesign time frames.

4) Focus on solutions and growth, not costs.

My mom once told me that I should never skimp on pots & pans and bedsheets. I would add school district websites to this list!

I strongly recommend investing in a premium content management system (CMS) that will provide a strong digital foundation for years. To get the most out of your CMS, it should:

  1. Allow you to produce beautiful, friendly content that enhances your district brand. Your website is no longer a cheap storage unit — it is your community’s digital home.
  2. Be intuitive and user-friendly. Your CMS should allow you and other staff members to make updates quickly.
  3. Be dynamic and powerful. You should never spend hours editing the same content in multiple places! A quality CMS should all you to update numerous areas of your site at one time, from one easy-to-use dashboard.
  4. Be driven by constant innovation. Your CMS vendor should be constantly searching for ways to improve their services.

5) Don’t fill your new site with junk from the old site!

Be strategic and thoughtful when migrating content. Focus on optimization. I recommend launching your website at 75% readiness and then migrate older content as it is needed.

6) Enjoy the journey!

Whether you go it alone or hire someone to help, ENJOY THE JOURNEY! Launching a new website is incredibly fulfilling!

Have questions?

When you think school websites, I hope you think of me. Please reach out if you have any questions! – Joshua Sauer, APR

Joshua Sauer, MPA