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Excellence in Education Communications Contest

Each year, PensSPRA provides an opportunity for school district communication professionals to be recognized in the annual Excellence in Education Communications Contest. 

Entries are accepted in a number of categories to reflect the scope of work undertaken by communications professionals. 

The contest categories are:

  • Crisis Management: School communications is a tireless job, and we want to recognize all of the time and energy you dedicate to effectively communicate and share updates and information with students, families and your colleagues. Submissions in this category can include marketing, communications and public relations materials that are related to any crisis management you have encountered or anything related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Graphic Design: Illustrator, Spark, InDesign...oh my! We've all had to learn how to become graphic designers. So what have you designed lately? Submissions will be judged on the overall unification of the design, such as: color, font, imagery, creativity, photos, importance and clarity of message. Submission Examples: infographics, flyers, logos, promotional ads and posters.
  • Photography: A picture is worth a thousand words! Do you have an amazing photo that tells a story? Submit your best photos for consideration. Submissions will be judged on the quality of photography, subject matter, angles, depth and ability to tell a story. You should submit a portfolio of at least three photos for every one entry in this category. *photos should be submitted via Google Drive or as a zip file.

For questions regarding your submission or the contest, please contact:  penspra@cciu.org

For all other questions, please contact:

Mary Jeanne Curley

Executive Director

484-237-5171


Jennifer Shealy

Contest Chair

jshealy@dasd.org


Precious Petty

Contest Chair

Pettyp@mylcti.org


Enter your submissions!


  • Publications: Whether printed or digital, we use a variety of publications to convey information to our various stakeholders. Show us how you have taken these school PR must-haves to the next level! Submissions will be judged on content, layout, use of imagery, readability, consistency and effectiveness of the publication. Submission Examples: newsletters (print or digital), annual reports, calendars, printed programs, newspapers, brochures and other specialty publications.
  • Social Media: #whatsyourbrand? Submit your social media content created to support your district/IU’s presence or events on one or multiple digital media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). Submissions will be judged on creativity of content, effective storytelling of a campaign or hashtag and use of the platform/tool. Submission Examples: social media campaigns, social media accounts/pages, social media event promotion and social media branding (such as hashtags, filters and logos)
  • Videos: Lights, Camera, Action! Do you have an audio/visual project or projects that deserve some time in the spotlight? Share them with PenSPRA! Submissions in this category will be judged on audio/visual components, including video quality, sound quality, transitions and design, as well as effective storytelling and messaging. Submission Examples: Video Interviews, Animated Short Videos, Marketing or Promotional Videos and Explanatory and Informational Videos.
  • Website & Apps: Digital presence is extremely important for establishing your brand or promoting services. Does your school district/IU have a strong digital presence or are you proud of the story your website tells? Did you create an innovative app that helps your students and families? Submissions will be judged on design, appropriate content, branding elements, ease of use and navigation. You may submit a specific section of your website, your entire website or an app.
  • Writing: Storytelling is a key factor in successfully branding our schools/districts and sharing our school’s/district’s narrative with stakeholders. Submissions in this category will be judged on technical writing, style and story elements, and examples include: press releases, media advisories, feature stories, articles and speeches.
  • *NEW* Gold Medallion: PenSPRA's Gold Medallion Award is a highly competitive award that recognizes superior school public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices. The following programs/projects/campaigns are eligible for entry: bond/finance campaign; comprehensive, strategic, year-round communication program; marketing communication campaign; public engagement/parental involvement campaign; special communication project/campaign. 

    Gold Medallion entries must be submitted as a single PDF file. The total award entry, including entry form and all application materials, is limited to no more than 26 pages (packaged in a single PDF). An entry must include: 

    • Cover page with entry information (page max = 1: Include entrant's name and title, district/organization name, address, phone, email, title of entry, entry category, number of communication staff, size/type of district or organization.) Do not exceed one page in length. 

    • Synopsis of the program/project/campaign: Provides a clear, concise overview of the program/project/campaign. Do not exceed 350 words. 

    • Summary of the program/project/campaign: Summarize the program/project/campaign by demonstrating how it followed the four-step strategic public relations planning process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE). Include hyperlinks to any key support materials (websites, videos, social media, PDFs, etc.). Do not exceed six (6) pages. 

