More than 1,000 school PR professionals from all over the country — and the world — tuned into School PR Day this year, a day-long virtual conference designed for school communicators to connect, collaborate, and communicate.
With 18 sessions of practical tips and advice from school PR pros, this year's event focused on the big ideas of generative AI’s potential to reshape school communications, building trust and engaging school communities, and making sense of the tools needed to stay ahead of the game.
Let’s recap the highlights of the day and look back on the exciting professional development opportunities for school PR pros.
We know you’re busy, so if you happen to miss the live sessions and keynotes, the good news is that you can still collect your free All-Access Pass and catch up on all the recorded sessions and resources!
Using technology and AI for effective school communication
A major focus of the conference was the importance of leveraging technology to streamline and enhance communication efforts in districts. By embracing AI responsibly, school PR professionals can create more personalized, targeted, and efficient communications with their communities.
Finalsite CEO and founder, Jon Moser, opened the day with a keynote that highlighted how generative AI has been making waves in school communications, and as shown at School PR Day, schools using AI to craft targeted and personalized messaging can increase engagement and stronger relationships.
He also shared some of the exciting ways Finalsite will use AI technology to revolutionize how schools connect with families and communities.
Additional sessions like “Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto: Leveraging ChatGPT for Time-Saving Communication Strategies” shared the tricks and tips behind using the latest generative AI model, and “Using Messages XR to "COPE" Your Important Announcements” demo-ed the time-saving features of Messages XR, Finalsite’s mass notifications system.
Building trust and engagement through inclusive and community-centric strategies
In his insightful keynote address, ”Be the Changemaker: Leveraging Technology to Increase Community Engagement,” Richard Culatta, CEO of ASCD-ISTE, emphasized the power of technology as a conduit for teaching, learning, and communication, and highlighted the importance of personalized educational experiences.
Culatta encouraged attendees to think creatively in their strategies and use the latest tech to reach audiences effectively. “How can we make the school experience more enjoyable for families and bring joy into the family journey?” he asked.
The pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote learning and digital tools in schools and as shown by Culatta, there’s a need for schools to shift their mindset and create meaningful community engagement.
I could hear @jamesrawlsjr through the wall “Amen-ing” with me as we listened to @RCulatta say it loud for the people in the back! 🤣 “Bring joy back to the learning experience!” 🙌🙌🙌 #SurpriseAndDelight @Finalsite #schoolprday pic.twitter.com/JStGhE9lcI— Yaileen Nieves💙 (@msynieves) April 27, 2023
More sessions expanded on that idea — rebuilding trust in strained communities, Latino outreach, and fostering collaboration between superintendents and PR professionals highlighted the need for inclusive and community-centric communication strategies.
Sessions like “Overcoming a Strained Community: Strategies for Rebuilding Trust” and “Effective Crisis Management: Strategies for Making a Statement - Timing, Location, and Delivery” outlined the strategies to rebuild relationships within school communities and the importance of making impactful statements through strategic communication.
Fostering collaboration between superintendents and PR professionals was also a theme of the day, as shown by “From Good to Great: Unleashing Synergy Between Superintendents and PR Pros” while “Latino Outreach: Building Inclusive Schools through Effective Communication” promoted inclusivity and fostering connections with Latino communities through targeted communication.
“Prioritizing Data-Driven Decisions for Launching a Community-Focused Website” led by Virginia Beach City Public Schools made a splash, too. The district’s new website is a great example of using data and community feedback to create websites that resonate with the school community. A beautiful design, supported by fast facts, a welcoming video, social media integration, upcoming events, and even an animated footer, all work to drive a sense of belonging for the district.
Adapting to the evolving digital landscape
School PR Day showcased the significance of adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape by discussing the latest trends in digital tools, social media management, and the implications of Meta's rebranding, too.
“Mastering the Art of School Newsletters: Tips and Techniques for Effective Communication” focused on creating compelling and informative newsletters to keep school communities informed and engaged, while “5 Digital Trends that Are Driving School Communications in 2023” examined the latest trends shaping school communications and their impact on future strategies.
School PR Day may be over, you can now register for a free, All-Access Pass and watch all the recorded sessions. Catch up on all the inspiring sessions and keynotes, and see for yourself how you can leverage the latest strategies and tools to advance your district’s online presence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stacey brings 14+ years of education technology experience across various marketing and account management leadership roles. As Director of District Marketing, Stacey leads a team of marketers responsible for driving client acquisition and retention strategies through delivering meaningful communication and marketing content, engaging learning opportunities, and memorable in-person and virtual experiences. Stacey resides in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two small children.