New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA) logo

Sunday, March 26, 2023

10 a.m.

Registration Opens

12 p.m.-4 p.m.

APR Prep Workshop 

Thinking about earning your Accreditation in Public Relations? In the process of getting your APR? Join NYSPRA Immediate Past-President Adrienne Leon, APR, and Jodie Orzechowski, APR to have your questions answered about the process and jump into learning. We’ll offer a mock panel presentation, test-taking strategies and more! 

Room: Sacketts

MonDAY, March 27, 2023

6:00 a.m.

#K12PRfit Run/Walk (Optional)

Join NSPRA President Cathy Kedjidjian, APR, on a run/walk to start the first day of the conference. Meet in the hotel lobby.

7:30 a.m. 

Registration & Exhibits Open

8 a.m.-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast Buffet
Room: Michigan & Erie

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Keynote Address

Julie Thannum, APR, Senior Strategist, CESO Communications

Grace & Grit Under Fire: Growing Personally and Professionally as a School PR Leader

The work we do as communication professionals has evolved and changed through the years. As the nation grows more polarized and political interest groups fight for power, public educators often find themselves in the middle of a partisan battle for control over public education. It takes a lot of grace and grit just to stay the course, but the work we do to promote learning for all students is as important now as ever before. Finding work-life balance as a servant leader can sometimes take back seat to the pressures and responsibilities that come with serving your school district and community in a 24/7 environment. This session will take a look at the changing role and pace of school communications, the challenges facing today's school PR professionals and important tips for staying poised and purposeful while you are being refined by fire. Keynote speaker Julie Thannum knows what it's like to give until you feel depleted but in this session she will share tips for staying focused on the things that matter most in your quest to finish the race.

Room: Michigan & Erie

10 a.m. - 11 a.m. General Sessions

Social Unrest in Schools: Handling a DEI Crisis

Monica Lester, APR, Patrice Vivrito, Natalie Rowan, Capital Region BOCES

Following a racially-charged incident at a fall 2022 Guilderland High School football game, the district navigated protests in its student body while working to remain true to its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and transparent communications with all stakeholders. Attendees will consider general school district responses for social unrest and walk through DEI crisis case study.

Room: Huron & Ontario

Branding = Mission, Purpose and Vision

Adrianna Petrus, Gina Schell, Alicen Simpson, CiTi BOCES

This session will explore exercises to gauge whether you are accurately portraying your school's desired brand. Does the language you are putting out align with the organization’s mission? Language is very important! It all starts with mission, purpose, values, and the goals associated with these, then the rest should follow. The organization’s look and style should be consistent, cohesive, and should always reiterate the bigger picture. Our session will provide tips on incorporating an organization's slogan into press releases, social media posts, videos, and other channels. It’s a small extra step to take that still helps establish the brand. We will also discuss working alongside administration to promote and instill trust in the brand.

Room: Superior

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Networking Session

Guided Meditation and Self-Care Conversation

Karen Nerney, APR, Capital Region BOCES

Self-care is essential to our productivity, happiness and overall well-being. In this networking session, we’ll share ideas around how we recharge and refresh. We’ll also do a guided meditation focused on reducing stress and creating a healthy mindset about taking care of ourselves.

Room: Superior

Demonstrating the power of your work through analytics

Sondra Whalen, Vernon Verona Sherrill Central School District

Make your work count! Analytics are a great way to showcase your journey, your impact, and your expertise. Join us for a networking conversation about your favorite analytics and the metrics that demonstrate the true power of your work.

Room: Huron & Ontario

12:30 - 2:00 p.m. 

Lunch Buffet/Networking

Room: Michigan & Erie

2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. general sessions

Navigating a Re-brand: From Process Through Outcome

Beth Brodovsky, President, Iris Creative & Christa Fazio, Unionville-Chadds Ford Central School District

In early 2022 the Washington Football Team revealed its new identity following a two-year transition away from its former Native American imagery. This change is one of many across the country as organizations consider questions of culture, race, and gender surrounding their names, logos and mascots.

The NY Department of Education is now following suit, requiring the elimination of all Native American imagery to be eliminated by the end of the school year. This change may have a huge impact on your culture and community — not to mention your time and budget. Unionville High School in Pennsylvania was confronted by this same challenge. Through their collaborative, community focused process, they emerged with a level of engagement and support that goes way beyond a new mascot.