    An entry may include: 

    • Additional support material demonstrating the RPIE strategic planning process may be included but may not cause the entry to exceed the 26 page total. Samples, brief synopses or links to support materials are sufficient (e.g., no need to include complete survey results or reports) 

    Example format for entry: 

    • Page 1: Cover page with entry information 

    • Page 2: Synopsis of program/campaign 

    • Pages 3-8: Summary of program campaign 

    • Marketing Communication Campaign 

    • Public Engagement/Parental Involvement Campaign 

    • Pages 9-26: Additional support material 


Eligibility

The contest is open to all school public relations professionals in Pennsylvania. Materials must have been produced between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.

Judging

Judging is conducted by a panel of independent professionals, who will provide all contestants with feedback after the contest has concluded.

How to Enter

Contestants upload their content files or links through a submission form. If your printed publication is not available as a digital file, you may still enter by mailing two copies to: PenSPRA Communications Contest, c/o Chester County Intermediate Unit, 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335. Entries must be uploaded and/or postmarked by January 31, 2023.

Entry Fees and Payment

  • PenSPRA Member Fee: Initial entry fee is $50; each additional entry fee is $20
  • Non-Member Entry Fee: Initial entry fee is $50; each additional entry fee is $50

Awards

  • Award of Excellence will be given to the top entries in each category.
  • Award of Honor will be given to those entries that deserve special recognition in each category.
  • Award of Merit will be given to those entries that deserve special recognition in each category.

Contest winners will be notified by an email notification.

*NEW* PenSPRA Communicator of the Year Award 

About the Award: 

The PenSPRA Communicator of the Year Award recognizes the exemplary leadership of school public relations professionals in Pennsylvania. These professionals demonstrate commitment to the enhancement of communication and relationships between schools and the students, families and communities they serve. The award honors those who acknowledge that communication is a critical component of leadership.  The submission deadline is January 31, 2023.

The award winner will be notified by Monday, March 27, 2023, via email and recognized at the PenSPRA Symposium Awards Luncheon on Monday, April 24, 2023.The winner will receive a $500 stipend to use for the 2022-23 Symposium. 

The nominee:  

  • Demonstrates the use of effective public relations strategies to support education. 

  • Is recognized as an advocate for education and has earned a reputation as being highly credible with a variety of audiences.

  • Demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication skills.  

  • Demonstrates experience and involvement in communicating with diverse audiences.  

  • Implements communication strategies that demonstrate strategic thinking, which contributes to the betterment of education.  

  • Demonstrates effective personal communication with a wide variety of audiences.

  • Demonstrates ethics and professionalism in communication.  

  • Has been recognized as a role model for communicators and non-communicators alike, and is someone whose communication skills and messages have impacted the lives of others.  

  • Has served in a school communications role for at least five (5) years.  

  • Is a current PenSPRA member. 

To nominate someone: 

1. Include a narrative, no longer than 500 words, outlining how the person has met the award’s criteria.  

2. The submission may also include up to five (5) pages of supporting documentation including, but not limited to, data demonstrating the nominee’s effectiveness in meeting the award criteria, samples of the nominee’s communications work, measures of effectiveness and letters of support.  

*There is no fee to nominate someone for the PenSPRA Communicator of the Year Award. 


*NEW* PenSPRA Key Communicator Award 

About the Award:  

The PenSPRA Key Communicator Award honors an education professional who has successfully contributed to the field of school communications. The recipient may be a legislator, superintendent or professional in any field who has improved school communications or a member of PenSPRA who has contributed outstanding service to the profession of school communications. The recipient does not need to be a PenSPRA member. The submission deadline is January 31, 2023.

The award winner will be notified by Monday, March 27, 2023, via email and recognized at the PenSPRA Symposium Awards Luncheon on Monday, April 24, 2023. The winner will receive a FREE PenSPRA membership for one (1) year. 

To nominate someone, you must include: 

  • A one-page PDF document detailing why you think this individual is worthy of the Key Communicator Award  

  • A one-page bio of the nominee  

  • Three (3) letters of support for the nominee 

There is no fee to nominate someone for the PenSPRA Key Communicator Award.  


Click here to enter your submissions!


c/o Chester County Intermediate Unit

Downingtown, PA 19335

Phone: 484-237-5731

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