Unionville’s Director of Communications & Community Relations, Christa Fazio along with Beth, Brodovsky, President of branding firm Iris Creative will share the process of building support for change and establishing a new identity.

Room: Huron & Ontario

4 Steps to Award-Winning Writing

Mark Adam, east greenbush central school district

Learn a four-step process for creating quality news stories and engaging content for your school district.

Room: Superior

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. networking session

School PR Rookies (for those with less than 2 years of experience)

Steve king, nyspra president, capital region boces

Being new to an industry can be hard! Come and find your crew and a safe space to share your challenges and growth moments from your first few years on the job.

Room: Superior

The Value of Mentors

Krystyna baumgartner, Apr, nyspra VP/president-elect, Bay shore School District

Come learn about the benefits of being a mentor or mentee, and NSPRA's Mentor Match program.

Room: Huron & Ontario

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Happy Hour

6:00 P.M.

NYSPRA Dinner: Recognition and celebration

Room: Michigan & Erie

tuesday, march 28, 2023

6:00 a.m.

#K12PRfit Yoga Session (Optional)

Join NYSPRA member Jenny Mirmelstein for a yoga session to start the second day of the conference. Please bring your own yoga mat or towel.

Room: Superior

7:30 a.m.

Registration & Exhibits Open

7:30 - 8:00 a.m.

Breakfast Buffet
Room: Michigan & Erie

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. general session

Navigating difficult conversations: Make RPIE your friend to help build better relationships

Karen Nerney, APR and Brittany Frank, Capital Region BOCES

If the mere thought of a difficult conversation makes you cringe, chances are you either aren’t having them or you aren’t having them well. But avoiding hard conversations isn’t the answer, and it certainly isn’t a hallmark of good communication. So how can you have a productive conversation when the stakes and/or emotions are high? It starts with a plan for clear communication. In this workshop, Capital Region BOCES Public Information Specialist Brittany Frank and Communications Manager Karen Nerney will share an RPIE-based framework that can help you effectively approach difficult conversations with school leaders and more. Learn a strategic approach to challenging conversations that can ultimately help you build better relationships.

Room: Michigan & Erie

9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. networking session

Building Relationships: The Importance of Connection in the Communications Role

jenny mirmelstein, suffern central school district

This session will explore how forming connections play a big part in our roles as communications professionals and in our day-to-day lives. It will also serve as an opportunity to create and strengthen relationships with other NYSPRA attendees. Through interactive activities and discussions, we'll break down the benefits of building and maintaining relationships in school PR, share experiences and barriers we may face and provide tips and ideas to help you feel comfortable networking.

Room: Superior

One-Person PR Offices

Laura Belfiore, Peekskill City School District

Are you a PR professional sailing solo in your district? Join us for a casual networking session where you can meet others in the same boat as you. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned professional, we welcome you to share your questions, ideas and any resources that help keep you afloat.

Room: Huron & Ontario

BOCES PR Offices

Emily Popek, APR, Capital Region BOCES & BOCES of NYS

Join a conversation about the unique opportunities and challenges that come with communicating on behalf of a BOCES, and learn more about what’s coming up as BOCES of New York State marks the 75th anniversary of the legislation that made our organizations possible.

Room: Dewitt

10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. general sessions

The One with All the Social Media: The Brand Strategy to Content Creation Pipeline

Lindsay Quackenbush and sara sandidge, capital region boces

Do you ever feel the need to post on social media all the time or ask yourself “does this even belong on Facebook?" You’re not alone. Join us for a conversation about why having a brand strategy in your back pocket can help define your district’s social media approach. We’ll discuss how using a brand strategy can help identify what is meaningful to your district, and share ways to translate that into creative, purposeful content that resonates with your district’s community.

Room: Huron & Ontario

Project Management for Communications Professionals

Scott Salotto & Bridget Clark, Rockland BOCES

Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals. In the world of school communications, project management often grows unwieldy due to "too many cooks in the kitchen." This session will demonstrate a simple and easy project management process to help increase efficiency, improve communication and lead to smarter decision-making.

Room: Superior

12:00-1:30 p.m.

Lunch and closing remarks

Room: Michigan & Erie

conference Registration

Click here to register

Several registration options are available for members and non-members. Early bird registration is open until Feb. 1, 2023.

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